The adventures of Robin Hood and his merry men have been brought to life in a myriad of ways over the years, so it can be difficult to find a take on the premise that does something unique. Enter Focus Home Interactive’s Hood: Outlaws & Legends, which takes the core elements of the mythos and spins them into a multiplayer-focused game that pits your team of Outlaws against another team as you both attempt to steal the treasure from the Sherriff’s Vault and return the riches to the people. When things are clicking, it is an incredibly thrilling experience, though a flaw or two holds it back from completely reaching its potential.
Hood: Outlaws & Legends allows you to choose from one of four members of Robin’s team. That includes Robin, Marianne, John, and Tooke, and each one represents a different class and playstyle. Robin is the marksman of the group, obviously, and specializes in long-range bow attacks and tagging enemies. Next up is Marianne, who is a lethal, offensive powerhouse and can quickly eliminate foes with her melee attacks and crossbow bolts. After that is John, who is the brawler of the group and can also lift heavy gates. Finally, we have the Mystic Tooke, who can deal effective damage with his flail but also has the ability to mark enemies and heal your team.
(Photo: Focus Home Interactive)
You’ll need all of those varied skillsets to achieve your goal, which is split into three phases. The first is to track down the Sherriff, who you will need to pickpocket to steal the key to the vault. Then you’ll need to actually find the vault, which is hidden somewhere on the map. Finally, you’ll need to take the treasure chest to one of several extraction points, and once you get there you’ll have to winch it up to the ship to claim the gold. The gold you and your team obtain can then be split up and either be sent to your personal coin purse to spend on upgrades and costumes or given back to the people, which in turn upgrades your hideout.
The methods to victory are easy to understand, but it’s the unpredictability that makes it so engaging. Your team and the opposition are always adapting to each other, and those pivots in strategy result in some truly entertaining clashes. For instance, in one clash, the opposing team’s Ranger kept me at a distance by sniping me before I could get to the destination. So, instead of just running in and hoping for the best again, I decided to head to another spawn point and capture it, giving my team and me another point of attack. I did this twice and as I made my (very long) way around the opposing Ranger, not only did I get into the battle finally, but I had helped my team get back into the battle quicker on subsequent deaths.
(Photo: Focus Home Interactive)
Sometimes that unpredictability has nothing to do with either team, like when the Sheriff just happened to wander into the extraction zone we were fighting over. He is unkillable, but you can down him momentarily. It was one of the rare instances where everyone works together, but not before he had wiped out several of us from both teams. Unexpected scenarios like that happen frequently during matches, and when you combine that element of surprise with satisfying combat mechanics and thrilling end of match tension, you’ve got yourself quite a mix.
To get the most out of the addictive and satisfying main gameplay loop you’ll want to spend some time with each character since you’ll need to bounce between them all depending on the rest of your team’s choices. The good news is that Hood is pretty easy on new players, as the tutorial gets across most of what you need to be a competent player, and there are pockets on each map that you can kind of get your bearings, netting you some easy kills. There is also a training area at your hideout if you want to work a little more on your skills, though honestly, you won’t really get better unless you just keep playing matches.
The main gameplay loop is really fast-paced and exciting, but a few things do hold the game from its full potential. The biggest is finding a match. This can take way too long at times, especially if you’re heading to the hideout in between every match. We’re not sure if it’s just player count at given times or a matchmaking issue, but either way, we hope it improves, because it can be a reason to fire up something else depending on how much time you have to game.
The other main issue is tied to the many cosmetic unlockables in the game. While there are some stunners in there, the collection of cosmetic changes to weapons and costumes was a bit underwhelming. When I have to go back and forth several times between two hammers just to figure out what the difference is, you’re not exactly enticing me to sink more time in to unlock it. Now, this is partly due to the fact that most of the new looks are just recolors, and some of them really do stand out, but in an actual match, few people are going to see the color of your crossbow. What would stand out far more is if the actual weapon designs were different. Someone wielding a Norse-styled hammer with lightning around it or a flail with a crazy, hook-covered ball will immediately stand out and have you looking at how to unlock it.
There is a roadmap in place for future content, including new maps, weapons, and more, which bodes well, and the game is also budget-friendly at its $29.99 price point. Throw in some solid visuals and a truly fun and satisfying gameplay loop and you’ve got yourself a one-of-a-kind Robin Hood-themed adventure that will have you coming back for more. That said, it could be even better, and it will be interesting to check in a year from now and see how far it’s come.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Hood: Outlaws & Legends is available now for PS4, Xbox One, PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC.