Yes, Necromunda: Hired Gun has a pet dog, and yes, you can pat him. Now that the important stuff is out of the way, let’s get into some of the more trivial stuff!
Necromunda: Hired Gun is a DOOM-esque, first-person shooter that takes place in the lore-rich universe of Warhammer 40,000. For fans of the franchise, there are plenty of hints to the wider universe around, although there’s very little time to soak it all in as you’ll be making more things explode by 9am than most people get done all week.
Despite the deep connection and background lore of Warhammer 40,000, Necromunda: Hired Gun is not an overwhelming experience for newcomers to the franchise. Luckily, prior 40k knowledge isn’t required to enjoy this game. You’re thrust into the role of a mercenary (or “Hired Gun”, if you will) who undertakes missions for the various gang factions of the weapon factory planet of Necromunda, for money, fame and bigger guns. There is a story here, one of conspiracy and inter-faction fighting, but it’s no more than a passing distraction on your way to your main goal – obtaining larger boom sticks!
Necromunda: Hired Gun revels in its combat. The guns, armour and extensive modification elements provide for a wide variety of ways to make your enemies less than alive. Guns are big, bulky and beautiful, and they make very satisfying noises. Where the movement in the game feels light and floaty, the gunplay is weighty, and adds a satisfying level of kickback in every trigger pull. You can upgrade your weapons and gear over time and there’s an almost overwhelming amount of loot on offer. If you can’t find a suitable weapon to address the specific problem you’re faced with, then it may not exist.
The fast and furious movement in Necromunda: Hired Gun is something else. You’ll be sliding, grappling, wall running and double jumping during almost every engagement. It’s one short-ranged teleport away from being similar to the acrobatic feats of Dishonored. And you’ll need to move like an overly energised parkour practitioner if you want to remain breathing. In fact, hiding behind cover rarely works, neither does running headfirst into danger. You have to find the balance between the two. Life and shield bars don’t automatically refill over time, so you have to get good at moving very fast, to essentially bullet dodge your way around the environment and pick up the health boosts dropped by your fallen foes.
Along with your exceptional choices in big and beautiful weaponry is your loyal and lovable dog. Your (mostly) constant companion that you can call on, via his adorable squeaky toy, to attack enemies and highlight those cowards trying to avoid your bullets by hiding behind the environment. While you can’t name him in the game, you can upgrade his abilities and look to turn him from cuddly attack dog to terminator death hound. The upgradable elements of his appearance can be both intimidating and downright hilarious.
Combat is made significantly easier by the cutscene-like takedown moves that you can perform any time you get within arms-reach of an enemy. Getting close enough without taking significant damage might be tricky, however once you’re there, you gain super takedown immunity as the game plays through its gory scene. And, if you’re lucky enough, the enemy AI will arrive in an orderly fashion to be next in line to receive your violent attention.
“Despite the deep connection and background lore of Warhammer 40,000, Necromunda: Hired Gun is not an overwhelming experience for newcomers to the franchise.”
There are some RPG elements in Necromunda: Hired Gun which seem like interesting choices. You get to pick what your character looks like, which really is 1000% pointless in a first-person shooter. You might see your character’s shadow or see the model when it pops up in the menus, but beyond this, there’s no real connection to what you look like. As with the story, you’ll find very little identity within this game, although the customised cyber-hound is a good opportunity to enjoy your character customisation. On the other end of the scale, some of the ability upgrades can be a lot to wrap your head around at first, but by the end of your playthrough you’ll max out all of the available skills. It really is a case of what you want first, rather than a choice of which skill you can do without.
There is an unspoken penalty in Necromunda: Hired Gun for remaining with your feet planted on terra firma. Movement is not only required, it’s actively encouraged. It keeps you alive and makes sure the action continues to be fast and frantic. Things can get a little janky when there are multiple enemies on the screen and there are occasional glitches, especially when performing takedowns, but otherwise the game runs well. Overall, it’s a fully-realised experience, and while it lacks the depth of other games in this category, there is a fun Warhammer 40,000 game on offer here.
Necromunda: Hired Gun releases physically on PS5, Xbox and PS4 on June 30. Pre-order now at JB Hi-Fi.