In Hood: Outlaws and Legends, you play as an outlaw, determined to undermine the oppressive state by stealing its wealth and returning it to the people. The state keeps treasure chests in enormous buildings, secure inside locked vaults.
The state is an organized and powerful ruling body. The three types of treasure building represent its three arms: the church represents the state’s control of religion, the garrison its military, and the towering keep represents its oppression of the people.
To show this, we incorporated brutalist elements and took inspiration from modern regimes and blended them into the design of medieval buildings. Each building has its own distinct personality and gameplay, from the towering spires and claustrophobic catacombs of the church, to the functional yet opulent halls of the garrison.
The treasure buildings dominate the skyline and are landmarks that help you navigate. This is important, because your first objective is to find the sheriff and pickpocket his vault key. Each of the maps are much larger than the treasure buildings alone, and the sheriff will be patrolling somewhere outside — but you won’t know where. Beware though! Another group of outlaws have the same goal.
Once the key has been stolen, the building becomes your destination. The treasure vault is inside somewhere, a different place each time you play. Not only that, but some maps contain more than one treasure building. Citadel – the state’s capital city – contains all three! Searching for a treasure vault can sometimes be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Fortunately, if your team gets hold of the sheriff’s key you’ll also learn the location of the vault it belongs to.
We wanted to give players reason to explore the buildings for the vault, but we didn’t want the them to be a maze. Your objective is often shown as an icon on screen, but you’re not shown how to get there.
With the variations that take place each game, there’s no correct path through the building. And while a church may feature on more than one map, there are different ways to get in and out of the building, as well as different accessible floors and different places where treasure rooms could be. We needed players to be able to enter a building from any direction, get to wherever the treasure vault is, and out again to one of the extraction points in the world. We wanted players to “have faith” that the most intuitive route would take them where they needed to go, so that even new players can find their objective while avoiding guards and ambushing other players.
Systematically, we went round every side of the building and inside each room asking, “If I’m here, how do I get there?” We pointed the camera towards each destination and found places to put a new doorway in view, trying to make sure there was always an obvious path that would take you closer to your goal, wherever it might be. We sealed some up too, as too much choice can be as bad as too little.
Through playtesting, we saw that large rooms were better for gameplay than narrow corridors. An open space lets players see more of the surroundings and it’s easier to spot the distinctive vault door from afar. They’re better for stealth, being able to ambush enemies while crouched behind tables or statues, and for melee combat, which requires space to position and dodge.
We decided that a building’s interior should contain only a few large rooms and each room should look unique. The keep, for example, was designed around three enormous atriums: an entrance hall, a dining room and a storeroom. Balconies and staircases surround them in such a way that you can see landmarks in the room, such as the golden face of the king’s statue that dominates the entrance hall, as well as guards and less-stealthy opponents.
Verticality is a strong theme in our game, but it can be confusing. You know the treasure vault is on a floor above you – but what doorway or passage should you take to reach it?
Again, we wanted players to trust that obvious routes will take them where they want to go. We made a rule: if you need to go up, any staircase up will take you towards your goal. If you need to take the chest to an exit on the ground floor, any staircase down is correct. You should never be led further from your goal by doing that.
Staircases shouldn’t be hard to find, either—it should only take a few seconds to spot a way out when you have the chest. This sounds obvious in hindsight, but it required careful planning. It’s very easy to place staircases at the end of long corridors or around corners. Of course, experienced players may learn better routes, such as ropes to slide down or a ladder to climb.
All these features make every game of Hood: Outlaws and Legends a different experience and designing the treasure buildings to make that work has been challenging but satisfying. We hope you’ll agree when it releases May 10 on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One. Watch the newly released “Gameplay Overview” trailer (above) to take a deeper look into Hood’s medieval multiplayer heists.
Hood: Outlaws & Legends (Pre-order)
Focus Home Interactive