Over this past weekend, PlayStation Plus users had the opportunity to download and experience a few different beta programs – with the newest installment of Hitman at the top of the list. While the experience isn’t anything much to write celebrate, it sure felt great to animate Agent 47 once again.
The Hitman beta is set during the prologue of the game at a secret recruitment and training facility for agents. During the beta, we had the opportunity to play through three training missions that taught players the basics and then let them loose to see the results – which were quite satisfying, to say the least.
Each mission is simple: you are given a target to execute and a series of challenges. These challenges range from discrete actions like remaining undetected, distracting guards and using poison to reckless actions; planting explosives, drowning your target or tossing him off a ledge to his death. These offer small senses of accomplishment instead of additional points and scoring like in most games. Honestly, it’s refreshing to see Hitman take this approach because so many other action-stealth games typically punish you for taking the hard way out.
That is not to say that Hitman doesn’t punish players, though, especially when it comes to serious equipment like firearms and explosives. At the beginning of the mission, you’re typically offered a selection of gear, ranging from assault rifles and shotguns to some heavy explosives. The one problem? Unless you’re disguised in a uniform that allows you to carry that specific equipment, odds are: you’ll be spotted and attacked.
There were a few instances during my time with the Hitman beta when I made a simple mistake and had to face the consequences. For example: while working to eliminate Jasper Knight in the final mission, I disguised as a security guard, I happened to turn on the radio. The sound brought soldiers over to my position; and I had to hide before I was spotted. Fortunately, I could contain my mistake, provided I did so properly – which many stealth games like Assassin’s Creed and Dishonored simply don’t allow that.
But unrealistic punishment is just one component of Hitman’s core gameplay mechanics, which focus on opportunity and information. The key is finding it, which often requires a disguise and a little bit of patience. I had the opportunity to kill one of my targets by rigging his ejection seat to misfire, and let’s just say it was quite the spectacle.
Overall, Hitman shows extreme promise, namely because of IO Interactive’s decision to open the players’ world. By doing so, they’ve added endless outcomes and (limited) replayability to a franchise typically known for a linear-style campaign and small sandbox opportunities. That being said, we still have our doubts about the episodic release schedule – here’s to hoping we’re wrong.
Hitman will be released on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC March 11.