Hood: Outlaws and Legends is the Next Big Heist Game
Exploring what gamers can expect when English folklore meets heist gameplay
Hood: Outlaws & Legends is an upcoming PvPvE action-stealth game that should be on your radar. Developed by Sumo Digital-Newcastle and published by Focus Home Interactive, Hood releases on all platforms (excluding Switch) on May 10th 2021.
In Hood, you’ll be racing against another team to steal from the rich and give to the poor in intense PvPvE (Player vs Player vs Environment) heists. Think Payday mixed with Hunt: Showdown but more medieval. You’ll also be in control of some of the most iconic figures in English folklore — Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, Maid Marian, and Little John — although it’s safe to say the developers took some creative liberties.
The Master Plan
In an oppressed kingdom under the control of a cruel dictator, it’s your job to take up arms to infiltrate and extract treasure guarded by a well-armed military force. Each heist will see you and your friends compete against a rival group of four other players to steal the same prize. This will involve outwitting the AI guards and outsmarting the players in a three-way fight. If you’ve played Hunt before, then you’ll know just how nail-biting fun and intense a PvPvE game can be, so Hood’s heist-oriented take on the genre is one to look forward to.
Each heist involves three main phases; execute them correctly and your team will be the ones emerging victorious.
Phase one is to locate and steal the vault key. This is easier said than done, however. The vault’s key is in the hands of the Sheriff, an AI mini-boss protected by an elite squad of guards. Infiltrate the compound, locate the Sheriff, and steal the key before your opponents.
Now comes phase two — raiding the vault. Your team will have to keep their eyes peeled as you make your way through the compound, either in stealth or brute-force combat. After locating and opening the vault your job will be to find a way to extract the chest hidden inside the vault. By this point, the guards will be on high alert, and the other team may have caught your scent too, so the race is on. You and your team must take the chest to one of the extraction sites around the map. Pick your exit carefully however as the guards or the other players may be staging an ambush.
If you’re successful, you’re onto phase three — extraction. The chest must be winched to safety, meanwhile, you must bunker down and defend your position, and ultimately your treasure. Both the guards and the enemy team will be out for your heads to claim the treasure for themselves.
These intense heists can take place across five different maps — a graveyard, a keep deep within a swamp, a coastal fortress, a citadel, and a rural outpost. Each offers a distinct visual style but also unique gameplay opportunities.
Gwydion’s Rest graveyard, for instance, has long-forgotten catacombs offering passage right beneath the church.
Newton Abbas Keep stands above a village engulfed in marshland, meaning players must contest with exposed swamp terrain upon infiltration, yet fog can provide some cover for your approach.
Newbarnsdale Outpost is still under construction, and thus players may find convenient routes through sections of the unfinished wall.
Remember, if you can use it, so can the enemy team, so always watch your back and plan wisely.
Meet the Team
Integral to these heists are the four playable characters that will make up your team, each with distinct abilities and play styles.
The Ranger is the sniper of the group. Equipped with a longbow, the Ranger can eliminate enemies at range, useful for clearing a path for your team. They also have access to flashbangs to daze and confuse enemies. If you’ve lost the element of surprise, then the Ranger’s ‘Farsight’ ability will let you draw an ethereal arrow that explodes shortly after impact.
The Hunter is an expert infiltrator and assassin, with a burst-fire crossbow attached to her bracer she can take down enemies at medium range silently. She can also execute foes with quick takedowns, perfectly paired with her ‘Shroud’ ability that uses magic to make you undetectable to guards and almost invisible to players. Finally, her smoke bombs are a perfect tool for obscuring visibility and giving your team a chance to live to die another day.
As the name suggests, the Brawler is the close-range expert in the group. Geared with his trusty hammer, the Brawler can deliver wide-ranging sweeps or powerful overhead attacks. This synergises with his ability ‘Wrath’ giving him increased offensive and defensive capabilities. His increased strength makes him capable of completing objectives faster, such as chest carrying speed and winching speed. This is also a useful tool for maneuverability as the Brawler can open gates during lockdowns. His final tool is a bomb which is as simple as it sounds, killing all targets within range after a short fuse.
Last but not least is the Mystic, the crowd-controller and healer of the merry band of outlaws that make up your team. Sweeping flail attacks can create space for your team while precise thrusts result in devastating blows that stun foes and open them up for attacks from your team. The Mystic’s poison bomb spits out a stamina-draining poison that impairs the vision of those affected, bolstering their crowd control capabilities by giving your team the opportunity to move in for the killing blow. Their unique ability, ‘Instinct’, will highlight hidden enemies for your teammates and heal those within range, providing great utility for a coordinated team.
Each of the four playable characters is set up to have a unique playstyle that affords them a different role in the team. It’s this team dynamic that often makes the genre so feel great since everyone has a job to do that’s tailored to their playstyle. Whether you want to be a silent Ranger infiltrating the State’s compound, or the brutish Brawler going in headfirst and defending your team, Hood will offer opportunities for anyone.
Reaping the Rewards
But how is your hard work rewarded? Well, after each heist you can return to the hideout to spend your hard-earned fortune.
The first choice you will be met with is how to divide your earnings between your own purse and that of “the people”. Keeping more coins for yourself will let you purchase more upgrades, yet giving to the people will upgrade your hideout, unlocking more clothing and weapons for your outlaws.
Primarily, you will be spending your gold on new perks. Those perks are unlocked by earning experience points from heists, but gold is used to purchase the unlocked perk. Perks let you switch up the playstyle of each character, even altering their abilities entirely. For instance, the Brawler’s bombs can be transformed into sticky explosives, with the ability to throw them much further for easier area denial. These perks will provide greater specialization and personalization as you progress in your thieving career.
Hood will also offer a variety of character and weapons cosmetics, available at the hideout. Importantly, whilst some of these are available with your spoils, more prestigious cosmetics will require you to demonstrate your mastery of the characters.
I’d like to close out by giving a brief overview of the experience Hood is offering on launch day and thinking about what Hood is promising going forward.
Hood: Outlaws & Legends will be releasing on May 10th 2021 for £26.99, or £44.99 for the ‘Year 1 Edition’ that includes the battle passes for the first year. On day one, Hood will feature unique and focused PvPvE heists across five dense and detailed maps, four playable characters, and a progression and upgrade system. It’s important to note that Hood is a true ‘always online’ multiplayer game, with no real emphasis on story or a single-player experience.
Nowadays, even before the main game has released, many look towards the future when thinking about investing their time and money into a game, so in order to provide a full overview, let’s take a look at Hood’s post-launch content.
Post-launch support will include new maps, characters, events, and even new game modes, so it’s clear that Hood is planning to stay around for a while, providing it can find its footing. Additionally, post-launch content will bring additional free content in the form of cosmetics, though there are no specifics as of yet. It’s also worth noting that the game will join the current trend of a ‘Battlepass’ and seasonal content model for post-launch support.
Finally, I’d like to comment on the developer’s transparency leading up to the game’s May 10th release day. As I have recently explored with People Can Fly’s marketing for Outriders, transparency is important to many in the community, and Sumo Digital Newcastle seems to have taken note. The team has released extensive gameplay featurettes covering the maps and characters available at launch and has been open about what the focus of the game will be, along with looking towards the potential future of the title through free updates and a seasonal content model. It’s certainly an admirable approach considering the onslaught of misleading marketing in the modern gaming industry.
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