IO Interactive’s mission is only just beginning. The Danish developer just released Hitman 3 to rave reviews (with a few launch issues), but its next project is even more exciting. The studio is hard at work on a new James Bond game, which will be the first since 2012’s 007 Legends.
Considering the developer’s stealth-action chops, IOI is a natural fit for 007. In many ways, the Hitman games almost feel like an audition tape for a Bond title, showing how much deeper spy gameplay can be than what gaming usually offers. Many of Hitman 3’s ideas feel like a perfect match for Bond, but there’s one in particular that could help make the upcoming title standout: the disguises.
In the Hitman games, players are able to knock out various non-playable characters and steal the clothing right off their back. Stealing different outfits allows Agent 47 to deceive characters around each map and gain access to restricted areas. It’s a genius little system that turns the players into a master of disguise and puts a greater emphasis on deception.
There are generally two kinds of spies in popular media. In one corner, you have the modem James Bond archetype, who’s a glorified superhero. These characters wear fancy tuxedos, shoot guns with impossible accuracy, and are ridiculously attractive. The other version is a bit less glorified. Novels like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy present spies as intellectual masterminds who quietly collect intelligence and fight with knowledge.
The latter is a far cry from the run-and-gun antics we’re used to seeing in Hollywood, but it’s also more grounded in reality. Generally speaking, spies aren’t sent out to wipe out hundreds of enemy forces like a one-person army. Espionage is a tool that’s used to extract secret information right out from someone’s nose. The James Bond we see in movies is less of a spy and more of a mercenary like Agent 47.
With that stark difference in mind, there’s potential to actually let James Bond do some proper spy work in an IO developed game. Using disguises to deceive guards and steal files from locked off rooms feels like something James Bond should be doing rather than just gunning his way into a facility or crawling through vents like a big, black and white rat.
Hitman 3 is especially effective at playing up the utility of a good disguise. In the game’s standout Dartmoor, England level, Agent 47 can assume the role of a detective summoned to a mansion to solve a murder mystery. The outfit doesn’t simply function as a convenient way to get into the house unnoticed; wearing it allows him to question the suspects and gain crucial information. All of that is an elaborate ruse for the ultimate goal: to steal a case file from the mansion. If Agent 47 cracks the case, he’ll get it as payment for solving the mystery.
That clever solution makes the Dartmoor mission feel like one of gaming’s most effective representations of espionage yet. There’s an actual sense that the player is infiltrating a space and extracting vital information through intellect. Those moments happen throughout Hitman 3’s campaign, making Agent 47 feel like a better spy than Bond himself.
While James Bond is more known for his charisma than knack for disguises, there’s a real opportunity to flesh the character out in ways that games have previously avoided. That doesn’t have to detract from the elaborate shootouts or improbable boat chases, but it would add another layer that really makes a case for why Bond is really so good at his job.
It’s hard to imagine IO not bringing Hitman features like that into the game unless it flips the table to make something more akin to Goldeneye. But considering how much the studio has fine-tuned its stealth mechanics over the past few years, perhaps the Bond game would be better off stirred, not shaken.
IOI's James Bond game is currently in development.