Hitman beta confirmed for February 2016

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Originally scheduled to release this week, Hitman won't launch officially until March 2016. That doesn't mean you can't access it earlier – in fact, Square Enix announced at the weekend that a beta period will commence on February 19 for PC. There's a catch though: in order to guarantee access, you'll need to preorder the game.

According to the announcement, the beta mission "is set twenty years in the past at a top-secret ICA recruitment and training facility. This extremely unique mission revolves around how Agent 47 was recruited into the ICA and shows the first time that 47 meets his long-time handler, Diana Burnwood."

While Hitman launches officially on March 11, the full game will roll out over the course of 2016. It'll launch with three sandboxes – France, Italy and Morocco – with Thailand, USA and Japan launching in April, May and June respectively. Full details on Square Enix's episodic approach can be read over here. If you want to see the game in action, here's a lengthy 47 minute gameplay video.

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.