Following a successful launch on PC, Black Matter’s tactical first-person shooter, Hell Let Loose, made its way to Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 late last year.
But, more often than not, it’s people trying to work together to organise a victory. I remember one match where several squad leaders were in routine contact with each other, relaying information about enemy locations, reporting armour sightings, and even saying if a capture point was safe to push or not. Leading it all was a commander who doled out instructions to the team, where to flank, which sector to avoid if they were calling in air support.
It was great stuff, and even though as a team we couldn’t quite get the victory, the defeat was met with calls of “well played” all around. It was the type of experience I didn’t think I’d ever find on console, particularly in a multiplayer shooter.
Engaging in this chat isn’t a prerequisite for victory, however. As long as you’re not a squad leader, it’s more than possible to just be a body and silently do your bit, whether that’s as a run of the mill rifleman or a more specialised role, such as anti-tank or machine gunner. But even if you’re just part of the rank and file, being able to hear orders or know that someone is trying to organise things still enriches the experience.
The strong player base also suggests console users aren’t averse to a tactical style when it comes to gameplay, particularly with gunplay. As much as I enjoy over-the-top, fast-paced shooters like Call of Duty, I’ve also got a penchant for slower, more tactical FPS games like Operation Flashpoint or even Verdun and Tannenberg.
I’ve always thought I was in the minority when it came to one-hit kill weaponry and a lack of aim-assist, both present in HLL, but it seems there’s plenty of other console users who share this mindset, going by the regularity with which I find myself on a full server.
While the high recoil on weapons and lack of sights, scopes and hit markers meant this was a steeper learning curve compared to other realism-based shooters I’ve played, it made mastering the gunplay all the more satisfying. In my first few matches I was lucky to get one or two kills per game, but, after learning the nuances of the gameplay, I’m regularly entering double figures.
Even if you’re not a sharpshooter, the team-based nature of the game means there’s always some way to assist. There’s a regular in our squad who usually takes the role of medic, earning their XP by patching allies rather than dropping enemies. A lot of the time, simply shooting in the same direction as your team mates is enough to suppress enemy movement, even if you can’t actually see any.
It sounds like the combined PS5 and Series X|S player base is strong enough for Black Matter to keep supporting the game on those platforms alongside the PC version, if this interview by The Loadout with studio founder Maximillian Rea late last year is anything to go by, who suggests new content such as British and Commonwealth forces could make their way into the game at some point. A recent tweet from the studio confirmed this via a roadmap, which outlined their intentions to add more post-launch console content throughout 2022.
Hopefully Hell Let Loose’s success on Xbox and PlayStation will encourage other developers/publishers of tactical shooters, particularly those popular on PC, to give the platforms and their user bases the proper consideration they deserve.
While there have been many instances of more ‘hardcore’, realism-based shooters not being embraced by the console community, such as the aforementioned Verdun, where AI bots outnumber human players in most matches, HLL has shown that there is an audience for these types of games, and that they can thrive on console as well as PC.