Hood Outlaws and Legends — Deaf/HoH Accessibility Review

Ben Bayliss7 minute read

Good ol’ Robin Hood and his band of merry folk, stealing from the rich and then distributin’ to the poor. And in Sumo Digital’s Player vs Player vs Environment online game, that’s exactly what your goal is. But how is Hood Outlaws and Legends to play in regards to accessibility? Well, actually this dark capture the flag-esque game isn’t all that bad. Before I jump into the accessibility side of things though, let’s explain what the game is about.

There are 2 teams that are working against one another. Each team consists of 4 players who have a goal to steal a key from the sheriff, unlock a vault, and extract a chest —filled with lovely coin— to one of the various exits. Each exit requires up to 2 players to winch the chest to safety and determine the team the winner.

The thing is, the other team exists in the same space as you, and they are working against you and will attack you to gain control of the chest. Additionally, there are NPC guards patrolling the grounds of the levels and can throw regions of the map into lockdown, which basically makes it harder for you to get in or out of that area. Ideally, stealth is the key to avoiding raising alarms, but when the other teams clash with your team, it does seem to become a rough all-out war.

I shall admit, the tutorial —which you’re forced into from the first launch— does give a very positive impression on how accessible Hood Outlaws and Legends can be. However, it seems to take a few steps back by removing some of the visual aids it gives you in the tutorial such as automatically highlighting ropes to shoot. Instead, during actual gameplay, you or your team needs to ping them.

Let’s start with the starting hub. Before you jump into online raids to gather the treasure, Hood Outlaws and Legends lets you navigate an interactive 3D space that replaces the conventional menu where you can sort your perks, clothes, equipment and more. It hasn’t really been designed with accessibility in mind, but each area is indicated by icons above the tent. There’s also a tutorial area you can freely explore if you fancy relearning some actions.

While the interfaces in this area could have been designed to be more organised and easier to navigate, they do explain things well if you can get past the small text. However, it would have been nice to have seen all available unlocked items arranged to the top of the lists rather than struggling to locate them amongst the other locked cosmetics. It’s all rather fiddly really.

You can also access the main menu from this area, so if you want to make any adjustments to key bindings and audio, you can do that there. I will advise, voice chat is enabled automatically so you may want to turn push-to-talk on or just mute the voice chat entirely. If you’re curious as to what you can change, then you can have a nose at our menu deep dive.

In actual gameplay, Hood Outlaws and Legends has a good deal of on-screen indicators to ensure that the player has an understanding of the surroundings. I was able to make use of character outlines, icons to indicate different objectives, and distance indicators. The result was that I felt comfortable in knowing where I’m meant to be going nearly all the time.

The only time I felt confused was when icons —such as the key and chest when they’re held by the enemy— vanish because no one on my team is tagging them. This was where I found myself just wandering the map trying to follow my team to wherever the action was happening…and the distance from some of the farthest checkpoints in addition to the many streets and fortified walls means that this running around can be a slog.

As you can see above, there are icons for the numerous exits, my team are always shown as outlines when obstructed by literally anything, and the mini-map also shows these icons but is rather small. No fear though, because for some reason, with every match you join, you can increase the mini-map’s size which is far better. It’s just baffling why it requires an input to do so rather than just an options menu toggle to permanently keep it that size.

I’ve mentioned pinging and tagging above now very briefly, but to get into that some more — it’s not the best. But it’s something! Players can make use of a ping system to tag enemies and interactive objects on the fly. When tagging an enemy, be that NPC or players, they will have an outline displayed and will be visible for a while. Frustratingly this only happens should your team tag them in the first place, which my teams rarely did.

By holding the comms button, it opens a radial wheel to issue a few commands such as “Move here” or “Attacking”. The trouble here is that when they’re issued they’re not abundantly clear. And any tag and command issued come with voiced dialogue that should be subtitled, no matter how minimal it may feel. It would allow players like me to instinctively read the subtitles rather than looking for a visual that isn’t clear.

And you may be thinking, “Hey, I don’t like radial wheels or voice chat”, but there’s no option for text chat at all. I understand that there’s the issue of cross-platform players, but it still should be an option for those who wish to communicate through text.

In regards to the games HUD, it’s also fairly easy to understand. The objectives and team members list sit at the top with backgrounds, and the health and stamina bar is beside the special ability bar. It also shows your ammo and gadget, although the icons can be hard to see sometimes, and when carrying a key or chest you’ll have an icon to let you know.

Another thing, the combat in the game is a bit iffy, especially melee combat. While attacking is generally quite simple, when it comes to blocking or parrying, you have to wait for a blue shimmer and then hit the button. I tend to always mistime it and just end up drained of stamina.

What I do like with Hood Outlaws and Legends is that whenever someone is aiming with a ranged weapon, that same blue shimmer remains visible while aiming so you can see who has you in their sights. There are directional indicators for when you receive damage which can be handy when trying to locate where an arrow came from and is a good thing to have for accessibility.

And that brings me to what I dislike the most about the game. While there are 4 characters to choose from, the game allows the same character to be selected by another player, usually meaning that there are 2 or 3 John’s running around with an overpowered hammer. And with the irritating dodge system, it’s usually always going to result in defeat.

Considering Hood Outlaws and Legends seems to be marketed more as a stealth game, the most stealth takes place before the 2 player-controlled teams collide. After that, expect it to become, as Courtney explained, more like For Honor.

Thankfully, despite the long runs from respawn points, the shoddy melee combat, and the iffy ping system, Hood Outlaws and Legends is fun when you find a team that prides itself on stealth rather than wandering off and bludgeoning everyone. The on-screen indicators were by far my favourite accessibility feature allowing me to respawn from a pathetic death and instantly know which way to go towards my objectives at hand.

A review copy was provided by the developer/publisher.

A review copy of Hood Outlaws and Legends was provided by the developer / publisher.

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Ben is the one in charge of keeping the content cogs at Can I Play That? turning. Deafness means that he has a focus on discussing captions, but with experience in consultancy and advocacy, he covers what bases he can. Having written about accessibility in video games at DualShockers, GamesRadar+, GamesIndustry.biz, Wireframe, and more he continues his advocacy at CIPT. He was actually awarded a Good Games Writing award for an article he wrote here! He enjoys a range of games, but anything that’s open-world and with a photo mode will probably be his cup of tea. You can get in touch with him at: ben@caniplaythat.com

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