Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Streum On Studio
Release Date: 06/01/2021
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I love the Warhammer series a lot. My first introduction was a small figure I was given as a gift in junior high back in 2003. I had a friend who was really into the series and painted the figures and was all in. My parents couldn’t afford the figures so I turned to video games. My first experience was Dawn of War. One of the best RTS games ever made. Then…that was it. I then played Dawn of War II and then Space Marine, but was still fascinated by the lore, art style, and designs. This comes across well in Hired Gun. The game is oozing with style and tons of steampunk design. Weird mutilated bodies everywhere that are full of strange tech, gross underground sewers, and tons of violence and gore. The game looks amazing, but that’s probably the best thing about the game.
It was advertised as Doom set in the Warhammer universe and this it is not. When you start the game you pick your avatar and difficulty and you are off with just a revolver. Right away you take in the amazing art and visual design the series is known for. Then within a few minutes, you can start shooting and moving and that’s when everything falls apart. Now, at first, the gunplay seems fun. It’s fast-paced, and punchy, and the guns feel pretty good to shoot. Then at the end of the first level, you are already tired of it because there’s nothing else to do. Every single level is shoot everything that moves through poorly designed levels. Now the art is nice, but the actual design and layout of the levels are terrible. Tons of endless corridors to nowhere, hidden treasure chests that are not interesting enough to find, credits, and places to jump around and wall run on. Yes, it’s fast-paced and feels pretty good, but it’s so boring.
Another issue I have is that enemies spawn at random places and there’s no pattern. You run around an arena shooting everything in sight and when you go pick something up an enemy dropped another is shooting you from behind even though everyone came out of the same door on the opposite side of the room. It can lead to cheap deaths as you get a shield to protect your health and you can buy stims to revive you if you die. There are grenades that can clear crowds, but overall the layout of the levels just doesn’t help. I can jump around everywhere but what’s the point if everyone spawns randomly.
Some levels mix up arenas where you are locked in a room and heavy metal music plays until everything is dead, and then there are just endless linear hallways where you mow down more enemies. Enemies splatter and gib in Unreal Tournament-style glory, but they are not interesting to look at or fight. Everything dies in a few hits and each weapon seemed to do the same damage except for when it came to distance. The game shoehorns an RPG system into the game that feels completely pointless and useless. There are charms, armor, tokens, and various other bits that can be collected, but they can’t be equipped until your next mission. So, why bother with an RPG system if it can only be accessed between missions? Once you finish a mission you’re rated (who cares). You can then complete side missions for greater challenges and better loot, but no thank you. The main missions are drab enough as it is.
Once you complete a mission you can then choose what loot to keep and the rest is sold. Once you arrive at the main hub there are various vendors that allow you to buy and sell weapons and then also bionics on you and your dog. Yes, you get a dog companion that attacks you, but that’s it. The bionics are bought with credits and you can acquire various powers that kind of help a bit, but mostly you’ll just shoot everything. This is the main gameplay loop. Shoot everything through levels with nothing in between, fight an occasional boss, and build up your arsenal and bionics. The gameplay itself isn’t just boring but so is the story. Now, I’m no Warhammer guru, but with previous games, you kind of get some lore thrown at your real quick to understand your surroundings, but here you just fight this gang and that gang and work for this person. There’s no context. The voice acting is okay, but there’s no reason to care.
Overall, Necromunda had potential and it was squandered with a forced loot system, boring story and gameplay loop, and terribly designed levels. I love the visuals and the lore behind the series, but this game just doesn’t do it justice. If it was a straight-up linear corridor shooter with more thought put into the weapons, enemies, and level design it would have been better. Also, the whole looter shooter thing needs to stop at some point. No one can get it right and it’s widely overused. Sometimes less is more and Necromunda proves that.