How to get into the Hitman games, and the best order to play them

With Hitman 3 getting rave reviews, a lot of people are realising that, maybe, this is a series worth paying attention to. And it's about time, because we've been champions of it for years. Years!

Anyway, if you're new to this Hitman trilogy and you're a bit confused about where to start, which version of the game to play, and whether or not you should just dive straight into Hitman 3, then hopefully this makes things a little clearer.

So what's the best way to play the Hitman trilogy?

The absolute best way to play the Hitman trilogy is to play Hitman 3 with the levels from Hitman and Hitman 2 imported into it, for the following reasons.

  • You can access all 21 levels in one game
  • The levels from the old games get a visual overhaul, incorporating the fancy new graphics tech from Hitman 3
  • The levels from the first game inherit features added in Hitman 2, including being able to hide in foliage
  • Unlockable gadgets, weapons, and tools from all three games can now be used across every level

(Image credit: IO Interactive)

How do I access the levels from Hitman/Hitman 2 in Hitman 3?

This is the tricky bit, at least on PC.

For console players, owning Hitman and Hitman 2 is enough to get the levels for free. But because Hitman 3 is an Epic exclusive, there's currently no way to tell the Epic app that you own the first two games on Steam.

Epic is, apparently, looking into this. But for now, your only option is to buy the levels. Unfortunately, the storefront and the various 'access passes' on offer are incredibly confusing.

So to make things simple, if you want absolutely everything in Hitman 3, including two expansion levels (New York and Haven Island, which are very good), then you'll want to grab this.

(Image credit: Epic)

It's currently on sale, down from a wallet-busting £80/$100 to a much more reasonable £16/$20. But remember: you still need to own Hitman 3 (retailing at £50/$60) to access the content in this pass.

I own Hitman 1 and 2. Can I just play them?

Absolutely. Having all the levels accessible in Hitman 3 is more about convenience than anything else. And the first two games still look amazing, even without the visual boost they get from being imported into Hitman 3.

So if you picked up Hitman 1/2 cheap in a sale or whatever, but you feel like you're missing out if you don't import the levels into Hitman 3—don't. Play them and maybe Hitman 3 will be a bit cheaper by the time you get through them. And then you can replay all the levels with nicer visuals, if Epic ever figures out a way to let us import them for free.

(Image credit: IO Interactive)

I have access to all the games/levels, which order should I play them in?

If you care about story, play them in order. All the levels in the trilogy are linked by a running story about Agent 47 going up against a shady cabal of powerful villains called Providence. Most of your targets are members of Providence, so following the story will give you extra context about who they are and why they deserve to die. Just know this: the story isn't very good, and you will probably get bored of it fairly quickly.

If you don't care about story, treat Hitman like an anthology. Ignore the intro cutscenes and just dive into whatever level takes your fancy. This is a really fun way to play it, because you can pick and choose your missions based on the type of location you'd like to visit, rather than following a path prescribed by the developer. And it's not like you're missing out on the narrative side of things entirely: each mission has its own self-contained stories that are better than the overarching plot.

Okay, but wh...

Wait, I'm not finished. Don't think of Hitman (2016), Hitman 2 (2018), and Hitman 3 (2021) as individual games. Think of the entire trilogy as one game, and each entry as a set of missions for it.

I say this because I've seen a few people wondering if the levels from the first game are worth skipping because they might be dated or somehow inferior to the newer ones.

But that's far from the truth. Some of the levels in the first game—Sapienza, Hokkaido, and Paris especially—are among the best in the series, and you definitely don't want to miss them. And Hitman 2's levels are just as good, in particular Miami, Mumbai, and the Isle of Sgàil.

Fundamentally, all three entries in this trilogy are the same game—it's the levels that are different. Otherwise they share the same systems, AI, controls, and interface.

(Image credit: IO Interactive)

Could I just dive straight into Hitman 3?

You could, and you'll have a great time. But one of the levels in Hitman 3, the final one, is more like an action set-piece than a proper Hitman level. It's there to provide a dramatic ending for Agent 47's story. So if you only have Hitman 3, you'll be getting fewer really good levels than you would if you start with Hitman 1 or 2. The story also won't make a lick of sense, but as I said earlier, it's easily ignored. It's up to you.

Any tips for starting out?

The first few times you play a mission, follow the Mission Stories. These handy in-game guides lead you towards interesting, entertaining ways to kill your targets, and they'll help you get used to how the stealth works and the layout of the levels.

Then, when you're more comfortable with the game, you can go in and dream up your own methods to complete the mission. This is a rich sandbox, and there are loads of ways to complete each job.

Andy Kelly

If it’s set in space, Andy will probably write about it. He loves sci-fi, adventure games, taking screenshots, Twin Peaks, weird sims, Alien: Isolation, and anything with a good story.