Play either of the last two Hitman games and it's immediately obvious that their developer, IO Interactive, enjoys the Daniel Craig era of James Bond movies quite a lot. Not just in the cutscenes—which straight up copy a few shots from the films—but in the tone, the atmosphere, the increased focus on espionage, and even the architecture of the levels.
The Craig Bonds have a very distinctive look and feel. A cold, sharp-edged, ultra-refined minimalism. And IO Interactive brought this restrained classiness to their Hitman reboot—and iterated on it further in its sequel, which you should totally play. The ultra-modern apartments, lavish hotels, Japanese mountaintop hospitals, and Italian coastal towns are pure Bond.
Take out the bald assassin, stick in a British secret agent, and Hitman and its sequel are basically already Bond. They're games about infiltrating exotic, high security locations, dispatching henchmen, stealing classified data, assassinating bad people, turning everyday objects into deadly weapons, and using gadgets—all stuff Bond does on a regular basis.
Even the music in the Hitman games owes a lot to modern Bond. The mix of minimalist electronica with orchestral flourishes, and traditional instruments from whichever country Agent 47 happens to be in, is very similar to the music composed by David Arnold and Thomas Newman for the films. Listen to 'Voluntary Retirement' from the Skyfall soundtrack and you'll see what I mean.
A lot of Bond games focus on the shootouts, car chases, and outlandish set-pieces, but I like the idea that IO Interactive's take on the source material—based on what they've done with Hitman, anyway—will be more about Bond as a spy, not an action hero. That's always been my favourite part of the movies. Bond slipping past security, blending in with crowds, keeping a low profile. That's way cooler to me, and way more Bond, than a car that turns into a submarine—although I wouldn't say no to that.
As much as I love the Hitman games, I think creating a compelling narrative is something IO Interactive sometimes struggles with. I found the overarching plot linking the levels together in both Hitmans (Hitmen?) completely forgettable, and far less interesting than the standalone stories told by the levels themselves—or the stories you create yourself by experimenting with the game's systems.
With this in mind, I'd like to see them hire someone with experience of writing Bond, whether it's movies, comics, or spin-off novels. A good story isn't essential for a good systems-driven stealth game, but Bond is always better when you actually care about what's happening. Also, with IO's game being an origin story where we see Bond earning his 00 status, there's a lot of potential for an interesting story here. This is something the films have yet to fully explore.
I'm just speculating here, so excuse me, but wouldn't it be cool if IO leaned into the popular fan theory that 'James Bond' is a codename used by many people, not just one person. Then players could create their own agent, of any gender or race, and earn that title themselves. Bond owner Eon Productions would probably never allow something that wild, but it's a fun idea anyway.
Honestly, you couldn't ask for a better studio to take on Bond. IO Interactive has already laid the groundwork with the Hitman games, and established that it can capture the style, elegance, and sophisticated cool that defines the best of the modern Bond movies. Hell, if it was just Hitman but with James Bond I'd be into it. I don't think we'll be seeing this one anytime soon based on the almost completely content-free teaser trailer, but I can't bloody wait.