Taking inspiration from the legend of Robin Hood and blending those ideas with a co-op action title, Gangs of Sherwood has certainly turned a few heads in the lead-up to its launch, and with the game now having released, players have been getting the chance to dive in a get a taste of its offerings for themselves. What exactly makes Gangs of Sherwood tick though? To learn more about that, the game’s development, and more, we recently reached out to its developers at Appeal Studios with a few of our questions. Below, you can read our interview with game director Andrea Di Stefano.
NOTE: This interview was conducted prior to the game’s launch.
Gangs of Sherwood’s blend of Robin Hood-inspired elements and a futuristic dystopian setting is a fascinating one. How did the game’s core concept first come about, and what were your primary sources of inspiration?
While Robin Hood as a character is well known, we were always fans of the whole cast of characters that tag along with him in his fight against the Sheriff of Nottingham. They’re all very different from each other and make for a naturally great cast of heroes for an action game! It took us a lot of research and iteration to nail down a technological setting that we were happy with and that felt unique. We didn’t want to be labeled as steampunk or any other classic technological trend. Ultimately our goal was for Gangs of Sherwood to be “its own thing” enough that ten years down the line, whether you liked the game or not, when looking at a screenshot you will immediately recognize GoS, that you have a memory of it!
Gangs of Sherwood is clearly placing a great deal of emphasis on co-op gameplay, but is it also a viable single-player experience for those looking to jump into it solo?
It is! But for the anecdote, we tried for a long time to match the solo and coop experience. In hindsight, I think that was a fool’s errand honestly. When we decided to embrace the fact that both experiences were going to be different, we started designing around that and the game is much better for it. Long story short, playing solo is certainly a different experience than going at it with your friends but I think it’s really an enjoyable one. It’s like having two games in one!
"Ultimately our goal was for Gangs of Sherwood to be “its own thing” enough that ten years down the line, whether you liked the game or not, when looking at a screenshot you will immediately recognize GoS, that you have a memory of it!"
What should players expect from the game in terms of enemy variety, especially where boss fights are concerned?
Gangs of Sherwood has several enemies split into three categories: smaller, elite units, and mini-bosses. Mini bosses are actually the Sheriff’s sons and Marian’s brothers. She’s on a quest to rid the world of her family members. We also have big bosses that punctuate the end of each narrative act. And there’s a fight against a giant machine!
"Gangs of Sherwood is designed to emphasize player expression through combat. Every upgrade you can unlock and equip either gives you new attacks or allows you to alter their behaviors."
What can you tell us about Gang of Sherwood’s progression and customization mechanics, and how much build variety they will enable?
A lot! Gangs of Sherwood is designed to emphasize player expression through combat. Every upgrade you can unlock and equip either gives you new attacks or allows you to alter their behaviors. For example, you can equip Robin with arrows that stick into the ground like mines. Another Shard 5essentially, pieces of equipment) make arrows rotate around Robin. Combine the two and voilà, you got yourself a rotating mine shield following you around.
Roughly how long will an average playthrough of the game be?
A single playthrough of the game in normal difficulty will last you between 6 and 10 hours depending on your skill. There are moves and moves-altering equipment to unlock for all heroes though!
There are also additional game modes and a super hard difficulty setting which I dare people to try and beat. Last but not least, there are also quite a few lore-related secrets to find.
Do you have any post-launch plans for the games in terms of additional content or new playable characters?
What I can say is that we have a ton of ideas and some of them are pretty wild! First things first though.. . we’re eager to see the audience’s response to the game and go from there.
What was behind the decision to not release Gangs of Sherwood as a cross-gen title? Do you have any plans to bring the game to additional platforms down the line?
I think my reply here will be fairly obvious. Supporting older platforms often means reducing the quality on the current-gen ones and it would have been undoable for a moderately sized team like ours. Plus, I feel that we are far along enough into the current gen life cycle to focus on it and take full advantage of the latest platforms.
"What I can say is that we have a ton of ideas and some of them are pretty wild! First things first though.. . we’re eager to see the audience’s response to the game and go from there."
How much of an impact on development do you think the differences between the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S’ GPUs, CPUs, and processors will have? Additionally, given its relatively weaker hardware, do you think the Xbox Series S will be able to hold up for the more graphically intensive games as this generation progresses?
As I mentioned, the game porting for each platform was done in-house by a single team so instead of digging in-depth into the intricacies of each platform we went for a more balanced approach. It is challenging in terms of time and resources to push each console to its limits to take advantage of the benefits they offer fully. We went to find a common ground to achieve the best balance between quality and performance and to provide a beautiful and enjoyable experience. While differences between platforms do exist and can be taken advantage of for exclusives or more targeted ports, both platforms remain neck and neck on most aspects, and we did not feel restricted by either of them. About the SSD, it is true that it is fast but users can swap it for another one, meaning you can’t rely 100% on that specific SSD being available.
The Xbox Series S requires to optimize the memory requirements of the game even more but this benefits all versions of the game!
What frame rate and resolution will the game target on the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S?
We’re targeting 2k resolution and 60fps on XSX and PS5, on XSS we went for 1080p and 60fps.
What are your thoughts on the Steam Deck? Do you have plans for any specific optimizations for the device?
Purely personal opinion, I think it rocks. However, at the moment we don’t have plans for specific optimizations for this device.