Updated on September 21st, 2021. They have finally updated the game on Xbox. The performance and controls are infinitely better than they were at launch. With this finally fixed after three months I am upping my score from 4.0 to 7.0 as I think this game is well worth the money now that it actually runs well.
Necromunda: Hired Gun is the latest title from French developer Streum on Studios and is one of the 500 Warhammer Universe games being released this year. Set in the 40k time period, you are a Bounty Hunter working in the Underhive, quite literally a hive of scum and villainy. With your trusty Cyber Hound by your side, you’ll work through 13 main campaign missions and a bevy of side content. Review codes were not sent out for console ahead of time, and oh boy is it obvious why. This is one of the most disappointing games of the year and let me tell you why.
Console Development as an Afterthought
Coming from the creators of the much-maligned Space Hulk: Deathwing my hopes weren’t high when the game was announced. Gameplay featurettes though showed what looked like a promising budget title ($40 US at time of launch, on sale for $33.99). It was graphically impressive, and the gunplay looked fast-paced and fun. The loot system sounded interesting, with a variety of weaponry at your disposal. After seeing the initial wave of reviews hit I noticed a trend though. No codes were given out for the console version of the game, it was only for PC. Within 10 seconds of loading into the opening level, it was clear why. My game crashed, quite a bad omen. This would go on to happen another 15 or 20 times during my 10 or so hours with the campaign.
The game chugs in an odd manner on an Xbox Serie X. There is a judder to camera movement that has given me headaches after prolonged sessions of play and performance is simply unacceptable. Even with a VRR enabled display it was an abysmal performance. The biggest issue though is the aiming. With the default settings, the tiniest movement of your right analog stick will send your reticle flying. This is especially egregious when it involves aiming down the sites of anything long range. The tiniest movement causes a hard acceleration that you have little to no control over. By the end of the game I had only used shotguns for the majority of my playthrough as at least after greatly lowering the sensitivity for horizontal, vertical, and aiming down sites it was simply “really bad feeling” instead of completely broken.
This is a massive shame as outside of a few completely baffling decisions there is a fun game here. The fast-paced gunplay matches well with an excellent power system. The upgrades feel meaningful and help push you into the decent side content so that you can earn enough money to upgrade yourself and your cyber pooch.
Man’s Best Murderous Friend
That Cyber Hound operates on a cooldown timer and gives you the unbelievably powerful ability of “seeing where everyone on the map anywhere near you is”. At first, the cooldown feels far too long, but after a few upgrades, my dog was out fighting with me quite often. The combat (at least on PC) has great potential. The few things that I could do, namely close-range shooting, felt nice and punchy. The guns have a good weight to them, which is matched by the variety on hand. Melee is available as either a timer-based power-up (that is far too weak) and a takedown prompt. This prompt can quickly dispatch enemies who otherwise would take 50 shotgun blasts to kill and is completely broken. One of the abilities allows you to stun enemies, which makes them vulnerable to being taken down. I used this combo roughly 600 times in my playthrough to quickly take care of even the toughest of enemies when necessary.
Getting back to your dog, unfortunately there isn’t that much else to them. They can do their own takedown which kills most enemies and give you the red outline for all enemies buff, that’s it. The powers end up being the most interesting part of the game by the end, though they can be quite expensive to purchase and level up so you’ll want to grind some side content before pushing through the campaign.
I say this under the assumption that you’re playing on PC, as right now this game is a disaster on Xbox and Playstation consoles. The developers have said on social media that they’re looking to fix the controls and performance, but it’s obvious that this one was not ready either on the old or new consoles. There is a truly head-scratching decision though. This game has a deep and decently setup loot system, but you cannot access your inventory during a mission. You can only set things up before you head out, aka the terrible system that Anthem had at launch… I simply cannot understand how this restrictive setup was seen as a positive by the dev team.
Graphics and Sound? At least one of them is ok!
Graphically the game looks great when it’s either a small environment, so that the judder is lessened, or standing still. The moment things get frantic then it takes a massive nosedive in a way I can’t quite put my finger on. The in-game FPS counter shows it bouncing between the 40s, 50s, and 60’s but it’s so fast that it makes no sense. It’s not a stunning game by any means but some areas are quite good-looking with a real future goth-inspired art direction.
Sound-wise the music varies between pure DOOM rip-off and memorable Heavy Metal. The voice acting is mostly bland, and the female main character that I chose had an incredibly thick British accent that felt a bit too try-hard.
The story is mediocre and predictable, but it’s really not what you’re there for. You’ll see each plot point coming from a mile away, but you’ll be too busy shooting and stabbing (and having fun doing it on PC) that you won’t really mind.
In A Deeply Disappointing Conclusion
If I were reviewing this game on multiple platforms it would be a nightmare as it’s obvious that PC was the lead platform by a mile. There is a lot of potential and if a good amount of time has passed since release I’d suggest you look up the patches that have come out along with the discourse online to see if things have been fixed. As it is now this is a broken mess of a game, and I can’t in good conscience recommend it to anyone on Xbox or Playstation consoles. I really hope they fix it up though because I’d love another run-through with a properly working version of this game.