Last Friday, as well as letting me try out Hitman 2's impressively detailed Colombia level, IO also revealed that a surprise multiplayer mode is coming to the sequel. No, you're not going around a level trying to work out who the mystery target is like in Assassin's Creed's old multiplayer mode—although that would be rad in Hitman. You're instead trying to take out the random target flagged on your HUD before the other player does, without being caught. The first to five silent kills wins.
There are a couple of twists to this, though. The two timelines can interact with each other through an item called a 'ghost coin'. Since you can see what the other player is up to in the game at all times, you can make a guard in their timeline move elsewhere using this coin, which might scupper an attempt to get a perfect kill. There's also an item crate system: removing a weapon from a crate means the other player won't have access to it, so maybe it pays to find one of these earlier in the game, and narrow your rival's options.
I played the mode last Friday, and honestly, it was hard to get a grasp on it for a couple of reasons, but it has serious promise for hardcore players. In my game, I was playing against a video presenter man who seemed to rush most of his assassination attempts, and got caught in the act multiple times. I was then given 20 seconds to execute each failed target before the new target appeared, but of course in Hitman, 20 seconds isn't a long time to wait for that target to get into a secluded spot. The game kept resetting, and almost every time I waited patiently or went off to find some weapons to help speed up the process, the other player seemed to mess up and the game would reset. In about 30 minutes, we each got one clean kill. It was a little annoying.
The other key factor is, since we were playing the mode within Hitman 2's Miami racetrack level, not knowing the level layout is a hindrance. If the next target spawns halfway across the environment, it really helps to know the different routes under the track and around the venue, which I didn't after having just played Miami for an hour before at Gamescom. You respawn if you're killed in this mode, but any disguise you were wearing when you were killed won't be effective. You also get penalised for killing non-targets.
My particular demo was a little fraught, then, but I think this mode is a really cool idea with a lot of potential. For experienced Hitman players, this could represent the ultimate challenge of your understanding of a given stage and how the series' stealth systems work. While Ghost Mode will first launch for Miami, the plan is to add it to every other stage in Hitman 2, as well as the levels in the 'World of Assassination'—that is, levels from 2016's Hitman.
The main question I had for Travis Barbour, IO's community manager, is how the target spawning works. Presumably, each one has a definite solution for a silent kill, and therefore can't be randomly generated. Otherwise, the mode wouldn't work. "The way that the targets work in Ghost Mode, to the best of my current knowledge, is that there are a large number of set scenarios for the target. If you play it repeatedly, you will know that there is a target in the garage who has one bodyguard, and that target will always be there. Every time you start, it's random from that pool of targets you have, so you can't repeatedly play Ghost Mode and master what to do the whole time, because you'll start somewhere and the targets are different. But the target scenarios are the same."
I look forward to seeing if Ghost Mode leads to broader, more ambitious plans for multiplayer in the series down the line. The levels are certainly detailed enough to support it, and anything that gives players more excuses to spend time in these places suits me.