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What we want from Hitman Season Two

At the time of writing Hitman is in an odd place. IO has split with Square Enix, but still has the Hitman license. Season One is about to wrap with the final elusive target, and the future of the series is unclear. We’re big fans of the series at PC Gamer and we’d love to see it continue. With that in mind, we’ve had a think about what we’d like to see in a hypothetical Season Two.

More interesting elusive targets

Despite the fact Hitman’s Elusive Targets bolster its replayability and add a degree of high-stakes tension outwith its base game, they’re a bit on the boring side. A welcomed introduction to Agent 47’s latest outing, each Elusive Target has so far come packaged with a shiny Mission Impossible-inspired assignment briefing, however each venture winds up being a routine case of: go here, assassinate faceless mark ‘X’, don’t miss, good luck. Besides the odd celebrity cameo, I’m far more inclined to recall The Twin, The Gunrunner, and The Food Critic by their titles as opposed to Dylan Narváez, Vito Đurić, and Wen Ts'ai respectively—which speaks volumes for each chap’s nondescript backstory and the nature of each kill. While I hardly expect the lifestory of each victim, less fluff and more context around the hows and whys would help how players engage with each slaughter and would ultimately better characterise each target in the process. 

Less forced exposition

Hitman’s main plot is just nonsense, let’s be honest. Hitman 2016 was at its best when it stopped telling you a story and let you get on with the killing. To its credit the overall plot rarely interfered with the moment-to-moment garotting, but there are a few occasions where the mission’s self contained story forces you to wait around. A target will meet an important character somewhere and you’ll be forced to listen to a very long conversation. Sometimes characters walk and talk in big routes like they’re in a really slow and boring Aaron Sorkin show. In a game about replaying missions these become more dull and irritating every time you’re forced to listen. 

Episodic format

Hitman’s episodic release schedule was an interesting shift for the series, and a successful one, I think. Hitman levels are rich self-contained simulations that run according to their own rules, and they get better the more time you put into them. Every actor has their route, key characters wait for you to wander past before they start loudly honking about opportunities. There are weapon caches and comedy assassination possibilities to discover. It all feels like the Truman Show, explicitly so in the tutorial mission that has you infiltrating a fake party on a fake boat sitting in a cardboard representation of water. You only achieve mastery of a Hitman level when—like a bald, evil Jim Carey—you know every movement of Hitman’s manakin-like NPCs. The episodic rhythm gives us time to absorb each location and it gives IO feedback they can put into future episodes—something we certainly saw happen with Season one. 

More interesting gadgets 

This is a slippery slope, I admit. Hitman should always be about exploration and social stealth, and I don’t want Agent 47 to go full Sam Fisher. We can do better than ‘throw a coin’ though, can’t we? When I come to Hitman’s loadout screen I can only muster a shrug. The twin silenced pistols and piano wire combination is an important part of Agent 47’s image, but do we need that many machinegun and pistol variations? A few new gadgets wouldn’t go amiss, particularly ones that result in non-lethal takedowns 

True sandbox design 

Hitman is a game of keys and locks. Finding the rigged explosive golf ball in Sapienza lets me press F near the golf caddy to slip it in among the other golf balls. Most of Hitman’s items are like this, they exist to let you press ‘use’ on something, and they have no further application. A true sandbox lets the player decide an object’s use. Hitman often works like a complicated adventure game. Items are tied to specific hotspots in the level that set off pre-designed takedowns. I wouldn’t want to see these go because they are funny and they give new players a way into the level, but outside of these special assassinations the scope for improvisation and unusual execution methods is more limited than it could be. 

Opulent locales and more sweet ceilings 

Have you looked up in Hitman? It’s amazing. Especially in Paris. You see exquisitely modelled filigreed sculpture all over the level; Marrakesh hums with activity; Hokkaido’s interiors shimmer with coloured uplighting. The entire game feels lavish. It’s a hyper-fashionable vision of the modern world, a sort of James Bond theme park where everyone swans around in  sharply tailored Italian cotton. If we get a second season of Hitman, I hope it keeps up the globetrotting tendencies of the first. I’d love to see IO’s take on London, Monaco, New York, and more. 

More interesting locations

No offence to the Bangkok episode, but its hotel didn't feel distinct to the country. It was a regular hotel wearing a Bangkok skin, in much the same that Paris's mansion was just a very big building with an opulent interior. And nothing about the rich boy you'd been sent to kill felt integral to the location, either. Hitman works best when its scenarios have a strong thematic connection with the target. Consider Blood Money's Mardi Gras mascots, or the former crime lord hiding out in the suburbs. Season One had some of that: the Colorado compound, or the Marrakesh market. But too often the location felt separate from the action. For Season Two, I'd love to see some more inventive, memorable scenarios. 

More experimentation

Hitman's later episodes tweaked the formula established by its earlier ones. Colorado was a tribute to Hitman 2-style pure stealth. And Hokkaido unlocked doors based on your disguise, defining your available route based on who you were pretending to be. These are interesting twists, and it'd be great to see IO experiment more in the future (along with more traditional episodes, of course). How about a level where there's also someone hunting you, or one where the entire floor is ice, and everyone's just slipping around uncontrollably? I don't know. I'm not a mission designer. 

A suitcase you can put a sniper rifle in 

I'm not sure why 47's trademark suitcase is still yet to make an appearance—maybe it ruins the balance, or removes the need to unlock item drop locations. Whatever the reason, I don't care. Walking down the street with a case full of rifle is too big a part of the Hitman fantasy to miss out on. 

Kane & Lynch as targets

This one is self explanatory.