UFG Goes Hands on With the Hitman Beta!

I can still remember the first time I was introduced to the “Hitman” franchise. My uncle, who is more of a casual gamer, came over my house with his copy of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin for the original Xbox and adamantly made sure I played it right that second. This spoke heavily to me because he knew I wasn’t big on cerebral shooters; I was more of a run and gun type of guy. Respectfully, I loaded the title and ever since my first stealth assassination, I’ve been hooked. Fast-forward to now and the Hitman games aren’t what they used to be. For better or worse (depending on who you ask), IO Interactive has been constantly tweaking the formula in an effort to create the best Hitman game possible!

For their upcoming title though, IO is adding new and old elements alike. Gone are the linear stages found in Absolution, replaced by the sandbox like maps from before. They’re also taking an episodic approach, were future content/maps will be released post launch. Basically, Hitman will be an interesting project of sorts; we aren’t 100% sure what to expect when the game releases next month. That said, we did get to play the beta on PC…

In the beta, we become reacquainted with our favorite bald assassin but in a much younger package. Going twenty years into the past, we’re introduced to Agent 47 and his handler Diana Burnwood soon after they join the ICA.  As nothing more than a trainee, 47 is loaded into a virtual simulation to test his skills. This starts the expected tutorial, showcasing the basic mechanics as you complete your first contract. Most of it will be familiar for veteran players. The part that comes after though, sheds some light on what IO and Square are planning when it comes to the episodic content. As you take on the next two missions, the idea of permadeath will be introduced – not for Agent 47 of course, but for the targets you’re supposed to take down.

Permadeath works perfectly in a game based on realism and the unique ways you can approach your assignments. Beyond the main contracts the game will load in secondary hits. While this might not seem like anything new, these “extra” targets won’t be around forever. Meaning, you’ll only have one shot at them (no pun intended). I’m talking no way to save, no second chances, and a limited amount of time to assassinate these individuals. Causing an uproar now requires a plan B; the contracts never repeat and if they get away, that’s it. It’s almost like you’re really an agent. An agent who can actually fail his mission!

Many of the fans were unsure on how the episodic stuff would work – would it be just a bunch of random assassinations or would there be something that links everything together? Would it feel like a whole, feature filled game? I mean, as a fan of episodic games, I also had no clue how this mechanic would work in this universe. And while I haven’t experience all of what’s to come (new maps, specific NPC’s, unique contracts, etc.), let me tell you, the beta is what I needed to be sold on this idea. In an era where it seems, some developers are sending out unfinished games to their consumers based on promises of better/future content, here comes IO with a demonstration of what to expect. Not a mention of paid DLC (yet), means once we’ve bought the game, we’ll be able to experience the life of an agent for months on end.

Backing up a bit, the moment to moment gameplay is great. Again, vets will know how to take out civilians without killing them, don disguises, and make a murder look like an accident. These are good skills to have as the maps are large, with a ton of guards just waiting to see you do something wrong. That said, the beta missions weren’t that difficult to complete. You could tell this was used to show us what’s coming though – like the MGSV: GZ demo but free. All and all the beta was fun. If I had to complain, though odd, I don’t understand why Agent 47 never closes the door behind himself. If you’re going into a room to put somebody to sleep, wouldn’t you want to close the door behind you as you walk in? An option to close the door would have nice. Or, at least make the AI wonder why I walked in. They do become suspicious of your activities but not for the obvious things. If there is no trigger for them, like me entering a restricted area or shooting someone, often times they wouldn’t notice me snooping around.

The endless ways to complete contracts, a living game world with permadeath, and all of the old/newer mechanics we’ve come to love has made me a believer. Of course, this is only the beta. We can’t promise the game will be great upon release (so don’t blame us if you run out and pre-order a dud). What you can and should do is keep it locked here as we continue to cover this title!

Hitman will be released on March 11th for the Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

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