Agent 47, gaming's best assassin (sorry Ubisoft), has returned in a new entry in IO Interactive's Hitman series, one that marks a return to a series high, but which also adopts a new approach to how it is released to a dedicated fan base.
To mark the game's initial release today (11 March) on PS4, Xbox One and PC, IBTimes UK has put together a look at what the game and is what to expect from it over the next few months.
What is Hitman?
Hitman is the latest game in developer IO Interactive's series of the same name. It follows the exploits of Agent 47, the world's most accomplished and deadly assassin for hire, and his work for the International Contract Agency, also known as the ICA or The Agency. What makes this Hitman game so different to what has come before, is the manner of its release. This Hitman is episodic.
We can get to the episodic stuff later, how does the game play?
This Hitman returns to the style of 2006 fan-favourite Blood Money, focusing on large, open environments that invite players to explore and find numerous ways to dispose of their targets. You may want to simply slot them with your pistol and hope to survive the ensuing onslaught as security bear down on you, or you may want to spike a drink. Other, far more elaborate methods exist as well.
Disguises offer a way to move between areas without being seen, but no disguise is perfect. There are certain people that will spot someone not meant to be wearing what they're wearing – and those people must be avoided and accounted for.
Beyond the primary targets, there are also additional objectives (episode two will require 47 to destroy a deadly virus) and separate missions that allocate new targets within the environments. Some of these will be one-time-only opportunities, but others will come through Contracts Mode – which allows players to create and share their own scenarios for others to attempt.
Okay, so what does this episodic stuff mean for the game?
Today players are able to purchase the intro pack – which includes a couple of introductory Prologue missions and the first episode, set in Paris. The next episode will be released in April, with another May and three more planned for the rest of 2016. Players will be able to purchase episodes individually, buy access to all of them at once, or upgrade to everything having already bought a single episode.
Sounds confusing. How much will that cost?
It is confusing. UK pricing has only been confirmed for a few parts of this, so bear with us. The Intro Pack costs £11.99, and it'll cost you £44.99 for everything released this year, which is less than a typical AAA digital release. Subsequent episodes will cost less than the Intro Park ($10 to the Intro Pack's $15) which equates to £7.00 here. Our estimate for the actual UK price would be £8.99, but again, nothing has been confirmed yet.
Players who purchase the Intro Pack or any subsequent episode individually will also be able to upgrade so they can get everything, for $50.00 – but UK pricing hasn't been confirmed for that yet either.
Where will these episodes take me?
Episode one sees Agent 47 mingling with high society at a Paris Fashion Show being held at an enormous manor house. His targets are the show's host – Russian oligarch Viktor Novikov, and former supermodel Dalia Margolis, who act as ringleaders of an organisation that specialises in selling government secrets to the highest bidder.
The second episode is set in an idyllic Italian coastal town on a day enjoying the most gorgeous Mediterranean weather imaginable. There, Agent 47's targets include scientist Silvio Caruso, who occupies a mansion that serves as the mission's focal point. The surrounding town, with its winding roads, quaint shops and peaceful beach – offer opportunities as well.
The third episode takes 47 to Marrakesh in Morocco, which is mere hours away from a military coup as protestors gather outside the sleekly designed Swedish consulate, sat opposite a traditional market bazaar. Beyond those three episodes Square has announced excursions to Thailand, the United States and Japan.
This is what will be included in the first season of the game. All of the above will be released on disc in January 2017.