Necromunda: Hired Gun

Note: It seems the dead zone issue has been fixed in a patch. You can read the full text of the original article below.

I should state upfront that I’m not a Warhammer fan. I have nothing against the franchise; I’ve just never really experienced any Warhammer media. Perhaps it’s something I would be super into if I had more exposure to it, perhaps not.

Either way, I thought Necromunda: Hired Gun looked interesting. It’s a grungy, gritty first-person shooter set in the Hive City of Necromunda, a disorienting tangle of catwalks, chains, and molten metal that is apparently part of the greater Warhammer universe. The gameplay is fast-paced, and combined with the demonic-looking visual aesthetic (so much red!), it brings to mind the Doom games a bit.

So I was presented with a tough choice: Do I pick this up on Steam to test out my new gaming PC, or should I stick with what’s familiar and wait a day to play it on PS4? I decided to go with my trusty PS4 for this one, and that ended up being a huge mistake.

Necromunda: Hired Gun

As much as I like the world of Necromunda: Hired Gun — the guns look awesome and I really dig the “industrial steampunk pirate” fashion choices of the characters — I’m struggling to play this because the controls feel absolutely terrible. I’m not even exaggerating, this feels horrendous to play.

The default aim and look sensitivity is set extremely high. This actually isn’t a problem for me — I tend to start first-person shooter games at default sensitivity, then slowly crank up the sensitivity as I get used to the game. High sensitivity actually feels really good if you’re playing a console FPS, once you get used to it.

The problems begin with the controller dead zone. In something like Call of Duty: Warzone or Star Wars Battlefront II (both of which I’ve spent a fair amount of time with on PS4), if you move the left thumbstick ever-so-slightly in a direction, your aim will move slowly in that direction. The further you push it, the faster your aim is. In Necromunda, there’s a dead zone, so when you push the stick ever-so-slightly, nothing happens. You then push it further and suddenly your aim jerks to the side when the stick moves out of the dead zone.

This creates a jankiness that makes fine-tune aiming feel impossible. I spend a lot of time in Necromunda pointing a gun, then strafing to compensate for left/right aim rather than deal with actual aiming. And that feels horrible, especially when the game is trying to goad you into these really fast-paced encounters.

And those encounters, I should point out, are where the game could really shine. Instead, you’re sort of forced to hide behind a corner and slowly and meticulously take out enemies one at a time because you just can’t aim with enough accuracy to actually get a headshot off without a fair amount of adjustment.

Necromunda: Hired Gun

You can actually adjust this dead zone in the control options. I believe the default is 24%, and you can slide it down to 21%. You cannot, however, slide it down to 0%, where it should be. It feels better at 21% than at 24%, but it doesn’t feel good enough to actually play the game for any extended period of time.

To make matters worse, the framerate constantly drops when there are too many enemies in the area — to the point where the game will just seize up for half a second at a time. Good luck trying to take down a group of four to five enemies when your screen is frozen.

Further, you can ADS (aim down sights) by pressing L2, which is pretty standard for FPS gunplay. If you reload, you will break ADS, which is also standard for FPS games. However, if you continue to hold L2, you will not snap back to ADS after the reload animation. I never realized I had a habit of holding L2 during reloads until I played Necromunda, but apparently I do. And not popping back into ADS automatically feels super weird. This is certainly not the game’s worst sin in the controls department, but it’s worth noting for anyone who’s an L2 holder like I am.

Necromunda: Hired Gun

Necromunda: Hired Gun is very obviously built to be a PC game. I’m sure it feels great to play with a mouse and keyboard. However, if you pick this up on a console, you’ll spend as much time fighting the controls as you do fighting in-game enemies. I hesitate to use the term unplayable, because it’s not quite that bad, but it’s enough of an issue that it makes me want to put down Necromunda and play something else. I just don’t have the patience for this.

If you were ever a PC gamer who played a lot of FPS games, then moved to a console (like I did), you might remember how awkward it first felt to try to play a first-person shooter with a controller. Necromunda: Hired Gun manages to replicate that experience for people who are used to playing FPS games on a console.

And that’s a shame, because I feel like I could have really enjoyed my first foray into the Warhammer universe.

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