Necromunda: Hired Gun is the first title to jump into the very first FPS title set in the Necromunda franchise. While the experience itself is unique, it is also troubled by performance issues and interface bugs. Here’s what you need to know with our review for Necromunda: Hired Gun.
+Weapons are unique, fun, and feel as if they carry weight
+Combat is fast-paced and adrenaline-inducing
+Each level feels unique and comes with tons of secret items
+An intriguing story even if rather simple
-Major performance hiccups and semi-frequent crashes
-UI bugs that make it hard to see what weapon is on the wheel
-Abilities feel lackluster and don’t stand out
It should be no secret that Warhammer 40,000 and its sister franchises like Necromunda have been getting a lot of love in recent times. We already are trying to prepare for the upcoming release of Warhammer 40,000: Darktide, but now, there is also this very title in which we are about to discuss: Necromunda: Hired Gun.
Streum on Studio is no stranger to the Necromunda universe. They’re veterans of it with their titles Mordheim: City of the Damned and their second most recent title, which we reviewed, Necromunda: Underhive Wars, which in itself, was a passion project.
Now, they are back, with their second endeavor into the world of Necromunda, this time, as a first-person shooter title where players are joined by their cyber mastiff, their trusty arsenal, and all the cybernetic upgrades a mercenary could want. However, there’s the question: Is this something that should have happened or is this merely an experience to help Streum on Studio broaden what their games are capable of doing?
Well, for Streum on Studio, this is a mixed bag that we need to talk about, story included, which is something we don’t normally do. So let’s talk very briefly and as spoiler-free about the story as we can.
Necromunda: Hired Gun has a lot to offer, even with a minimalistic, but well written story
Necromunda: Hired Gun isn’t just a well-designed bullet-slinging romp where you’ll dart around each of the missions using your harpoon attachment as well as various tools of the trade. You’ll find that the story itself is rather minimal, putting you in the shoes of a mercenary, a bounty hunter for hire, and someone seeking revenge on those that wronged them.
Now it is also worth pointing out that this is the overall premise of the story. You’ll find that narration is minimalistic at best, offering only a few story elements along the way that try to build up the excitement you might have when bullets aren’t flying, you aren’t hitting enemies with a good solid finisher, or even sending your cyber-mastiff after them.
The story itself is presented on the foundations that you’ll visit the central hub, Martyr’s End, upgrade your equipment, cybernetic features for both you and your canine pal, and figure out what missions you’ll take along the way. Sadly, this will be your entire experience, as missions themselves take place outside of Martyr’s End and don’t let you explore the subterranean world of Necromunda as you might like.
Beyond that, however, is where Necromunda: Hired Gun truly begins to shine. It’s the combat flow, the level design, and even the overall presentation that helps the game stand out among its peers.
Necromunda: Hired Gun has a sleek, but at times, confusing combat loop that shines once adapted to
Necromunda: Hired Gun isn’t shy about the fact it is rather fast-paced. It’s insanely fast-paced at that. It’s not shy about requiring players to use their grabbling hooks, wall-running, and other cybernetic capabilities throughout each and every scenario that they will blast their way through.
Ontop of your own abilities, there is the cyber-mastiff, you’re canine companion who comes out to be as deadly as the player character themselves. The hound isn’t shy about pulling enemie down, thrashing them about, before running off and finding another enemy to tear down to size.
Just like your abilities, you’ll find that the cyber-mastiff has a cooldown timer, making it a utility you’ll have to use when you need it most. Usually this will be boss encounters and large fights since the mastiff will highlight nearby foes and help control the flow of combat the best it can.
Abilities such as Augur Array also give another advantage by going grey and highlighting enemies in a red aura while paired with Perfect Aim change the entire experience by offering several large assists when coupled together. There’s a reason behind this: The more aggressive you play, the better. Combat itself is all about being in the middle of things, dealing as much damage as possible with Autosanguine set to restore health.
Just don’t expect a lot out of the AI itself in these situations. Even though it is as equally as aggressive, the AI has no real tactics system outside of basic rush and shoot. Sometimes, they use cover, teleport around, but that’s about it. The AI does leave a lot to be desired from basic enemies while bosses will change up their encounters, using different tactics and mechanics.
Sadly, you’ll see a lot of familiar faces as you fight against Goliath’s, Eschers, and Orlocks. Rarely will you ever see any variations of any other character as the models are used quite often. None of them change up their approach to combat either.
The levels feel entirely unique and stand out distinctly from one another
Now, unlike enemy designs, there is something that this game does rather well: Level designs. The levels are insanely vertical, they have more mass to them than you can expect. They are massive labyrinthine cathedrals waiting for brave adventurers and guns for hire to explore their depths.
Players who do decide them to their fullest will be rewarded with Hidden Chests that can contain weapons, armor, archeotech, charms, credits, etc. It’s a gameplay element that does offer a rather deep experience and reason to actually dive into each and every level. It’s just hard not to appreciate the level of detail the game has whether you are darting around dingy tunnels, broken cathedrals, old drilling sites, massive trains, or even destroyed housing areas.
There’s even the level of shadow, lighting, and detail effects that bring the world itself to life in ways that you wouldn’t expect from a first-person shooter. Eventually, we can hope that the gangers can get a bit more detail to them as well as redesigned AIs to take advantage of the settings.
Unfortunately, there are areas where Necromunda Hired Gun does tend to fall a little short
Unfortunately, performance is not an area where Necromunda: Hired Gun tends to impress. There were numerous moments where framerates would hiccup or lead to a desire for improvement. Granted, this is a first-person offline shooter, it doesn’t exactly kill the experience, but there are moments when the framerate would tank enough that the game would crash.
If it wasn’t a performance issue, there were issues with the UI bugging out as well when it came to the weapon wheel. There were moments when weapon icons wouldn’t show up or would be combined, leaving a weapon image to be obscured or not present at all. The bug itself was inconsistent in when it would show up, but it would pop up from time to time, taking away from the level of immersion that Necromunda: Hired Gun had to offer.
It’s a damn shame that both of these bugs did appear 2-3 times per session which ranged 5-6 hours per session. The game itself, unless you do the side missions, will only take between 10-12 hours to complete, for those going for a completionist experience will find Necromunda: Hired gun staying around for 20-30 hours to complete.
Just be prepared for those few bugs to be present until a stability patch is released from Streum on Studio for the PlayStation 5 version of the game.
There’s one thing I have to make clear: This game isn’t trying to break one’s expectations. It’s a profoundly, if not perfectly average game that comes off as one of those very experiences. Fortunately, it’s a great way to approach the game. It’s not going to go over the top, it’s not going to attempt to fight with other games in a competitive stance.
Necromunda: Hired Gun
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, And Xbox Series X|S
Versions Reviewed: PlayStation 5
Developer: Streum on Studio
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release Date: Available Now
What it does want you to know is that it is truly inspired by the franchise that it comes from and that Streum on Studio has a lot of love for the Necromunda offerings. The only downside is the fact that your experience will be interrupted by several bugs throughout their time with the game.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game that was provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook today.