Hitman Kills Full Release, Goes Fully-Episodic Instead

What is going on with Hitman [official site]? First the next outing of everyone’s favorite bald assassin was pitched as a full-priced game, then some sort of full-priced/episodic hybrid, and now Square Enix announce that the new Hitman will be “fully episodic.”

Time to put a big ol’ asterisk next to that March 11 release date.

Hitman still technically releases on the same day, but at about one-third the size. Only two missions—the Prologue and one set in Paris—will make the March release. The other two that were planned for the initial release, set in Italy and Morocco, will now follow in April and May respectively.

Square promise to keep up that monthly release cycle through the end of 2016, though only three more settings are on the docket—Thailand, the US of A, and Japan.

The upshot is you now have a few different options when (if) you pull out your credit card. According to Square you can still buy the full game as a $60 ‘Full Experience’ season pass, or purchase the initial Prologue/Paris set as the ‘Intro Pack’ for $15, then add the other missions separately for $10 each or $50 for the lot in the ‘Upgrade Pack’.

It seems like Square have become particularly enamored with the episodic structure lately, given last year’s Telltale-alike (Telltalike?) Life Is Strange and their recent announcement that the Final Fantasy VII remake would somehow be episodic. Whether it’s a structure that works for big-budget games like Hitman, I’m not sure. It’s certainly not the way I prefer to play games, but maybe some of you have a differing opinion?

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51 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    I’ll just wait until all episodes have been released and I can pick it up for a tenner or less in the inevitable Steam sale.

    • Banks says:

      I’ll probably wait to december then, thanks. The game will be half price and I’ll get a much better experience.

    • silentdan says:

      Yeah, I’m waiting, too. It’s one thing to trust Telltale, a company with a proven track record for delivering on promises. It’s quite another to trust the people who gave us Absolution, although I did like that game more than most people.

    • KastaRules says:

      I second that!

    • Atomica says:

      Same here. I can’t be doing with spend £X + £Y + £Z = £££ piecemeal to get a fully functional game.

      It’s the same with Battlefield, which I like, but I’m not forking out £60+ for the premium edition, which you tend to need if you want the same maps as everyone else. I waited and picked it up for 15 quid in the sale. Patience.

  2. AngoraFish says:

    So, kind of like a paid demo then. At least, I can put down $15 up front and if the game turns out to be rubbish I’ve saved myself from wasting another $45.

    • Premium User Badge

      Llewyn says:

      It’s possible that’s their intention. They claim to be aware that fans didn’t like Absolution and to have addressed a lot of its problems in a return to a more Blood Money-like experience. If they’re confident they can demonstrate that in their opening chapters, it’s a lot easier to persuade those disgruntled fans to part with $15 in the hope of regruntling them enough to then buy the season pass.

      • DuncUK says:

        There’s alot to be said for this kind of release structure for a game like Hitman. Although most of the games had some sort of narrative running through them, there was no real need for it… players just want a series of large sandbox levels in which to devise intricate and clever murders. The only frustrating thing about Blood Money was that eventually it finished and never had any expansion.

        Releasing this way, they can keep adding levels for as long as the players will pay for them, tailoring each new one according to criticisms of the previous ones (and I imagine even resurrecting old classic levels for custom contracts fun). I know we’re all quite fond of the “pay once for the entire game” model and are wary as hell of DLC, but there are benefits to this kind of release model. If the game stinks, then they can abort the series early and nobody should feel especially ripped off.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Yeah, a globetrotting series of mmmmmostly disconnected hits should, in theory, fit being chopped up into individually-sold pieces pretty well without much damage being done to it.

          Should still be able to cap it off with a finale if they want, too. Contracts’ framing device led it to a surprisingly good one, and Blood Money had one that was at least interesting.

  3. The Dark One says:

    Far more than story-heavy adventure titles, whose development gaps last just long enough for you to forget the finer points of the plot, the discrete sandbox nature of Hitman levels seem ideally suited to this kind of thing.

    • Panicintrinsica says:

      For narrative games I’m not entirely sold on the episodic model. Life is Strange is my 3rd favorite game of all time and my GOTY for 2015, but I played it all back-to-back after the final episode had been released.

      Hitman however, has never been a narrative masterpiece, and its extremely segmented mission based nature is actually decently suited to this sort of thing in my opinion, especially given mine and other people’s compulsion to replay a mission over and over and over for Silent Assassin ranks.

      You don’t -really- need context for a Hitman game. It’s pretty straight forward. You’re a bad English-ish men who wants to make someone significantly less alive. The more I think about it the more I think it’s actually kind of a natural fit.

      • Premium User Badge

        Oakreef says:

        After binge playing the Walking Dead and waiting for each episode of Telltale’s Game of Thrones I actually kind of liked waiting between episodes for release and being able to talk about stuff with people in between (even though the Walking Dead was the better game)

      • Marblecake says:

        Exactly this! I just hope that they learned from the mistakes of Absolution. If they did, this is bound to be quite good.

      • Frosty Grin says:

        Life Is Strange was great when played episode by episode. Really great. Sold me on the concept, to the point that I don’t get the negativity about Hitman at all.

    • Panicintrinsica says:

      In other words. I agree.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Agree. In fact, I would welcome the gap between releases, as it’d be an opportunity to really explore the possibilities of each map. Obviously that would only apply if the game has Blood Money’s breadth.

    • BlackMageSK says:

      Completely agree, I think this is actually a good fit since they were planning a spreading out delivery of content anyways so there was a feedback loop from fans.
      Also being Hitman, if it is anything like Blood Money, I’m totally 100% okay with replaying the same level over and over again without needing the next one.

    • Razumen says:

      Disagree, I don’t want to be confined to a single level for months on end, regardless of how many “different” mission it includes.

      Games like THief and Hitman may appear to be more disconnected and suitable for this, but there is still an overarching plot, and moving from one location to the next is part of the game’s appeal.

  4. anHorse says:

    Hitman: Well you weren’t buying this after Absolution anyway

  5. Pizzacheeks McFroogleburgher says:

    Yep this is a price model, not a game model. It’ll bite them in the ass if the first is no good.

    • mackemforever says:

      But could potentially work in their favour if it is.

      After the steaming pile of manure that was Absolution I imagine there’s a lot of people that wouldn’t be prepared to put down full price for a new Hitman game from Square Enix, but they might just be prepared to chuck in $15 to try it out, and if Squenix don’t fuck the game up then they’ll buy the full thing.

    • C0llic says:

      Look at it another way. They must be aware of that, so I’m sure the opening missions will be very, very good. So in the worst case scenario, you could be getting two excellent slices of old school Hitman at a fairly cheap price.

      It will depend on just how much content is squeezed into that slice though.

      • Premium User Badge

        Marclev says:

        The flipside of that is that you may get the old shareware model ala Doom and Duke Nukem 3D, where the first stuff you get is fantastic, getting you to fork out however much for the full game, only for the rest of the content to be mediocre.

        • C0llic says:

          That’s true, but if the rest isn’t up to snuff, don’t buy it. Only impatience is a barrier.

  6. Premium User Badge

    jezcentral says:

    Plus this will increase the possibility of also doing DLC levels. Why they didn’t do that for Blood Money is a mystery.

    • anHorse says:

      Because it was a PS2 game and thus pre-dlc?

      • Premium User Badge

        Cross says:

        Actually, it was also one of the early Xbox 360 games, which means it could have had DLC.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Cross says:

    This move isn’t exactly a great sign of confidence. it screams to me that they don’t trust the game to do well. Which either means Square is paranoid as always, or they think the game’s shite.

    • JimboDeany says:

      If anything this leads me to believe that they are confident that it is good, otherwise they’d just sell the whole thing up front and make more money, non?

      • horrorgasm says:

        but…you have no idea what the price is going to be per episode. More likely they’ll break this up into something like 4 chunks at $20 a pop, not even including DLC crap, and get even more money out of you this way, which is probably the whole point. Then they release the physical version afterwards with some kind of bonus you can only get with that version and get double sales from the suckers.

        They’re doing the same thing with the FF7 remake and you know they don’t think no ones going to buy that. It’s just a way to suck more money out of people.

        • Jad says:

          but…you have no idea what the price is going to be per episode. More likely they’ll break this up into something like 4 chunks at $20 a pop</

          >

          Why would you make up numbers for the prices when the article explicitly states them above?

          “you can still buy the full game as a $60 ‘Full Experience’ season pass, or purchase the initial Prologue/Paris set as the ‘Intro Pack’ for $15, then add the other missions separately for $10 each or $50 for the lot in the ‘Upgrade Pack’”

          The article also notes that there will be five missions after the intro section and lists where they take place. This explains the cost of the ‘Upgrade Pack’ ($10 x 5 = $50). So to buy the full game upfront costs $60, and to buy it piecemeal will be $65.

          I mean, they could be lying, but you can’t say that we “have no idea” about the prices.

          • Ancient Evil says:

            You don’t really expect people to bother with silly things like “reading the article” before rushing off to express their outrage, do you?

  8. zarnywoop says:

    So this will be another Sin Episodes, with only one episode released, it will bomb, and then no more made?

    • Immobile Piper says:

      I’m unduly concerned by the lack of gloves in the header image.

      But if any game is suitable for episodic delivery, it’s Hitman. Right up there with Thief. There’s just The Job at hand. Any plot dressing on the side might as well not be there.

      • Razumen says:

        Not really, Thief and the earlier Hitman games DID have overarching storylines, even if you could take each hit separately, there was still a point to each.

        • Immobile Piper says:

          They had, I just don’t think that they were that interesting nor necessary. Hitman 2 was probably the best in that regard, giving some neat insight into 47 as a character. But for the rest? I’ve played all original four games, partially for the story, but they just aren’t that exciting or memorable in that regard. No matter how much patricide you pump into one game.

          There’s just something about Hitman’s way of storytelling that doesn’t really resonate with me. I like Dark Souls for its heavy hands-off approach and I like Metal Gear Solid for its heavy hands-on approach. Maybe Hitman is a bit too much in the middle there? It’s just not a very strong narrative experience.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Stop reminding me of the tragedy of Ritual. :C

  9. Unsheep says:

    Is this a new way of combating piracy or simply a resource or sales issue ? After all, would people who pirate games have the patience to wait for each episode !?
    If my speculation is true, we should expect more triple-a titles to have this structure in the future.

    • silentdan says:

      I’m not sure there’s a clear correlation between patience and and inclination to pirate games.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Lexx87 says:

    For me it simply means I won’t buy it until there’s a full actual game there, rather than the one they chopped up.

  11. the_aborted says:

    Hahaha! This is such a double edged sword.

    It’ll become a rather analagous game with no one ideal, rather than having a set of level which have been playtested and worked upon for hours, we’ll get levels where one’s a hit, the next a miss, the following a hit, and so on and so forth…as they ‘figure their way through it’.

    In some ways, that’ll be great if they learn from each level they create but somehow the storyline will suffer as they go level to level. I have a feeling the levels worked on already will be released and the rest will come half assed.

    Also, how much will each DLC be? I mean, I’m not paying £30 for 3 levels and then getting 2 additional levels but nothing else for a year (unless I buy the ‘I’m your bitch Season pass’.

    Hitman series has been hit and miss since they did Contracts, (Blood money was astounding though) and I miss the old style gaming of working out the patterns, working out the routes etc, it was fabulous.

    I don’t see this being a great advance in the game but as others have said, I’ll probably wait for a bulk release before purchasing. I will certainly need verification from my peers (not reviewers as they have been ‘purchase skewed’ before).

  12. manny says:

    Gentlemen I present you Gaas, Gaming as a service, granted this movement has been coming for a long time, but it’s only now that a major single player game has become gaming as a service.

    And personally I feel it’s pretty neat. Sure this will make it more difficult to pirate games. But at the same time there will be higher quality games that listen to the gamer more.

    • Immobile Piper says:

      How does this impact piracy? Is there some DRM I’m missing? I’m assuming pirating Episodes 1 & 2 would be no harder than pirating Half Life 2. Maybe a few extra clicks, but that’s not exactly a deal breaker if you’re pirating stuff.

      • manny says:

        Biggest advantage would be reducing operating costs for game creation which has always been a huge problem.

        Anyway, I suspect a subscription is forthcoming.

    • Razumen says:

      This isn’t gaming as a service, that would require a subscription like deal.

      Besides, this doesn’t mean the game will be any more higher quality than normal, nor is designing a game around a playerbase’s whim necessarily a good thing either. (Mostly because people don’t really know what they want half the time)

  13. Suits says:

    Honestly I enjoyed Absolution as a non-Hitman game. Also, I don’t like the direction these “experiences” are going with their episodic structure. I’d rather just buy and play what I want instead of having to put up with their schedule and delays

  14. Raoul Duke says:

    Well, I’m very surprised by the comments, I must say.

    I’ll provide some contrast. I was going to buy this if it got decent reviews. Now they can go to hell. I’ll wait until this is $5 for a “compete edition” in 2 years and check it out then.

    What I will not be doing is getting sucked into a situation where I am beholden to the publisher in terms of what they release, when and for how much. Single player games are not a service, they are a discrete product and should be sold and priced accordingly. This nickel and diming is a cancer on the industry.

  15. Ancient Evil says:

    Why are people bent out of shape over this? They’re not charging you anything extra, it’s $60 for the whole deal just like it would be with a non-episodic game. If you don’t like the episodic format, or you worry that the later episodes will drop off in quality compared to the first ones, then just wait until the whole thing is out. How would that be any different than a ordinary delay?

    And you have always been “beholden to the publisher in terms of what they release, when and for how much”, since the very beginning of video games. (Unless you’re a pirate, in which case you can strike out the “how much” part.) What are you even talking about?

    I have to say, I’ve been immersed in gaming culture for most of my life, and yet I still marvel on a regular basis at the creative ways gamers find to become irrationally aggrieved about things. It’s quite the crowd.

    • Ancient Evil says:

      ^ was supposed to be a reply to Raoul Duke

    • manny says:

      Ironically gamers have every right to complain, due to video games being arguably the highest artform below politics. Making Hitman, the tactical simulation of elite assassination, the highest expression of said art form.

      And naturally possession is the arguably the highest spiritual masculine pursuit, so that is a good argument why Hitman should not be subscription. Although truth be told, real men are pirates, arghh! And nobody can stop them owning this game.

      • Razumen says:

        It’s not going to be by subscription, nowhere did they say that…