Necromunda: Hired Gun Review will likely please Warhammer 40K fans, but players looking for a slick, intuitive shooter will find the game hard going. It tells a compelling, if slightly pedestrian story, but is let down by a lack of polish. One for the WH40K faithful.
Games Workshop needs to invest in some quality control. Necromunda: Hired Gun is only the latest evidence of this.
Before this review examines the merits (or lack thereof) of Necromunda: Hired Gun as a game –- the latest instalment in GW’s Warhammer 40K (WH40K) universe to land on PCs and consoles — please allow this digression.
Necromunda: Hired Gun should sing
WH40K is probably one of the best pieces of sci-fi intellectual property on the planet. It’s staggering that a streaming service hasn’t snapped it up yet. When one considers the number of games, films, comics and books that have ripped this IP off, it’s something of an anomaly that WH40K isn’t regarded as a mainstream cultural touchstone. For goodness sake: its lore is deeper than anything Tolkien ever produced.
So why are its games so patchy? There hasn’t been a WH40K game released that has managed to rope in outsiders. This isn’t a critique – it’s a fact. Every single game set in this wonderful universe has done nothing to further its IP’s cause. It’s almost as though the people making these games don’t give a toss about attracting new converts as long as the faithful are happy – and they’re probably happy.
Necromunda: Hired Gun walks this path like a zombie. To be honest, this game should be WH40K’s coming-out party. It’s a first-person-shooter (FPS). It’s set in a segment of the IP’s universe that doesn’t have to bank on players knowing anything about the high-level narrative – you don’t need to know about the Horus Heresy to enjoy yourself. Hell, you don’t even need to be a WH40K fan; you’re a bounty hunter who’s just trying to make a living.
You’re Boba Fett in a sci-fi/gothic setting with a bunch of guns. What could go wrong?
Where was the QA?
As it happens, quite a bit. And this is why Games Workshop needs to be sat down and, perhaps with the use of some visual aids, told it needs to invest in some quality control.
Frame-tearing. Staggering. Crashing. These are just a few issues players have to deal with before they get to the mechanical and UI peccadilloes.
Early on in the game, players are introduced to wall-running. One would think in a post-Titanfall world this would be as easy as pie, but no, Necromunda: Hired Gun makes this something of a war of attrition before players need to actually have to rely on it. It’s clunky, badly implemented and really could have used a lot more work.
On top of that, progression leaves a lot to be desired. Players will lose count of the times they’re looking around admittedly interesting environments wondering which direction they’re supposed to be heading in. There’s a double-jump mechanic introduced early on, but it’s badly implemented and frustrating to use at times.
The meat and potatoes of the game is essentially DOOM; players head into a room, it’s filled with enemies, and their job is to reduce everyone in the vicinity to claret. It’s admittedly a lot of fun, but thanks to the frame-tearing and staggering it’s sometimes quite hard to see where the enemies are. There will literally be dozens of times players will think they’ve cleared an environment only to find bullets whizzing their way from foes they didn’t clock the first time.
These are aspects and features that should have been hammered out in QA testing. The less said about the grappling hook – which defies both physics and fun – the better.
This is a game that needed a lot more polish before it was allowed out the door. It’s a testament the groundwork that WH40K’s lore has done that’s it’s still worth playing.
The plot’s the thing
Necromunda: Hired Gun is set in a Hive World in the WH40K’s universe. A Hive World – in case you didn’t know – is an industrial hellhole that produces the foundations for the forces that maintain humankind’s dominance throughout the stars. It’s essentially a part of the WH40K’s universe that exists at the main lore’s periphery but is deep enough to inspire myriad stories – Necromunda: Hired Gun being one of them.
This is the most compelling aspect of the game; players take on the role of a bounty hunter who lives in the universe’s rectum. There’s a real ‘boots-on-the-ground’ atmosphere that dominates proceedings from the get-go and it powers the interests of the game’s narrative. The character may seem cliched at times, but they work so well in the game’s seedy environment that players will likely gloss over them.
Perhaps the game’s most powerful card it has to play is that players are very well aware throughout the story is that they exist on the fringes. The fringes are nasty, they’re violent and they move the game’s story forward, but they are ultimately unimportant.
Whatever the player does won’t end up as lore. But in a way that’s okay – they’re carving out their own lore in Hired Gun.
Necromunda: Hired Gun – Verdict
Necromunda: Hired Gun is a game for fans of WH40K. Players looking for a decent shooter won’t find what they’re looking for here. Players who have had an interest in WH40K will be in for a rough ride.
And this is why Games Workshop needs a really good talking to. There is a great WH40K game waiting to be made. Necromunda: Hired Gun is not it. And it’s crazy that fans of WH40K are still waiting for a great game.