Live missions and free content sound great but there are reasons to be worried.
IO Interactive’s Hitman will be releasing on December 8th for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Unlike past games in the series, it won’t be a “one and done” release nor will it immediately be available at retail. Hitman will be a downloadable digital title and while the base game will ship with a set number of missions, IO Interactive will add new content overtime. This means new missions, targets and even new locations. There are currently no plans for DLC, micro-transactions or DLC so these will all be free. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Of course, there are a variety of different reasons to be worried about the next Hitman. We picked our top five concerns with the game and examine how its live content updates could pan out in the long run.
Only Seven Story Missions?
Courtesy of an Amazon listing, Hitman will reportedly include seven story missions. That’s not a whole lot by any means. Even giving the benefit of the doubt and assuming each story mission consists of a number of objectives to complete (similar to chapters rather than singular missions), there’s very little doubt that players will burn through the base content quickly.
Also, if more story missions are to be added in the months after launch, does this mean the plot will keep us hanging until the next update? Hopefully that won’t be the case – as Destiny has proven, cliff-hangers aren’t exactly the best recipe for a compelling story. Even if there are only seven story missions, there will still be the live missions for added replay value, right?
Live Mission Design
When Destiny was set to release, it boasted a number of “public events”. These were essentially missions that could pop up in the open on planets and where a number of players could take part. The problem was that there were only a few public events in the whole game and they were insanely basic. Public events quickly went from interesting diversions to repetitive noise for grinding reputation.
This is the concern we have for Hitman’s live missions. These missions are only around for a short time and must be completed in that window, else they’ll be gone. How complex will these be compared to story missions? Will environments and assets be unique or simply recycled from the base game? More importantly, will they take place in the same locations as the story missions? How unique will each mission be from the last? If you fail to complete a mission in time, will it pop up again in a different form but with the same intrinsic design and rewards?
All of this comes down to how many different scenarios IO Interactive has planned out. It’s not impossible to have unique live missions, even if they’re not as meaty as single-player missions.
Significance of Contracts
Contracts mode in Hitman Absolution was an interesting little toolset. It allowed players to create their own missions and targets to assassinate. This returns in the latest Hitman title and will no doubt provide some fun diversions for players. But will there be any progress to one’s profile as they complete Contracts? Will there be any tangible rewards to entice players to ignore live missions and the single-player campaign in order to focus on Contracts? What motivation will there be to create Contracts aside from sharing one’s ideas with the world?
At this point, Contracts feels like a nifty way for IO Interactive to increase the life-span of Hitman for hardcore players who finish every single bonus objective and want some variety outside of what the live missions offer. It’s not like more content for a game such as this is a bad thing but if it ultimately doesn’t lead to anything substantial for either the creators or the players, what’s the point? It was different in Hitman Absolution where players only had Contracts to play when the campaign was over. How will Contracts entice players over everything else this? We’ll need to wait and find out.
The Unfortunate First Month
Say whatever you want about any online game but no matter how it’s planned out in the beginning, no matter how solid the mechanics and bug testing are and no matter how well a developer “thinks” the game works, something will always go wrong. Even games with massive budgets like Grand Theft Auto Online and Destiny suffered from numerous technical issues at launch, many which prevented players from going online.
One hopes that the story missions in Hitman will at least be playable offline. IO Interactive has yet to really confirm whether the game is inherently “always online” but all those content updates and live missions would best be facilitated by such. Connectivity issues aside, there are also likely to be glitches and bugs that make it past the Q&A stage, and this will only add to players’ woes.
Hitman may not be an “early access” game or beta at first but it’s very likely that the first few months will feel like as one. Alternatively, the game could just work perfectly at launch. Wouldn’t that be great if history didn’t dictate otherwise?
Hitman won’t be like previous games. Levels return to the classic sandbox layout and will be several times larger than maps in Absolution. Heck, there will be hundreds of NPCs with their own patterns to anticipate when planning your assassinations and you’ll always have creative ways to kill targets. And it doesn’t appear at first like there’s any real grind to chase, making Hitman even less strenuous.
Unfortunately, it will have competition from various other online games that provide consistent content, in some form or the other. Even if the gameplay of Hitman is compelling, there are only so many online titles that players can give their attention to over a period of time. Believe it or not but most Destiny players would gladly revisit it simply for the familiar gunplay and mechanics even if there’s abso-friggin-lutely nothing to do. It also doesn’t help that other online games like Tom Clancy’s The Division are on the way. There’s also the fact that Hitman doesn’t boast any co-op or competitive multiplayer components.
The very nature of Hitman, if it indeed has a mild grind, may facilitate on and off play for the majority of its audience. Will that be enough to satisfy Square Enix, especially if no additional revenue is being generated through micro-transactions or DLC? That sounds doubtful but we would love to be proven wrong.
What factors about the next Hitman have you concerned? Let us know in the comments.