14 May 2021 12:21 PM +00:00

Hood Outlaws and Legends Review: A Little (John) Goes A Long Way

Sumo Digital joins the fray of online team battle games with Hood: Outlaws and Legends, a unique twist on the formula that transports us to Merrie Englande to murder the rich and everyone else, then, sometimes, give to the poor. It’s grisly and compelling, yet despite the clever class design and lovely maps, there’s a distinct sense that Hood needed more time before release.

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You Want Taxes?

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Hood’s main idea is simple. You’re a band of outlaws seeking treasure for self-gain and, depending on how altruistic you feel, to spread among the people. Another band of suspiciously similar-looking outlaws wants the same thing, though, and they become your foes alongside State forces, e.g. the Sheriff of Nottingham and other government lackeys.

Your goal is stealing the Sheriff’s key without his noticing, because one hit from him equals instant murder, finding the treasure, and “extracting” it, which is just a lengthy process where you slowly load the treasure aboard a ship. It sounds too simple on paper, but it’s surprisingly varied and frantic in practice.

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Thieves Don't Walk, They Slither

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Hood doesn’t have many maps yet, but the vastness and detail of each keeps rounds interesting. The maps are huge, spanning several levels and even underground in one instance, and deciding whether to capture additional bases to unlock new respawn points is a vital part of your strategy.

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Environments look gorgeous, but there’s tactical value as well. State guards roam most sections of the map, and you’re often faced with split-second decisions to assassinate from hiding, attack, run, or blow your cover to interrupt the enemy team’s progress.

Until the first round of new content drops, you choose between four characters — Marianne, Robin, Tooke, and John — who fill the usual roles of melee, ranged, healer, and tank, respectively. Each character has a few skills and two attacks, and a limited stamina meter makes it vital to strategize how and when you use them.

Each character can take advantage of the maps in important ways as well, such as John opening shortcuts or Marianne hiding in the bushes to assassinate everyone.

Someday, You'll Be Called A Great Hero

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Yet there’s always a nagging sense of something missing while playing Hood. The variables you juggle in each mission means there’s a strong compulsion to try again whether you fail or win, but you also realize there’s just not much to do at the same time.

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It’s an odd tension. Hood’s season pass promises to fix some of it with new characters and a new mode, though I can’t help but think the release should have waited and either included these modes in the base game for a higher price or launched alongside the season pass.

One thing the season pass won’t fix is Hood’s reward system. You’ll split gold earned through extracting the chest and winning rounds between upgrading your base and sharing among the poor, though Hood offers little incentive for living up to its merry-band-of-thieves namesake. Upgrading the hub unlocks new skins, and you’ll need gold for perks unlocked as you raise each character’s level.

That’s pretty much it, so there’s not much reason to come back once you get tired of doing the same heists on the same maps. This is where a single-player mode would have worked wonders, especially since Hood’s PvE element is one of its strongest points. Perhaps it’s something we can look forward to in the future.

Verdict

Smart combat makes you think about every move on the game’s impressively varied maps, but until Sumo adds more to do, it’s a tough one to recommend. For now, Hood is best enjoyed with friends or in small doses.

3/5

Reviewed on PC

Review code provided by the publisher