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Developer Briefing #30 - Armour!

Posted by: Jonno on steam_community_announcements June 27, 2019

Hey everyone,

Welcome to Developer Briefing #30! In this weeks briefing we’re taking a deeper look at armour in Hell Let Loose and how it behaves under heavy weapon fire.

How does armour work in Hell Let Loose? Do angles matter? Are there ricochets? Are the Bazooka and Panzerschreck in the same weapon class?

All this and a little bit more will be explained below…

Armour in Hell Let Loose!

Initially we set out to design a system that would be as close to real life as we could manage within a game. We looked at calibers, velocities, thickness, type of metal and many other aspects. We built a system that at best could be described as “complicated” and at worst could be described as “insane”. We would set up each component and ultimately due to the number of factors present the outcome for each armoured engagement started to feel more and more random the more testing we did. Often in developing the game, we start at something as close to reality as possible, and then quickly find that the actual player experience actually feels far more random than designed.

With this in mind, we stepped back and asked ourselves what the most important factors for gameplay would be. Fundamentally, we felt that we needed the following:

  • Predictable: when you fired a particular type of weapon at a particular angle at a particular vehicle we wanted the outcome to be the same. We felt that by making sure this action always had the same outcome then it would create a base from which players could learn various weapon strengths, armor strengths and the resulting weaknesses and strengths of a vehicle. If the outcome always felt random, players wouldn’t be able to successfully decide where to aim as the strategy would always just be “keep firing!”.

  • Binary: by this we mean that the veterans accounts of armoured warfare that we’d read would make note of the fact that a single penetrating hit would make the tank inoperable (due to internal damage and crew fatalities). A round wouldn’t penetrate and take off health - it would penetrate and blow up the tank or kill all crew. We felt that we needed to model this experience in the game - making sure that as a tanker you are focused on swiftly destroying your enemy instead of chipping away at a health pool.

  • Layer of complexity: it was a very hard task to balance the binary nature of armoured combat with a system that encouraged field repairs and component damage. We didn’t want to absolutely overwhelm players with a seemingly endless array of outcomes whenever they took damage - we wanted to focus them on immediate issues that affected the current performance of the vehicle. In veteran accounts these broke down very easily into weapon damage and movement damage (whether engine but - more commonly - tracks).

  • What just happened?: a common question we asked in other games was “what just happened?” We’d shoot an enemy vehicle and an explosion and sound would play, but we’d not know what the outcome of that was. As a result, we spent a lot of time trying to design visual outcomes (fx, sfx, decals) that would communicate the result of your shot on an enemy vehicle.

  • Flexible: we needed to design a system that would account for all weapons and all vehicle types. We feel that we’ve got pretty close to creating a system that lets us carve out the functionality of each vehicle and help us place it in the “animal kingdom” of the vehicle hierarchy in-game.

With those points in mind, we’ll break down some of our thinking below:

In Hell Let Loose vehicles don’t have ‘traditional HP’. We don’t want our Anti-Tank players and vehicles to engage in a hitpoint based slugging match – we want something more tactical and rewarding for all involved.

That brings us to the armour system we use in-game, penetration. To successful destroy a vehicle you need to penetrate through its armour and land killing hit. In order to achieve this the following factors are all taken into account:

  • The shape and angle of the armour you hit
  • The type of weapon you fire at armour
  • The type and location of the armour hit
  • Area specific/component damage status

The Shape and angle of armour

The inherent shape of our historic vehicles isn’t just for show! Through clever use of angling your vehicles armour, or your shot, tactical players can capitalise on this mechanic and either maximise their survivability or increase their lethality… Depending on which side of the engagement they’re on!

One example of this is the front of a Panther. It’s incredibly well angled so that striking it with a Sherman or a Bazooka will lead to the round either deflecting or not penetrating and detonating on the armour plate – causing no damage.

*Laughs in front armour*

Hitting a tank perpendicular (flat-on) will lead to the best results for damage! Tankers, keep this in mind to avoid damage by angling your vehicle toward fire, and by using a hull-down position to present the smallest target possible.

That'll leave a mark!

The type of weapon you fire

In order to accurately represent the real-life relationship between World War 2 weapons, armour and their capabilities we’ve implemented a range of different weapon and armour classed in game that reflect this.

One example of this is the Panzerschreck. With a heavier warhead than the Bazooka we class it as a heavier weapon class than its American counterpart.

This means that whilst the Panzerschreck has an easier time penetrating most vehicles when compared to the Bazooka, it carries only two rockets whilst the Bazooka has four.

This train of thought carries over to tank and anti-tank guns too, so keep those calibres in mind!

The type and location of armour hit

When an armoured vehicle is hit, the game immediately checks the calibre of the weapon that hit it as well as the angle that it was struck at.

If a weapon’s calibre heavily outclasses the armour of the vehicle, then the weapon will immediately penetrate - cutting through like a hot knife through butter. On the flipside, if a weapon is similar or less powerful than the armour it’s attempting to penetrate then something called a ‘bounce check’ will occur.

This is calculated according to the angle of the attack compared to the angle of the armour. For example if a shot around a 45-degree angle his a tank it’ll bounce, but it doesn’t stop there…

A deflected round stays active until it hits something – including trees, the ground, soldiers or… You!

Top tip: Tanks are most vulnerable on their rear and in their tracks. Striking them in these locations can damage that locale and lead to a successful ‘kill shot’.

Step 1 - Make your mark!

Step 2 - Finish the job!

Alternative step - Be a tank!

Area specific/component damage

The last part of armour in Hell Let Loose we’re going to talk about today is the ability to damage specific vehicle components. We’re looking into the potential of expanding upon this in the future, but currently tanks can have areas including their turret and tracks damaged to create negative effects.

For example a damaged turret loses the ability to use its coaxial machine gun, whilst a tank with damaged tracks is stuck in first gear.

Keep in mind that once a certain component is damaged to the point of being destroyed, a follow-up shot to that component/location that penetrates will lead to the destruction of the tank.

Rolling forward!

Ultimately, we want our vehicles in Hell Let Loose to reflect on the veteran accounts that the team have read and studied. Armoured units working closely with infantry and vice versa. Tank duels should favour surprise attacks, patience and realistic tactics that favour the specific vehicles facing off on the frontline.

As we continue to build upon the range and variety of vehicles and armour in Hell Let Loose we’re going to be adjusting and tweaking both the armour systems and weapon classes to carve out a unique identity for each vehicle and anti-vehicle weapon to highlight their role in a given battle.

The first example of this in action will be when Light Tanks roll onto the frontline as our next armoured vehicles. More news on that in the future though…

We’ll see you on the frontline!


Join us this Friday (June 27th) for a publisher livestream!

Community Manager Jonno will be taking to the frontline for three hours from 13:30 BST / 14:30 CEST / 08:30 ET live from the Hell Let Loose Steam Store page!

If you'd like to see Hell Let Loose in-action live, ask us your questions or fight in alongside us be sure to stop by.
Hell Let Loose

Hell Let Loose is a realistic World War Two first person shooter with open battles of 100 players with infantry, tanks, artillery, a dynamically shifting front line and a unique resource based strategic meta-game. This is World War Two at a scale you’ve never played before.

Developer: Black Matter Pty Ltd

Publisher: Team17 Digital Ltd