One of the most exciting E3 2018 announcements came in the form of IO Interactive teaming up with Warner Bros. for Hitman 2. While the sequel will build upon the sandbox stealth gameplay that made the 2016 release such a critical success, it will no longer be released in an episodic format that sees levels being released one at a time. Instead, the developer will release the entire story at once when the game debuts November 13 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. This was a surprise for many gamers, so Screen Rant talked to the studio's creative director to learn the reason behind the change.
Hitman was originally released in the form of six separate episodes. The first debuted in March 2016, and the season wrapped up at the end of October. In addition to the main episodes, which added a new level filled with assassination hijinks to play, they also released limited time events at regular intervals that kept players coming back to the stealth title.
While IO Interactive decided not to go episodic for the sequel, creative director Christian Elverdam still had positive thoughts about the release format. "Episodic really allowed a lot of people to dig very deep into the levels because we obviously had them at a month at a time until a new level came out," explained Elverdam to Screen Rant. "That was in a way very, very successful because I think we got a lot of feedback from both players and some journalists saying it sort of forced your hand to really dig in there, and we believe that was a big strength."
Since they already established the formula in the 2016 release, it made more sense to find a compromise towards those that didn't like the spacing of episodic releases. "[With Hitman 2] I think people really understand that already, and at the same time when we did episodic, we had players say it was a shame not to be able to play the story from start to finish," said Elverdam on the decision to release the story in full. "And [what] we learned during the season was that a lot of our content was looser targets, there was a time limit that we're still doing a lot of. So, we feel we have tons of live content anyways, so it felt like, I guess, sort of a fair deal to say, 'Okay.' Then, the story itself is only a portion of the game - the story that will actually be available on Day 1. And it also allows us some freedom that I also like, which is it's anyone's guess where the next target is going to be, what's going to happen. But I also think episodic worked well for a lot of people, so I hope we've found a good compromise."
By continuing to add timed content to Hitman 2, it appears IO Interactive has found a brilliant way of melding together what players liked about the episodic release while making those that want the entire game happy as well. Both sides will be content, and it allows the studio to focus on making gameplay improvements to their critically acclaimed stealth game.