Hood: Outlaws and Legends is a competitive multiplayer heist game set in the world of Robin Hood. This might not sound like the type of game you’d expect to be set in that world, but that doesn’t make the prospect of two teams of medieval thieves stealing things from vaults any less appealing. Mix that with some suspiciously magical abilities and some annoyingly persistent AI guards and you’ve got the setup for what could be a very entertaining multiplayer game.
The main mode in Hood sees two teams of four fighting each other and those pesky guards as they loot a vault. There are three objectives; first the key to the vault must be stolen from the sheriff. He’s an extra-large guard that can tank an awful lot of damage, only gets incapacitated for a while instead of dying, and will kill any player in one hit if they get close enough.
Once someone’s successfully pickpocketed this brute, you’ll need to get the key to the vault door and open it, which is harder than it sounds when you’ve got four medieval murderers trying to get it from you so they can do the same thing. Once someone from either team has opened the vault, the chest must be carried to an extraction point, so the carrier’s team is going to need to defend them whilst they heave it there, because it’s very heavy. Of course, if the other team figures out which extraction point you’ve chosen you might just walk into an ambush and hand them the chest right where they can put it on the slowest crane in the world and winch it onto a boat while a progress bar fills up
On top of this, you’ll be fighting and/or sneaking around guards. These guards can trigger alarms that raise the alert level in their area of the map, which not only makes guards more alert but closes down the gates to other areas as well, making progress through the map more difficult. Thankfully, there are a few ways around this.
The first and most obvious one is simply to not get spotted, you can use bushes in typical stealth game fashion to sneak around and assassinate enemies without being spotted. When that inevitably fails – this is a multiplayer game after all – you can use your class abilities. The Ranger, for example, whose name rather unceremoniously turns out to be Robin (you know, Robin Hood), can use his bow to shoot at conveniently placed bits of rope-wrapped wood to release a rope to climb and create a new pathway.
The Brawler, who is a melee class that carries a big hammer (and is also the class that looks the most like Thor), can just lift up those gates to let his teammates through, though. The classes have other abilities too, with the Ranger being able to shoot an explosive arrow and the Brawler able to activate Wrath, which increases his offence and defence. The Mystic carries a flail and can use his Instinct ability to highlight enemies for teammates and heal them, whilst the Hunter can turn invisible, making her ideal for stealthily killing guards and pickpocketing sheriffs without raising an alarm.
These systems add up to an enjoyable multiplayer game where teamwork and stealth is rewarded, at least for a few hours. There’s a lot of tactical options available, from supporting other players with your abilities to underhanded sneakiness like triggering the alarm in an area of the map the enemy has to use a lot to slow them down, or simply just kiting a sheriff towards them and then running away while you’re invisible. The problem is that, whilst there’s a decent amount of maps, there’s only really one mode. You’re always doing these objectives in this order and the other mode is the same, but minus the enemy team.
After a few hours, the clunkiness becomes harder to forgive. The melee combat is rough, imprecise, and awkward, the Mystic in particular apparently only has one melee attack and looks a bit silly fighting up close. I also had some trouble with fences – wooden fences I mean, not buyers of stolen items – in that sometimes when I tried to climb over one, my character would be afflicted by a little floaty mid-animation and then land on the side they started on. Sometimes the button prompt just doesn’t appear at all, presumably meaning in-world that Robin Hood is physically incapable of traversing this waist-high obstruction, like a character in an FPS from 2006.
It can take quite a long time to get enough players together for a game as well, even with crossplay enabled, whether that’s due to the game’s matchmaking or low player count is anyone’s guess, but it’s not encouraging either way. There’s also some balancing issues, particularly between ranged and melee. It’s far harder to take someone down with a bow than a hammer in this Robin Hood game, pretty much requiring a headshot on an erratic moving target or all of your arrows and some pretty impressive aiming while a big angry Thor-looking dude holding a big hammer comes at you with an arrow sticking out of his back.
Then there’s the guards. Later in the game once the chest has been stolen and everywhere is in lockdown, they run around in packs like the Three Stooges, one occasionally getting caught on a bit of scenery and just running into it for all eternity. This absurd impression isn’t helped by their chatter as they go through the usual stealth game AI stages – “what was that?” before staring intently for a few seconds, then “need to get my eyes checked.” The gruffness of the sheriff’s voice seems particularly comical when you consider that he’s muttering these menacing things aloud to himself as well. Mechanically the guards can be a serious threat, but seeing groups of them running past your entire team as you’re all hidden in one bush is funny enough to make them almost endearing.
In spite of all this, there’s still some fun to be had here, it’s just that there isn’t nearly enough variety at launch until Sumo add more content such as the Outlaws & Legends State Heist co-op mode.
I was enjoying myself the most in the earlier stages of games, when there’s still a point in sneaking around because the teams still haven’t met and you need to pickpocket the sheriff. The game looks beautiful as you sneak through detailed medieval churches and graveyards taking enemies out as a team, and it’s extremely atmospheric and immersive. However, that all goes out the window once the alarms go off and you’re dying repeatedly to enemy players and guards whilst wrestling with the melee combat. Outside of the perks that unlock as your character levels up, even the weapons and outfits you unlock are cosmetic, so your only options for tailoring your class are the nine perks, three equipped at a time, if you unlock them all before you get burnt out.