Another video game has fallen victim to a delay: this time it’s Hitman the latest instalment in the long-running franchise that’s kind of a reboot but not really. Hitman had been scheduled to release starting on December 8, 2015 but this delay has pushed it back to an unspecified date in March 2016. As the title suggests, the game follows the exploits of Agent 47, a contract killer for hire as he attempts to eliminate his targets in numerous creative ways while leaving as little evidence of his involvement as possible.
An interesting thing about the new instalment is it’s release method. At the game’s launch you’ll be able to play a selection of missions, each large and intricately designed, but it won’t be the whole game. As time goes on developer IO Interactive will add new missions until the story culminates some months after the initial release. There will also be regular limited time only missions that take place separate from the story, to reward players who stick with the game throughout it’s run. It’s a curious release schedule, especially since it isn’t episodic in the traditional sense. While games like Life is Strange, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 and Telltale Games’ recent outpoint have embraced the episodic format totally, Hitman seems to be a combination of that and a more traditional release. At launch you can purchase the game. It’s full price, even though it’s not done, but every bit of content released afterwards will be free. There’s no season pass and you won’t be able to try one episode then decide if you want to continue with the game, it is simply a fully priced game that will be completed as time goes on. It’s an interesting gamble and it hasn’t been done before (unless you count services like Steam’s Early Access but those are games that are unfinished at a technical level, not just at a content level) and it will be interesting to see if it pays off for IO Interactive and publisher Square Enix.
Indeed, a large part of the reason behind this delay is to make sure there’s enough content at launch and to lessen the amount of time between post-launch releases. In a post announcing the delay on the series’ website, the developer wrote: “It’s safe to say HITMAN is the biggest venture we’ve ever undertaken at Io-Interactive. Not just in terms of scope and ambition but also in terms of the size of the game world itself. The playable area and density of our locations goes beyond anything we’ve built before. We’re striving to create a series of living, breathing worlds in those locations and we get pretty obsessed about every detail that you’ll experience.”
“On top of that, we’re going for a new release model where we put out a good chunk of the game when it begins and then release the remaining locations over time. We want to make absolutely sure you all get the best possible experience when you join, so we’ve made the difficult decision to move the initial release date to March 2016. These few extra months will mean we can add more to the launch content of the game, more than we had originally planned, and then follow with a tighter frequency of updates, which ultimately will create a better game for everyone. And in the end, that’s what we’re all looking for.”
IO Interactive also shared statistics for the title, noting that it’s the biggest game in the series yet. Referring specifically to a level inside a Parisian palace, the developer claimed that the level’s size is six times that of the largest level in Hitman: Absolution, the previous entry, while there are 1,300 more non playable characters wandering about in it. In addition, the level apparently contains one hundred ways to eliminate a target undetected, a staple of the franchise that got a bit lost in it’s most recent instalment.
The blog post continued: “Moving a launch date is never an easy decision, we know it’s frustrating to have to wait a bit longer for the game, but we truly believe it will mean we can deliver a better launch and overall experience. We’ll share more details next week about the full release schedule and scope of HITMAN in general so keep a look out for that.”
Hitman will now launch in March of 2016 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. It’ll be digital only at first but once all the content is released, a retail disc version will be available containing everything. As announced at Sony’s E3 2015 press conference, PlayStation users will receive exclusive missions.