The Hitman franchise has experienced a couple of attempts at a new approach before going full reboot. Hitman Contracts attempted to allow players to ‘relive’ some of Agent 47’s most celebrated missions through flashbacks, like the video game version of a clip show TV episode. Some of those missions were new and a couple were remakes from the original game. It didn’t quite hit the target and something that felt newer was needed.
Developer IO interactive, along with publisher Square Enix, attempted to do just that with Blood Money. It is still considered among many to be the best in the series. Then, they attempted to bring the story and gameplay of Hitman forward with Hitman Absolution. The title made significant strides in terms of story and character development but it had an arcade feel that didn’t sit right with longtime fans. The latest Hitman offers the biggest change-up the series has undergone - not in terms of how it plays but how it is released in the marketplace. Hitman is being released episodically, a mission location at a time, with the first landing March 11 (watch the Hitman season premiere trailer here). Many gamers are unhappy about this but those holding off for a full retail release will have longer to wait as the developers are already planning a ‘season two’.
There will be a total of seven episodes released throughout 2016 and a full retail version on disc was originally expected once the full ‘season’ became available. Now it has been announced that there has been a delay and it will not be released until January 2017. The delay does not appear to be down to ‘manufacturing reasons’ like Uncharted 4 but simply because IO Interactive believes the game should be experienced episodically. In fact, they believe it so much that they are looking to continue the approach for the foreseeable future, with plans already being made for a ‘season two’. As IO Interactive’s Christian Elverdam explained to Gaming Bolt:
What we know is, we have a Season One, where we have the locations and the storyline for Season One, and we are sort of slowly starting to figure out exactly what portion of the next overarching story we’ll take for Season Two. So obviously, yeah, there will be more seasons, and I think that’s the future- this universe we’ve created, with this version of 47… We actually have quite a few ideas for where we want to take the story. And I think it will be quite exciting for people to see that whole universe of the game. So yeah, the future holds many seasons of Hitman!
So those who have already criticised the episodic release may be fighting a losing battle. There is also a concern that other publishers will be looking at Hitman’s release closely, considering how something similar could also be applied to their franchises. Final Fantasy VII Remake is already a major future release that is adapting the same method. It may not be the last.
The Intro Pack or ‘episode one’ of Hitman including the prologue tutorials and Paris fashion show mission is released March 11. There is also a ‘Full Experience’ pack available to purchase now which will allow players to download all content as soon as they are released.
Hitman will be available to purchase from all participating retailers for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on March 11, 2016.