Hitman Announced: Big Levels, Regular Free Updates

IO Interactive have been saying the right things about their next Hitman game, which mostly boil down to that it’s stepping back from the disappointment of Hitman: Absolution. Last night publishers Square Enix formally announced the game, which is called simply Hitman [official site] though they say it’s not a reboot, and will arrive on December 8th.

Big sandbox locations to do murdering in, plenty of creative ways to murder people, and saves not checkpoints are promised. They’re also planning to regularly update it with new story missions as well as smaller things like extra targets, some of whom might only be around for a few days.

Hitman will roam the world, visiting places like Paris, Italy, and Marrakesh, with big sandbox levels where IO say “every NPC has a name and every room matters”. Sure names are a minor detail, but a cute touch. We’ll need to give it a play to see what it’s really like and, by chance, Pip is in Los Angeles at E3 and will be having a bash.

As for that update jazz, they say:

“The experience will begin on December 8th and we will release new locations, missions and hits over time at regular intervals through 2016, which means we’ll all be able to share in the excitement of a new content drop at the same time. Rather than unboxing a game, playing it and then that’s sort of it, we want to deliver a true community experience – creating an ongoing and evolving game which plays out with a finale that brings the story arc together. Our primary goal is to keep Hitman players fully engaged, so between bigger drops we will be creating one-off live events and live targets to keep you immersed in the experience.”

Huh! That sounds a bit like some strange mix of expansion, DLC, early access, and episodic ideas.

“Another big part of this new approach is that we will develop the game with you, the players, and adjust gameplay and create live content and events based on player activity and feedback – so the game will deepen and evolve as time progresses.”

Maybe it is. They’re not calling it episodic or early access, to be clear, but sounds like they’ve picked up a few tricks from both those models. How curious.

31 Comments

  1. Smillis says:

    “Disappointment?” I thought Absolution continued everything I liked about the games..

    • devland says:

      The game had checkpoints and lots of cut-scenes within the levels which went against the classic large open levels of previous games.
      Blood Money is still considered, rightfully so, the best of the series.

      Regarding the announcement I’m dissapointed they’re going down the early access route. More so that they’re desperately trying to hide it behind PR BS. :(

      • XhomeB says:

        Couldn’t agree more, Absolution didn’t feel nor play like a Hitman game, it was so restrictive.
        By the way, may I recommend Death to Spies:Moment of Truth to all hungry for a Hitman-like experience during the WWII era? Love that game. Criminally short (7 missions), but the atmosphere and freedom to tackle your objectives how you see fit is great.

      • TobleroneRoloCombo says:

        I remember playing through the Campaign for a few episodes, going “okay, these are the introduction set-pieces, when does the game actually start?” Then I realised that *was* the game.

        Aside from a few slight brushes with a true Hitman game (which honestly lack a lot of the open-endedness of themselves, and still feel much more cramped than a normal Hitman level,) there’s little in the way of enjoyment. Where there was once a feeling of infiltration, of finding new disguises (generally off someone you’d just murdered or knocked-out,) and of keeping incognito and avoiding metal detectors, seemed to be replaced with what largely amounted to stealth segments.

        Then there’s the tone. I can’t really say that any of the Hitman games really struck the right tone, with features such as the series’ weird relationship with sex and sexualisation, or even arguably the realism versus B-Movie scale) but the games generally had a large variation in settings and tones. Here, we’ve got a dreary setting that really feels like it’s trying too hard to be grim and gritty. The restriction of locales to the United States Midwest also demonstrates another problem, with each mission being rather a set-piece (generally linear) to a fairly uninteresting story. Hitman: the Movie’s story was more interesting than this, to be honest.

        I remember pre-ordering the game, after I’d discovered my boyfriend had done the same, willfully attempting to ignore the warning signs from the promotional materials. A huge mistake, and despite me spending a while to check out Contracts mode (only for me to discover it wasn’t what I was hoping for, either,) I’d only personally played through a third of the game. Even the Sniper Challenge demo promised a better game, where while you were unable to actually do any moving-about, the view of the party (at which you were sniping) showed a much more interesting environment to play in, and one that felt more like previous games.

        Honestly, I’m a bit skeptical about the tonal problems and the often-juvenile humour not appearing in this installment. Still, with this game learning from the differences between Blood Money and Absolution, it should hopefully be at least enjoyable in terms of gameplay.

        • jonahcutter says:

          Interesting note on the tone of the games.

          The Hitman games, except for Absolution, are operatic farces with a more European (at least from my American perspective) sensibility. All the most base human behaviors on display, while playing for huge stakes (life and death itself). Often with comedic and even slapstick results.

          Absolution has a Tarrantino-esque, noir/grindhouse vibe. A sweaty road-trip through intense, almost surreal, Americana and over-the-top, scenery-chewing characterizations. Not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but jarringly out-of-step with any of the previous games.

          • manny says:

            Regarding the tone I think where the games all went wrong is that they didn’t take Agent 47 seriously. They don’t seem to take the idea of a hitman/elite assassin seriously, and how much power that gives the player and just how useful such a person would be in real life.

            This trailer at least points to a more Bourne Legacy level seriousness to the character and the entire premise of the series.

      • BlackPaw says:

        blood money the best of the series? yeah sure.

    • iucounu says:

      Not for me. There weren’t enough levels you’d really want to revisit.

      Plus the whole aesthetic of the game didn’t work for me. BLOOD MONEY was 47 infiltrating luxurious villas, mountain mansions, plush hotels, that sort of thing. ABSOLUTION got the grindhouse Kane and Lynch filter over everything and you were sneaking around derelict buildings full of trash and trash houses full of debris; everything was dirty, dark, oppressive and cluttered with copy-pasted garbage. Very one note.

      I bought it for about a quid in a bundle and played it lots, but it’s not a patch on Blood Money if you ask me.

    • amcathlan says:

      Restrictive, dull level design, game flow designed around players having magic x-ray vision, silly checkpoints and uninspired in general was what I came away with from Hitman: Abortion. As usual, when designers with a unique IP like this try to “modernize” (i.e smooth it down and saw off the barrel so more tweens will pick it up), they end up with generic, me-too nods to all the most boring tendencies floating around the industry. If this new game carries itself even just slightly more like Blood Money, or pretty much any of the preceding titles, I’ll reward it with all the money they want, so they never try to blow off their own balls again like that last disaster again.
      Ca’mon IO, I know you can do it. Just resist the “Uh uh! Lemme just try to cram my head up my own ***! The kids love it when you do that” urge you’ve been partial to lately. Focus on what made your games work dammit.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I also really enjoyed it. And it did continue the Hitman games properly. Blood Money is really the game that stands alone and is different from the series. Though I think it’s one of the best.

    • PikaBot says:

      Instead of regurgitating all the things I’ve said before, I’ll just link you to a series of posts I did on the subject.

  2. sillythings says:

    Decembeer? Is that something like Movember?

    I’m not sure what to think about IO’s plans, to be perfectly honest. This article mentions a “limited lifespan” for the live events, which sounds like the devs want to force people into playing the game ASAP. Which feels very rude in my opinion. If I wanted that kind of pressure, I’d play MMOs.

    • Daemoroth says:

      I could be pretty intense as well, in a good way. Not all assassinations (Movies and otherwise) have unlimited time available to be completed. Most often targets are exposed for only a limited time.

      Depending on how these are employed, could be some great side-content.

  3. MadMinstrel says:

    With no assurance as to the frequency, quantity or quality of the content, it seems like buying a pig in a poke. I’ll get it after they’ve stopped updating and all the content is ready. If it’s any good.

    • jezcentral says:

      Fair enough, but I’ll be getting it launch day, pending reviews. It always seemed to be the perfect game for DLC, and I’m mystified they’ve left it to this game to start it.

      Playing the game at release will mean a greater sense of participation in the leaderboards, but if that sort of thing doesn’t appeal, I can’t fault you for waiting.

      • jezcentral says:

        And by DLC, I mean levels. Not that mystifying Deus Ex crossover skin, or weapons.

  4. slerbal says:

    If they can capture the essence of what made Bloody Money so great I will be interested. I only played the game last year as I wanted to see what the fuss was about and…. wow! Such an amazing game. I loved the variety of locations, the variety of approaches I could take. I loved every single level. It immediately became one of my top ten favourite games. So I am apprehensive they can replicate that, but excited by the possibility they will.

  5. Psychomorph says:

    Please be good, please be good.

    PLEASE BE GOOD.

  6. Penguin_Factory says:

    ” and will arrive on December 8th”

    All right delayed to March 2016, let’s just get the announcement out of the way up front.

  7. median says:

    Thanks, RPS. You reminded me to install Blood Money, which has been uninstalled in my library since I threw Absolution away in disgust (or the Steam equivalent: hide it in my library).

    I haven’t played Blood Money, but Absolution was still terrible. It so linear they should have made it in a side-scroller. There were, as far as I could stand to play it, very few branching paths to success. It wasn’t a creative game at all — it was a mind reading exercise, “Where exactly do the level designers want me to stand right now?”

    But I grew up with Thief (ToS) so my standards were probably similar to Blood Money players.

  8. LionsPhil says:

    “extra targets, some of whom might only be around for a few days.”
    “one-off live events”

    If you’re trying to find ways to shackle players to your game like an MMO, constantly being ready to play it in case the content is taken away again, it does not speak well for the quality of your game in the first place.

    Given I’ve consumed the previous Hittlemans years after release, as defined content lumps with solid conclusions (in 2 and Blood Money at least; 1’s last level is dire), this is a massive turn-off.

    And stop calling things the same bloody title over and over. All that’ll happen is we have to suffix it like a yearly sports title so we can tell if we mean Hitman (2000) or Hitman (2016).

    • woodsey says:

      To be fair, the first is called Hitman: Codename 47.

    • AndreasBM says:

      Blood money ends with the biggest fucking (still unresolved) cliffhanger. Sure, the funeral massacre is a pretty solid conclusion for the story arc, but the ending is still a dick move.

  9. emotionengine says:

    Like that CONAN EF lens on that SYON body at 1:42.

    Also, Gangsta style (link to tvtropes.org) from our seasoned pro 47? Getouttahere.

    • Spiked says:

      For once the gangsta grip makes sense – that way the ejection port is facing up so he can catch the casing mid-air.

  10. Faxmachinen says:

    It certainly wasn’t the best in the series, but it certainly wasn’t the worst either. It didn’t have any forced engagements beyond the tutorial, it didn’t have snipers that would spot you in a blizzard from a kilometre away, didn’t end missions because of other people’s actions, and didn’t have anyone who took more than one bullet to kill.

  11. KenTWOu says:

    Huh! That sounds a bit like some strange mix of expansion, DLC, early access, and episodic ideas.

    Nah, it sounds more like a proper evolution of Hitman:Absolution contracts mode.

  12. Curry the Great says:

    “The experience will begin on December 8th and we will release new locations, missions and hits over time at regular intervals through 2016, which means we’ll all be able to share in the excitement of a new content drop at the same time. Rather than unboxing a game, playing it and then that’s sort of it, we want to deliver a true community experience – creating an ongoing and evolving game which plays out with a finale that brings the story arc together. Our primary goal is to keep Hitman players fully engaged, so between bigger drops we will be creating one-off live events and live targets to keep you immersed in the experience.”

    This entire paragraph makes me want to throw up. Everything I hate about marketing speech around games is pretty much in there, and not a word of it has any humanity or emotion to it. Fuck off. Absolution sucked. You guys are incompetent. If this is supposed to convince me to go back I’d rather just jump off a building.

  13. lordfrikk says:

    47 is too young.

  14. harvb says:

    I know that’s just a trailer but good lord it feels smashing.