There's been some confusion over the state of the new Hitman's release, particularly over whether it should be classified as an Early Access release. In a new FAQ, IO attempts to quell that confusion. It... er, doesn't really work.
From the FAQ:
"Early access can often mean something unfinished or unpolished. That’s simply not the approach we’re taking. All of the content we release live to our players will be complete and polished, whether that’s the locations and missions we release on December 8th, the live events or the locations and missions that we will release in 2016. It will always be a polished Hitman experience."
And sure, that's nice to know. But it seems to sidestep the fact that, while the missions themselves will be 'complete,' it sounds as if the full game won't be in place until sometime in 2016. It's fair enough if IO doesn't want to associate with Early Access—which does often imply a lack of polish—but it's at least Early Access-adjacent, right?
"It's pretty straightforward," Hitman creative director Christian Elverdam told PC Gamer, in an interview that you can find in the current issue of the magazine. "We're building a substantial game, it's bigger than Absolution. And what we're basically saying is you can get this for sixty bucks or a standard price, and that's all you pay. There are two different ways of doing it. You can be part of that live experience of the world unfolding and these locations appearing, and the joy and excitement of knowing that, 'hey, this location is coming soon', [and] being part of it when it happens. Or you can wait. At the end of it there'll be a box. So if that's what you're more comfortable with, that's what you get."
Maybe it's better to call it episodic? That's usually how we categorise a story that isn't finished, but that will be released in chunks over the course of a year. Hey, Hitman FAQ, is it episodic?
"We think the word ‘episodic’ sets up the expectation that we will sell individual content drops for individual prices but that’s not something we're planning to do. That said, there are some episodic elements to the story in the sense that it’s delivered in chunks over time, so experiencing the story will probably feel episodic. But there is also a ton of other content including live events, which have nothing to do with the story. We’ll also be improving and changing the game constantly whilst you’re playing it. Our ambition is to have a stream of content available from December 8th until the story arc is finished.
"The thing is, there isn’t really a term to describe what we’re doing. That’s why we’re calling it a ‘live’ experience because it feels like that’s what it is – something that lives, grows and evolves. This question was asked a lot at E3 and if anyone out there comes up with a brilliant term, please get in touch. Seriously."
To recap: the new Hitman is not Early Access (but kinda is), and not episodic (but kinda is). I guess my main question is how much of the game will be in place at launch. We'll keep you updated as IO release more information about the game.