Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Windows (Reviewed)
Release Date: 10 May 2021
Price: $29.99 USD / $43.95 AUD – Available Here
Hood: Outlaws & Legends is a stealth based PvPvE title from English developers Sumo Digital. The game pits two teams of four in a grand Robin Hood style heist to rob the Sheriff of his treasure. However, an opposing team of thieves adds an extra layer of complication to the heist.
Hood: Outlaws & Legends does not have much of a story. The game is loosely inspired by old English folklore. Those who are familiar with the folklore may recognize some vague elements, but the game’s multiplayer nature doesn’t provide much chance for narrative.
Hood: Outlaws & Legends really emphasizes PvP part of the equation. Unfortunately, the objectives remain the same between each map: pickpocket the key from the sheriff, open the vault, steal the treasure chest, and extract the chest. While teams can earn bonus money by cranking the chest to certain intervals, it’s the team who cranks the chest to the final point that wins the game. At its core, the game is a mixture of capture the flag and domination game modes with a splash of stealth.
The game offers four classes. Robin and Marianne are the two ranged classes with Robin being the pure range class while Marianne being more skilled at close quarter assassinations. John and Tooke are the melee characters. John is a straightforward melee brawler, while Tooke mixes mid-range combat and support abilities. The class balance is decent. All the basic roles are covered, and special abilities are unique enough to distinguish the classes. There is also enough room for another one or two classes to be added later without feeling too repetitive.
While the game really tries to sell itself on the stealth gameplay, the mechanics are actually light and approachable. Guards are not too deadly or smart. Additionally, players can easily lose their pursuers with a short run or kill off the guards and move on. While the traditional assassination move is a staple in the game, the balance between range and movement speed is still a work in progress. Characters can easily outwalk sneak speeds, making it difficult to get the jump on hostile players unless they are distracted by combat.
Combat is decent. Games often devolve into a full-blown brawl at the end of the game as the chest is being cranked at the extraction point. Melee character attacks are telegraphed, allowing plenty of time to block and dodge incoming damage. Stamina is limited, so players are strongly discouraged from button mashing. The biggest issue is assassinations grants immunity to damage, allowing players to jump from the bushes and take out a character in the midst of combat. There’s no way to save teammates, which is absolutely infuriating when it’s happening right in front of the player. If it wasn’t for the assassination immunity, combat would hit a good balance between skill and accessibility
The last few minutes of Hood: Outlaws & Legends is game at it’s best. The early to mid game is a dull, if not pedestrian light stealth game, but the end is a tense all out brawl where players are balancing strategic decisions to capture respawn points, battle it out for control of the winch, or tie up characters by having them crank the winch. Consider a team only needs to be the one cranking the last increment of the winch, the end leads for some epic last-minute comebacks.
The quality-of-life features are poor overall. There is no full-sized map like the one found on the respawn screen, which makes it difficult for new players to figure out where to go until they memorize the maps. While crossplay does drive up the available player pool, matchmaking is brutal. Partial lobbies don’t appear to be prioritized, and it’s often easier to just find a new lobby. The game doesn’t seem to balance skill levels very well before the match, which can often lead to a team stacked with veteran players who all trickled into the game on their own. While the developers say the matchmaking system is designed to focus on win/loss ratio and number of matches played, the matchmaking system does not seem to give enough weight to player experience. This is especially important since learning combat and all the map layouts without a proper in-game map takes some time. Finally, certain gameplay keys can’t be rebound on the PC. The push to talk is permanently bound to Y, which is infuriating for ESDF and WASD users alike.
The game is also quite glitchy at release. The mute player function is rarely functional at best. Visual glitches occur with some regularity, with dead characters standing upright being the most common. Gameplay issues are also widespread. For example, guards in combat can sometimes get stuck in some sort of alerted limbo state, unable to move. While Sumo Digital says the game is hosted on dedicated serves, the game is often plagued with lag issues even when the server is assigned to my region.
Hood: Outlaws & Legends has a decent visual style. The UI has a nice English druidic flair. While the world is a pretty bog standard realistic medieval setting, the character design is a solid twist on the classic Disney image of Robin Hood. Character silhouettes are not visually distinct though. At most, players can figure out if an enemy player is melee or ranged with a quick glance. I generally prefer games that can convey such important information visually as it helps players understand their situation in a quick and easy way.
The audio experience is okay. There isn’t too much of a soundtrack due to the stealth mechanics. The voice acting is decent, and the sound effects are enjoyable.
Hood: Outlaws & Legends is a flawed game. While the bugs, balancing, and quality of life issues may be fixed in the long term, the game’s boring to early mid game and half-baked stealth gameplay really dampens the experience. The final battle is always a tense and enjoyable event, but it’s just not enough to overcome the hump to recommend to everyone.
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