Hood: Outlaws & Legends Will Test Your Morality As A Vigilante
Are you someone who wants to help the poor or someone who just wants to hurt the rich?
In Hood: Outlaws & Legends, you and your friends won't automatically be the straight-laced heroes of the Robin Hood mythos. Once you've completed your mission and successfully stolen from the rich, you'll have to decide how much of the gold you actually want to give to the poor.
"After the match, we present you with this thing called the scales of justice," Hood: Outlaws & Legends game director Andrew Willans told me when I asked him about the game's narrative. "So your gold that you've earned is in two pots, and one is for the people and one is for your pocket, and you can move the gold between those pots to decide where you want to apportion it."
As Willans explains it, the money you keep for yourself can be spent on new cosmetic items as well as in-game perks, such as transforming the Mystic's poison gas bombs into healing bombs so that he can better keep his teammates alive.
On the other hand, giving money back to the poor will elicit support from the people, who will lend a hand by gifting cool improvements to your hideout--these improvements unlock additional cosmetics and perks that you can then buy with the gold that you keep for yourself from later missions.
It may all help you in the end, but you'll only be able to quickly get to the later perks and cosmetic items if you selflessly give up buying personal improvements immediately and invest in the people. It's all a question of whether you want to work towards short- or long-term goals, and whether or not you feel like you deserve a little extra something for your trouble following a tough match.
"A lot of the influences for Hood were things like Anonymous and the idea of what makes a modern day vigilante," Willans said. "Are you fighting for justice or is it really just to hurt the people that are hurting you?"
These themes of vigilante justice will permeate into Hood's story as well. As a PvPvE multiplayer game, Hood lacks a traditional single-player campaign. However, you'll still piece together a narrative by playing the game.
"There's a lot of narrative storytelling within the environments, so just walking around these maps you'll learn a lot about how brutal the state is and the stuff that the people have endured," Willans said. "And you also will collect things, so throughout the heists you'll unlock what we call tapestries. You pickpocket small pieces of this tapestry which will stitch together to become a longer narrative for each of the main characters--and for the sheriff as well, because the sheriff has got a really interesting backstory--and those stories can be viewed from the hideout."
Willans compares the process of collecting the pieces of the tapestry to that of finding all the issues for a comic. Hood's tapestry is inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, featuring hand-drawn pen and ink sketches, fully voiced narration, and themed music.
"We actually got a guy called Steven McKay, who published a lot of really successful Robin Hood fanfiction," Willans said. "So yeah, we do have some pretty serious narrative chops behind it, but it's just there as a layer. It's a layer basically to fill in the backstory, and we do have stuff like little trinkets that you can pick up from the maps themselves, so whereas the tapestries tell you about the characters, the trinkets tell you about the maps. It might be something like a wedding ring from a farmer's daughter, who was hung by the state for not paying her taxes."
Willans added that players can expect to see quite a few interesting narrative twists and turns if they spend the time looking for Hood's story. "I've really enjoyed a lot of that stuff because, without going into spoiler territory, it did allow us to add a little bit of context," he said. "Like why does Marian have this triple-firing crossbow that looks like it was invented by Leonardo da Vinci?"
I asked if the backstories would explain how it's possible for Marian to turn invisible to which Willans just chuckled and answered, "We didn't talk about her invisibility though. I'll leave that one out."
In Hood: Outlaws & Legends, two teams of four outlaws race against the clock to steal a key from the sheriff and his army of patrolling guards, break into the treasury, steal the gold, and escape. The game will release with four playable characters, each inspired by the likes of Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Little John, and Friar Tuck. Hood: Outlaws & Legends will launch for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and PC on May 7.
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