[REVIEW] Necromunda: Hired Gun – Should’ve hired a polisher

You don’t always have to be original to be a success. Anyone who knows how to combine the best of various existing concepts might just strike gold. That’s pretty much what the French Streumon must have thought with Necromunda: Hired Gun. And you know, I would almost agree with them. Take a little DOOM, a pinch of Titanfall, pepper it with a dash of Wolfenstein, and voila. When all this is served on your very best Warhammer 40K crockery, you should have one hell of a game that could have been Hired Gun. Unfortunately, this fast-paced FPS lacks the finesse, the chef’s touch, and we are left with is average. Or even below, if you’re really critical about certain things.

As the title of the game suggests, you are nothing more than a ‘Hired Gun’, a mercenary, and that pretty much gives away what kind of game we are dealing with. Indeed, Necromunda: Hired Gun is a shooter in which shooting at everything that moves predominates. Diplomacy, making choices, thinking about consequences… don’t even bother, hombre. Just numb your noodle and squeeze that trigger button. Is that bad? Of course not. Other massive shooters have already proven that in the past.

You know, shooters like DOOM and Wolfenstein. Necromunda: Hired Gun obviously wants to join that league. On paper, they should pass the test of admission with flying colors. Streumon theoretically holds a very good hand of cards. Especially the trump card called Warhammer 40K – a franchise whose extensive lore definitely offers options – should make Hired Gun an outright hit. Then again, it’s better to have a good unoriginal than a bad original concept, which automatically implies that you need to come up with something good. And in that regard, Streumon has butterfingers.

Necromundo: Hired Gun screenshot

Let me put it this way, Necromunda: Hired Gun is technically a cool game that doesn’t flourish at all due to an overabundance of sloppiness. It’s the textbook example of a game that should have had more polishing. Because yes, t’s clear as day that Hired Gun really wants to be the awesome shooter that it could’ve been. It’s just that bugs prevent it from achieving that greatness. Initially, I wanted to turn a blind eye, but I only have two eyes and I need those to play games.

You know, let me start with a positive note. The gunplay in Necromunda: Hired Gun is bang-on. Once you manage to loot some more weapons – because it’s also a bit of a looter shooter – and score thicker peashooters, pumping bullets is the best thing there is. Not entirely unimportant of course. Wall running and swinging back and forth a bit with your grappling hook also add the necessary sensation to the fast gameplay. It is rightly what Hired Gun excels at.

The level design is also impressive from time to time. As befitting for a real Warhammer game, Hired Gun also bursts at the seams of steel constructions with so many decorative skulls, the Waffen SS would be like “Oh, mein Got!”. Every once in a while you almost want to stop and just take a look around, but yeah… that’s not possible. There’s no time for sightseeing as almost every faction in Hired Gun has a bone to pick with you. In fact, the resentment is so bad that you don’t even have to look for a skirmish. It will come to you at some point.

Necromundo: Hired Gun screenshot

This brings me to Hired Gun’s first weakness; the lousy A.I. which, on the other hand, shoots flawlessly. Cannon fodder is aplenty and it literally runs towards you. Shouting that they want you dead, they enter your personal space like COVID never existed. At times, Hired Gun wants the level of action so damn high that it endlessly spawns enemies right in front of you. Literally. It’s only when the wonderfully industrial, almost Fear Factory-esque music fades that you know when you’ve really the whole lot. Very occasionally spawning won’t stop until you clear a specific bounty. That’s great for your body count and Bloodborne-esque health regen – given you reacquire health by killing – but it can also make the game f-ing chaotic at the same time.

Anyway, if enemies really want to come within your six-foot radius, you can get started with Glory Kills, even if they are not named as such. Just put a knife in it and Bob’s your uncle. Next patient, please! And as nice as these kinds of finishers are, Hired Gun is a bit too generous with them. Enemies are sometimes literally waiting in line to be strung on your knife. While you’re still dissecting one unlucky shmuck, the next one will wait patiently for you to finish. Since you are inviolable while performing such melee kills, there is a chance that you will be cutting up chumps front to back. It’s almost like working at the abattoir.

While performing these scripted close-up kills, the following problem immediately arises. Animations are sometimes so janky, it just hurt to look at ’em. If someone as much as touches you during a Glory Kill, Streumon believes you should suddenly warp meters away from your target. But, of course… keep swinging that blade of yours. Who cares that it’s air you’re waving your knife into. Once the animation is over, we’ll just warp you back. And then the physics of the fallen, wow. Just wow. T-posing and falling backwards as if Isaac Newton never existed… that can really crawl under your skin eventually.

Necromundo: Hired Gun screenshot

You know, I think I’ll stop right here. I’m not going to get into the menu structure and dialogue anymore. I’ve said enough. Even your Mastiff – which you can gear up and turn it into half a cyber pupper – can’t save the grace anymore. It’s nice that it can detect targets for you and sometimes bite one in the ass, though. And yes, you can pet it too, but that’s not the point. Hired Gun is just too rough to enjoy. As I said, it’s really not a bad concept and during my 8 hours with Hired Gun I really saw potential in it. But guys, this lack of refinement really kills it. And not even softly.

In the end, Necromunda: Hired Gun is a great example of a potential gem that sees its street value plummet due to lack of polish. The concept, gunplay, and cleverly borrowed mechanics are all fine, but everything around it is really janky. Lousy animations, hurrr-dee-durrr stupid enemies, bugs, a very confusing menu structure… I can’t make it nicer than it is either. Streumon, on the other hand, could, and I strongly advise them to do so. For now, Necromunda: Hired Gun is nothing more than a much too rough diamond, which can only become really valuable with some much-needed polishing.

Killed by its roughness
The One-Shot, One-Kills
The gunplay is absolutely bloody fun
The environment can be really impressive when it wants to be
The fast-paced gameplay is pretty exhilarating from time to time
You can pet your cyber-doggo
The Blatant Misses
That A.I. though...
Bugs, glitches, framedrops, T-poses... you name it, Hired gun has it
Don't come knocking if you want a good story
Menu structure be like: "Yeah, I don't know either"