Welcome to our guide, Agent. Below is a comprehensive 2016 Hitman series guide. This will give you an idea of what Hitman is all about and, now the series is completed, whether you should consider joining the game.
This guide will give you an overview of what is great about this entry into the world of assassination the Square Enix and IO interactive have so capably built. There are No Plot Spoilers here just some detail on the game overall.
So, Agent, what are you waiting for? Take a look and leave me a Disqus Comment with your thoughts on this amazing game or let me know if you are going to start playing now.
Part One: Overview of what is to come
Hitman is one of those games that is equal parts simplistic coolness, and technical challenge. This first part will look at general gameplay and both the ICA training facility, and Paris, whilst part two will look at Sapienza, Marrakesh and then the latter episodes. The third part will look at elusive targets, challenges, contracts et al.
So, Hitman is a episodic reboot/prequel to the Hitman games you have already played, whilst it doesn’t acknowledge all of what you knew, it certainly doesn’t do enough to promise a lead into the originals.
47 is new in this iteration, other characters you know are there, and very much alive.
The base game costs less than the full experience and each destination can be bought separately, or bundled now it’s complete.
I say destination rather than level because each is huge, and as you will come learn – the core game makes up the smallest part of the experience.
This game sees a control scheme that is equal parts simple and contextual, this is the clearest indication of how diverse this game intends you to be. Stealth takedowns, moving bodies and taking disguises can be done with little effort.
It also doesn’t feel exclusive, in-as-much as the controls are constantly displayed on the pause menu and designed in a way that quickly feels natural, and doesn’t make the game more difficult.
Speaking of difficulty, this game has definitely switched its focus to stealth as its core mechanic, where ‘Absolution’ felt more like a straight action game.
Switching areas and costumes will often be essential to even reach a target, that said, as with all the previous entries there is room (usually a bathroom) for chaos and violence.
Another way the game balances its own difficulty is the ‘Instincts’ mode, which greys the screen and highlights AI that could potentially identify you, as well as targets, objects and dumping areas.
This will allow you focus on the idea of making a path from A to B with as few nervy moments as possible, as well as giving you the capacity to plan your next move.
In the menus you can view unlocks, weapons, scores and kill counts and breakdowns. Giving a career page a real personal feel.
Mastery is simply how well you have attacked a set level, this increases by unlocking challenges set with the maps. These range from using certain weapons, to wearing he traditional suit the entire time.
These are just another way this game identifies itself as a full experience, you cannot unlock all of the content in the game without a decent mastery of each area.
Additional mastery also unlocks with full participation in the ‘Elusive target’ and ‘Contracts’ modes. More on these later.
This is the first destination on your list, and is the base game. Each level can be played in story-line order and once beaten in storyline unlocks its contract creation mode (more on that later) and it’s ‘Escalations’ (read challenges, again, more later).
I won’t be spoiling many target details throughout this guide, this is just a need-to-know run down of the game, not a FAQ/Walkthrough, just to address that now.
Having last seen 47 in ‘Hitman Absolution’, you the player, may want to take this opportunity much more seriously, the controls have been redressed and enemy AI seems to have been significantly overhauled, also the executions thing is gone, so no more snapping a few pesky enemies to take them down with ease.
Whilst (by design) this area is the smallest and least pretty of those on show in Hitman, it is still pretty cool. The level itself is a wooden mock up of a scenario to test 47’s capabilities, and once the training is over you get a free form training, and then a final test, in fullest honesty I found these both refreshing and difficult. And frankly if that excites you, this game is going to blow your mind.
Having a plan is always a good thing, but sometimes it is better to adapt on the fly, in the under part of the main boat I stumbled across a costume, and a police officer, who I shot without thinking.
What I didn’t realise in advance was that this section of the boat is visible from above.
Needless to say I had fluffed that attempt at the mission, but I knew immediately where to head to for future reference – I also knew to let the officer live.
Paris is the first proper mission of the game, and sets its stall out pretty clearly, 47 isn’t being mollycoddled here. You are thrown in at the deep end, the crowded, busy Paris fashion show and party features not one, but two targets.
As in all previous games navigating areas will require costume changes, security compromises and (at least two) dead bodies.
As with the training (but deliberately mentioned first here) opportunities will present themselves within the game world. Mostly through overheard conversations, these can be used to exploit opportunities to put 47 near an intended target.
However not all of these opportunities are golden. As fair warning I will note that I had died, and therefore had to re-plan a mission because I got over zealous on an opportunity.
Paris is glitzy, sexy, full of characters and opportunities as well as armed guards and AI who will see through disguises. It is worth noting that these also vary wildly on the kind of disguise you are wearing. A security guard won’t necessarily see through a ‘crew member’ disguise, but another crew member might. These are indicated by white marks above the person’s head whilst in instinct mode.
The best experience I had of this map was making a contract, I had come across an opportunity for the main story mission and had decided to use that opportunity to create a contract, but things can go south quick in Hitman.
On executing one of the two targets. I was surprised to see the other duck for cover and immediately call for help, realising the severity of the situation I quickly made for a defensible position. And rather ironically in the process took out one of the Paris story targets.
The second attempt was much smoother, and I did end up placing this as a contract online (more on contracts later).
Part two: The Heart of the Matter
The first DLC is Sapienza, with Marrakesh and others to follow, and with each the HUD and other game play mechanics get a small tweak, so bare that in mind as many of the episode overviews were written at time of release!
Each episode will get a sub-heading here so feel free to scroll down if you’d like to know more about each area.
Italy is our third area, and in the story mode features two targets and a third objective. It also features a slight bump in security from the first sections but is also a much bigger area.
Sprawling streets and coffee shops feature heavily, with accessible buildings and areas aplenty. Separate from the main objective area, but not in an obnoxious way.
Secret passageways, cars and boats serve as escape routes in this area, as in the previous areas there are plenty. But not all of them will be useful, depending on where you are within the proximity of the main objectives.
Opportunities in this area exist and again provide a great deal of variety, this area as with many of the games secondary modes have been built with the multiple visits in mind.
I have been a fan of Hitman for a while now, and just as a personal note, mastery level as an indicator (more on that above) my Sapienza Mastery is at 10. My Paris is at 5, I think Sapienza is one of the best designed area’s in Hitman, probably ever.
Have you seen groundhog day? Well, once you find the agency safe house and do the escalations here, there is a guy… He is not a target, but I have legitimately killed him like a hundred times.
You have to snipe two targets within 30 seconds of one another and then escape by boat, and it just so happens that the apartment of this one individual has a cross section with that escalation.
He also in the main story missions provides one of the opportunities, so I have got killing him down to a fine art. Sometimes I have killed him simply for giggles…
As a footnote to that revelation, I don’t take a straight-laced approach to my missions. I’ll kill people just to remove them from potentially identifying me (having been stung when I didn’t that one time). So yeah that dude is very, very dead.
Marrakesh is huge, there is a hustle and bustle about it. Sprawling markets and music and crowds, and lots of security, oh, and the Army too!
Like each level it has many paths, and yet still manages to exceed the potential of the previous installments, it also (and I am desperately trying not to veer too far into walk though territory) has one of the best opportunities I have come across.
It is as if the designers have deliberately thought of every eventuality that could be comprised in the real world and added as many as plausible.
The other thing worth noting about Marrakesh, I did my story play through with the opportunity that presented itself. There is therefore another whole collection of ways to achieve your goal.
My favourite costume here is the ‘Military Officer’ – you can use it to sneak past a large percentage of the AI with it, but that isn’t the best part – the best part is telling the AI soldiers that they are dismissed.
The best thing I have done with that disguise, I dismissed a soldier and then shot him in the back. Good times, family fun all around.
Unlocking Bangkok does not require completion of the bonus missions, and as they are non-story missions.
The Bangkok map is large, and features a hotel/club which you will need to infiltrate in order to take out another 2 targets.
So, for the first time in this guide I am going to give you fair warning: this area is difficult. It has A LOT of card readers and varied levels of staff allowances, I.E. staff who are allowed in areas varies a lot more than it felt like it does in the other levels to date.
There are alternate starting points to unlock, and as always escalations and player generated contracts, so take some time to familiarise yourself with what is and isn’t accessible at a basic level.
The area is full of nooks and crannies and rooms that don’t seem to lead anywhere and areas barred by swipe card locks. This area is a challenge, and is a challenge to all who are leaving custom contracts. Not only to set them up, but to see if anyone can match them, Bangkok is the read deal.
Honestly, look for things to throw, things to distract with, and improvise as much as you can, and then opportunities should present themselves.
I ended up stood in a staff costume over a dead body, with a guard in front of me, but his back turned. To his right three other guards.
It was at this point I wondered if Hitman could also be part horror survival game, because I knew if that guard turned around, I would be drawn into a gun fight.
Needless to say it ended violently.
When you play contracts, people tend to go for the harder targets with the smallest window of opportunity. And whilst chaos will work, often convoluted strategies will serve better, especially if you are bothered about the score sheet.
Colorado is a mission set in a militia training camp, and four, yes FOUR targets are handed to you.
Now without getting into specifics, the difficulty of this mission goes hand in hand with the amount of routes to get it done. At time of writing I have done this mission with three approaches, and with the amount of opportunities it presents you really do have the option for many playthroughs here.
What is nice about Colorado, is that the enemies are so densely populated. Unlike previous maps, you could perhaps take out two or three enemies before anyone notices, on the Colorado map, if you do want a high body count, you still have to be tactical about it.
When playing Colorado, and I really think this is the ideal way to talk about the feature, use the save files provided. Now I know some of the purists will dislike that approach, but here’s the thing: when you have stumbled upon a golden opportunity to take out a target, but still have others to go, you’re going to want to save it.
I can’t tell you how many times (not just Colorado for the record) I failed the mission because the target I killed needed hiding and my attempts to move them were spotted.
Not all opportunities are golden.
This area took the most quick saves of any of my other attempts, many of which I kept separate. The sheer amount of ways that things can go wrong in this game, added to the fact that ALL of the security in every area previous would be annihilated by the force in Colorado.
My main issue came when an opportunity presented itself, and I could take out one target in seclusion, but this ended with four guards, a target, and myself deceased.
The Last chapter of what is being called “series one” is based in Japan, this time two targets, and I know what you are thinking, why only two? Well, because you are deployed in the default setting, with no gear.
This is a purist challenge, a coup-de-grace before the inevitable cliff hanger involving Jeffery Dean-Morgan and a barbed wire bat. You are left out figure out best process, dropping you in a scenario where you have none of the stuff you have used as a crutch.
You will improvise, prioritise, and if necessary kill. The targets are both plot centric, so I cannot, will not divulge to much of them, but the facility itself is a beautifully designed, hyper modern health spa.
You will need all your wits, cunning, patience and just a little luck to get to the heart of the matter in this level.
I’m trying desperately not to give you a ‘how-to’ here, but one of the targets was much easier to get to than I realised. Once I killed a non-target NPC, in just my robe I took out four guards, the target and an extra guard.
Armed only with three coins. Literally coins can be as deadly as a gun with preparation.
Part three: Making a Murderer
So, I have loosely touched on the story, and by and large I want to avoid spoilers for that, more specifically because I respect the work IO and square enix have put into this game. That said, I am happy to talk in this guide, at some length, about the games ‘secondary modes’ – so, although this is part three, this may end up being the biggest section of the guide!
Whilst I acknowledge that all of what I am about to cover is under one tab on that rather smooth and gorgeous menu, I will be addressing each item separately.
Escalations are 5 part challenges, starting at part one, which will always be “kill target A”. Level two may very well then be “Kill target A & B” – further escalations then may require you to Kill A & B whilst wearing a specific costume, whilst using a specific weapon and to then dispose of the bodies in a set time.
This mode is designed by the developers to give areas replay value and to allow for gamers to set themselves new scores and experience real challenges, each locale has multiple escalations and each escalation has 5 tiers, giving a lot of potential for new gear and starting point locales thanks to the boost in Mastery.
Contracts makes a return after its debut in ‘Absolution’. What is ‘contracts’? A challenge from gamers to gamers, from your peers, fellow players, fellow agents. The idea is to complete the contracts set by others and to set a bar for others… but, I think I better explain how exactly it works.
1 – Contracts creation
The community in Hitman had an idea in the time of message boards (I mean they are dying slowly, but still bear with me) that certain levels could be completed in obscure ways with caveats to raise the challenge bar.
And whilst there are challenges in Hitman, this is the tool by which you can create a contract. First pick a level, explore, familiarise yourself, and then mark a target (using instincts) once you have dispatched the target you can simply escape to lock the mission in place.
You can activate up to five targets, and the outfit and weapon/method you use to dispatch your target become optional objectives to gamers.
2 – Featured contracts
These are the contracts that are most played, best beaten, and generally good fun (or ridiculously convoluted and hard, just a fair warning).
These come through a rating system and completion rating, although to even upload a contract it must be complete-able, as the creator had to have reached the escape area, with victims dispatched.
3 – My contracts
All your contracts and creation links are here, as well as the capacity to see how others are scoring on your targets, complete with leader boards.
What amused me was that I played one of my contracts, did it the same way I had when I set it, got a fairly good score, only for another gamer to get a better score!
Apparently all this wasn’t hard enough, or content enough, because there is still more. Elusive target as the name suggests, is a mode about small windows of opportunity. To point of writing, there have been around a dozen Elusive targets.
What makes these targets so important, well, really it’s the massive boost to Mastery they give (I think it’s almost an entire bar just for an elusive target). But that isn’t what makes this mode a mouth watering prospect for Hitman fans (Hitfans?).
Set in the levels you know, on an unknown path, with limited time availability, the elusive targets are (almost) one time deals. They are in the level you know, with heightened security and will push you to your limits.
Oh and that ‘one time deal’ thing… right so here’s the thing, the few I have done were available for 48 hours (except Gary Busey, who had a week, yes THAT Gary Busey) and once completed cannot be repeated. It is also in the brief that if you die, or quit the level, that’s it, mission failed, never to be available again.
Once the level is started, and for as long as you don’t engage the target, you can restart the mission, you cannot save, you cannot load the mission itself.
Once the target is dead, you cannot restart the mission, so if you botch the kill and everyone has decided to end your existence, escape, or fail. No pressure.
I hope in future they do repeat the elusive targets as I would love to have a pop at the few that I have missed, or lucked out on.
Bonus Episodes: The Icon & A House Built on Sand
Hitman isn’t just about the content you pay for (strictly speaking) as, as part of the ongoing building of this absolute monster guide, we get to cover the Icon, Dino Bosco, and the redesign of Sapienza, which looks very different to what you have experienced, and with the new lay out comes new challenges, security and targets.
But the Icon is just the first half of the Bonus episode, House built on Sand is the second half, this mission is based in Marrakesh, and two new targets, and a new objective beyond that.
Both area feature a time of day change, and other cosmetic changes, Marrakesh seems less frantic then in the day time, and Sapienza seems a lot more cut off and crowded. again opportunities will appear, improvisation will be key, and both will afford you scoring towards your overall mastery of each level.
Interestingly this was the first update which came with a UI overhaul, updates before had also featured several smaller changes in with the big stuff.
The Icon is a film star, whose ego is damaging the production of the film he is working on, his armour is reportedly bulletproof and you are charged with dispatching him on a crowded film set.
The house built on sand is a dual target and document mission, based in Marrakesh it will push you to think hard and fast, solving the situation in front of you to get both targets and the data you need before escaping.
Aside from the fact that you can’t technically finish every thing the game offers you, Hitman is a complete, robust experience with fluid, tight-knit gameplay. it is easily the return to form the series needed.
it is both challenging and fun, allowing for the player to decide the course of events, whilst some of the elusive targets have ended up being very difficult, where impatience can hamper your ability to complete them, this game is punishing.
that said the chaos and mayhem found within past Hitman titles is here, in a big way. I cannot recount the amount of times that I simply ran out of good ideas and resorted to gun play, which never ends well.
if I had to sell Hitman to a long term fan, I would say that it is easily as good as Blood money, and easily as challenging as anything I have played.
To new fans I would say that it is as accessible as you would want a new chapter to be. I for one am very excited to see what the future holds for Hitman, and cannot wait for a potential season 2.