Hood: Outlaws & Legends Review

Richard Walker

A game of feuding thieves and brigands, Hood: Outlaws & Legends sounds like a killer concept on paper. A 4v4 competitive PvPvE multiplayer heist game, two teams compete to pickpocket a key and use it to unlock a vault door, before pilfering the treasure chest that lies within. Inspired by the infamous folk tale of Robin Hood and his merry men (and woman), Hood is infused with medieval detail; yet, despite being a budget release, developer Sumo Newcastle's effort is an interesting and unique proposition, that, nonetheless, only really does one thing. And therein lies the problem – it doesn't do that one thing particularly well.


Hood does look cool, it has to be said.

Given the surfeit of multiplayer experiences out there, why would you purchase Hood: Outlaws & Legends? For $30/£25, you get a single match type, a handful of maps, and some gold – earned from successful heists – which can be spent on cosmetic items, like different weapon skins and outfits. That's about the long and short of it. As for the heists themselves, these invariably unfold in a few different ways. The core premise is simple enough. Each team competes in a race to secure a chest and whisk it away, which first involves stealthily lifting a key from an invincible Sheriff character roaming the map. It's then a case of locating the vault door, unlocking it, and making off with the chest.

Usually, the best course of action is to let the opposing team do all the hard work, finding the Sheriff from whom you steal the key, leading you to the vault, then transporting the treasure chest to one of the map's designated extraction points. It's at the extraction zone that the real push and pull begins, as a struggle ensues to slowly and agonisingly winch the chest to safety. Up to two players can operate the winch at any one time, and the entire process can be a time-consuming, often messy one.

Gold is rewarded as you pass each phase of winching the chest up and away, but all it takes is the rival team to swoop in and perform the last little bit of winching to snatch victory. If you and your team have put in all the effort, only for the opposition to steal it away at the last second, it can be massively galling. But, then again, if you're the team snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, there's obviously enormous satisfaction in being on that horribly jammy team and turning things around right at the end.

There's certainly merit to Hood's multiplayer action, then, and the tug-of-war nature of it all can be enjoyable. Its four characters do feel slightly 'off' in terms of balance, however. Robin (the eponymous Hood of the game and 'The Ranger' class) is perhaps the weakest of the quartet, a not-so-merry man with limited arrows (he can only ever carry a maximum of nine), feeble melee attacks, and a lack of speed. He pales in comparison next to Marianne 'The Hunter', who comes armed with a wrist-mounted crossbow that can plug enemies with a volley of three bolts in quick succession, an ultimate ability that grants temporary stealth camouflage, and an Assassin's Creed-esque wrist blade she can use to bludgeon enemies.


'Brawler' class John (presumably the 'Little John' of legend, who's naturally an imposing man-mountain) wields a giant war hammer that can crack skulls, has an ultimate skill that makes him more powerful while gifting infinite stamina for a limited time, and, using his brute strength, he can raise portcullis gates that the rest of the team can pass through while he's holding it aloft. Finally, Tooke (the Friar Tuck character) is a 'Mystic' monk with a painted face and spiked ball on a chain, who looks a bit like Mortal Kombat's villainous Quan Chi with a soupçon of God of War's Kratos. He's not only the healer of the group, but also swift and deadly with his lashing weapon, making him something of an all-rounder. Ultimately, Robin, despite being the supposed hero of the title, is the character you'll probably want to play as the least.

You can choose to play as four of the same character or any combination of the foursome you like, which normally means one of your team ditching Robin. Regardless of who you go with, there are systems at play that render the entire experience desperately out of whack balance-wise, thanks to a selection of perks unlocked as you level up, which means the more you've played, the more powerful your character becomes. If you’re a beginner, this can be hugely off-putting. Should the matchmaking pit you against a team of higher-level players, you already know how the ensuing round is going to pan out: you're going to get fucked up. Limited character stamina makes toe-to-toe skirmishes tricky, too, and when any opponent can sneak up and assassinate you in open combat at any moment, it all adds up to a very frustrating time.

Once you've played on every map a few times and got your head around the game's basic concepts, Hood: Outlaws & Legends grows rather tired. Before long you'll have had your fill, and pouring the gold you've earned into new perks, cosmetic skins and weapons only holds so much appeal – although, being able to decide whether to distribute your gold to your own purse (thereby gifting currency with which to develop your chosen character) or to the people (levelling up your hideout hub area) does add an interesting wrinkle.


Hold the gate, John.

Despite its myriad flaws, there’s nothing else really like Hood: Outlaws & Legends, and, though technically underwhelming, the art style is appealing, and the maps are well-designed, for the most part. Communication and teamwork is paramount, so playing with friends is an absolute must - there’s certainly a modicum of fun to be had if you can assemble a team of like-minded buddies. Long-term, there’s little to keep you coming back to Hood in its launch guise, meaning you’ll be left waiting for the content promised in the game’s roadmap, like new modes, maps, characters, and seasonal events.

A game that sounds like a much better idea than it actually is, Hood: Outlaws & Legends is a slightly shoddy, frequently irritating, and fairly one-note multiplayer-only game. And with such a banquet of far more accomplished multiplayer experiences out there, we're not sure that this does enough to warrant much of your time. Sumo deserves kudos for attempting something new and interesting based upon the Robin Hood folklore, seldom explored in video games, but, ultimately, the execution doesn't match the ambition.

Hood: Outlaws & Legends

Hood: Outlaws & Legends takes a unique 4v4 multiplayer premise and fails to do it justice. While the art style is cool and the concept is neat, the execution falls short with a lack of content, balancing issues, and a slew of frustrating elements.

Form widget
45%
Audio
50%

The sound effects are perfectly serviceable, as are the little barked lines of dialogue from player characters and NPCs alike. As for the game’s score, it’s not particularly memorable, but it does fit the atmosphere and setting perfectly well.

Visuals
60%

Hood’s art style is suitably evocative, with towering castles, candle-lit keeps, courtyards patrolled by knights, misty marshlands, and ancient leafy forest canopies. Textures are a tad murky, however, and not exactly a showcase for next-gen.

Playability
55%

Fundamentally, Hood: Outlaws & Legends works well enough, but it also comes with its fair share of frustrations. Being throttled by the Sheriff while being preoccupied fighting other players is one of our least favourite things, for instance.

Delivery
35%

A paltry handful of maps, a single mode, and four characters don’t make for the most generous offering as far as content is concerned. There are free-to-play multiplayer games out there that give you more - this one costs $30.

Achievements
60%

A perfectly fine list with a good spread that ensures milestones and accomplishments are duly rewarded. Some objectives require a magic combination of luck and timing, though, which can be annoying.

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