Hood: Outlaws & Legends emphasizes PvPvE gameplay. It has your team of four go up against a rival squad. While you’re doing this, AI-controlled NPCs will also attempt to become a nuisance. Should you beat them down, though, you could pull off a successful Heist.
The concept itself seems intriguing. Unfortunately, I did notice certain problems within a few hours of playing. Likewise, since we’re only at the three-day early access stage, it took an ungodly amount of time before I could have a single Heist match.
The characters of Hood: Outlaws & Legends
Hood: Outlaws & Legends is inspired by the story of Robin Hood and his band of merry men. While there’s a theme of stealing from the rich to give to the poor, there’s really no narrative arc to go by. Just think of it as a grittier and edgier take on the folktale.
The game has four characters to choose from, each fulfilling a distinct role. Robin is an expert marksman with a bow who can sometimes blast foes with explosive arrows. Marianne is a huntress who can shoot with her hand crossbow while sneaking up on hostiles. John is the strongman warrior who smashes everyone with a mallet. Lastly, Tooke is a mystic who can heal allies.
Their abilities are at the forefront whenever you play a Heist match. You can also have multiple players using the same character on your team at any given run, though your selection is locked once the bout begins. Selections can tip the balance in your favor, such as having four people sniping as Robin or four Johns just bulldozing through the level. Moreover, there are perks, clothing, and weapons that are tied to your progression. Weapons and clothing are purchased using gold, and they become available as you increase your hideout’s rank. Perks, meanwhile, are unlocked as each specific character levels up.
The Heist of the century
The core gameplay loop in Hood: Outlaws & Legends involves Heists. These are 4v4 matchups where each team has to traverse a location, while sneaking past or eliminating guards, until they find the sheriff. The sheriff is one tough NPC and you’ll need to sneak behind him to grab his key. Said key is then used to open the treasure room which has a chest. That container will then need to be carried to an escape point. Once the team has reached that spot, they’ll need to use a winch to extract the chest.
Of course, while this is going on, AI-controlled knights, archers, and the sheriff will run to your position in an attempt to disrupt your efforts. Likewise, you’ll need to worry about the opposing team that’s trying to stymy your progress. It’s even possible to let your rivals do most of the work, then ambush them towards the end just to claim your prize in one fell swoop.
In terms of combat, Hood: Outlaws & Legends feels a little clunky. Character animations also feel very stiff, especially once you get up close to melee your opponents. The AI doesn’t help matters either, as hostiles can sometimes just stand there, pacing around until you lay the smackdown. You can evade attacks (usually one or two slashes), then follow up with a combo that has janky-looking animations. It’s also fairly easy to abuse the AI, such as by tossing a smoke bomb and watching them flail around for several seconds.
Ranged combat and assassinations feel more fluid. Headshots against unprotected enemies will often lead to a kill, and assassinations are easy enough to pull off (just sneak behind people and press the corresponding button). Sadly, kills can sometimes seem a little cheap since players who are engaged in melee can easily get backstabbed by a rival. Moreover, as mentioned in our technical review, the visuals look rough, and the framerates are capped at 62fps. This seems to be intentional since there are reports of lag and projectile issues when you attempt to uncap the framerates.
At the very least, there are some interesting aspects when you try to traverse a level. These include ropes that can be shot so the team can climb them, locked down sections of the map when you get spotted, and capture points to get back to the action quickly after respawning.
Out of players
Unfortunately, the biggest problem I’ve experienced in Hood: Outlaws & Legends is the atrocious matchmaking. I was able to start playing around lunchtime here in the Philippines and not a single lobby I joined led to a match. That would’ve been midnight on the east coast, which made me wonder if my first attempt was at offpeak hours. But, as far as I know, the game has dedicated servers for various regions, including Asia, and I even had crossplay enabled. When I tried again in the evening, it actually took 15 minutes before a match could begin. There were cases when I’d end up on a team all alone even though the enemy squad was already filled up. There were also moments when players just wouldn’t hit the ready button. Likewise, I noticed that I was going up against characters who were already level 20 or higher, meaning they’ve unlocked several perks.
Granted, these problems might simply be due to Hood: Outlaws & Legends being in its “early access headstart” stage which is only available for those who’ve pre-ordered. To be fair, the game does have a training mode. Sadly, this only pits you all by your lonesome against the AI. You could try to find human teammates, but only among those you’ve buddied up with. Oh, and there are no bots to speak of in either Heist or Training mode.
Will matchmaking get better over time for Hood: Outlaws & Legends? Well, I can only hope so once the game officially releases on May 11. We’ll update our review around that time, so stay tuned.
Review update: More matches on release day
Matchmaking still took a while when I played during the weekend, though things did pick up once Hood: Outlaws & Legends had its official launch. I had several matches under my belt, mostly using Robin and Marianne.
Frankly, Hood: Outlaws & Legends does scratch the PvP itch at times due to the mechanics involved. Think of it as a cross between Payday 2 (due to the heists) and Assassin’s Creed (owing to stealth and sneaky kills), all wrapped up in an online team deathmatch/TDM mode. There’s enough fun to be had for a short while. Sadly, the excitement doesn’t last long. The core gameplay loop becomes too repetitive to the point of monotony. With only one mode to “grind” all throughout, I found that it was easy to get bored.
Likewise, you can add cheap wins to the equation. Your team can do everything right, perfectly completing the objectives on the map only to see the enemy team get that last winch. Naturally, you can pull off the same stunt to obtain the victory, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is a very strange and perplexing design flaw. Moreover, you can add questionable matchmaking once “premade” or “high-level” teams are involved. It’s very likely that solo players could end up fighting a squad of four fully-leveled characters with all the perks unlocked. That doesn’t really seem fair, and I actually joined Discord groups just to get even.
All in all, the rest of my experience devolved into matches that followed a tiresome process. My squad would just roam around, taking over capture points, farming assassinations for XP, and abusing the character mechanics. We’d often let the opposing team do everything so we can follow up with a cheap win in the end. Lather, rinse, and repeat, and that’s basically what you can expect. Maybe Hood: Outlaws & Legends is fun in short bursts, but it doesn’t provide long-term engagement.