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Hell Let Loose is an FPS for those seeking brutal realism

Hell Let Loose
(Image credit: Black Matter)

Hell Let Loose is here to remind you that war sucks. Not because the game is bad, but because the game is so damn realistic it leans closer to a military simulator than an FPS. It certainly feels like an accurate representation of what World War 2 warfare might have been like, particularly when compared to the Call of Duty: Vanguard and Battlefield 5s of the world. Because how could it not when you find yourself trudging through the French countryside for nearly a mile, just to get blindsided by an unknown enemy shooting an M1 Garand at your head and slowly bleed out as your vision fades to black. 

Hell Let Loose appeals to a very specific sect of the FPS crowd. If you saw our Call of Duty: Vanguard multiplayer hands-on and thought "I want to feel like one well-placed bullet will take me out," then Hell Let Loose will deliver. If you've seen any Battlefield 2042 coverage and felt like it needed to be more hardcore, then Hell Let Loose is the game for you. Nothing about it feels like your run-of-the-mill FPS, from the gunplay to the map size to the reliance on teamwork and asset management. 

With Hell Let Loose available as a free PS Plus game for the month of October, there's going to be a lot of interest surrounding Team 17's latest title. To set expectations more clearly: Hell Let Loose is not Call of Duty, and it's not Battlefield. It's more like 2018's Post Scriptum, relying on realism and tactics to offer up a hyper-authentic WW2 experience. Hell Let Loose is an FPS for the realism diehards and tactics obsessives. 

 Weapons of war

Hell Let Loose

(Image credit: Team17)

I'd advise any Hell Let Loose newcomers to spend some time reading the game's field manual before dropping into a match. The field manual will teach you about Hell Let Loose's 14 different roles (including Rifleman, Medic, Spotter, Sniper, and Commander), the maps' many icons, and offer up some helpful tactics tips. Hopping into a game without reading the field manual is like going to real war without any training – you'll be an early casualty. Such is the reason why I repeatedly and frustratingly die in my first match and do absolutely no damage to any enemies. 

Hell Let Loose's weapons have realistic recoil, which means they're a helluva lot harder to control than your standard Warzone LMG  or Battlefield 2042 assault rifle – and for good reason. This isn't a spray and pray type of game, where you can just let loose a barrage of bullets into a room and hit your target. Hell Let Loose demands precision, and tasks you with the difficult decision of deciding when to pull the trigger. Too soon and you'll give away your position to a sniper hiding in the brush, too late and you'll be bleeding out before you can call for help on the proximity voice channel. I didn't really find many variations in the weapon selection – although that could be because I haven't leveled up much during my time with it so far. 

With no hit markers or kill cams, I spend much of my time in Hell Let Loose wondering two things: "did I hit that person?" and "who shot me?" This game is a hardcore, realistic WW2 shooter, with no frills or unnecessary extra features bogging down its core conceit. This isn't a game that traditional FPS players can easily drop into and expect to find immediate success – myself included, who struggled through every single match. But with the power of next-gen consoles offering up a relatively seamless way to play 50 v 50 WW2 simulations, Hell Let Loose will appeal to players looking for fidelity over flashiness.

Tactical warfare

Hell Let Loose

(Image credit: Team17)

Hell Let Loose is like a giant, slow-paced game of Battlefield's Rush mode, with one team pushing to take over zones while the other team defends those zones. But unlike Battlefield, you can't respawn on your squadmates when you bite it, so most of my first few hours playing Hell Let Loose are spent walking. If WW2 had Apple Watches, I'd have exceeded my step goals 10 times over. This aspect certainly feels like real war, and when I play in the pitch black with my headphones on, I can feel a slight tension in my gut everytime I cross an open field, wondering if I'll end up with a bullet through my spleen. 

You may not be able to spawn on your teammate, but you can spawn at Outposts or Garrisons you and your squad members place (or in the case of Garrisons, build up) around the map. Unlike in tried and true milsim titles, you won't need to physically bring supplies to a spot in order to build these things. Instead, certain classes have the ability to use a watch to build Outposts and Garrisons. Having these scattered about the map makes later-game spawns a helluva lot more forgiving in terms of walking, but if the enemies take them over, you'll be forced to use one of the start spawns and jog all the way back to the action. 

The size of the maps demands you build Outposts or Garrisons in order to make any real headway, a steadfast rule that applies to all nine maps offered in Hell Let Loose. Map size and the need to build spawn points also requires some serious teamwork. This isn't an FPS you can play without uttering a word to your teammates – at least not if you're trying to stay alive for more than a few minutes. During my first game on the PS5, I nearly hit the ceiling when one of my teammate's voices emanated from my DualSense. "I have 100 hours on PC," he explains before taking command, giving each of us specific directions. His advice doesn't keep me alive, but it does help me finally secure a win. Hell Let Loose demands you work together as a team, or suffer the rather brutal consequences. 

Hell Let Loose is an FPS that plops you directly into the trenches of WW2 – literally and figuratively. Asset management, teamwork, tactics, and more make for an incredibly demanding experience that can be so incredibly satisfying if you can figure it out. Playing with experienced players will help make Hell Let Loose's learning curve less steep, and having a healthy dose of patience will make the repeated deaths sting a bit less. If you're looking for a game that captures the essence of WW2, Hell Let Loose is it. 


In other war game news, the Battlefield 2042 open beta has stunning spectacle and predictable problems. 

Alyssa Mercante

Alyssa Mercante is an editor and features writer at GamesRadar based out of Brooklyn, NY. Prior to entering the industry, she got her Masters's degree in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Newcastle University with a dissertation focusing on contemporary indie games. She spends most of her time playing competitive shooters and in-depth RPGs and was recently on a PAX Panel about the best bars in video games. In her spare time Alyssa rescues cats, practices her Italian, and plays soccer.