Review – Hood: Outlaws and Legends

I always appreciate when a developer announces a complete new take on a cooperative online game. There are few that stray away from the tested basic multiplayer components, so when something different comes along, it might be worth paying attention to. Hood: Outlaws and Legends is a 4v4 PvPvE game where two teams compete to steal a chest from a group of AI controlled enemies. Think Hunt: Showdown with a darker take on Robin Hood. Let’s see if the idea paid off in the end.

No, this isn’t Assassin’s Creed.

There’s not a lot of a story in here. You play as a group of bandits based on Robin Hood, Lady Marion, and the like, in a darker version of the tale we all know and love. Sure, the fact that clones of each character appear in bunches in a match, but hey, it’s a multiplayer game, storytelling was never going to be its focus anyway.

Each match is simple on the surface. First of all, you need to pickpocket a key from the sheriff, then open a vault with said key and take a chest to a designated spot. Whoever does this first wins the match. Simple, right? Well, it is, but the problem is that it doesn’t matter who performs the pickpocketing and vault opening: only the chest extraction matters when it comes to deciding who wins the game or not, meaning that the gameplay can be easily exploited by letting a team do all the dirty work and ambushing them at the last second.

There are four classes to play as. The Ranger (aka, Robin Hood himself) can kill enemies from afar and use rope arrows to create pathways for your team. The Assassin (aka Lady Marion) is quick and stealthier. Little John is a slow-moving brute who can withstand more attacks and hold gates open for the team. Finally, there’s the Mystic, a support class that focuses more on healing allies and tagging enemies.

You can have any combination of these classes. If you want to have a team of four Robin Hoods, so be it. Four brutes? Go for it. It allows for flexibility in your strategy, but it also means that any semblance of balancing is thrown off the window. Using stealthy characters feels great at first, but the natural progression of each match will eventually resort to beating each other in close-quarters combat, and the melee mechanics are nowhere near as polished to make this kind of gameplay hold up. Not to mention the insane amounts of lag.

Sticking with your team is essential.

Extracting the chest is such a messy part of the game. It often devolves into 10-15 minutes of both teams sprinting at each other in an attempt to use the winch and win the match. All strategy goes out of the window here, as you and the enemy team just run at each other over and over again until one team ends up victorious and gets the last little bit of progress on the winch. If you have enough time and capture respawn points across the map before attacking the enemy team in one final push, you can potentially sweep the win. Personally, I’m not a fan of the extraction stage, as  it feels completely underdeveloped, leading to more of an exercise in frustration rather than the exciting heist game it is supposed to be. 
Thankfully, losing the match doesn’t mean you leave with nothing. It’s how you’re team performed that really matters. Taking down enemies, guards and completing objectives gives you a ton of gold to use back at camp. So, if your team gets 90% of the final extraction and the enemy team takes the victory you still don’t walk away with a good chunk. What Hood does well is ensuring that teamwork makes the heist work. A good team can get creative with their strategies but also need to be aware of what the enemy is doing so they can adapt.

Besides the rival team, there are AI-controlled enemies you need to take care of. Guards are dumb fodder, with poor vision and sound reflexes. However, getting caught by them will cause more guards to be spawned through the map, as well as alerting the enemy team of your position. Finally, there’s the Sheriff, a Mr. X kind of enemy which terminates you in one hit if he catches you. You cannot kill him but you can stun it for a minute or so. His AI is terrible, often ignoring players randomly whilst locking onto others.

Stay quiet or go loud… it’s a shame it always ends with a brawl.

Hood‘s matchmaking is extremely troublesome. At times, the game takes ages to assemble a full lobby. It also occasionally throws you into a nearly finished match. To add insult to injury, there is no penalty for those who quit the game midway through a match, seriously compromising everyone else still trying to finish it. Between these issues, as well as the staggering lack of day-one content (just five maps and few modes), you’ll see (and get bored of) everything the game has to offer in just a few hours.

At its best (as in, sneaking into a stronghold with your team while keeping an eye out on the opposition), Hood can actually feel quite amazing. Creating diversions and taking out the guards in a synchronised fashion is a sight to behold, but this also works murderously well against players. It’s a shame that both teams will eventually stop caring about stealth and proceed to end a round on loud and mindless melee combat, and given how poor the combat mechanics are in this game, you can imagine how frustrating every single online match eventually becomes.

Regarding its visuals, parts of Hood actually look pretty good, especially when the game throws some darker and moodier imagery based on the source material. Its art direction is truly excellent. However, I was disappointed with how ugly the game looked on an Xbox One X, with an overall blurry presentation and very muddy textures.

Sheriff gonna give it to ya.

Hood: Outlaws and Legends has potential when it comes to its team-based, stealh-oriented heist gameplay concept. That cannot be discussed. However, issues related to its gameplay and how easily it can be exploited, as well as that overall sense that it’s not bound to retain its community for long, make it quite hard to recommend, even if I’m hopeful the developers will continute to support it over time.

Graphics: 7.0

Playing on the Xbox One X version of Hood was disappointing. It just looked really rough, despite enjoying the general art direction. 

Gameplay: 7.0

Hood has some compelling gameplay that makes you feel like a stealthy badass. Sadly, its ruleset can be easily exploited.

Sound: 8.0

Solid sound design all round, with great music and sound effects.

Fun Factor: 5.0

The game oozes potential with its concept, but its gameplay loop and exploitable mechanics make it quite boring after a while.

Final Verdict: 6.5

Hood: Outlaws and Legends is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X and PC

Reviewed on Xbox One X.

A copy of Hood: Outlaws and Legends was provided by the publisher.