Hood: Outlaws and Legends review: Battle of the bandits

Sumo Digital's Hood: Outlaws and Legends is a unique PvPvE game with a bright future.

3

Outside of your standard team shooters, sports games, MMOs, and battle royales exists a much weirder, more experimental genre of online multiplayer games. This is where games like Dead by Daylight shine, offering an experience you can’t really find anywhere else. In comes Hood: Outlaws and Legends. Developed by Sumo Digital and published by Focus Home Interactive, Hood pits players against each other in a race to pull off a heist.

In unity

Hood: Outlaws and Legends feels like someone took the concept of Assassin’s Creed Unity’s multiplayer and ran with it. In fact, one of the playable characters feels like they were plucked directly from Ubisoft’s assassin franchise - but more on that later. Two teams of four begin on opposite ends of a map, and are tasked with stealing a vault key, finding a vault, and extracting the chest inside. However, things get dicey as both teams will have to worry about the NPC guards and soldiers that will actively work against both of them.

There are currently four playable characters in Hood: Outlaws and Legends: The Ranger, The Hunter, The Brawler, and The Mystic. Each character has their own set of skills that they bring to the table. The Ranger is best at range, taking enemies out with arrows and using flashbangs to concuss them. The Hunter is your true assassin, using stealth to approach and snuff out enemies without detection. The brawler is a beast in close-range combat, dealing out heavy damage to anyone in his way. The Mystic can detect nearby enemies, as well as weaken them using a poisonous smoke.

In addition to how they impact combat, I love how the characters in Hood: Outlaws and Legends have tactical advantages outside of the fight. For example, The Hunter can use his arrows to knock ropes down from suspension points, giving him and his teammates a quicker path to their destination. Thanks to The Brawler’s brute strength, he can carry the chest much faster than anybody else, making for a much quicker escape in pursuit of extracting treasure.

It’s either us or them

When loading into an online match, players can select and swap their character in the pre-game lobby. You can’t see the other team’s picks until the match starts, but you can coordinate with your team to figure out what works best. The game doesn’t put restrictions on how many people can play what, so there were times where I played with two or even three duplicates of the same character. It didn’t ruin the experience, but it certainly feels cheesy at times. I would imagine more competitive players would prefer it be locked to one character per player.

I was a bit surprised by just how well Hood: Outlaws and Legends’ PvPvE gameplay style works. In the beginning of a match, it’s very much PvE, as you and your squad work to take out guards and infiltrate the base. By the time you reach the sheriff (the NPC that carries the vault key), you’ll start to see the handy work of other players. Dead bodies, open doors, looted areas, it gives you an idea of what exactly the other team is up to. The game also notifies you whenever the other team triggers an alarm, steals the vault key, steals the chest, or makes it to the extraction point. Because of this, players are able to adapt and strategize. If the other squad beat you to the vault, you can get set up on the other side to ambush them on their way out.

Think on your feet

Playing as The Ranger, I knew that I was a massive liability in close-range battles. There was one instance where an enemy playing as the brawler approached me in a corridor while I was out of arrows. Instead of fighting a fight I would surely lose, I dashed out and into another area, leading the enemy player right to one of the brute NPC characters, taking the heat off of my back and ensuring he’d be busy for at least a few seconds.

It’s anecdotes like that every player will experience in Hood: Outlaws and Legends. The game’s slew of systems and abilities makes it feel like any given encounter could have an endless variety of outcomes.

The game's ping system is really solid, too, as you don’t even need to speak in order to properly communicate with your teammates. Pinging an enemy will temporarily highlight them in red for your squad, and your player will give a verbal callout revealing which character they saw. You can also use pings to request support, or let your teammates know where treasure is.

Though there are five distinct maps, I think Hood: Outlaws and Legends would benefit greatly from a bit more variety in its core loop. Any player that’s put a considerable amount of time into the game will know exactly where to go in order to steal the Sheriff’s vault key, and precisely where they can find the vault. It would be neat if there was more randomization, or if there were other types of heists that had different objectives.

For the people

In between matches, players can visit the hideout. This acts as the game’s hub and is where you can swap out cosmetics, as well as get in some practice reps. This is also where players can purchase and assign perks to their characters. Perks provide statistical boosts to attacks and abilities, and unlock as players gain experience with and level up specific characters.

Perks can be purchased in Hood using gold. Players earn gold from successfully pulling off heists. However, after extracting a chest and escaping with the riches, players are forced to make a choice - keep the gold for themselves or redistribute it to the people, just like Robinhood and The Merry Men would. The Scales of Justice allow players to choose just how much gold they want to keep for themselves and how much they want to give away. Giving gold to the people will unlock new cosmetics for players to wear, whereas keeping the gold will allow them to buy perks and upgrade characters.

Becoming legends

Hood: Outlaws and Legends is an excellent change of pace from your standard online multiplayer games. The PvPvE style works surprisingly well, creating new obstacles and offering unique strategies at every corner. The gameplay loop can get a bit stale once you get familiar with the maps, but Sumo Digital has the groundwork for something quite special with Hood: Outlaws and Legends.


This review is based on a digital download code provided by the publisher. Hood: Outlaws and Legends is available now for $29.99 USD for Xbox, PlayStation, and PC.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

Pros
  • PvPvE gameplay is fresh and unique
  • Character's bring unique advantages both inside and outside of combat
  • Combat and map traversal feel smooth and refined
Cons
  • Core gameplay loop can get tired
  • Duplicate characters can feel cheesy
From The Chatty
Hello, Meet Lola