Hood: Outlaws & Legends review: Stealth mayhem

Sumo Digital
Sumo Digital /

Title: Hood: Outlaws & Legends
Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed on), PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: May 10, 2021

I’ve always been a fan of the legend of Robin Hood. A highly skilled archer and swordsman who robs from the rich to give to the poor, what’s not to love?

Hood: Outlaws & Legends draws much of its inspiration from the legendary folklore. From its dark, medieval setting to the characters themselves to the core gameplay loop, there’s a lot of potential for this game to build on.

Unfortunately, it isn’t quite there yet.

Hood: Outlaws & Legends is a fantasy heist game in which two competing gangs of outlaws race to steal treasure from a heavily guarded fortress run by the State and escape with the riches to either keep for themselves or give to the poor. Each match in the game is broken into three stages: steal the key to the vault from the Sheriff, locate the vault somewhere within the keep, and escape with the treasure. Every match has these exact same steps and there’s no variance aside from the maps themselves (of which there is only a handful). So the gameplay loop can get pretty repetitive after a short while.

Hood: Outlaws & Legends is billed as a stealth heist game. There are currently four character classes to choose from: the Ranger, a sniper and master infiltrator; the Hunter, a deadly assassin with quick takedowns; the Brawler, a brute warrior; and the Mystic, a sorcerer/support healer of sorts. Together, these characters’ unique weapons, abilities and gameplay styles are supposed to lead to a more strategic approach to every match.

If you aren’t the first to locate the key or the vault, you could try to coordinate a place to ambush the enemy team and steal the treasure from them before they escape. The point is, there’s supposed to be an element of stealth and strategy. Of course, it doesn’t quite play out like that and more often than not the match devolves into a straight-up deathmatch.

What ultimately ends up happening is someone gets spotted or the two teams happen to meet up before finding the Sheriff, and it turns into pure chaos. All forms of stealth or strategy are just thrown out the window and it becomes a pure deathmatch as the treasure becomes a secondary goal.

This wouldn’t be too bad if the combat in Hood: Outlaws & Legends was more polished or balanced. But as it currently stands, the combat mechanics leave a lot to be desired. Constant stun locks, clunky controls and awkward character animations are just the tips of the iceberg. Character balancing is also another huge issue, but this is at least something that can be adjusted with patches.

There are also some questionable gameplay mechanics with the system itself. For starters, aside from some bonus experience, there’s no real benefit to being the first to steal the key or unlock the vault.

I know there’s supposed to be a strategic element in which you can set up an ambush at the vault if the enemy team is the first to get the key. But one of the big problems of trying to coordinate this sort of thing — besides communication — is a lack of tools or devices to help pull it off. Most of the characters’ weapons and abilities are focused on combat. It would be useful if you could place traps to slow the enemy team’s progress.

Once a team retrieves the chest, they must make their way to the extraction point where they can use the wrench to extract the treasure. Players must manually operate the lever while fending off  NPCs and the enemy team at the same time.

As you work the wrench, you’ll fill a bar that represents the complete extraction. There are six segments you must fill, with each point rewarding the team that fills it with some gold. Here’s the biggest issue I have with the system; the win condition is determined simply by who is the final team to fill that final segment, not by who filled most of the bar.

Basically, your team can do all of the heavy lifting. You can steal the key, you can open the vault and you can fill most of the extraction bar. But if the enemy team comes in and wipes you and fills that last notch, they technically win the match. It’s an incredibly frustrating win mechanic and although you will get some gold for your efforts, the winning team gets more.

It’s also odd how once the extraction begins, it’s the same spot for both teams. In other words, if you take control of the chest, you simply continue the extraction. You don’t have to carry the chest to another location. It’s possible this was decided on to prevent matches for going too long, but I can think of multiple ways to address this while keeping matches relatively short.

Once the chest is successfully extracted, the match ends and you can enjoy your spoils. The gold is divided evenly among your team and you can choose how to split your share; keep it for yourself or give it to the people. Giving it to the people allows you to upgrade your hideout and unlock more perks and skills; however, you must purchase these with the gold that you’ve kept for yourself. Additionally, there are various weapons and outfits you can purchase with gold but they appear to be simply cosmetic. As far as I could tell, there didn’t seem to be any discernable difference in the weapons, which was a lost opportunity to help customize your character and gameplay style further.

There’s no campaign or story mode, which is unfortunate because I really think this game could thrive as a stealth heist co-op game. It’s just so hard to pull off this type of mechanic in a pure PvPvE setting, but I have no doubt it would be so much more effective in a co-op setting versus NPCs only.

Even for a budget-priced title, Hood: Outlaws & Legends leaves a lot to be desired. With only one true game mode, 4v4 Heist, and just a handful of maps, the game quickly becomes repetitive. Although the year-one content roadmap includes a new game mode and another character, Hood: Outlaws & Legends is going to need more than that hold your interest for longer than a week.

6. Hood: Outlaws & Legends has a great premise, both in terms of thematic setting and core gameplay mechanics, but underdelivers on both fronts.. Sumo Digital. . Hood: Outlaws & Legends

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.