I’m a sucker for hiring Necromunda: Rented weapon. In the Warhammer 40,000 swarm world of Necromunda, gangs fight for power, the rich wage war and bounty hunters make a name for themselves. Warhammer 40,000 has been a constant in my life since I was around fourteen. I first fell in love with Necromunda when I was a teenager reading Gordon Rennie and Will McDermott’s “Kal Jerico” novels; I went even deeper when I got the boxing set for Necromunda: Underhive, a skirmish-based tabletop game about lawless, violent gang warfare. It prevails.
All of which is why I played until the end Necromunda: Rented weapon, a fast-paced first-person shooter from Streum On Studio. Warhammer video games are often hit-or-miss. Necromunda: Rented weapon‘s attitude is a hit. Anything else is a failure.
Rented gunThe opening of two missions left a bad taste in my mouth. The guns my bounty hunter started out with felt awful, and the hyper-fast, Downfall-like gameplay just didn’t feel right. While the player can be fast, intelligent, and agile, the enemy AI is anything but. Then I got my hands on a bolter, a fully automatic weapon that fires rocket propelled rounds. Once I paired that with the grappling hook, the Necromunda: Rented weapon Waited a little too long to finally be fun.
That said, the enemy AI never got better, and the lack of enemy diversity is a disappointment. The Necromunda backdrop is full of interesting opponents, but most of the time the player will only face Goliath, Escher, and Orlock Ganger. (You will face other enemies at some point, but I don’t want to spoil them.) While all three gangs are very different in what they’re good at and what they look like, they all do the same three things: stand in place and wait to die; teleport and wait to die; or unload ammo in your direction and wait for you to die. The player’s range of motion suggests that the fight will be fast, brutal and dynamic. It’s definitely fast and brutal, but it never gets dynamic.
This sense of stagnation in the gameplay extends to the mission structure and narrative as well. There is little and everything is bad. The central hub world is a good example. It’s a cave for bounty hunters where players take on main missions and side quests, with vendors supplying weapons and augmetics (boosts). This area is where Necromunda: Rented weaponThe story is conveyed to the player, but the narrative involves little more than speaking to the same three people between each mission. What they have to say is never interesting. Still, there are some cool encounters, especially with the characters and locations that tie directly into the tabletop game and the fiction that goes with it. For example, be prepared to meet a certain ponytail bounty hunter.
Once a mission is accepted, players fall into a huge area where they have to solve firefights and small puzzles as they traverse points A to B and C. Maps can be explored and secrets can be found, but it’s all so the same and never really matters.
When the heat of the moment is up Necromunda: Rented weapon becomes a truly entertaining cacophony of chaos and caricature blood. The sound design is wonderfully punchy and the player movement feels pretty good, even if everything else around it is kind of bad. The fight never changes unless you force it by trying new weapons, using your trusty cyber dog more often (yes, you have a dog buddy, and yes, you can pet and feed him), or increasing the difficulty.
The ambition of the game can be seen on the edges. Every time it goes beyond what it can reasonably do, it serves to come up with a compelling idea. The execution may be mediocre, but the design team’s apparent desire to appropriately present the Necromunda setting and battles within it worked for me. While the fight is never difficult, it makes you feel like a bounty hunter – a lone hired weapon that everyone is after. Some Necromunda: Rented weaponThe most interesting moments happen when you stumble into gang wars that are already underway and have to fight your way through both sides as they fight each other. It brings the setting to life – but it also shows where the narrative fails.
The game’s story never captures an ever-changing gang war landscape with assassinations, ambushes, and back stabs. Instead, it borrows from the worst aspects of Warhammer storytelling, throwing too many proper names at the player, and at the same time too gloomy for an attitude that pretty much coined the term. You could skip most of the dialogue and the story could still be told with its pictures; in fact, it might even be more effective. While many of the levels look similar, there is still a story and sense of massive size and character in every area you jump, shoot, and sprint through.
“One-Note” is a pretty blasé term, however Necromunda: Rented weapon is just that. But the one note it hits is an attitude I love, and that makes it good enough to play me through its six or seven hour campaign. If you liked it Downfall (2016) but wish the game was much more buggy and your enemies didn’t move that much then this game is exactly what you are looking for. (The mistakes I encountered on Xbox Series X weren’t groundbreaking, but Rented gun is definitely rough around the edges.)
Necromunda: Rented weapon is deeply average. It’s amazingly good, and luckily, it’s short. Still, I’m pretty happy with it. I never thought I’d ever see a first person shooter where I would run through the Necromunda underworld, battling my way through sunken Imperial chapels and shrine rooms with nebulous intent while firing a bolter at enemies I am against I fought over and over again on the tabletop. If you are particularly fond of Warhammer 40,000 and Necromunda, chances are you’ll put up with everything this game throws at you so that you don’t enjoy it.
There’s a time and place for really average games. In a world where every triple A game has to be either “amazing” or “terrible”, it feels good to spend a weekend playing a double A game that is fun, interesting enough, and ( again), luckily) pretty short. Necromunda: Rented weapon is a great average game.
Necromunda: Rented weapon released on May 31st on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, window PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The game was verified on Xbox Series X using a download code provided by Focus Home Interactive. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not affect the editorial content, although Vox Media can earn commissions on products purchased through affiliate links. you find more information on Polygon’s ethics policy here.