‘Hell Let Loose’ is the hardcore Battlefield clone people need right now

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Photo courtesy of Steam

Gameplay cinematic from “Hell Let Loose.” “Hell Let Loose” is a first person shooter released in July 2021 from game studio Black Matter.

By Aidan Finn, Staff Writer

“WWII” in the modern generation of consoles has been an embarrassment compared to its glory games of gaming adaptations. What was once the lifeblood of the FPS genre dating back to the Playstation 1 has been butchered in a series of poorly executed “return to forms” across various franchises that originated as WWII games. 

“Battlefield V” was a disappointment coming off the runaway success of WWI-inspired “Battlefield 1,” taking many points from its predecessors but drastically changing the tone to a weird, swashbuckling attitude that contrasted with the dark, borderline anti-war imagery of “Battlefield 1.

It’s weird selection of guns and camera movement in relation to your arms was off-putting, not helped but an even weirder series of updates that, outside of an excellent series of Pacific theater maps, added little in terms of quality content and ridiculous skins that left a bad taste in the post-Fortnite market. 

The battle royal mode for it was already dead before it was even released as Fortnite hatred was at its peak zeal for FPS enthusiasts who wanted an escape from the frenzy that dominated the year. 

“Call of Duty,” another series like “Battlefield” that originated from its WWII titles, was the first of the generation to bring its franchise back to the war in the 2017 entry “Call of Duty: WWII”, and it grew immense hype leading up to such. 

Hype that died fast in the face of one of the most aggressively monetized Call of Duty games in years, with loot boxes falling out of the sky in a Destiny-like hub space where players can do emotes and dance moves to each other like their grandfathers did back in France. The single player was blasted for it’s generic plot derivative of “Saving Private Ryan” (and not in a good way) and an multiplayer that was uninspired and reminiscent of the adrenaline-crazy shooting gallery of modern Call of Duty titles, ludicrous skins and microtransactions in tow. 

A far cry from the return to form people hoped for, yearning for the glory days of “World at War” in 2008 with a dark atmosphere and balanced multiplayer. 

But it wasn’t over, as it somehow got worse in 2021 with “Call of Duty: Vanguard,” the followup by developer Sledgehammer Games that took an even weirder, Marvel-movie tone with wacky heroes and crazy skins that pissed off the already tired fans who simply wanted more of the excellent 2019 “Modern Warfare” reboot. 

Alas, it came down to an indie team, Black Matter, to set the ship straight and deliever the next-gen WWII game hardcore FPS enthusiasts have dreamed off. Taking heavily inspiration from the Battlfield series, “Hell Let Loose” is a tactical-multiplayer FPS with a heavy emphasis on squad cooperation in the midst of the most hardcore shooter console gamers have seen in years. 

It seems pretty straightforward at first, with ally spawn points and clear strongholds that must be held in Battlefield fashion. Once on the ground, however, the difference becomes clear. A wide, wide open map in realistic proportion to the real battlefields of France and Ukraine, and most importantly, next to no idea where the enemy is. 

No icon above their head, no mini map of red dots, nothing. They could be in that bush, or in the tiny window of the destroyed windmill to your left. Not even hit markers outside of an audible ding for headshots alert you to their presence, not helped by dense fog and nighttime cover across the various maps. 

It’s in this tension that “Hell Let Loose” finds its identity: fear. No idea where the enemy can be, and death just two to three shots away makes hiding in a ditch to poke

your head above for just seconds the primary tactic for getting around. 

Good squad mates are necessary to succeed, and the game sports an advanced communication system with three separate channels for you to interact with commanding officers, regular players on the map and your direct squad. Each role has it’s abilities, officers being able to create spawn points and talk with command, machine gunners being able to provide the most firepower, medics vital in keeping downed allies alive, with snipers and tank crews having their own squad systems and mechanics specified to their abilities. 

As an infantryman, you’re encouraged to flank hard across enemy territory to get the upper hand, avoiding open fields and drawing attention to yourself. Fighting a tank is next to impossible without explosives and command can call in devastating carpet bombings that provide an ear-bleeding spectacle visible across the whole map. 

If you need a hardcore history FPS after too many disappointments from the mainstream titles, this indie FPS is right up your alley. 

“Hell Let Loose” is available on PS5, PC, and Xbox Series X/S. 

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