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Gangs of Sherwood PC Review – Better in Co-Op

Gangs of Sherwood is a third-person co-op action game developed by Appeal Studios and published by Nacon and will release on November 30 (December 1 for ANZ) on PC, Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5. Inspired by the legend of Robin hood, players choose one of the Merry Men, combining attacks and freeing the people as you fight the armies of the Sheriff of Nottingham. It’s a fun game to play solo despite some issues with PC resolutions, but where the game shines are in the co-op action gameplay and shenanigans with mates that had me hooked.

The game is set in a dystopian futuristic steampunk version of England including locations such as Sherwood Forest and the Sheriff of Nottingham’s flying castle, with enemies wearing armour and huge steel buildings and weapons standing in your way. Players get to choose to play as one of the four main characters from the Merry Men. There’s Robin of Locksley, Maid Marian, Friar Tuck and Little John, each with their own weapons and playstyles. I chose to play as Robin Hood due to him having a bow and arrows and associated ranged skills, and I was glad to have made this choice as I was able to keep circle strafing and jumping around to avoid getting overwhelmed.

The other characters are Maid Marian, the Sheriff of Nottingham’s daughter, who is a master assassin who is lethal with daggers. Next is the hulking Friar Tuck who wield a massive mace to devastating affect with charged attacks and can also heal when in rebel instinct mode, and finally there’s Little John who has fists of steel and immense bravery, charging up heat with his punches and unleashes overheat attacks. Each character also is able to surpass environmental puzzles and obstacles found in each of the game’s levels, revealing new pathways and treasure chests to loot.

Gameplay in Gangs of Sherwood is very similar to games like Warhammer 40,000: Vermintide 2 and Darktide where you play solo or co-op and make your way through relatively linear paths, defeating enemies, looking for secret offshoots and completing level objectives. While I played most of the review period solo and had a lot of fun, it was frustrating when I got to a blocked area that required the skills of a different character to Robin. Bringing in Johnny to play co-op made things a lot more fun and versatile, in addition to us being able to combine our skills to pull off some awesome combos.

Each character in Gangs of Sherwood starts off with two skills unlocked that correspond to their weapon and playstyles. As Robin of Loxley, my skills were shining arrow which is a supercharged arrow that travels at the speed of light into the enemy, and star arrow which is a magnetic arrow that stays in place before flying in the direction of shining arrow’s hit point. These are activated by using different combinations of light (LMB) and heavy (RMB) attacks. You can block/parry blows by holding CTRL and once you have built up through combat, utilise rebel instinct to power ultimate abilities.

There are grapple points and ziplines throughout each area that makes traversal fast paced and exciting, and there are also environmental objects that you can manipulate during fights to your advantage. In Sherwood Forest for example, I could hit a beehive in a tree to land on an enemy’s head, distracting them and causing their shots to go wild. In the city there are trap doors you can set off to have enemies fall through, and a number of other objects to create some humourous and useful diversions.

There are resistance checkpoints spread through the levels. These grant you gang power and regenerate health based on the amount of money looted from the Sheriff’s goons. Defeating groups of enemies will give you a style rank which can be improved by varying attacks, using combos and unique skills. Enemies will drop gold coins when they’re defeated, and we can also free prisoners to earn favour of the people. Your overall style rank will determine how much gold you receive at the end of each mission.

At the end of each mission in Gangs of Sherwood, you return to Major Oak, the resistance HQ. This is where you can load up the next mission, train new techniques and enhance skills and shards. Shards alter the skills of your hero that unlocks different options and playstyles. If you feel the skills in the previous mission weren’t performing as well as you’d like, this gives you an opportunity to play around with them. Each shard is linked to a skill slot and only one shard can be equipped per slot. For example, you can alter your light and heavy attacks to enhance their power or effects.

I do have to point out some errors and frustrations I had during gameplay on PC with two monitors. When the game first loaded up, it was defaulted to 3840×2160 which would normally be fine (I have 2K monitors) but the screen flashed to black a few times and when it resolved, the game was playing in a window but split between the two monitors. Clicking the mouse to try resolve it flashed the screen to black again and i was back to one monitor. I switched the resolution back to 2560×1440 and it appeared to be running well, however whenever there was a load screen, it would show a second loading screen on my second monitor.

I played around with the minimal graphics options available, but it never resolved over the review period. There was a 2.2GB patch last night once the embargo had lifted which lessened the frequency of these black screen and switching of resolutions, so hopefully this gets resolved before the full release as the game is a heck of a lot of fun to play. Outside of these issues, the intensity of combat, especially playing a melee class, can cause the distant textures to blur quickly with occasional framerate drops in tight areas. This only happened a handful of times and they were brief, but worth mentioning.

While Gangs of Sherwood can be played completely solo and the difficulty scales as more players are added, the novely would wear off relatively quickly as the enemy mechanics don’t vary too much; you just face more of them at a time. Boss fights were decent though and kept me on my toes. However playing co-op was just so much more fun and engaging. Being able to open secret areas and utilise each other’s skills together was just a joy to play through. It is just a shame that I experienced video issues on PC with the game splitting over my two monitors which broke immersion for me.

Overall, Gangs of Sherwood is a fantastic action game to play together with mates, combining skills and unlocking secret areas in missions. The graphics are great and gameplay felt fast paced and agile, especially as you can alter your skills with shards back at the Major Oak HQ to customise your playstyle. If you enjoy games like Warhammer 40,000: Vermintide 2 then this will be right down your alley.

This review utilised a Steam key provided by Gametomb and Gangs of Sherwood will launch on November 30 (December 1 for ANZ) on Steam, Epic Games Store, Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5.


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