Hell Let Loose – The First 6 Hours Impressions

Something that becomes abundantly clear in the opening 30 minutes of Hell Let Loose’s pre-release trial is that war is hell. If there is a second thing to be concluded it is that writing netcode for something this ambitious must also be hell.

Set during World War II, across 9 maps that include Utah beach landings, Omaha beach storming and defenses of Sainte-Mere-Eglise. It is a first-person shooter with giant 50 versus 50 battles, in which a single bullet can end your life.

Kill counts are largely irrelevant and it is all about controlling zones and specific points on the map.

To do this, and to make the carnage more manageable, players split up into one of four squad types: Recon, Armoured, Command and Infantry. Apart from Command, each squad gets a unit leader and subordinates that need to fit into roles (sniper, spotter, riflemen, engineer etc). The command squad consists of one person who will take on the role of people management. Their role is unique in that they will be in charge of calling down airstrikes, providing supplies and attempting to convince unit leaders to move to designated points. Even though they have a physical presence in the battlefield, a large part of what they do is look at the 2D map and make strategic calls.

When in the game as a grunt or unit leader, mobilisation to battle points is supported by fantastic sound design. My first foray involved marching to the frontline, with only my character’s panting and footsteps accompanying me. As I got closer, explosions and gunfire started to sound off in the distance – they were muffled but ominous. By the time I was on the verge of a fire fight, stray bullets were whistling past my head or impacting walls and trees around me. Once in the middle of it, it is a terrifying experience of complete disorientation.

This disorientation is further accelerated by the ‘suppression effect’. This occurs when under fire, and the screen will blur and reduce the field of view, when a heavy machinegun opens up on a position you have ducked into, it feels like you are being blinded and deafened.

There is no point to grand standing in this game and communication is essential for a chance at victory. Squads need to be talking to their unit leader, and unit leaders need to be informing their commander. Good use of supplies and makeshift spawn points (built by unit leaders) is important for creating supply trains. Learning when to draw fire and when to flank can only done by passing information along.

Unfortunately, although Hell Let Loose has gone full release, this game is not ready. Using in-game chat is frequently buggy, with it being unclear who can hear who. Getting into the game proved to be very challenging pre-release, and a nightmare during the launch date, with frequent drops, long loading times, and regular crashes and hangs.

Hell Let Loose is a deeply ambitious title, and its gameplay stands out as a genre almost unto its own. I truly hope that it finds success so that developers can work on fixes and iterate on what I consider to be a winning formula.

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This game was reviewed based on Xbox S|X review code, using an Xbox S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.

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Written by
AJ Small is a games industry veteran, starting in QA back in 2004. He currently walks the earth in search of the tastiest/seediest drinking holes as part of his attempt to tell every single person on the planet that Speedball 2 and The Chaos Engine are the greatest games ever made. He can be found on twitter (@badgercommander), where he welcomes screenshots of Dreamcast games and talk about Mindjack, just don’t mention that one time he was in Canada.


  1. Chat works and getting into the game is not hard. The game is well implemented and it is “ready””..,that statement is just stupid.

    That said, it’s not for me. Crawling on your stomach for an hour with teammates who could communicate but won’t, refusing to take the squad leader roll so you have to jog 700m back to the fight just to get dropped by some jerk hiding in a bush just isn’t fun.

    • Glad it is working for you! My experience over the last 2 weeks has been incredibly rough with voice chat bugging out for me and my friends and a lot of dropped matches. The performance has been so bad that it has been impossible to convince them to drop the cash on a purchase. I am waiting for some patches before I do a full review. Inconsistent with your experience for sure, but not sure it is fair to describe what I wrote as ‘stupid’.

      I definitely agree with your assessment though, if people don’t talk and treat it like they are playing Call of Duty or Battlefield then it is a rough time. There were two games where I just had to become the unit leader and learn what to do because no one wanted that role.

      That said, I’ve had some of the best and most unique multiplayer experiences in this game so I hope it finds its footing


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