Review – Necromunda Hired Gun
Necromunda: Hired Gun is a fast-paced FPS that has touches of DOOM Eternal, Titanfall and ironically Cyberpunk at its launch. Developed by Streum On Studio and published by Focus Home Interactive, this frantic shooter is set in the Warhammer 40K universe and is a part of the original Necromunda spinoff tabletop series. Necromunda: Hired Gun’s action is relentless, the arsenal is gratifyingly beefy and the augmented specials abilities satisfying. It is just disappointing that these positives are negated due to the fact of an uninteresting narrative, A.I. issues and a large number of launch bugs. While I enjoyed most of my time with the game, the current issues could ruin the experience for many excited FPS and Warhammer 40k fans.
The story begins with our anti-hero bounty hunter working on the Hive world of Necromunda, a planet stripped of all of its original beauty as a result of thousands of years of heavy industry. Large man-made structures, building and machinery fill the deepest reaches of each location and portray a dreadful dystopian world. Within Necromunda are its ‘houses’, each having their own distinct and augmented society. The narrative takes the player on a hired gun tale, working for cash for an uninteresting suitor as our anti-hero keeps insisting they work for no one, when that is obviously not true.
Throughout the 10-hour campaign, the player will meet a number of uninteresting and shallow NPCs who are just there to tell the player what to do and where to go. The dialogue in cutscenes made me unintentionally chuckle and is full of nonsense that players would expect from B-grade action flicks. Those who love the Warhammer lore may get more out of this narrative than I, but it quickly becomes a skippable chore for those just here for the entertaining gunplay.
The real meat for Necromunda: Hired Gun is its brutal, swift and satisfying gunplay. The player moves like they are always sprinting. They are able to dodge, slide, double jump, wall run, one hit melee and use a grapnel launcher to zip their way through the maps while constantly taking our enemies. As the player becomes more fluent with the controls, they will utilise all of these skills to effortlessly take down hordes of enemies.
Necromunda: Hired Gun’s arsenal is strong and so is the feedback and satisfaction of using its weapons. At the beginning of each chapter or bounty hunter mission, the player picks two large weapons and two pistols. On top of this, the player also carriers their trusty traditional pistol and can pick up another looted extra firearm when finding a loot chest, having six guns in total. Weapons have different classes, such as:
- Pistols – such as traditional semi-automatics, sawn off shotguns, automatic pistols.
- Basic – including different types of machine guns and shotguns.
- Special – snipers, plasma weapons and grenade launchers.
- Heavy – gatling guns and RPGs.
All of these weapons can either be purchased or looted. These weapons and all equipment found throughout the game come in the traditional levelled tier colours of grey, blue, purple and gold. The better the colour, the stronger the weapon.
Each weapon can be tailored to fit the player’s play styles. Attachments from muzzles, magazines, gun sights, weapon stocks, ammunition types and even trinkets hanging off the weapons can be changed. Each attachment brings different effects to the weapon and can be positive and/or negative. Players can choose any combination of weapons to carry into each mission, my go to being an automatic rifle that I had upgraded into a supercharged LMG, a grenade launcher with proximity grenades, sawn off explosive shell shotgun and a plasma pistol that only held three overpower shots. This aspect of freedom of playing how the player wants is very welcomed.
Adding to the arsenal of weapons the player has on offer are ‘augments’ which can be purchased from the augment doctor. The player can choose and level up a number of augments that grant superhuman abilities such as slowing down time, a rage-induced melee spree right through shooting enemies with a blast from the player’s arms.
While humans are not trustworthy in the game, a trusty canine companion most certainly is and the game has one that makes up the players arsenal. Pressing the B/square button uses a squeaky toy that calls a large mastiff into battle to sniff out and take down enemies via the neck or crotch. This canine can also be augmented into a cyber-mastiff making it a loyal killing machine.
On top of the previous attacking options offered to the players is the refractor shield, but its use is limited as standing back from enemies and picking them off is not ideal, as the shield will only recharge from the constant pick-ups dropped from defeated enemies. Just like DOOM, Necromunda: Hired Gun wants the player to constantly be on the move and attacking, which can create some tense and tight moments when close to death.
Enemies vary and gangs are authentic to the Warhammer universe. Most enemy types are slowly introduced but by halfway through the campaign every enemy is revealed and recycled. Also, like DOOM, the further the player gets through the campaign the larger the waves of enemies become, with more types of enemies being thrown in the mix. This brings with it one of the games issues, bad A.I.. The A.I. regularly became stuck in walls or stairs, spawned right in front of me, ran straight into gun fire and even got stuck on the wrong side of walls, and while they could shoot me I could not get them and had to reload the mission. The majority of bosses are also nothing more than bullet sponges where all the player needs to do is run, dodge, slide, shoot and use abilities. More diversity with these bosses would have been favourable.
The campaign is not the only options of play, as the player can take on three different tier levels of bounty hunter missions for cash and loot. These missions consist of short missions, recycled maps and simple objectives such as saving all the bounty hunters or killing X number of certain enemies. While not needed for the normal or easy levels, completing these for the harder difficulties to level up augments is beneficial.
The visual design is striking, with some of these underground levels being jaw-dropping in size and visually good to look at. Yet, it is the bland enemy design that is hard on the eye. The design of levels has a verticity to them, just like DOOM Eternal and players will not just move left and right but also up and down across the map. The soundtrack, while not DOOM, is a solid hit for me as the rock and heavy metal riffs while slaughtering enemies gets the blood pumping. The sound of guns has a strapping kick to them and other than the quiet voice of the main NPC, the overall sound design is very good.
While this review sounds mainly positive, it has some immense setbacks. First is the A.I. issues already mentioned. Next is the melee, as performing a takedown puts the player into one of a few set animations and are one hit kills for the majority of enemies. So, the player can literally spam the melee button and takedown enemy after enemy while they line up for their fate. This was exactly what I did when I ran into trouble with a low shield and it became repetitive very quickly. Using a long scope on any weapon is virtually impossible as the sensitivity of it is way out and the slightest touch moves the weapon half a screen, therefore this review and playthrough included zero use of a long scope. I also had frequent issues with the sound loop of my LMG and gatling gun getting stuck on firing for up to 30 seconds after I had completed firing which became annoying very quick. Finally, clipping through walls or ledges to my death also happened on occasion.
Sadly, these issues occurred way too often, and it is bewildering how all of these got through play testers, as at its core Necromunda: Hired Gun could be a very good game. A patch has been announced that it is coming but will it be too little too late for those who have already purchased the title. Only time will tell.
Necromunda: Hired Gun is a single player only affair and with its over the top violence, it is not recommended for those under 18.
Pottsy for One More Game
6 – Above average – As stated, this game is above average. The game provides a solid experience while not delivering anything outstanding. It’s a game that fans of the series will definitely enjoy but one that others may want to wait for a sale.
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Necromunda: Hired Gun was reviewed on an Xbox Series X. It is also available on PlayStation 4|5, Xbox One and PC.
The publisher kindly provided code for this game. All thoughts on this game are ours and ours alone.