HIGH My first match
LOW Every match after that.
WTF Sure guys, let’s alert everyone we’re trying to sneak past.
Filmmaker Christopher Nolan once said “Heist movies tend to be a bit superficial, glamorous, and fun. They don’t tend to be emotionally engaging.” He’s right. People watch heist films for the thrill of the chase or to see if a meticulously-planned robbery can be pulled off. While we all love Danny Ocean and his crew of criminal misfits, is anyone really watching Ocean’s Eleven for its emotional weight?
The way I see it, if the “heist” aspect of such a film is successful, then everything else the movie does right is a bonus. So what happens if that central element is seriously lacking? Well, you just might get a game like Hood: Outlaws & Legends.
Taking place in 13th century England, this third-person actioner sees players control Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men in a series of online heists. Two teams of four must compete with each other, each trying to find treasure while avoiding NPC guards that litter the map. Playing similarly to other third-person games like Assassin’s Creed or the Batman: Arkham series, players will use stealth to sneak around enemies, hide in bushes and even get up to higher vantage points in order to scope an area out.
This premise is great, and the idea of playing a medieval-themed heist game excited me. Unfortunately, what I got was a shallow mismash of different ideas that don’t mix well.
For starters, this is a cooperative title that doesn’t seem to encourage coordination, as the start of every match usually sees players rushing towards the treasure and alerting every guard on the map. There’s no planning stage beforehand, nor any sense of working together in the early moments. Instead of allowing players time to plan out sufficient strategies at the begging, players automatically make a mad dash to the treasure immediately. They almost certainly alert NPC guards and even get caught in the crossfire of the enemy team. I’m not sure if my team is to blame here, or if the confusing and muddied design of the game just lacks any way to strategize.
This lack of teamwork in an ostensibly team-based title wouldn’t be an issue if players were simply contending with the NPC guards or the menacing Sheriff (a near-invincible titan that encourages stealth to get around) — having Hood be a straightforward PvE experience might have felt more balanced and my co-op partner and I (fellow GameCritics writer Cody Bolster) would have been able to coordinate more effectively. Unfortunately, instead of being able to quietly pick off guards and sneak our way into the castle, each match essentially forces teams to race each other the treasure, which is generally always in the same location.
To me, these elements felt like they clashed. Why not have players simply fight NPCs? Or, why not make a game where fighting the other team is the main goal? It feels a bit like the developers wanted to include every major online mode into one package, hoping it would make for a compelling experience, but the result is that very little of it works.
It’s a shame because looking at the core of it, the bones of gameplay are adequate. There are four classes, each with their own abilities. My favorite (he Hunter) wields a crossbow that can shoot three bolts at a time. She’s great at dealing long-ranged damage and has a much faster rate of fire than the Ranger, who uses a slower bow and arrow. Hand-to-hand combat is a bit stiff, though — my guess is that Hood was built to play more like a shooter than a brawler. Attacks have very little weight, and the feel of getting up-close-and-personal with enemies never feels satisfying.
Hood: Outlaws & Legends tries too hard to mesh different game types into one unified multiplayer experience, and its lofty ambitions get buried under clashing elements. What could have been an exciting co-op title ended up a frustrating slog, and in a heist — whether it’s a movie or a game — if the main caper ain’t good, the rest doesn’t matter.
Disclosures: This game is published by Focus Home Entertainment and developed by Sumo Newcastle. It is currently available on PS4/5, XBX/S, XBO, and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS5. Approximately 10 hours were spent in the multiplayer modes. There is a single-player tutorial, of which 20 minutes were spent playing.
Parents: According to the ESRB this game is rated M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, and Strong Language. Players can shoot arrows and bludgeon enemies to death with melee weapons. In my playthrough, I’ve seen my character’s head come clean off. Safe to say, this game is definitely not for young children.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: There are no subtitles, as there is no dialogue. Everything is highlighted and a play-by-play of events is shown on screen via text, detailing things like deaths, enemy’s status, and other things like different NPCs’ actions. For those worried that voice chat is required in an online game like this, players can use non-verbal means liking pinging enemies and points of interest on the map. The game encourages these methods by rewarding players with XP for doing so. Sound is not needed to enjoy this game. In my view, it’s fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: Yes, the controls are remappable.
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