We've been donning our hoods and tackling some Gangs of Sherwood this past weekend ahead of its full release on Xbox later this week (the "Lionheart Edition" is actually out today), and we've been having a good time doing so! GoS is a co-op action game from developer Appeal Studios, and while it definitely feels 'AA' in many ways, it's absolutely worth a look if easy-to-digest co-op action sounds like a fun way to spend a weekend.
Once you wrap up the introductory tutorial — which teaches you the game's basic controls and character movesets — you're presented with an overhead map of the UK and Ireland. From here, you can head out on missions across the cluster of nations to steal from the rich and take out bad guys - just as Robin Hood himself would have wanted!
As it turns out, we picked Robin from the four available characters for our playtime here - he had plenty of ranged attacks which is our preferred way to play these sorts of hack-and-slash action games. If you've ever played something like Strange Brigade, Zombie Army or even Back 4 Blood you'll get the format right away - Gangs of Sherwood largely tasks you with taking out baddies and solving simple puzzles as you push through levels with multiple save points along the way.
It's nothing mind-blowing, but Gangs of Sherwood knows what it wants to deliver and does it fairly well - at least based on our opening few hours covering the first act and some of the game's side missions. Most of the action revolves around hand-to-hand combat with groups of baddies, and it's fun if a little bit simplistic. We've been playing on Normal difficulty without any co-op buddies due to the game's pre-release state, and we had no real problems at all during the first act and its final boss. We definitely recommend cranking the difficulty up if you want more of a challenge here!
Gangs of Sherwood's unique spin on the Robin Hood folklore is that it's actually set in the future, or a "futuristic dystopia" based on the legend, anyway. That means that you'll have some cool superpowers in your arsenal to spice up combat - and we were glad of them during our time with the game. Taking out enemies from afar with arrows does get a little stale after a while - it always felt worth it to head in there and blast folks away with a huge powerslam every now and then!
The team has packed in character and ability upgrades too, as you'd probably expect, which you can apply in-between missions; within the game's sort-of 'social hub'. This bit reminds us of the aforementioned Back 4 Blood as well - a game that also provides a quick chilled-out break area before you select and head out on a new mission. We've only dabbled with the systems available in the hub so far, but they add depth to your character's movesets and we think they'll be a good addition to keep things fresh in the long run.
One other thing that's stood out to us in the early hours of Gangs of Sherwood is the game's visual design. Again, this isn't a AAA release and its cut-price reflects that, but the visuals are actually really pleasing - bolstered by the game's somewhat unique setting. Every now and then the game hits you with a lovely, fantastical vista and you get swept up by its wistful charm.
And that's about all we have to say really - so far at least! Gangs of Sherwood hasn't knocked our socks off yet, but it's fun, mindless co-op action in a very cool and charming setting. If a melee-based spin on something like Strange Brigade or Back 4 Blood sounds like your kind of thing, then Gangs of Sherwood could be right up your alley. It's somewhat repetitive, sure, but lots of these sorts of games are to a certain degree - and we think Gangs of Sherwood is still worth a look on Xbox Series X|S.