A few weeks ago, the newly independent IO Interactive began teasing a Hitman announcement, cautioning fans that it would not be the second season of the game. Speculation immediately began. There was the wildly optimistic: "It's a fakeout! They're announcing season two!" There was the measured: "It's a halloween themed reskin of an existing map!" And there was the pessimistic: "It'll be an explosive briefcase weapon, and that'll be it."
The actual announcement came as something of a surprise. Rather than either a single DLC release or a re-skin of existing content, IO are releasing a Game of the Year edition on November 7th. On top of this, though, they seem to have gone over the entirety of their original game and peppered it with a variety of new things.
The major announcement is a brand new, four mission campaign called "Patient Zero", complete with new targets, disguises, and assassination opportunities. There is some precedent to this; During the game's first season, IO released "bonus missions", taking players back to previous locations albeit radically altered both visually and mechanically. The Italian seaside town of Sapienza became first a film set, complete with ruined buildings and a useable mech. Then, some weeks later, the same town became a sprawling, sunset-hued, wine festival (and political campaign event).
"Patient Zero," then, seems to be four such missions strung together into a narrative campaign, taking us to Bangkok, Sapienza, Colorado, and Hokkaido. Over the course of their first season, the Hitman team grew increasingly audacious and surprising, so new levels from them in these spaces are extremely exciting.
Three new outfits have also been added, along with three corresponding weapons. 47 can now dress as a clown, or a cowboy, or a black clad sniper, and new escalations have been added to test these combinations.
All this, and the complete base game, will cost $60. For players who already own the game, the new campaign and outfits can be bought separately for $20.
All players, however, will be receiving a raft of improvements for free: major lighting improvements, a reworking of the UI, new ways of creating and playing the game's Contract assassinations.
And then, at the very end of their update, IO have delivered their "one more thing" The first season's "Elusive Targets"—scripted, unique NPCs that arrived for a short time in each level, only to move on—will be returning on a new schedule. Brilliantly, this is not a second chance at these targets: if you failed them the first time around, you will not be granted a second shot—but if you never pulled the trigger on an attempt, you'll now have a chance to take them out.
This is, in many ways, an update in many little bits. Lots of moving parts. There are fifteen bullet points in the announcement. The brilliance of Hitman, though, was that it took a game that consisted of hundreds of individual moving parts and synthesised them into something coherent and slick and intricate. It is that strangest thing: a single player game with a meta.
When I see new weapons announced or outfits added, I immediately start wondering what the implications are for my favourite levels—how I might be able to turn some quirk of the environment I'd overlooked into an advantage. How the discovery of a new tool could reshape the way I approach particular problems.
By shifting their existing levels again, and adding new weapons, outfits, and challenges to play in them, IO have reshaped the jobs to be done, and refilled the toolbox with which to do them.
Hitman: Game of the Year Edition will be available on November 7th on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The complete pack will cost $60, and the upgrade $20.