Hitman beginner's guide – How to hone your assassin skills

Hitman's first season has finally come to a close, following six episodes of content that take place across a range of locales. Although there was a level of skepticism from the outset, Square Enix has successfully shown the series' potential as an episodic franchise.

With the first season all wrapped up, now's a perfect time to jump into the world of assassination. Whether you're a veteran of the franchise or are still yet to perform your first kill, here are eight quick tips to get started.

1. Keep control of the situation

Large-scale operations are a focus in Hitman's latest rendition, offering expansive levels which house hundreds of unique non-player characters (NPCs). Although both remarkable and immersive, the scale also necessitates an entirely different approach to gameplay.

With NPCs freely roaming the world, one of the biggest threats to your mission will be innocent bystanders. Panic can spread quickly and if you're caught committing any crimes, situations can quickly spiral out of control. To prevent widespread chaos, make sure to keep an eye out for potential witnesses when performing any suspicious activities. Most NPCs follow general paths over time, sometimes providing a window for when your actions can go unnoticed. Patience is key in these scenarios, with the best rewards coming to those who wait.

2. Alone time is the best time

With witnesses being one of Hitman's greatest challenges, isolating your target is an effective way to complete your objective unnoticed. While a majority of the game's targets are accompanied by bodyguards and other NPCs, the game offers a variety of methods to pull them aside.

Whether a quick trip to the bathroom or a confidential meeting, having some private time with your target is one of the best ways to go unnoticed. Just remember to get out of there before anyone goes searching.

3. Keep your distance

If you weren't there, how could you commit the crime? For those new to Hitman, some of the best takedowns are those planned from a distance.

Using Hitman's open sandbox, it's possible to take down your targets without getting your hands dirty. Framing an assassination as an accident allows it to go by with no suspicion, making for a much smoother exit from the crime scene. Without the need to even be discreet, players can be truly creative with their carnage.

4. Abuse the save system

Due to the open-ended nature of Hitman's sandboxes, manual saves are available during missions. The only limitation on saving is the number of available save slots, which makes for an indispensable tool when exploring the game's worlds.

Ahead of attempting a risky maneuver, make sure to save your progress. No matter how badly your next moves may go, you'll still have the opportunity to jump back in time to a safer location. This is a great way to experiment with Hitman's sandbox and the riskier components of the game. However, if playing on Hitman's recently introduced Professional Mode, remember that the number of saves you're allowed per session will be limited.

5. Fitting in with the crowd

To successfully execute your first mission as Agent 47, half of the challenge is simply playing the part. Fitting in with the crowd is a key tactic you'll come to learn, by avoiding any actions that have the chance of arousing suspicion.

Keeping concealed and pre-planning your approach is the best way to avoid being caught, making sure not to accidentally grab the attention of any nearby patrols. When entering restricted areas, a disguise will be your best bet, providing effortless access to new locations without the risk of being spotted.

6. Opportunities are your helping hand

Hitman's new Opportunities system is a great tool for newcomers, giving a more linear walkthrough of each assassination attempt. These Opportunities are in no way easy, but they highlight some of the game's more elaborate and cinematic assassination options.

Accessible through the pause menu or by stumbling on a situation, Opportunities give step-by-step walkthroughs of various assassination options. These attempts still require an understanding of game mechanics but also provide a bit of much-appreciated guidance within Hitman's often overwhelming environments.

7. Planning for success

The pre-planning stage of Hitman is often skipped out by inexperienced players but remains a valid tool for setting up a flawless assassination. At this screen, you'll be able to kit out Agent 47 with the best gear for the job, while also altering the environment to better suit your intended approach.

Hitman's leveling system works on a per-mission basis, with new gadgets available as your Mastery Level increases for a location. These unlocks will continually help when performing creative kills, while throwing new toys into the sandbox as you play.

8. Don't pull the trigger (for now)

As tempting as it seems when tasked with killing a notorious criminal, pulling the trigger is nearly always something you want to avoid. Agent 47 comes equipped with no armor from the outset, making him an extremely vulnerable target in any form of gun fight.

You might be an expert marksman but with most of the game's weapons being far from discreet, showing your barrel rarely fares well. The odd silenced pistol shot can prove effective, but moving up to any heavy firearms typically ends with your inevitable death. Experimenting with weapons is still an enjoyable experience, but it is a high risk to take when just getting started with the game.

Got tips?

Do you have any more tips for people who are just getting started with Hitman? Let us know in the comments.

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Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.