It was not even a year ago that we go the abomination that was Necromunda: Underhive Wars. And I know we get a lot of bad Warhammer games, but that one was especially bad. Hired Gun is in the same setting, but offers up a complete genre shift, so I went into it hoping it could redeem the franchise for me.
So, I think the best way to describe the gameplay here would be as basically a clunkier DOOM, but with an increased emphasis on movement. I mean, there’s already a lot of movement in DOOM, but this game has you double-jumping, sliding into tubes, scaling buildings, wall running, and even grappling – all while shooting. It is a very fast-paced game that goes for that same kind of classic FPS gameplay, one where you’re blasting enemies left and right, swapping weapons in-between, and dashing all over the place.
This aspect of the game is solid. It is an absolute rush once it gets going and I never found myself feeling bored with it. Part of this was due to the level design – one of my favorite things about the game. It’s somehow both very open, yet feels like its packed full of stuff. Pipes going everywhere, machine parts hanging from the ceiling, enemy hiding spots all over – it really nails that underground, industrial Necrumunda look while at the same time providing for some solid movement options.
That’s not to say that the movement is perfect though. I mentioned earlier that the game feels like a clunkier DOOM and this can occasionally be seen with that movement. Wall running is a bit too sticky, you’ll sometimes not grab ledges you mean to grab, and momentum while airborne can get a bit weird too. The majority of the time it’s fine, but it could still use some brushing up.
The gunplay, on the other hand, is pretty good all around. The actual act of shooting feels great and being able to rapidly swap between your arsenal in less than second definitely helps give the game that fast-paced feel to it. There’s also a good amount of guns to choose from. Simple shotguns, submachine games, heavy machine games, machine pistols, plasma guns – there’s a lot there from and even more so when you consider the fact that each of your weapons can be upgraded individually to buff certain stats.
The game actually has a bit of a looter-shooter element to it through the different chests, enemy drops, and other goodies you can find. Guns, charms, armor, and upgrades all have different rarity levels and can be bought and sold at the hub world. This is also where you can upgrade your own body and that of your dog companion – one that you can bust out in the middle of a gunfight and give commands to (another neat feature on top of the already fun combat).
Still, I have mixed feelings on this part of the game. I liked that the option was there to upgrade and swap around my stuff – but a good chunk of it just felt unnecessary. It was kinda tedious having to cycle through all the stuff I picked up during a mission to determine what I would keep and what I would sell, only to repeat that same process thirty minutes later after the next mission. Something like “discard all but a certain rarity level” would have been very helpful, but even then, I feel like the game went a bit too hard on the looter stuff for how short of an experience it is.
I haven’t seen the devs give an estimated playtime length, but for me, it took just over six hours – about the same length of any Call of Duty campaign and the same amount of time it took me to beat DOOM. Some are immediately going to be put off by this, but the game was paced well enough that it wasn’t really an issue for me.
And again, this was for the main story only. I did not do any of the side missions until afterwards and you can easily spend double that time doing all of those. Granted, these just earn you credits and affect reputation with different factions – so if you are not really into the whole “looter” element of the game like I was, then they’re pretty much just filler.
The main campaign is where the good stuff is at and I was surprised with the sheet variety offered by it. For being six hours – there is a lot packed in there. One level had me running across a moving train while gunning down enemies, another had me crossing a corrosive lake by grappling along buildings, and there was even one where I had to blow up this massive structure I was in to create an entrance further below. It’s all over the place and felt like I was going through a bunch of action movie set pieces – which just so happens to make for a fun video game.
On the opposite end though – this doesn’t really make for that good a story. I mean, this is Warhammer, so I wasn’t really expecting much in the way of story anyways, but there is a decent-sized one here and I was not a fan. The lore is good, but the writing is anything but, jumping all over the place and not really fleshing out any of the characters beyond the surface level. It was more so there as a means to connect the levels in a somewhat coherent manner – so don’t go in expecting much from it.
As for the graphics… well, I can’t deny that they’re not the best. It looks like an FPS that came out maybe five years ago and it’s obvious that this is coming from a mid-tier studio trying to make a AAA-looking game. Muddled textures, stiff animations, lifeless faces – I don’t mean to bash the developers, but graphics are definitely not the strong suit.
Similar things can be said about the sound. The music was fine and went for that same style metal soundtrack that DOOM did, but the rest of the sound is subpar at best. For being in this big, underground space with machines and stuff everywhere, there isn’t much in the way of industrial ambience. That and the sound mixing is downright awful at times. Voices are fine during some scenes, but really quiet during others. I don’t know what went wrong there, but it is very noticeable.
Performance is also a bit of a mixed bag. I had to turn down to medium settings to run the game at 1440p and above 60 fps with my GTX 1070 Ti, which is fine, but there were micro-stutters on top of that. They happened during when I assume the game was loading in new areas in the background, sometimes while I was in combat. This was with the game installed on an NVMe SSD, so it’s not like speed was an issue either.
And while I didn’t run into any crashes, I did run into a few bugs. For example, there was a boss fight where I was stuck unable to shoot until I used an ability – lowering and raising my weapons again. In that same boss fight, the boss got stuck on a platform and would not take damage until I reset his position again. The AI in general is not the greatest, but it at least is not outright terrible like the last Necromunda game.
Otherwise, the game plays fine. The FPS is mostly stable, the keyboard and mouse controls are fitting, and the variety of settings are nice to have too. The only thing missing there is horizontal FOV. The game has vertical FOV, but not horizontal for some reason – and it could really use it.
Necromunda: Hired Gun may have some issues, but ultimately, it is still a fun game and worth a look if you’re a Warhammer or FPS fan. The shooting feels great, there’s a ton of movement options, and the level variety has you going all over the place – sampling just about everything that the Underhive has to offer. Still, the gameplay is a bit rough around the edges and there are some technical issues, but hopefully some patches can clean it up a bit. It is far better than the last Necrumunda game we got if anything.
Quote: Necromunda: Hired Gun may be a bit rough around the edges, but ultimately, it is still a fun game and worth a look if you’re a Warhammer or FPS fan and want to see what the Underhive has to offer.
Necromunda: Hired Gun retails for $40 USD on Steam, but you can get an official Steam key for 20% off using my Gamesplanet partner link. It is also available on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, and Xbox One.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.