Robin Hood has never been one person. Over the years, many real and fictional people have contributed to the legend. Like any good story, it has been adapted and embellished over the years for different audiences and even for political motivations.
We wanted to get back to basics. If you go back to the first stories, Robin Hood was a cruel outlaw who stole and killed in cold blood and without remorse. It wasn’t until much later that he became more selfless, gentrified, and heroic.
It got us wondering, “What would it be if HBO did Robin Hood in a Game of Thrones style?” But maybe more “Battle of the Bastards” than the dragons …
With Hood: Outlaws and Legends, we wanted to (again) adapt and reinvent the legend for a new audience and our own purposes. The fact that there was a patchwork of origin stories without the definitive Robin Hood, seemed like a perfect foundation for a multiplayer game.
Hood is not a person. It is an idea. A symbol for the people. It’s a mantle that is passed from person to person to maintain the myth – like Black Panther or The Dread Pirate Roberts.
We asked what if the outgoing president died suddenly without a clear successor. Who would enter this void? As anyone who has watched the 1980s Robin of Sherwood series knows that the two main contenders for the Hood title are Robin and Loxley and Robin of Huntingdon. (By the way, Micheal Praed should never have left to do Dynasty but don’t get me started on that one)
So we had our organization, two gangs of outlaws, locked in battle, each fighting for a daring heist. Both seek to be hailed by the people as the true “Hood”.
In a world where the people are oppressed, outlaws can become heroes. But our outlaws are not completely altruistic. Everyone is an outcast of society, the deprived of his rights, the shunned, the denied. They are wolf heads – they have no more rights than a wolf and can be killed on sight. Everyone has their own reason for taking revenge on the state. They rob the rich – to hurt the rich.
When we took a look at other players’ characters, like with Hood, we decided to take what worked in the Legend and rework them for our gaming needs.
We needed a diverse team whose skills could be combined to pull off a daring heist.
Hood is of course the skilled ranged combat ranger. He can hide in the shade or perch at a high window and support the team from a distance. He can mark targets and remove threats with his longbow. His explosive arrow ability can be devastating for tight groups, and can even take down the dreaded Sheriff – for a while at least.
Little John became John Nailer, a brawler, close combat specialist and general tank. His deadly hammer can kill with a single blow, while his Wrath ability transforms him into unstoppable melee power with endless stamina. If your team is trapped and all seems lost, he’s the only outlaw strong enough to lift the harrow and open an escape route for the team.
Brother Tuck, we’ve transformed into Tooke – a former Marked State Inquisitor. His bane makes him strong in close and mid-range combat, while his mystical abilities can heal and support his team, revealing the position of nearby enemies.
Maid Marion went from being a damsel in distress to being a warrior and leader in her own right, which is indeed how some of the legends already portrayed her. His burst crossbow and assassination skills terrorize the enemy, while his smoke grenades and invisibility ability give a stealth advantage to any heist.
The state and the wider world
We have deliberately stayed away from a certain period of time or are trying to recreate specific real-world locations. Not being tied to historical or even geographic precision gave us the freedom to create the gameplay we wanted.
Our foe is an unnamed power known simply as the State, represented by the AI-led guards and the Sheriff who oppose both teams in heists. It is not meant to be a historical faction but rather a representation of corrupt power and authority. Impose his will on ordinary people. State buildings are an exaggerated projection of their power – far greater than anything that would have existed at the time – but they offer more fun gameplay.
In fact, “following the fun” is the mantra we have adopted throughout development. For weapons and armor, we played fast and free – blatantly stealing from other cultures and (close) times or just inventing things because it’s cool, like the triple crossbow of Marianne.
With maps and biomes, we again went for what looked cool and worked best for gameplay. We have huge citadels and snow capped mountains that you would be hard pressed to find in England. There are, however, plenty of references and nods to legends for those looking for them – Barnsdale Outpost and Fountaindale, for example.
With Hood, we wanted to create a dark and brutal reinvention of traditional legend, where old world myth and superstition collided with man-made power and corruption. We also wanted to bring a new and fresh twist to the multiplayer heist genre.
In a way, because we never explain who Hood is, never give him a single origin story, you could argue ours is one of the most honest portrayals of lore. It is not after all about trying to tell a story based on historical facts, or even historical fiction. It is the story of a legend.
Hood: Outlaws & Legends will be released for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 on May 10, 2021. Pre-order players will receive exclusive bonuses and early access to the game starting May 7, three days before the official release.