I remember Robin Hood being a charming animated fox but here's a game based on the legend that you don't want your kids to play.
At its core, Hood: Outlaws & Legends is a simple game where 2 teams of 4 players compete while sneaking around enemy guards in order to snatch a key from the Sheriff, unlock a vault, carry a treasure chest to an extraction point, and use a crank to load it onto a ship. Whichever team gets the final crank wins the match and considering matches can go on anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, the last moments can be quite thrilling. The gameplay itself is similar to most melee stealth games where you can sneak up behind enemies to execute them, use character-specific weapons and abilities, and throw various items. There are also clever mechanics such as opening doors and lowering ropes to create shortcuts and you can even claim spawn points which can be a crucial step towards victory. All of this works together quite well and I found myself captivated by it all for, frankly, far longer than I probably should have been.
One aspect of Hood: Outlaws & Legends that's fantastic is its collection of classic characters as you can choose from the iconic ranger Robin Hood, a hunter known as Marianne (Maid Marian), the brawler Little John, and a mystic named Tooke (Friar Tuck). Each one has a unique weapon and ability as well as some other traits and equippable perks that unlock as you level up. Whether you're bashing skulls with John's hammer, assassinating guards with the sneaky Marianne, sniping opponents with Robin, or healing your allies while revealing the nearby enemies with Tooke; it's a great deal of fun to utilize and master each character's unique gameplay gimmicks.
Another noteworthy gameplay mechanic is how you can communicate with your teammates without the need to actually talk to them via chat although that obviously helps. Specifically, you can point at various points of interest such as item boxes, enemies, and such then tap a button and that thing will become tagged and show up on everyone's radars after your character notifies their team via an in-game voice clip. It's cool stuff that gives you a solid advantage as you try to sneak around and gain a leg-up on your opponents.
On the downside, Hood: Outlaws & Legends doesn't look all that great for a PS5 game. For starters, the character models are pretty lifeless and generic. I wish they had more weight to them and were animated more fluidly because that would have made the gameplay even more enjoyable. Speaking of which, this is a very dark game which makes traversing the more complex maps a chore because it's easy to face a dark wall and see nothing but blackness as you scratch your head wondering where you should go. The Souls series handled this best because you always have a little light that brightens up dark corners whenever you find yourself facing one.
Finally, I wish that Hood: Outlaws & Legends featured more content because after playing it for only a few hours, it started to become very repetitive. There are only a handful of maps and one in particular kept coming up again and again which was highly irritating. Sure, the maps are somewhat intricate and large but is it really too much to ask for more? I would have also loved to see more game modes in order to alleviate the tedium. Even if there were single-player missions, that would have gone a long way to add replay value.
Hood: Outlaws & Legends features an impressive amalgamation of gameplay elements that will have you hooked. However, its overall gameplay loop will start to become monotonous sooner than you'd hope due to its repetitious nature.
- + Exciting multiplayer formula with a constant visceral tug-of-war element
- + Each character is fun to master
- + Nifty communication mechanics
- - Visuals are far too dark which makes complex environments an annoyance
- - Character models look dated
- - Could use more maps and modes