IO Interactive is hard at work on the next installment of the ever-popular Hitman franchise. Rebooted back in 2016, the titles offer a fresh take on the bald-headed killer; challenging players to take out targets in the most professional (or unprofessional) ways possible. We praised Hitman's revival, citing its revised approach to open-ended engagements and heightened focus on creativity.
Agent 47 is now back with Hitman 2, building upon the strong foundations of Hitman 2016. I recently had the chance to go hands-on with a pre-beta build of Hitman 2, exploring its new expansive Columbian mission. With three distinct areas and corresponding targets to kill, you can approach the scenario to your liking.
Touching on map design, Columbia feels like an open-world take on Hitman, failing to explore the whole map even during my hour with the level. The streets that connect the three main areas are alive and full of bystanders talking and expressing deeper interaction. There are even "side-quests," which have the chance of providing valuable intel for your primary objectives.
The three areas are a safe-house-style village area located on the far left of the map, a central mansion with a maintained garden, and a flora-rich farm on the right. It really does feel massive running between the locales, each of which is heavily guarded by their respective security personnel. This means that unless you find a disguise, you will be trespassing as you enter into the three distinguished locations.
Gameplay wise, Hitman 2 plays just like Hitman 2016. Everything from the controls to how Agent 47 feels running around is comparable, making for an inviting return for existing players. And aiming weaponry is still looser than your average shooter; encouraging you to use the environment, rather than bullets, to kill your targets.
There are some new gameplay mechanics, however. New in Hitman 2 is the ability to hide in bushes, concealing yourself from enemies in blind spots. Unless you're fumbling around, enemies won't see you in foliage, and you can lure them inside for easy takedowns. There are also posters plotted around the map, which gives additional insight into targets, locations, and the surrounding world.
Security cameras have also been updated in Hitman 2; there are now more of them within levels, and even show you a preview of their feed when walking in view. You can still destroy all these cameras, which became a major part of Hitman 2016's most challenging stealth sections.
Overall, from what I've seen so far in Hitman 2, I'm loving the refinements IO Interactive are bringing to the series. It's still very much Hitman at its core, with minor few tweaks and enhancements for more immersive gameplay. IO Interactive has also dropped the episodic model, meaning Hitman 2, when it launches, will feature the full package on day one. The episodic model in Hitman 2016 was heavily criticized at the time, and while it brought new opportunities, won't be missed by many.
In the meantime, Hitman 2 is expected to debut on November 2 on Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4. Preorders are now live, priced at $60.
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