Image: IO Interactive
Hitman 3’s second year starts with a bang
Hitman 3 developer IO Interactive is celebrating the game’s first birthday on Jan. 20 in a big way, starting with the release of Hitman Trilogy, which will debut in the Game Pass library on both Windows PC and Xbox, the studio announced Thursday.
The bundle includes all three games in the World of Assassination trilogy — 2016’s Hitman, 2018’s Hitman 2, and 2021’s Hitman 3 — and it will also be released the same day on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The PC version of the trilogy (and of Hitman 3 itself) will be available via Steam as well as the Epic Games Store, since the game’s one-year exclusivity agreement with the Epic Games Store will end as of Jan. 20. IO did not announce a price for the trilogy; we’ve reached out to the studio to ask, and we’ll update this article with any information we receive.
Hitman 3 is also coming to another new platform on Jan. 20: PC virtual reality. The VR mode has thus far been available exclusively on PlayStation VR, support for which is limited to the PlayStation 4 version of the game. Now, Hitman 3 PC players — whether on Steam or the Epic Games Store — will be able to check out the entire World of Assassination trilogy in VR (if they own the first two games on PC as well as Hitman 3).
IO did not provide details on headset compatibility, saying only that it will be “supporting the most popular hardware to deliver the best experience to as many players as possible.” That likely includes headsets such as Oculus Touch, which use separate controllers in each hand, allowing players to use both hands to throw items in Hitman VR: Aim with the left, and fling with the right. For many more details, including VR gameplay footage, check out the Hitman 3 year 2 reveal video.
In addition to new platforms, Jan. 20 will mark the beginning of Hitman 3’s second year of content. That day, IO will release the first of two new game modes coming in 2022: Elusive Target Arcade. This expands upon the fan-favorite Elusive Target mode by requiring players to take out targets in succession, completing multiple contracts simultaneously and unlocking rewards along the way. The biggest change from the existing version of the mode is that Arcade Contracts will be available permanently, unlike the limited-time events that Elusive Targets are. However, failing any step of an Arcade Contract will result in a 12-hour lockout, so there’s still an element of time gating to the new mode.
This spring, IO will follow up Elusive Target Arcade with a completely new mode called Freelancer. This single-player mode offers an array of campaigns for players to tackle, each of which comprises a series of missions — playable in any order — in which Agent 47 must take down a criminal organization. As a, well, freelancer, 47 isn’t working with the ICA’s support in this mode; his gear isn’t permanent, and between missions, he’ll have to return to his home base to resupply.
Here’s how IO describes Freelancer campaigns:
Campaign missions have been reworked to fit the Freelancer mode. For example, locations will have new NPC types, that can either help or hinder your progress. Suppliers will offer a selection of weapons and items that you can acquire to increase your chances of success, whereas other NPCs will alert Leaders and make your job more difficult. In addition to these NPCs, there are several other elements that will make the Freelancer campaigns unique. You’ll be able to find safes, hidden stashes and even other NPC Assassins…
That location, simply called Safehouse, is one of the two new maps that IO has announced so far for year 2. It isn’t a traditional Hitman map — it’s a customizable space with areas that players will unlock as they progress through Freelancer campaigns. There’s a firing range for testing weapons, a closet to try on new outfits, and even decor to tailor the place to one’s own liking.
Finally, IO touched on a few updates that are coming “later in 2022.” They include a number of PC-specific visual upgrades such as real-time ray tracing — for reflections and shadows — which will be available for the entire World of Assassination trilogy in Hitman 3. Another one is support for XeSS, Intel’s competitor to Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), which is debuting this year alongside Intel’s Arc GPUs. (You can see a brief demo of XeSS in Hitman 3 in this Intel video from October 2021.) IO will also be adding variable rate shading to the game later this year, which improves performance by dedicating fewer rendering resources to parts of the image that are less important.