During the announcement, videos, and official screenshots, Hood: Outlaws & Legends looked like a dream game. Cooperative stealth/action about robbing a castle in the dark Middle Ages – just some kind of PayDay 2 with a touch of Thief. Alas, in the end, we got an unbalanced slasher/shooter with sticky controls, poor combat, and shallow gameplay. And now in more detail.

Genre: multiplayer stealth / action
Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X / S
Languages: English
Developer: Sumo newcastle
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Websites: Steam, Epic Games Store

The concept behind Hood: Outlaws & Legends is interesting enough in and of itself. Two teams of 4 people each are trying to steal some treasure from the castle. To do this, they must sneak past the guards, bypassing or imperceptibly removing the guards, steal the key from the sheriff (it will not work to remove it from the corpse, you need to steal it), find the treasury at the level, hack it, pick up the chest with good, bring it to the exit point and guard the process of “export” of valuable cargo. At the same time, thieves from the enemy team will interfere with you throughout this time. Raising the alarm, engaging guards and an unkillable sheriff, attacking players carrying or “unloading” cargo. In theory, we have a kind of PvPvE stealth/action in which it would be interesting to play with friends. Alas, in reality, everything is not so good.

No, as long as you make your way into the center of the castle past the guards, remove the guards, look for the sheriff and the treasury, everything is basically fine. It’s really a bit of a co-op Thief, with a little more emphasis on action. It is desirable to hide, but not necessary. Even the weakest character can deal with a couple of ordinary enemies who raised the alarm, and if he uses the ultimate ability, then with three or four. True, there is also an immortal sheriff who, like the Tyrant from Resident Evil 2 (it seems, he even has the same animation), slowly but inexorably pursues the players and kills them with one blow. Plus fat knights who appear in case of alarm, which is best dealt with by the whole company. Clashes with live opponents at this stage, although they can be painful, look quite logical on the whole and are perceived normally.

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The situation changes during the process of carrying the chest. At this moment, the “loader” is extremely vulnerable and needs to be accompanied, protecting from the NPC and the enemy team. The only problem is that the opponents may not interfere with you at this stage, waiting for you to get to the evacuation point, and then they seize the initiative. Actually, the longest, dreary, tug-of-war fights take place just near the point of evacuation.

The fact is that the very process of lifting a treasure chest with a hand crane looks extremely far-fetched and stupid. It is clear that the developers needed to stretch the parties somehow and needed a certain point near which constant combat clashes occur. But because one or two players have to rotate the crane gate, they become light and, frankly, very stupid targets, literally attracting the arrows of archers who can hit from a very decent distance.

Just hours after the release of Hood, players found a simple winning tactic with four Rangers that easily kill the enemy team that brought treasures to the exit point and then holds off rivals at the respawn point or on the approach to the crane with ultimate exploding arrows. You understand that playing against such a team is an extremely dubious pleasure. And it happens that the eternal sheriff plus a few knights is also pulled up to the point of evacuation, after which the battle turns into some indigestible porridge.

Another big issue with Hood: Outlaws & Legends is balance. I already mentioned four Rangers, another completely unbalanced class is the Hunter. This cute girl knows how to become almost invisible and kills you with one blow from any direction, not just from the back. What tactics, what flanking, I beg you! You sit in the bushes and count the frags. Terribly annoying, especially when the game prevents you from making a quick kill from the back because you are half a degree out of the target zone.

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The same Mystic also raises questions. In a couple of dozen games, I seem to have seen only two times that the Mystic used the treatment. It simply does not come to him. You, as a rule, die with one or two hits. The same applies to the Fighter, his ability to raise the gate during an alarm is rarely used, although powerful hammer blows often decide the outcome of confrontation in the cramped space near the treasure crane.

A separate story is a combat. It is clear that the authors did not want fast-paced killing machines to rush around the level, so your character moves extremely slowly, fizzles out after literally three hits, and the timings of the hits themselves are incredibly long, so hand-to-hand combat if it comes down to it, is like a battle of two pandas underwater. Very viscous and unhurried.

Although the developers have already announced the imminent appearance of a new game mode, so far, Hood: Outlaws & Legends is a game of one mode, heists 4 by 4. And, if immediately after the release of the game only on Steam there were about 9000 people online, then after a couple of days, the number of players dropped several times. So even with the crossplay turned on, it takes several minutes to wait for the start of the match, and you only need two full teams, that is, 8 people.

At the same time, matchmaking in the game is very crooked – first-level beginners who do not yet know the maps are regularly brought together with veterans with pumped-up perks and open weapons, who, of course, know the level well and have learned some useful tricks. You understand that such matches do not bring any pleasure to beginners. The funny thing is that a similar situation has been observed since the launch because those who pre-ordered Hood got access to the game three days earlier and managed to upgrade. A brilliant practice to attract new users and create a friendly community!

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Sumo Newcastle and Focus Home Interactive originally planned to make Hood: Outlaws & Legends a service game. With seasons, unlockable costumes, new characters, premium content, and all that stuff. The problem is that robberies in the game take place at night, players try to hide in the shadows or through bushes, so no one but yourself will appreciate your new chiseled bow or fashionable face paint, except on the preparation screen and post-mission debriefing.

Although, in general, Hood looks even good, the game has a special gloomy style (the authors claim that the locations of Game of Thrones inspired them), only the creepy motion blur and the emphasis on heroes, objects, and opponents spoil the overall impression. Well, the darkness, to see the details of the level is sometimes trivially difficult. Please don’t trust the official screenshots. They are heavily highlighted and processed.

Hood: Outlaws & Legends is a great example of how not all concepts are worth bringing to life. Something that looks good on paper or during corporate presentations will not necessarily be of interest to players. And although the developers have a plan for developing the project for the next year, I’m afraid Hood will not keep users, it simply has nothing, and all these free and premium buns will not be in demand. The game, it seems, is waiting for the fate of the hapless Marvel’s Avengers – they will forget about it soon.

Pros:
Interesting concept; overall good graphic style and atmosphere

Cons:
Lack of balance; viscous control; controversial combat mechanics; only one network mode; long wait for the start of the match and the matchmaking curve

Conclusion:
Hood: Outlaws & Legends – a game that looked interesting at the concept level, but it did not survive the meeting with reality

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