Hood: Outlaws & Legends is Sumo Newcastle's first game since the former CCP studio that made EVE: Valkyrie got acquired by Sumo Digital in early 2018, and it's a rather unusual one.
Priced at $29.99, the game is a multiplayer PvPvE affair where two teams of four players each will attempt a heist in a medieval environment inspired by Robin Hood's lore.
They'll have to outsmart both the opposing team of rogues and the defending guards driven by the AI in order to succeed and go home with the stolen spoils. Fittingly given the lore Hood: Outlaws & Legends is based upon, once a match is over, players will have to decide how much they're going to give away to the people (which will go towards levelling up your character's hideout) and how much they'll keep for themselves to unlock new items.
Hood: Outlaws & Legends, which features a class-based system where each character brings unique skills to the group, will launch on May 10th, though pre-order customers will actually get in three days earlier than that as a bonus.
With the release date nearing fast, we contacted Sumo Newcastle Game Director Andrew Willans to dive into everything we can expect from this game, post-launch support and technical details included.
What is the extent of the randomized elements in Hood: Outlaws and Legends?
To ensure variety and prevent predictability between sessions each one of the heists has many factors that change randomly as the maps load – the path of the Sheriff, the AI patrols, capture point locations (to respawn on), even the location of the treasure vault can change between buildings and floors. Players will become familiar with playstyles and outlaws that work better on some maps than others, but heists rarely play out according to plan. Just like all the best heist movies we took influence from when designing each phase.
How many maps will be available at release?
We’ll have 5 maps at launch, with another added free for all players very soon after. Some of the environments are huge in scale, so it will take a while before players explore every nook and cranny looking for the perfect sneaky paths.
Can you discuss the character progression for each of the classes?
We have a range of cosmetics for both outlaw costumes and weapons, and a unique perks progression that is gated by your character level (XP) and the coin in your pocket, earned through heists. The perks are the only feature that will directly affect gameplay, and we wanted to avoid any kind of min/maxing arms race. For the most part, these perks will allow you to further customise your outlaws to match your playing style, but with a trade-off that must be considered e.g. increased damage on long range shots, but short range shots are weaker.
Each outlaw will have 3 perk slots, and players can select from a range of unlocked perks to fill those slots. Aside from the expected capacity and damage modifiers, there are some really interesting perks which increase your tactical options, such as converting the Mystics throwable gear item from poison gas to a healing gas or adding a sticky property to the Brawlers explosive grenade.
Will there be any kind of loot you receive from the matches?
Gold and XP. We tried to leverage the Robin Hood lore with our economy system. So after every heist, you will be presented with “The Scales Of Justice”. All the gold from your heist will be shared between 2 pots, one for the people and one for the pocket. It's then up to you to further apportion the gold between these pots. If you invest more in the people, then the level of your Hideout will increase, unlocking more items for the shops. If you invest more in your pocket, you have more coin to spend in those shops. Both can only be earned through playing the game, and are not linked with microtransactions. We wanted to confront players with the choice of investing in the meta, or the immediate, and this felt like an interesting way to contextualise the fantasy.
You've stated before that Hood: Outlaws and Legends is essentially a heist game. How do you plan to keep the gameplay formula fresh over an extended period of time?
Two games rarely play out the same. The very nature of the PvPvE structure embraces the random actions of players (friend and foe) that can radically alter the course of the game. I think the core heist mode will keep players engaged as they explore the best tactics for success. As we look past the launch window we are already hard at work on new content to enhance what we have and to build out into new areas. Without going into spoiler territory, this will include additional game modes and outlaws. We have a healthy backlog of designs that were created during the development of the heist mode, and it will be interesting to hear what our players are craving after they’ve spent some time stealing from the state and battling rival outlaws.
What's the cadence of post-launch updates you have envisioned for the game?
Approximately 3-4 months. Basically, the seasons of the year. Our seasons will be themed around the pagan calendar because it fits nicely with the legend we took influence from.
I understand that Hood: Outlaws & Legends only features environmental storytelling at this point. However, some fans have already been asking for a PvE-focused mode with more traditional storytelling based on this beloved lore. Is that something that could happen post-launch?
That’s a tricky one. Honestly, anything is possible, but it really comes down to the harsh realities of business. If there was a huge demand and audience for this, then it's definitely something we would look into. We are a small/mid-sized studio here at Sumo Newcastle, so we have to be mindful of a project’s scale and scope. As tempting as more linear narrative is, it also requires a significant development team to deliver to the quality benchmark that we strive for in our games.
Do you have any plans to introduce a competitive mode where premade groups would be matched and a ranking system used?
We have a lot of post-launch features planned which will expand on the competitive aspects of the game. The first step is building our community, then understanding which aspects are needed first. But yeah, we’ve discussed what clans, leagues, ranked play, spectator tools, etc. could look like in our world. We just need to build the audience first.
Hood was developed with Unreal Engine 4. Do you have any plans to support built-in features such as NVIDIA DLSS (on PC) and/or raytracing?
The DLSS plugin for Unreal arrived a little bit too late for us to integrate into the game, but it is something we’ll be looking to add post-launch. Raytracing is being used, and to beautiful effect in our Marshland map which has large volumes of water and a vibrant golden sunset for those picture postcard moments.
After having worked with both Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, do you feel that there are any noticeable differences between the two? Can you reveal the target resolution and frame rate for each console?
We’re targeting a solid 60fps and ray tracing for both consoles, and the final resolutions will be confirmed (after optimisation) and communicated before launch.
Did you have any problems while optimizing for the less powerful Xbox Series S console? Were there any particular compromises you had to make?
We’re still not at the end of that optimisation journey yet, so it's hard to go into the specifics. The closest performance benchmark is the Xbox One X, but I’m sure we can dive into the final stats closer to launch.
Can you share the full details on how you intend to support the PS5's DualSense controller in Hood?
Our lead designer is posting an in-depth article on exactly that topic within the next few weeks so I really don’t want to steal his thunder. I can say that we have one of the most intuitive bows I’ve ever used in a game thanks to the trigger resistance functionality of the DualSense. It's incredible! And it's not just limited to the ranged weapons, we’ve also tried to provide tangible fatigue when melee attacks deplete your stamina. Actually swinging a hammer feels harder as your stamina drains from full to empty.
Is there anything else you'd like to add about Hood: Outlaws & Legends?
There’s plenty more, but I need to learn when to shut up and leave some surprises. This past year has been a struggle in so many ways, and I feel honoured to be a part of a development team that has genuinely looked after each other throughout and still managed to deliver our shared vision for this exciting new IP. So on behalf of everyone here at Sumo Newcastle, I’ll raise a bow (or hammer), and see you at the treasure vault!
Thank you for your time.