You can hardly blame Streum On Studio for trying to make the next DOOM Eternal. With shooters very few and far between this early on in the PlayStation 5 generation, the developer had the opportunity to leave its mark with a fast-paced FPS that picks up right where id Software left off last year. It even had the Warhammer 40,000 license to go alongside it, despite the universe being a turn-off for some. However, Necromunda: Hired Gun categorically fails to capitalise on quite literally anything it had going for it. On its own, it's a bang average shooter. When the cracks start to show, the game is one of the worst performing and buggiest experiences we've had for some time.
While it's safe to say Necromunda: Hired Gun is far from a PS5 showcase, let's start by setting the scene. You play as a bounty hunter who takes jobs from a home base in exchange for cash that can be spent on items and upgrades. The general loop revolves around running and gunning through 13 missions and returning to the safe haven in-between each one to improve stats and equipment.
What you do within those levels is where the title draws comparisons to DOOM, in that you'll be flying about combat arenas taking on unrelenting waves of humans, monsters, and everything in-between. Enemy density isn't quite on the same scale as the aforementioned series, but staying on your toes is still a must. With a double jump, wall run, and grappling hook rounding out mobility options, it's easy to see how one could have a good time. The movement speed whips you about at a rapid rate, and with so many ghoulies to gun down, the breakneck action could (and probably should) have been worthwhile.
What immediately makes that an impossibility is the dreadful gunplay, which removes any satisfaction from the pull of a trigger. Weapons lack impact and weight, meaning nearly every gun feels exactly the same no matter whether they're the most basic pistol or a supposedly powerful minigun. That's bad enough, but it's here where the game completely falls apart: it doesn't have any aim assist at the time of writing. The feature is set to off by default, but you can turn it on in the settings. Except the title never registers the change, meaning Necromunda: Hired Gun quite literally lacks aim assist on PS5 at launch. Not a problem for those who play on PC, but a death sentence on consoles. Never have we missed so many of our shots in an FPS. Firing weapons feels sloppy and inaccurate as a result.
That only scratches the surface, however, of what seems like a game completely unoptimised for PS5. Control inputs don't always register. Weapons take up so much of the screen that it can be difficult to see what's coming your way. Sound effects are muffled. Animations appear to be missing completely. Enemies you haven't killed yet disappear for a handful of seconds and then reappear elsewhere. The PS5 DualSense controller quickly stops vibrating as you work your way through a weapon magazine. Bugs and glitches are aplenty, with just one example being the gun in our hands disappearing entirely.
And then there's the frame rate, which just about manages to hit its target of 60 frames-per-second when absolutely nothing is happening on-screen. But when the action does heat up, frame rate drops are aplenty as well as stutters once enemies spawn. Combined with extremely basic enemy AI, it turns the whole thing into a sort of comedic slide show where you're bearing down on a foe who is doing nothing to prevent their impending doom as the frame rate chugs and struggles to keep up with your speedy movement. It's dreadful, simply put.
So too are the menus and UI, with the latter displaying text that looks almost placeholder. Scoring a critical hit should be cause for celebration, but instead the game nonchalantly throws up tiny white writing and moves on. The menus are on the opposite end of the spectrum; they're confusing and unwieldy. Upgrades suffer the worst here as the interfaces to enhance weapons and equipment are so baffling that we circumvented the mechanic entirely in order to get the next mission started. Enhancements be damned.
It's taken us until the eighth paragraph to mention you won't be alone in your travels throughout Necromunda: Hired Gun, with a canine companion that can be called upon to help during combat. The fact we haven't discussed the pup until now is a reflection of the mechanic as a whole, though: we genuinely forgot the option even existed for large stretches of the game. It simply doesn't seem useful whatsoever. You can spawn in the dog for a limited time and have it attack enemies, but that's something your gun can already do. Sure, it's cool and all to be dealing damage on two fronts, but the mechanic isn't implemented well enough to where it feels of any great benefit.
While a platforming puzzle here and there breaks things up, combat is very much the name of the game. The campaign will last you roughly six hours if you focus purely on the main missions, but side bounties can extend that playtime should you wish to engage with optional content. We don’t recommend it, however — we don’t think you should bother playing the game whatsoever.
Necromunda: Hired Gun will need a lot of work to get it into a state anywhere close to one we could recommend playing. Actually activating aim assist shouldn't be a tall order, but the same cannot be said of the abysmal frame rate and long list of glitches and issues. Without them, the game could be considered somewhat average. With them, we question how Necromunda: Hired Gun was allowed to ship on PS5 in the first place.