Hitman 3 – next gen assassination (pic: IO Interactive)
Gaming’s most deadly assassin prepares to complete IO Interactive’s reboot trilogy, as the series gets ready for its next gen debut.
Hitman 3 signals the end of an era for the silent assassin. It is the conclusion to the World of Assassination trilogy and the culmination of a spy thriller story which started with 2016’s Hitman reboot. Developed by Danish studio IO Interactive, original creators of the Hitman franchise, it’s also the company’s first release as an independent publisher and from what we’ve played so far it may be their best work yet.
The Hitman games have always enjoyed a cult following, thanks to their punishing stealth gameplay, but Hitman 3 still feels like a perfectly accessible introduction for new players, as well as a revamped retrospective for veterans who will enjoy the ability to carry over all unlocks and character progression from the previous games. On release Hitman 3 will allow you access to the entire trilogy, if you already own the first two titles, which brings the total number of stages up to 20.
Hitman 3 sees Agent 47 reunited with childhood friend and likeminded assassin Lucas Grey, with both supported by ICA handler Diana Burnwood. Starting off, you will want to complete the missions found in the ICA facility location, ending with The Final Test (an assassination on a boat moored off Cuba) as this is a dedicated tutorial area where you can learn or re-familiarise yourself with Hitman’s well-honed stealth mechanics.
To help new players, each location includes Mission Stories that break down a mission into a number of simpler and easier to follow objectives. Not sure how to get to the Sultan’s suite? The mission guide will direct you through the staff quarters for a shortcut. Veterans can turn this guidance off to pursue risker plans, such as skydiving out of a skyscraper, but it’s only once you get your post mission ranking that you realise how much content you’ve missed and immediately get the urge to go back and try again.
The Hitman games have never been easy and even playing on casual, and saving as much as possible, Hitman 3 can still be very tough on incautious players. Save scumming (the practice of creating multiple saves) allows you to create gameplay branches to explore the repercussions of your actions and while it usually feels like cheating in other games, here it just seems like the most sensible and convenient way to experiment.
Planning missions can be helpful but planning down to the last detail takes a lot of time and patience and the slightest miscalculation, such as a body left in view or the wrong outfit, can alert security and hamper your efforts.
Agent 47 starts each mission in Hitman 3 with a new multi-function camera that allows you to take reconnaissance photos and uncover intel but also works as a high-tech lockpick and hacking tool. As well as the camera you can also now unlock permanent shortcuts, such as ladders and doors that can only be unlocked from one direction and which stay open during subsequent playthroughs – almost like Dark Souls.
This quickly proves extremely useful and can drastically change your range of options, as can going back to access stashes of contraband items. Being able to stash items you’ve collected, like proximity mines or other weapons, is important as you’ll get searched going into certain locations and otherwise have no way to get hold of them. These options make Hitman 3 feel much more immersive and interactive than its predecessors, as well as adding to the longevity.
Hitman 3 – the Dartmoor setting looks suitably gloomy (pic: IO Interactive)
The new missions from the preview demo open with some cinematic cut scenes explaining plot points, characters, and important locations. The game will be released on the new consoles, as well as the last gen (and the Switch via streaming) and on the PC it’s already looking extremely good, with the skyscraper windows and sliverware gleaming with polish thanks to added screen space reflections. The environments drip with the usual Hitman attention to detail, which is all the more impressive given how interactive everything is.
Hitman 3 also adds a multitude of screens displaying your experience point progression and playstyle ratings, which may seem overwhelming at first but becomes very useful as you work through the missions and try to figure out the best solution to each situation.
Although the demo was only on the PC, Hitman 3 will support PlayStation VR at launch, across all 20 locations. Playing in VR forces a first person perspective that IO hopes will increase player immersion even further. The slow pace of the game should avoid any problems with VR sickness, although strangling people with your bare hands might bring about its own sense of queasiness.
Either a completionist’s dream or worst nightmare, it’s no surprise to find that Hitman 3 doesn’t deviate greatly from the previous two games but then given their quality, and the fact that it’s new locations that adds the most to the game, not new gimmicks, that’s exactly how most fans would want it.
By Lucy Orr
Formats: PC (previewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, and Stadia
Publisher: IO Interactive
Developer: IO Interactive
Release Date: 20th January 2021
For more stories like this, check our Gaming page.