It’s hard being a mercenary in the Warhammer 40k universe. Even though you get a cool hound and can upgrade your powerful guns, everything you encounter is deadly and dangerous. Most things are covered in big spikes and probably packing some weapons too. But it’s even harder to be a hired gun in this world when you’re playing a game that can’t reliably maintain a solid level of performance. That’s the sad situation facing most folks playing the recently released Necromunda: Hired Gun.
Developed by Streum On Studio and released earlier this week on basically every platform but the Switch, Necromunda: Hired Gun is a first-person, mission-based looter-shooter set in the Warhammer 40k universe. More specifically, in a large hive city located on the planet Necromunda. Hive cities are dangerous, crowded places where thousands of tons of resources, weapons, and ammo are produced, while local criminals and outlaws run the place. In Hired Gun you are a mercenary who loses their entire team at the start of the game and has to try to solve the mystery behind who killed their squad, why they did it, and who the killers are working for. What follows is a lot of Warhammer 40k lore, words, and names.
In theory, the combat in Hired Gun should be a blast. The game is heavily inspired by the recent Doom titles. (I was also reminded of Rage 2’s combat.) You move fast and can double jump and grapple hook around levels, killing loads of enemies the whole time. During missions, you can find loot chests and collect loot that you sell or keep at the end of the level. This sounds good, but sadly Hired Gun struggles to deliver.
On consoles, the game is currently a mess. Players on both Xbox Series X and PS5 have complained about numerous performance issues and bugs. Playing on PS5, I found the game to be nearly unplayable in some areas, with the framerate dropping into the low 20s as indicated by the in-game FPS counter you can turn on via the settings menu. It makes combat feel awful, and lining up shots while the game ping-pongs between 20fps and 60fps is annoying. I eventually gave up playing on PS5 after only missions and switched to PC.
There, things were better but still not ideal. Players have reported crashes and bugs. I didn’t have that playing on my RTX 3070, but I did deal with micro stutters. I spent a long time tinkering with settings to get the game to run on my PC. I eventually had to lower the overall quality to medium, turn on DLSS performance mode and turn off DX12. Even then, I still encountered FPS nosedives during bigger fights. Kotaku’s resident uncle Mike Fahey also experienced PC performance issues, so I’m confident in saying that it’s not my PC. Hired Gun just sort of runs like shit right now.
(I expect at least a few folks will be in the comments telling me they have no problems. That’s extremely useful information and I’m so happy you shared it.)
I enjoyed Hired Gun when it wasn’t stuttering endlessly. Combat is simple and not nearly as deep as Doom Eternal, but there is just enough enemy and weapon variety to help keep things from getting stale. Between missions, you can level up your character, unlock new abilities and traits and modify weapons you collect. It all works rather well and creates a satisfying gameplay loop that I’m excited to enjoy more if the technical kinks get worked out.
If you are a huge 40k fan, you could play it. Or instead, while we wait for Hired Gun to get improved via patches, you could play the 12,000 other Warhammer games that have been released in the last few years.