The Warhammer 40K universe is one of the most detailed, lore dense and unique settings imaginable. Originally conceived in the 1980s as a tabletop game, it has since branched out into books, comics, audio plays, animations and – most relevant for this yarn – video games.
Its irresistibly weird mix of over-the-top, operatic world building, forever wars, and social commentary seem custom designed for a great video game, yet time and time again, they don’t quite work. This latest title, Necromunda: Hired Gun is a perfect example of the problem, although that’s not to say that it’s without charm.
Necromunda: Hired Gun is set on the planet Necromunda, a dystopian nightmare hellscape that brims with industry, violence and untampered population growth. Into this mix, the player character is thrust, an aloof mercenary who just wants to make some dosh, but before long is exposed to a sprawling gang war and a larger conspiracy.
The plot is pretty standard, and not told in a particularly exciting way, but Hired Gun succeeds in one major fashion: superb, fast-paced, engaging shooting. Slick as a greasy piglet, you’ll wall run to your objective, blow the heads off nearby enemies, grapple-hook to safety and send your cybernetically enhanced mastiff down to polish off the stragglers. This is frenetic, exciting stuff, a bit like 2016’s Doom reboot but with a 40K setting to add extra levels of grime and casual nihilism. When Hired Gun works it works a treat.
The problem? It doesn’t work often enough. Graphical glitches, framerate drops, audio fuckery and even the odd hard crash beset this scrappy title, doing a lot of damage to your good will. And as a result, other ordinarily forgivable flaws like lackluster enemy AI and wonky voice acting become all the more apparent. Which is sad, because honestly, exploring these expansive, fascinating 40K locations, drinking in the atmosphere and just straight up existing in this bull goose loony universe is a treat.
So, here’s our suggestion: don’t buy Necromunda: Hired Gun quite yet. Unless you’re a 40K obsessive, you’re likely to run into problems. Wait a month or two, see if these launch issues are patched out and then revisit the concept. Because underneath the jank, Necromunda: Hired Gun is a grimdark and gory gem that just needs a bit more polishing for it to truly shine.