Gangs Of Sherwood Devs Say Porting It To Consoles Was Tricky

One of the major challenges the team faced was "making sure the multiplayer was working correctly according to the consoles' requirements," says the Game Director.

Story Highlights

  • Gangs of Sherwood is a Robin-hood inspired game that will be released on November 30, 2023.
  • Appeal Studios’ upcoming title has reinvented the classic tale, giving it a more robust look.
  • We interviewed the studio’s Game Director, Andrea Di Stefano, exploring the title in-depth.

Appeal Studios is retelling the classic folklore of Robin Hood and the Merry Men in perhaps one of the most interesting ways we could imagine. The studio aims to fill a gap with the upcoming Gangs of Sherwood, which no similar game has successfully done. One of the reasons for that is that many titles, especially in recent times, go for an RPG setting, whereas Appeal has abandoned those elements and seeks to deliver something fresh.

In Gangs of Sherwood, players play as one of the Merry Men, each with their own unique abilities, against the Sheriff of Nottingham. This adventure can be solo or co-op with up to 4 players. To get a closer look at the title and explore its multiple features, eXputer sat down with Andrea Di Stefano, Game Director at Appeal Studios, over an email interview.

Read ahead for the full interview containing in-depth details about Gangs of Sherwood.

Gangs of Sherwood
Gangs of Sherwood – via Nacon.

While being a co-op Robin Hood game, Gangs of Sherwood takes inspiration from Star Wars and Devil May Cry. Although each is iconic in its own genre, these are very different from each other. I'm curious to know what led the team to get inspiration from such media for a Robin Hood game.
Stefano: Taking inspiration from classic action games like DMC is something that we went for since the beginning because that is where our sensibilities are. Our design team loves these games and wanted to do their own take on it. Plus, as far as I know, no action game like this allows you to play with your friends. Online games are traditionally stat-based, and we wanted to create something more about the exhilaration of pure combat and move-altering gear rather than a game about building up your stats.

About Star Wars, that came up when talking to people about the game. You’re playing a cast of very diverse characters, fighting an evil mechanized despot who turns out to be the father of one of these Heroes. At one point, I thought, ‘That reminds me of something!’ haha.

Appeal Studios wanted to fill a gap in the market that many similar games failed to do, as those were more of RPGs. Has this played out well for the game? Or do you think sticking with the traditional RPG route would've been better for Gangs of Sherwood's development?
Stefano: I think it is successful because it makes Gangs of Sherwood unique in what it offers. Hopefully, players will like it too! We actually experimented with stats and more RPG elements, but they just didn’t support our combat style effectively, and in the end, it felt like unwelcome complexity.

The game essentially feels more like a Japanese action game as it abandons some core elements of an RPG. Since many Japanese action games are immensely popular in the West, what's something new that Gangs of Sherwood brings to the table for those fans?
Stefano: The most obvious thing is multiplayer! And the characters of the Robin Hood cast are very different from each other making it a very different game based on the character you pick. Robin shoots arrows crazy fast, for example, while Little John is all about timing your punches right to stock up on Heat energy before releasing it in massive explosions. Although we took inspiration from Japanese action games when it comes to games, everything else is quite different. We reinvented Robin Hood as a war resistance story that we hope players will enjoy!

Gangs of Sherwood
Gangs of Sherwood – via Nacon.

All the iconic characters have been reimagined in Gangs of Sherwood, but what are some of the elements from the original work that fans of Robin Hood would still find in the game?
Stefano: Aside from the Heroes themselves, we reinvented the Alan-a-Dale, the narrator. He’s usually represented as a crazy puppeteer who introduces each mission with a short puppet show. The main bosses are also inspired by the characters from Robin Hood’s folklore, like the Prioress of Kirklees, who murders Robin in the classic tales!

Were there any points in the game's development where things got really difficult to manage?
Stefano: All the time? Haha. Honestly, making games is hard; getting all these super-skilled talents working together to deliver a game in a 3 to 4-year time span and making sure everyone survives… that’s a miracle, haha. More specifically, we probably encountered more hiccups when porting to consoles and making sure the multiplayer was working correctly according to the consoles’ requirements. The rest of the development was hard, as every game development is, but I am happy to report we’re still having a lot of fun playing the game after all this time!

How many hours will it take an average player to beat Gangs of Sherwood's main story? Furthermore, what can completionists expect in this regard?
Stefano: A single playthrough of the game in normal difficulty will last you between 6 and 10 hours, depending on your skill. There are new moves and moves-altering equipment to unlock for all heroes, though! 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 (essentially, pieces of equipment) makes arrows rotate around Robin. Combine the two, and voilà, you’ve got yourself a rotating mine shield following you around.

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 many lore-related secrets to find.

Gangs of Sherwood
Gangs of Sherwood – via Nacon.

Are there any ideas or features the team had to scrap during development? If so, can you tell us more about them?
Stefano:  So many, but that is always the case in game development! At one point, a big feature of the game was to attack moving convoys, steal their cargo, and escape. It was fun, but we didn’t want to have the whole game revolve around this concept. But there’s one bonus level in the game that involves some heritage of that; it’s our own little Easter Egg!

How long has the game been in development?
Stefano: A total of 3.5 years with a core team of 20 people that grew to up to 45 people during full development.

Can we expect to see the addition of more content following the game's release, or will the studio move on to the next project?
Stefano: What I can tell 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 response to the game and go from there.

Is there anything you would like to say to the audience? Something we haven’t touched upon yet.
Stefano: So much! We have mini-bosses that are, in fact, Marian’s brothers, and she wants to kill them all. There’s a trophy room to learn more about Gangs of Sherwood’s lore. The puppet shows are really fun to watch too, and I really hope we can turn those puppets into figurines; that would be so cool!

YouTube video

The process behind Gangs of Sherwood is certainly interesting, and its deviation from the traditional RPG elements could become its strongest weapon. Appeal Studios’ has also shown a strong dedication to delivering a multiplayer title, as Stefano mentioned how making the multiplayer work on consoles was a rather tough challenge. But a single-player option is also available for those who want to complete the levels alone.

Appeal Studios also appears eager to add more content to the game, depending on how well it is received. Stefano told us they have many wild ideas that they would love to add to the game. As such, this could be the Robin Hood title many fans have longed for. Luckily, we won’t need to wait much longer as it is all set to launch on November 30, 2023.

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Mudassir is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the stories behind our favorite virtual worlds. Armed with a trusty notepad and a keen curiosity, he dives headfirst into the gaming industry's most exciting personalities. His knack for insightful questions and his ability to connect with developers and gamers alike makes his interviews a must-read. While on the lookout for the next person to interview, Mudassir keeps himself busy by writing news surrounding the gaming universe. Experience: 4+ Years || Senior Journalist || Education: Bachelor's in Psychology.

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