Hood: Outlaws & Legends - XB1 Review

Hood: Outlaws & Legends
by developer Sumo Digital and publisher Focus Home InteractiveMicrosoft Xbox One review written by Nick with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Hood: Outlaws & Legends is an interesting idea as it pits players versus players versus the environment in relatively briskly paced online matches. The game deserves credit for trying to do something unique, but there’s so many unpolished edges that hinder the overall experience.

The setting is one of my favorites, taking characters from Robin Hood lore and putting them in a gritty, engrossing setting. The premise to each match is to pit a four player team against another four player team. They are not only working against one another, but also coping with the AI controlled characters in the environment that are working against them too. The teams have the same goal – take the key from the sheriff, unlock the vault, steal the treasure and get it safely to an extraction point.

There are plenty of online competitive staples sprinkled in here. Most of the AI enemies are little more than fodder that in a one-on-one situation, seldom pose a serious threat (outside of the Sheriff, who will absolutely maul you if he gets too close). But they can summon reinforcement and cause changes in the environment that make the encounters that much more dangerous, and when sprinkled in amidst the player versus player carnage. There are respawn points that can be captured that give you strategic advantages when you die and have to jump back into the fray.

Structurally, there is a lot to like about Hood: Outlaws & Legends. The stages are interesting, with gates that can be dropped, a sense of verticality through various towers and staircases as their maps span a handful of different environments. Creeping through foliage, shooting at enemies out of windows and using ropes to scale stone walls are all interesting aspects to the stages that make them feel well designed and interesting to get to learn and explore.

There are four characters that can be chosen from as well, and each one serves a purpose that ties into the environments mentioned above. This is one of the areas where Hood: Outlaws & Legends feels like it has a ton of potential, but also has a tendency to fall a bit flat. Ideally a team will be constructed from each of the four characters / roles, since they each serve a distinctive purpose. There is the titular Robin Hood, who naturally attacks with bow and arrow and is terrible in melee combat. He is the scout of the team, often scaling towers and peeking out of windows to tag enemies and points of interest for the rest of the team and trying to combat enemies at a distance.

Next up we have Marianne who is all about the stealth. She can be absolutely lethal creeping through the shrubs and assassinating enemies who walk too close to her. She is often your best bet to get the key without combat, because she can pick the Sheriff’s pocket and is quick in reaching the vault to unlock it. However, she loses a lot of her efficacy when it comes time to actually fight in close quarters, similar to Robin. John is the big, bruising character he is often described as in many other stories. He is all about the close quarters combat. He is also able to raise some of the gates that the AI guards close, opening up shorter, more direct paths for teammates. He also comes in handy during the final part of each mission, when you need to crank a pully to extract the stolen treasure, as he can do that faster than anyone else. If these things make John feel like he’s more useful than the aforementioned two characters, that is because he is.

It also plays into the final character, Tooke. He is another melee-based character, who can heal allies, carry the chest really fast and in general is capable of taking a licking similar to John. By all accounts, Tooke is seen as probably the most overpowered character in the game. While the ideal scenario is to see one of each character in a party, each contributing in their own way to the mission’s success – the problem is that this is seldom how it plays out unless you are up against another similarly constructed team. Early on, when I first started playing at launch, most teams were pretty well-balanced like this. However, as people started to gain familiarity with what characters were really the most useful, it was not unusual to see a team of three Tookes and a John up against teams of two Johns and two Tookes. The stealth components are then just cast away as everyone focused on brute forcing one another.

So there are some clear balance issues. These not only relate to the classes, but matchmaking too. It is not unusual to see two or three level ten or under characters with a level sixty-something that dominates the proceedings because they know their way around the maps or have some handy unlocked perks. That is always the risk with something like this – you want to have some nice progression in there, and Hood: Outlaws & Legends has that between character ability perks and oodles of cosmetics that can be unlocked for your characters. I love that kind of progression, though it can create imbalances when you have such disparate leveled characters tossed together. Conversely, I get it because if they are too narrow in their team-building, it might be challenging to get two full teams of four assembled in a timely fashion. To Hood: Outlaws & Legends’ credit, I was generally hopping into matches rather quickly.

I would say that Hood: Outlaws & Legends is at its best when you are communicating with actual friends and not just working silently with random pick-up groups. Also, with only four characters, a handful of maps and a single primary gameplay structure, things can grow a bit stale rather quickly, which may hurt the game’s longevity as well. Hopefully the developers have some more content coming sooner than later and they can figure out a way to steak the game balance, or I fear that Hood: Outlaws & Legends just won’t be played heavily in a few months or so.


By and large, I really enjoyed Hood: Outlaws & Legends. The game’s setting and structure are interesting and an expertly executed heist is very rewarding, especially when you get to unlock some new progression items for your characters during the early levels of gameplay. Unfortunately there are still plenty of rough edges, from questionable enemy AI, class imbalances and uneven matchmaking that combine with relatively shallow content that could give Hood: Outlaws & Legends a somewhat short shelf-life if the developers don’t address those concerns.

Score: 6.75 / 10




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