Announced last year by Focus Home Interactive and developer Sumo Newcastle, Hood: Outlaws and Legends is an interesting take on the traditional Robin Hood mythology. This third-person action game pits two teams of four players against each other as they try to be the first to escape with the treasure. Sneak in, steal the key from the heavily armed sheriff, find the vault, then liberate and extract the treasure. With four distinct characters to choose from, players must contend not only with a roaming AI on five base maps, but also with another team hoping to escape with the treasure.
The Player vs Player versus Enemy aspect forms the crux of the entire experience, and should be familiar to anyone who’s played games like Crytek’s Hunt: Showdown mixed with some co-op elements from Assassin’s Creed Unity. Hood: The core game mode of Outlaws and Legends is Heist, with two teams representing Robin of Locksley and Lord Huntingdon. Training mode is also available for those who just want to play against AI state guards, either with a full team of online players or three AI opponents.
The game features four distinct characters, all based on the classic story of Robin Hood, each with certain specialties to benefit the team. Robin represents the hunter class, armed with a bow, smoke grenades, and his ultimate ability, which gives him an explosive arrow. Marian is the prototype of an assassin. John is a fighter who specializes in melee attacks, opens iron doors, is able to block or parry attacks, and gains a huge damage buff. Finally, Tooke is the mystic who can heal the group and use his flail to deal some big melee damage to enemies. Unlike games like Marvel’s Avengers, there’s no limit to how many of the same character players can choose. This means that teams can consist of four robins if desired.
After completing the tutorial and starting the experience, the player will drop into the outlaw camp. This area is the player’s personal hub where they can change roles, practice moves against virtual targets, and check out challenges. Almost everything here has progression associated with it, leveled up by playing the game, earning XP, and spending coins. In turn, this helps unlock new features, gear, and abilities, while characters can unlock new perks that provide passive abilities, new-looking outfits, and weapons.
Even though there are only five maps available at launch, they’re all very diverse and big enough that players won’t take the same path twice. Levels offer many routes to objectives, with many optional routes such as ropes that can be shot down, capture points that provide quick respawns after death, and even lock areas when the player is spotted by enemies. Similar to Apex Legends, the game also has a well-thought-out ping system, making it easy for players to communicate even if they don’t want to use voice chat.
Visually, the Hood looks good, but probably won’t be a visual showpiece for the next-gen system. However, Sumo has made sure to take advantage of newer tech by reducing load times and keeping the game near 60 FPS with ray tracing. For PlayStation 5 owners, they’ll get even more next-gen bang for their buck thanks to the extra DualSense features. The controller’s enhanced haptics and audio speakers help players feel and hear the bowstring being pulled back, while depleting the stamina meter will cause increased resistance on the trigger.
In terms of gameplay, Hood: Outlaws and Legends puts stealth first. Being able to take out enemies quickly and quietly will help get the team to their objective faster. Instantly assassinate enemies from behind, even in combat. Sneak kill animations are limited, so players may end up seeing the same thing over and over again.
When discovered, players need to fight their way out of a situation, which is when things start to fall apart. Melee combat feels a little clumsy, with Robin and Marian reduced to basic light attacks, while Took and John do both light and heavy attacks. Even so, combat is fairly basic, with no special attacks or combos, and is governed by a fast-draining stamina meter. When it runs out, the player needs to let it refill in order to swing or dodge again.
Hood really shines in its tactical play when facing an enemy team, as teams have many options to achieve their goals. For example, teams can wait for other teams to do their dirty work before striking out. While games tend to start out slower and more organized, things escalate quickly as various objectives are accomplished. Chaos usually ensues toward the end as a team attempts to extract the gold by placing it in a basket and using a winch system to move it to safety. In this final stage, a team attempts to wring the gold to safety while fending off AI guards and the enemy team.
The race gets more frantic and tense as the meter slowly fills up, marking the end of the race. The prize for the winning team is a gold medal, which will be decided by the judicial scales. In true Robin Hood fashion, players need to decide how much they want to keep and how much they want to give back to people. Feedback rewards more perks and skills, but also requires gold to shop at the camp.
It’s a lot of fun when the game works as intended. The thing is, the game does have some issues that really get in the way of the experience. During the early access weekend for pre-orderers, server stability was a big issue, with frequent disconnections. To make matters worse, the game’s matchmaking process is excruciatingly slow at connecting players. In multiple tests over multiple nights (even after the game’s official launch on May 10th), connecting 8 players to a lobby before starting a match took unnecessarily long, often 5 minutes or more. Ultimately, this is very inconsistent. Thankfully, cross-play is enabled by default, which gives the game a larger player base.
Besides server and matchmaking issues, the game has many other issues and general quirks that affect the overall immersion. These issues include AI pathfinding issues where guards seem confused about where to go, walking through foliage instead of letting it realistically move around the player. Another time, the rain and wind outside were blowing through the roof of the castle.
Hood: Outlaws and Legends offers players a fun and tense experience, but is often held back by technical issues, glitches, and other hiccups. When it works as intended, Sumo Digital’s game feels unique, especially compared to most online experiences. Given that there’s no narrative or single-player campaign to fall back on, the game will ultimately live and die by its community. While many of the game’s issues aren’t game-breaking, server issues can be the Achilles’ heel if left unaddressed. With an extensive program of free and paid Year 1 DLC, Focus Home Interactive and Sumo Digital hope the appeal of new content and the dynamic elements of the game will keep players coming back.
Hood: Outlaws and Legends is available now on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. Game Rant obtained the PS5 code for this review.