Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Making a return to a world is always an interesting one especially when the manner that you get to see it changes. Coming from Streum On Studio and Focus Home Interactive, the return to this hive world in the Warhammer 40K universe is going to be a lot faster paced and a lot more brutal as you continually modify yourself to tackle tougher challenges than previously thought possible. Welcome back to Necromunda: Hired Gun.
Unlike Rogue Factor’s turned-based tactics Necromunda: Underhive Wars, Streum On Studio’s Hired Gun is a fast paced first person shooter more in the vein of DOOM (2016) with some Prince of Persia Sands of Time goodness thrown into the mix for parkouring. Generally with no real time to think it through, moving around and shooting at anything else that moves is generally the only real way to survive. While generally not my style of shooter as I would much prefer to take time and aim or dive behind cover and then check out my surroundings, there’s plenty in Hired Gun that exists to get you into the action quickly and I found myself rather invested for a time.
There are a lot of ideas that Hired Gun uses that make for a good time however the overall execution at times can be a bit frustrating until you piece it all together. For the main gameplay, out the field on main or secondary missions, you’ll be running, jumping, latching onto ledges, running around walls and using a grappling hook to reach some rather out of reach locations. While doing all of this, you’ll be firing off automatic weapons, pistols, shotguns, laser sniper rifles and throwing grenades all while getting up close and personal if that’s easier than waiting a fair amount of bullets on an enemy if you don’t need to with melee attacks.
All of that works really well though even playing on a PlayStation 5 there were many moments that the frame rates would stutter as there were too many things on screen making me wonder how a standard PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 4 Pro would be handling this. It’s nothing game breaking but in some cases it could be the difference between having only one or two of your current enemies left standing and having four to five still trying to gun you down. On this subject though, Hired Gun has what I would consider a great system that has been put into place which keeps the action set to high. It’s called the Sanguin system.
As your merc takes a hit for a limited time any damage that you do to an enemy will come back to you as health. Close to death? This could keep you going for quite some time. If there’s no one close and you’re also out of shields, there are healing packs that can be bought or picked up however I wonder at the design choice as they were mapped to R3 instead of something like “O” meaning I often ended up healing myself instead of pulling off a melee attack on an incoming enemy. Finally, with all of the running and gunning you have access to the goodest of boys in the form of a cyber mastiff that will highlight all of your enemies and help you out for a limited time once their cooldown has reached zero. This pooch is seriously one of the best parts of your arsenal because unlike your ammo count, you can always count on him.
Where things get a bit iffy during combat though is when you’re trying to actually aim while running around and then reload. Even if you’re holding the aim button, after the reload action you’ll no longer be staring down your site or your scope but instead be returned to a normal view and then have to let go of the aim button and press it down again. With weapons that come with blazing fast firing rates, it was almost not even worth it at times but if you’re running across walls like a ninja, I guess you shouldn’t be looking down the sight of your weapon but what do I know? I’m not a cybernetically enhanced hired gun!
Once you’re out of battle and into what acts as your hub between missions you’ll be able to buy and sell new gear from a vendor as well as make upgrades to both you and your cyber mastiff. This is a bit where things get a bit convoluted as there’s no real inventory management system. Instead, for some really odd and random reason, the only time you can see what you have on hand is inside of these vendors and upgrade specialists. It took a few missions to finally talk to and then figure out that I could sell the ever increasing loot that I had on hand that was just no more good to me since I had found better. For upgrades, thankfully those are literally plug and play so once bought, they are installed into the body parts you wish for both you and your pooch.
So while the running and gunning is generally pretty smooth short of the framerates, there are a lot of other small to medium details such as can bog things down a bit as they are a tad clunky and can only be done from the main hub. It would have been much better to have an actual inventory system window that also allowed for you to see all of your current upgrades instead of having to go back to the vendors to see all of these details. Overall though, what’s present is pretty solid and I came away fairly impressed at the gameplay as even hours down the line it keeps on being robust enough with the new upgrades as they are acquired.Score: 7 / 10