Hood: Outlaws and Legends is an interesting game. It brands itself as a “PvPvE” game, meaning you’re taking on both AI enemies and human-controlled enemies at the same time. While it seems like an interesting idea, it doesn’t get either quite right. On paper, this concept is actually a fresh take on the PvP genre – I haven’t seen many games like this recently. The game revolves around heists: you pickpocket a chest key, find the golden chest full of loot and then attach it to a winch and lift it out of the map, all while avoiding or killing the enemy team – leading to a brutal match-long tug-of-war.
The human opponents though – through a somewhat broken matchmaking system – are almost always dozens of levels above you. Whether this is due to the fact that the matchmaking system isn’t completely tuned or just that there aren’t any lower-level players playing, I’m not sure. The AI enemies, on the other hand, are just awful. They simply patrol and can be taken down easily, as though they’re just there for you to build your meters before taking on the player enemies.
The game immediately enters you into a tutorial that shows you how to play, demonstrating each character’s abilities and roles. You’re told to get the key, avoid the sheriff and make off with the loot. Everything is demoed so quickly that when you get into your first match, it can be a little confusing as to exactly what your role is. Ideally, you start killing enemy AI players to build your special ability meter and then use it to help your team get the loot and get out of there. The issue is that each map is such chaos that unless you’re a tank class, you do less strategic movement and more running for your life while you watch the chest get picked up and dropped over and over until someone finally makes it to the winch.
While Hood: Outlaws and Legends shows you very early on how the stealth mechanics work, you can’t really avoid the other team. Even if you manage to get the key, locate and steal the chest and get it to the winch, you’re pretty much hosed anyway, as you do all the work and then a team just hides around the corner, pops up when you’re 90% through the winch and kills you. It’s easy for them because your team almost always has two people winching to make it go faster, leaving your team down two members in the defense. They then winch the other 10% and win the match. Wash, rinse, and repeat – with various sides coming out victorious. It just isn’t a well thought out process.
What kills me though, is that the game looks and plays nicely. The Robin Hood time period and gorgeous locations for each map are really immersive and fun to play in. The combat – the blocking in melee, the archery, it all feels really intuitive and almost has an Assassins Creed feel to it. The mechanics of winning matches, however, just don’t work. It would be really cool for this game to eliminate the PvP aspect all together and make the AI enemies all different classes, with various weaknesses and weapons that your team could group together and try and steal the chest from. Adding specific win scenarios, timers, various tiers of loot and other things could make this a seriously good PvE multiplayer experience. What we have currently is a promising, albeit frustrating experience that could be something great, if there is just a bit more refinement made.
All in all, Hood: Outlaws and Legends is a good start. Its combat is familiar and interesting, but it’s adherence to both the PvE and PvP aspects leave it somewhat floundering at both. I’ll play it some more and see if my opinion changes, hopefully there will be some tuning and updates. Maybe there’s something I’ve missed or perhaps I’m just not that good at these games, though I like to think I’ve played enough PvP to give me a pretty good idea of what works, and in this case, what doesn’t.
If you’ve played Hood: Outlaws and Legends and have a different opinion, I’d love to hear it in the comments!