Necromunda: Hired Gun review Cyber mastiffs ready to attack

Posted on June 4, 2021 by

Need to know

What is it? Singleplayer FPS set in the depths of a Warhammer: 40:000 Hive City
Expect to pay $40/£35
Developer Streum On Studio
Publisher Focus Home Interactive
Reviewed on AMD Ryzen 5 3600, Nvidia GeForce 2080 Super, 32 GB RAM
Multiplayer? Rust-damn, no!
Out Now
Link Official site 

Necromunda: Hired Gun is a shooter suffering from a mid-life crisis. A linear, singleplayer FPS releasing in 2021, it has looked in the mirror, seen its greying temples and crow's feet, then panicked before rushing out to buy a bunch of hip new mechanics guaranteed to appeal to those cool Zoomer streamers: bolted-on side-quests, a trendy new loot system, a range of gory melee kills it doesn't know how to pull off. It's an FPS desperately afraid of its distinctly late '90s identity. 

Which is a shame because Hired Gun would make for a pretty badass grandad if only it could stop embarrassing itself at the skate park. 

(Image credit: Focus Home Interactive)

You play a nameless bounty hunter who prowls the underhive of Necromunda, the largest Hive City of Warhammer 40k’s Imperium and one of its chief manufacturers of arms. Paid to avenge the murder of one of Necromunda's most notable Guilders, you become embroiled in a gang war to control the Hive City's murky underbelly. 

Hired Gun's plot is disjointed and barebones, mainly serving as an excuse to thread together 13 loosely connected missions that take you on a tour of Necromunda. These missions  (and the places they explore) are by far the best part of Hired Gun. Necromunda is like a million Mos Eisleys crammed together and left under a lamp, a noisy, filthy, and impossibly vast industrial hellscape. It's simultaneously a factory, a landfill, a scrapyard, and a battlefield. It makes Cyberpunk 2077's dystopia look like a nice wee holiday.

Hired Gun captures the foetid essence of Necromunda perfectly. It opens with you and two other bounty hunters on an elevator, travelling down through the Hive City's anthropogenic strata. You see its matted layers of crumbling concrete, flaking iron and spidering pipework. Each mission centres on a specific location within the Hive. The second mission, for example, sees you leap aboard the Koloss-44, a city-sized freight-train furnished with metal skulls and a cow-catcher that's more of a kaiju-catcher.

(Image credit: Focus Home Interactive)

Elsewhere, you'll hop between cyberpunk skyscrapers and battle through a junkyard to penetrate the vast steel walls of an Imperial Generatorum. My favourite mission, simply titled the "Cold Black", involves descending into one of the most ancient parts of the Hive City for an encounter with one of 40k's most notorious foes.

It's a virtual space truly worth seeing, which is just as well, as everything else about Necromunda is either problematic or downright unfinished. The central issue is that the core combat isn't very good, but there are a bunch of reasons why.

Let's start with the weapons. In and of themselves, they're fine. Classic 40K bolters and heavy bolters sit alongside more familiar-looking assault rifles and shotguns, plus a couple of more eclectic weapons including a plasma rifle and a gun that shoots an exploding gravity vortex. It would be a respectable arsenal to amass over the course of the game, especially if they had distinctive effects and were useful in different situations.

(Image credit: Focus Home Interactive)

Instead, Hired Gun employs a Destiny-style loot system, meaning you'll pick up dozens of these guns with slightly improved stats. But there's nowhere near enough variety in the weapon roster to make a loot system work. It only serves to dilute the sense of occasion of picking up a new gun, as well as the functional differences between the weapons themselves. There's no point in having three types of chaingun if they effectively do the same thing.

The weapons at least feel good to shoot, but you barely need to for the most part. A combination of floaty physics and an overenthusiastic gib system means that most enemies will fall apart if you so much as sneeze near them, leaving trails of intestines hanging in the air like wedding streamers. And that's if you bother to shoot them at all. Any standard enemy can be instantly killed by walking up to them and pressing E, triggering an elaborate but also extremely awkward-looking kill animation. 

Since you also heal when killing an enemy by default, you can virtually clear entire battlefields with melee kills. You will have to pull out your gun for larger enemies, which include Shrek-like ogryns and robots that resemble BioShock's Big Daddies. But these lean too far in the other direction, absorbing bullets like a Kevlar sponge.

If Streum On simply fixed all this wonk and did absolutely nothing else, it would be a perfectly decent shooter. Instead, Hired Gun throws in a rubbish-truck's worth of subsidiary mechanics that add little or nothing to the experience. The worst of these is the mastiff, your canine companion that you amusingly summon with a squeaky toy. The mastiff highlights nearby enemies and can eliminate them with a "quick attack". It's even quicker to shoot them, which means I used my mastiff perhaps five times in the entire game.

(Image credit: Focus Home Interactive)

Other features I hardly ever used include wall-running, which sounds cool but is basically useless, an entire sub-menu of special powers that include bullet-time and perfect aim, weapon-crafting and modding, which I don’t think I touched once, and side-missions, which are basically walled-off chunks of campaign levels that mostly exist so you can earn extra credits to buy new weapons and abilities. The one gadget I did use a lot was the grappling hook. It adds fantastic manoeuvrability to Hired Gun, and would work great if your enemies were in any way interesting or challenging to fight. But they aren't, so it doesn't.

It's fairly obvious that Hired Gun has been released too soon, not least because the version number on the menu screen currently reads "Ver 0.58333". It's riddled with bugs, from annoying glitches like texture flickering to hard screen locks and ctds, while the general balancing of the game simply feels off. It's a real shame. Despite everything wrong with it, I find the core premise appealing. The art and level design are fantastic, the weapons have promise if paired with interesting enemies, and the grappling-hook movement could be incredible with more time dedicated to it. 

I hope Streum On Studio now gets that time to polish and refine and maybe strip out some of the more egregious concessions to modernity (loot systems in FPSes can get in the bin). Sort all that out and Hired Gun could be one of those games the industry looks back in five years and calls "underrated." Right now though, it isn't underrated. It's just a bit shit.

XCOM studio is working on a turn-based game with Marvel characters, according to rumor An image of a sniper soldier from XCOM 2 aiming down the barrel of her rifle

Posted on June 4, 2021 by

Long time XCOM developer Firaxis is working on a “turn-based action game” featuring Marvel heroes, according to a new rumor. Codenamed “CODA,” the Redditor writes that “famous actors” will voice the characters, implying that it might tie closer to recent Marvel films than Square Enix’s Marvel’s Avengers did.

It’s a rumor, and a yet-to-be substantiated one, though journalist Jason Schreier, who has broken a number of industry stories at Bloomberg and Kotaku, did lend some credit to it on Twitter. “Yes this 2K leak is real but I’m not sure all of it is going to be at E3,” he wrote. “Can’t wait for Marvel XCOM though.”

According to the same alleged leak, a new Borderlands spin-off starring Tiny Tina is also in development and will be revealed at E3 this month. It makes a bit of sense: Gearbox head Randy Pitchford was heavily hinting at a new Borderlands game only last month. The leaker writes that the game could be called Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands and that it will play similarly to previous Borderlands games.

What else? Well, there’s gonna be a new NBA game this year (duh), but there’s also an entirely new project listed by the name Codename Volt. The leaker’s source reckons it’s “Cthulhu meets Saints Row.”

All rumors as yet, but with E3 2021 just around the corner, full details are likely very close, and Schreier's comment lends a good deal of credibility to the XCOM rumor. Both Take-Two Interactive and Gearbox will be hosting their own livestreams as part of the event, on June 12 and 14 respectively. 

The Atari VCS is going on sale later this month Atari VCS

Posted on June 3, 2021 by

The Ataribox was revealed to the world in June 2017 as a new console "based on PC technology" that had already been in development for years at that point. Despite that, it didn't take long for things to go off the rails: A planned Indiegogo campaign was paused at the last minute (although it eventually happened and was extremely successful, pulling in more than $3.6 million), there was a diversion into cryptocurrency for some reason, and then it re-emerged in 2019 as the Atari VCS, a Ryzen-powered box capable of running Windows, although it's based on Linux out of the box.

Despite a rough ride that included an ugly interview with The Register and the resignation of system architect Rob Wyatt, who claimed in October 2019 that he hadn't been paid in more than six months, units finally started shipping to Indiegogo backers in October 2020. Later this month it will achieve an even bigger milestone, as Atari announced that it will go on sale through regular retail channels on June 15.

"The Atari VCS has been well-received by our early adopter community, and we are thrilled that more people will have the opportunity to enjoy everything that the platform has to offer today, and as we roll out more and more new content and features in the future," Atari VCS chief operating officer Michael Arzt said.

The console will have access to "over a dozen" games at launch including Boulder Dash Deluxe, Danger Scavenger, Guntech, Jetboard Joust, Sir Lovelot, Something Ate My Alien, Tailgunner, and Missile Command: Recharged, which doesn't hit me as an overly impressive selection for a $300 game console. Nostalgia is no doubt a big hook for older gamers though, and all units will come with the Atari VCS Vault, a bundle of more than 100 Atari 2600 games, all of them optimized for use with the new (and optional) Wireless Classic Joystick. 

Atari is "actively courting multiple game publishers and indie developers," it added, and expects to have more new and updated games released for the VCS in the coming months.

Hardware heads may also find the new VCS intriguing. We can't judge its capabilities unless and until we get our hands on one, but Atari said it supports 4K, HDR and "60fps content," with expandable storage options, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, and USB 3.0. 

"For advanced users and PC hobbyists who enjoy the ultimate in configurability and customization, an optional PC Mode allows for the installation of Windows or Linux as an alternative operating system, transforming the Atari VCS into a flexible, fully featured and powerful mini-PC," Atari said.

Atari VCS base units will go for $300 each, while "All-In" bundles including a joystick and controller (which go for $60 each separately) can be had for $400. They'll be available for purchase from Best Buy, GameStop, Micro Center, and directly from Atari.

PvP MMO Crowfall is finally launching in July Crowfall

Posted on June 3, 2021 by

We've been waiting on the PvP MMO Crowfall for a long time now. The first time we looked at it was in early 2015, just ahead of its hugely successful $1.8 million Kickstarter campaign; most recently was in January 2020, when it announced a nearly $12 million investment to support its launch later in the year.

That launch didn't happen, although a closed beta began in August 2020. Now a full release is just around the corner: Developer ArtCraft Entertainment announced today that Crowfall launches on July 6.

"Crowfall is now ready for the next step in its evolution, 'going live'—but let me be very clear. I’m not going to announce today that 'we’ve finished' Crowfall or call it 'done”," ArtCraft founder and creative director J. Todd Coleman said. "A game like this is never finished. An online world is never done. Even the word 'launch' is a misnomer, I think, because 'going live' is not the end of the journey—it is the beginning."

"'Going Live' is more like having a baby. It’s scary. It’s messy. It’s painful. Yet it is also beautiful because you are breathing life into something new, something that before only existed in your imagination, something that you hope will outlive you. I know that sounds cheesy and dramatic, but Ultima Online (on which Gordon [ArtCraft president Gordon Walton] was executive producer) was born in September of 1997. Shadowbane (my first MMO, as creative director) was born in March of 2003. Both games are still running. Both have entertained thousands and thousands of people. And both games continued to evolve, long after we departed."

Unlike most MMOs, in which PvP is either locked in an unnatural stasis or devolves into a never-ending series of ass-kickings for one side, Crowfall is made up of "Campaigns," each taking place on a unique map with distinct rules and a set timeline. You play as an immortal servant of the gods—a Crow—who's sent to these worlds to fight other champions for glory, experience, and whatever rare artifacts you can scavenge before the world is destroyed.

"When a Campaign ends, you take your character, your equipment, and the spoils of war from that Campaign, and move on to the next. This gives the game a feeling of permanence while still allowing late-arriving players a chance to be competitive," the Crowfall FAQ states. "Additionally, we have “home worlds” (Eternal Kingdoms) that are player-run and not time-limited. These are like traditional MMO servers. The idea is that players can participate in a series of Campaigns over the life of the character, and use these kingdoms as a staging area between Campaigns."

For now, the Crowfall closed beta continues to operate, and is still taking applicants. If you'd like to see what it's all about before you commit, you can sign up here.

Frigid survival sim Frostpunk goes free on the Epic Store Frostpunk

Posted on June 3, 2021 by

Remember when we put a bunch of children to work in the coal mines, and one of them was horrifically injured? And then instead of giving the kid a little time off to recover, we yelled at him so the rest wouldn't get any funny ideas? Good times. Anyway, if you've ever aspired to that sort of firm-but-fair father figure position, today is your lucky day, because the society survival game Frostpunk is free on the Epic Games Store.

Frostpunk puts you in charge of the last city on Earth, although calling it a "city" is generous. It's really just a small collection of people struggling desperately to survive in the ice-packed end of days. And it's not just the weather and lack of resources that you'll have to contend with: The people have little patience for nonsense, and while sacrifices have to be made, push them too hard and they'll start pushing back. It's an older game, but a very good one: We called it a "grim and engrossing survival-strategy" game in our 89% review, and later selected it as the Best Sim of 2018.

(Image credit: 11 Bit Studios)

You thought I was kidding, didn't you?

Frostpunk is free on the Epic Store until June 10, and the Rifts and Last Autumn DLCs are on sale for 20% off until June 17. Next week's freebie is yet another mystery, so stay tuned for that—and if you're interested in even more free games, be sure to keep an eye on our list.

Here’s more teaser images of the Borderlands film stars in character

Posted on June 3, 2021 by

More teaser images from the Borderlands film have been released.

Following Tuesday’s reveal of Cate Blanchett as Lilith from the upcoming Borderlands film, more silhouettes have been released, teasing the various stars of the film in character.

In the gallery below, you will find silhouetted looks at stars.

The film stars Cate Blanchett (Lilith), Jamie Lee Curtis (Dr. Patricia Tannis), Kevin Hart (Roland), Ariana Greenblatt (Tiny Tina), Florian Munteanu (Krieg), and Jack Black (Claptrap).

It also stars Edgar Ramirez as Atlas, who is “the universe’s most powerful S.O.B.”

According to the plot released by Liongate, Lilith will be returning to her home planet of Pandora to find the missing daughter of Atlas, and during this time, she will form an alliance with Roland, Tiny Tina, Krieg, Tannis, and Claptrap.

As you can glean by the film’s synopsis, the Borderlands cinematic universe will not be identical to the videogame universe.

According to Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford, the movie will be “authentic to characters, tone, and style,” but will allow for independent storylines.

The film is currently in production and is without a premiere date.

The post Here’s more teaser images of the Borderlands film stars in character appeared first on VG247.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered enters the Play List on EA Play later this month

Posted on June 3, 2021 by

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered will be added to the Play List on EA Play.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered will be free through the EA Play Play List starting June 24.

Watch on YouTube

The offering features all the DLC delivered at launch, including an extra six hours of gameplay and more than 30 challenges, and not only does the game feature solo play, but also cross-platform multiplayer.

Hot Pursuit Remastered also includes new cosmetic unlocks, new achievements, and more.

So, mark your calendar so you won’t forget, and have fun zooming around in high-performance cars as an outlaw or as a cop.

Also, EA said that June will continue to offer EA Play members other benefits with the following monthly rewards, including:

  • FIFA 21 (Now – July 1) – Claim the EA Play Volta Squad Boost, which features the return of Groundbreaker Trent Alexander-Arnold and the Liverpool FC Apparel Set, as well as 3,500 Volta Coins
  • Madden NFL 21 (Now – July 1) – Enter Madden Ultimate Team during the reward timeframe to claim three Gold Team Fantasy Packs.
  • Apex Legends (Now – June 30) – Members who launch the game during this window can claim the Dodge This Weapon Charm and show that they’re ready to (dodge) brawl with this Knockout City inspired reward.
  • Knockout City (Now – July 26) – Members who log into the game between this window can enjoy the refreshing taste of 500% bonus XP with the Cherry Charge Up drinks. The Epic Ready Up Outfit, another member-only reward, is also available for players.

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Where to raid an artifact at Stealthy Stronghold and Coral Castle in Fortnite fortnite raid artifacts

Posted on June 3, 2021 by

Fortnite season 6's final week of challenges is here, and players have one last chance to grab some bonus XP, barring any last-minute changes. You'll want to make sure you've mopped up any challenges you haven't finished yet, since season 7 is just around the corner, along with a new alien abduction theme.

This week, Epic wants you to raid artifacts from Stealthy Stronghold and Coral Castle, two of Fortnite's most dense and strange environments. You'll need to raid a total of two artifacts, one from each location, to complete this challenge.

You don't have to scour the map for these artifacts, though. We've done the legwork of looking around for you and drawing up the perfect treasure map. Read on for a full look at where to find artifacts in Fortnite.

Stealthy Stronghold artifact locations

(Image credit: Epic Games)

Artifact locations are from right to left.

Artifact location 1: Resting behind a small crumbling wall in the northeast part of the map.

Artifact location 2: The ruins in the southeast area. Look for the building with a large tree sticking out of it. The artifact is at the base of the tree inside the building.

Artifact location 3: In a building in the west area. Look for a set of stone stairs. The artifact is below those stairs. You can access the room by entering from ground level opposite of the stairs.

Coral Castle artifact locations

(Image credit: Epic Games)

This should be a little easier since Coral Castle isn't as shrouded in darkness as Stealthy Stronghold. All locations are from right to left.

Artifact location 1: The easiest to spot. It's sitting on top of a large rock mound northeast of the central castle.

Artifact location 2: The northern area of Coral Castle. It's under an arch that's partially submerged in water. You'll see it beneath the waterline and should be able to just swim to it.

Artifact location 3: The center of the castle. It's in the pool of water on the ground floor.

Find one artifact at each location and you'll receive a cool 24,000 XP. And don't forget, make sure to finish up as many challenges as you can before the end of the season. For more, check out our Fortnite hub for extra guides and news.

In case you missed it, Fortnite season 7 is getting a graphics upgrade for PC players, so make sure your specs are up to snuff.

Total War: Warhammer 2 video teases upcoming The Silence & The Fury DLC

Posted on June 3, 2021 by

Today, Sega and The Creative Assembly teased the final Lord Pack for Total War: Warhammer 2.

The final Lord Pack for Total War: Warhammer 2 was teased today during the Warhammer Skulls presentation.

Watch on YouTube

Called The Silence & The Fury, it features the return of the Beastmen led by Taurox The Brass Bull.

In the content, he will be dueling it out with the Oxyotl The Unseen from the Lizardmen.

More information on the final Lord Pack will be released at a later date, but at least you got a nice tease out of it.

Also during the presentation, the developers showed off the next race coming to Total War: Warhammer 3, the kingdom of Khorne led by Skarbrand and his army of daemons.


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Total War: Warhammer 3 video introduces you to the race of Khorne

Posted on June 3, 2021 by

A new update is coming to Total War: Warhammer 3, and it stars the Skulltaker.

The largest kingdom in the Realm of Chaos is that of Khorne, and Skarbrand, once the “greatest of all Khorne’s daemons” is coming to Total War: Warhammer 3.

Watch on YouTube

Skarbrand was ultimately banished from the service of the Blood God and cast from the Realm of Chaos. Tormented by his downfall, he wanders the mortal and immortal realms, a “restless fury that cannot be stopped.”

As the most powerful melee combatant, Skarbrand has a host of unique abilities which improve his battle prowess.

His twin axes, Slaughter & Carnage increase his damage output with every kill made, whilst Bellow of Endless Fury allows him to unleash a fire-breath attack. He also has the passive ability to inflict rampage upon foes, rendering them incapable of retreating.

The daemons of Khorne detest the use of magic and instead relish hand-to-hand combat skills. The longer they remain in combat, the more proficient they become at fighting as battle bonuses unlock.

Beyond the race-reveal for Khorne, the final Lord Pack for Total War: Warhammer 2 is coming.

The Silence & The Fury will feature the return of the Beastmen led by Taurox The Brass Bull who will be dueling it out with the Oxyotl The Unseen from the Lizardmen.

More information on the final Lord Pack will be released at a later date.

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