While any first-person shooter could be considered high-stakes, non-stop action, games like DOOM, BPM: Bullets Per Minute, and Ultrakill take that idea and turn it up to 11, making for an incredible thrill ride that’s impossible to put down. Going from battle to battle, unleashing a hail of bullets, and ripping your enemies to shreds as your heart beats double the speed is as addicting as it is visceral. As such, my first glimpse at Necromunda: Hired Gun spoke to my undying passion for fast-paced carnage. Now that I’ve played through it though, does it truly live up to the addictive nature of its competition? Find out in my Necromunda: Hired Gun review!
Necromunda: Hired Gun is available on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
The Vast Universe of Warhammer 40K, And its Use in Necromunda: Hired Gun
Coming from such a critically acclaimed and expansive universe as Warhammer 40K, one may have some high expectations from Necromunda: Hired Gun, weaving these in between its fast-paced mayhem. Hired Gun specifically tackles the hive world of Necromunda, infamous for its supplying of weaponry and endless psychotic gangs, all vying for power in the planet’s deepest, darkest reaches. As a hired gun, your squad attacks a rival gang only to be met with an unknown adversary, who critically wounds you and slaughters the rest of your squad. “Always work alone” you once said, only prevalent in your darkest moment. You’re saved by an unknown friend, who brings you to a small town known as Martyr’s End and sending you on the hunt for the Silver Talon, the one who put you in this mess in the first place.
While I can’t delve much further without causing heavy spoilers, Necromunda: Hired Gun leads you on this path of vengeance in a way that unfortunately feels far from compelling. Much of your story is centered around this hunt, but without much substance to keep that flow going. Mind you, the gameplay is what’s clearly intended to carry the experience forward, but it by no means excuses the particularly lazy writing here. Everyone’s favorite “exposition dump” style of storytelling is apparent here, informing you of the gang your next mission is targetting or discussing the elusive nature of the Silver Talon.
Meanwhile, as to be expected, the missions themselves offer very little in the story, emphasizing the gameplay. While the game tries to explain each of the gangs to a solid amount of detail, the lack of that being shown throughout its levels just amounts them to be a reskin of the same enemies to shoot. It lacks that flavor, and while Hired Gun isn’t entirely repetitive thanks to how enjoyable fast-paced can be, it doesn’t do it any favors. And while I continue to restrain myself from expressing how lackluster this can be, the conclusion feels far from satisfying. Obviously, there wasn’t a whole lot to work with throughout the rest of the experience, but it doesn’t change the ending’s abruptly unsatisfying state.
It all scratches the surface of what the Warhammer 40K universe has fleshed out which is angering for those like me, who haven’t grown to know these characters. Without that background, much of this story is left feeling shallow in the face of its source material. I’m not saying I was expecting a spectacular, heartfelt story here as that was impossible from the get-go, but the missed opportunities stick out like a sore thumb.
Blasting Your Way Through Hordes Upon Hordes of Psychotic Adversaries
Despite my gripes with the plot, Necromunda: Hired Gun’s main focus lies in its fast-paced moment-to-moment gunplay, which often feels like a thrill ride in the heat of battle. Unloading barrages of bullets into groups of gang scum while jamming out to stellar tunes (more on that later) feels incredibly satisfying whether it’s the first hour or the eighth. The traversals up to these action-packed moments are a little long at times, I must admit, but the payoff feels incredibly satisfying.
And the wide array of toys you’re given lets you tailor your experience to how you like to play this sort of title. Do you enjoy running in with a shotgun, getting your hands dirty, and taking down enemies with brutal efficiency? That’s a very fleshed-out option. Are you more of one to stick at mid-range, outmaneuvering your opponent as you riddle them with rifle rounds? That can be done too. Are you a demon who prefers to shove long-range, well-placed sniper shots through an enemy’s skull? While I couldn’t touch the option with a 10-foot pole myself, that’s a possibility. In the event a gun doesn’t feel right to you, you can even tune it to your preferences. This sandbox feels vast and intuitive, making for an experience any player can pick up with ease.
To add the cherry on top of this customization fiesta, Necromunda: Hired Gun lets you fully mod both your character’s and Mastiff’s (dog’s) augments, allowing you to invest in powers that fit your playstyle. Whether speed or power is the name of the game for you, your investments tailor the game to how you as a player like to turn up the action. While one could get everything available in a single playthrough, the average person who doesn’t spend hours upon hours in monotonous side missions (which are the only gripe here) will appreciate the level of customizability.
It’s clear that from the team’s experience through Space Hulk: Deathwing, which I’ve heard is great in the gunplay department specifically, they were able to carry things over and refine it to make Necromunda: Hired Gun a fast-paced slaughter-fest that anyone would dream of. I can’t say it fully saves the inexcusable story, but it does heighten the game considerably. It isn’t the most unique experience on the market, but its mishmash of similar titles’ greatest aspects works great all the same.
Beauty in an Industrial Scrapheap
While one would never touch the idea of Necromunda: Hired Gun being a high fidelity experience, you can appreciate the atmosphere and setpieces that build into Necromunda’s industrial nightmare. Everything around you is either built from spare parts found in factories or is quite literally a modified factory the gangs have repurposed. And thanks to a dark color palette, this darkness helps portray the gloomy, grim state the Underhive is in. While it is your home at the end of the day, it’s far from a beautiful home most of us are used to.
My favorite part of all here is the sheer sense of scale the title’s setpieces give off. This is a very minor spoiler, but early on you’re to infiltrate a massive train for reasons pertaining to the story. At first, you may think “alright so a standard train robbery” until you see the train itself. One could arguably fit a decent-sized town within the beast, and you have to slaughter its inhabitants if you are to accomplish your goal. With these sorts of scenarios sprinkled throughout Hired Gun, you’re given a great idea that Necromunda is much more than a simple Hive City which, while described, is more accurately shown.
Meanwhile, the title’s glorious soundtrack works great in all the right moments. Mind you, whenever large battles aren’t unfolding, there isn’t much ambiance left to work with. When you reach those arena-like rooms though, the fast-paced mix of rock and old synth tunes feel right at home in Necromunda: Hired Gun. I frankly couldn’t see any other mixture of tracks in here, which the composer brought together perfectly. This joins some really satisfying gun sounds, each offering the infamous kick as each bullet flies into the path of your foe.
Necromunda: Hired Gun, for all of its faults, offers an experience compelling enough that fast-paced shooter fans will still find enjoyment. There isn’t a lot unique about it, but its use of all the aspects that make games like it great works in its favor. There’s even a solid audio and visual suite, making its atmosphere one that enhances its world, rather than complementing it. That doesn’t fully excuse the abysmal story though, which barely scratches the surface of its source material and leaves you empty by the end credits. Despite this, if you’re looking for a fast-paced Warhammer shooter, and are okay with it being rough around the edges, Necromunda: Hired Gun should still offer an enjoyable experience.
- Great gunplay
- Plenty of weapon customization
- Varied character upgrades
- Awesome setpieces that do 40K justice
- Sweet musical suite
- Unsatisfying conclusion
- Wasted potential of a massive universe
- Monotonous side missions
- Exposition dumps