The 1v1 PvP murder competition, Ghost Mode will not return in Hitman 3. Developers Io Interactive say they're focusing on other parts of the game instead. Not only will Ghost Mode be absent from the next game, Io will shut down the Ghost Mode servers in Hitman 2 at the end of this month. Sniper Assassin's co-op mode is also getting shut down. Goodbye, ghosts. Walk towards the light.
Introduced in Hitman 2 (and apparently staying there), Ghost Mode pits two Ians Hitmen against each other in a competition to murder the most targets. You're not trying to kill the other Ian, you can't even touch him - both players exist in separate versions of the world with identical but separate targets. You can see what's going on with your rival but not influence them or their world, beyond successful assassinations putting your opponent on a timer to finish theirs. You're like ghosts, y'know. Though you won't be for much longer.
"With our focus currently on other areas of the World of Assassination, Ghost Mode won't be featured in Hitman 3 and we have made the difficult decision to shut down the Ghost Mode servers for Hitman 2 on Monday 31st August 2020," IO Interactive said in yesterday's announcement. "We have learnt a hell of a lot from Ghost Mode over the last two years and we'll be taking all of those learnings onboard for what we do in the future with regards to multiplayer."
As for Sniper Assassin, IO say they "are preparing to sunset the co-op servers in Hitman 2 before the launch of Hitman 3 and we'll share an exact timeline and a solution to the mode's multiplayer trophies in the coming months." Sniper Assassin does at least still have singleplayer, so it won't be entirely gone from Hit, The Second.
Presumably Io have run the numbers and decided that the multiplayer modes are played little enough that the benefits of shutting servers down (saving time, focus, and money) outweigh the upset. They're not really modes I'd return to a lot, especially considering Ghost Mode was only playable on a few of the game's maps. These modes are far smaller than the sort of multiplayer Hitmanning I might idly daydream of.
"We want to send a sincere thank you to all of our players who have enjoyed Ghost Mode over the last two years," Io said. "We're looking forward to a few more matches online and raising a glass for Ghost Mode one final time."
Hitman 3 is due to launch in January 2021. As for modes it will have, Io said yesterday that along with the story campaign, it'll bring back Elusive Targets (with a few yet-unrevealed changes), the Escalations that add extra requirements and complications to your murders, the Contracts Mode which uses hits created by players, and Sniper Assassin.
Elusive Targets have been a controversial element of this trilogy of live service games. These assassinations pop up in one map for a few days at a time, and often have some interesting quirks, before vanishing and becoming unavailable. Miss them and they'll be gone until the live content calendar returns them months later - which particularly irks players who just want to be able to play all the parts of a game they've bought. Io say they plan to detail their mysterious "changes to the Elusive Target formula" later.