Hitman is a third-person stealth video game in which players take control of Agent 47, a genetically enhanced assassin, travelling to international locations and eliminating contracted targets. As in other games in the Hitman series, players are given a large amount of room for creativity in approaching their assassinations. For instance, players may utilize long-ranged rifles to snipe a target from a long distance, or they may decide to assassinate the target at close range by using blade weapons or garrote wire. Players can use explosives, or disguise the assassination by creating a seemingly accidental death. A common method to approach a mission is to incapacitate other characters and wear their outfits as a disguise, which allows the player to gain access to restricted areas more easily. Actions of non-playable characters influence the game. For instance, players can gain more information about the position of their target through listening to a nearby news reporter.
The level design of the game features a structure similar to that of Hitman: Blood Money and earlier games in the series, as opposed to the linear structure of Hitman: Absolution. Every episode in the game features a sandbox-type environment which can be explored by the player, featuring numerous ways to eliminate targets from accidents to scripted "opportunities" which require multiple tasks to complete. Levels are larger in Hitman, in which the maps in the game are "six to seven times larger than the biggest levels in Absolution". Levels accommodate about 300 non-playable characters (NPCs), with each having different routines and reacting differently to players' actions. Players can save their game anytime during missions. Instinct mode, which was introduced in Absolution, returns in a simplified form, no longer being an expendable resource. A player's mission performance review is rated on a 5-star rating system, influenced by factors such as time taken, number of non-targets killed, whether the player was spotted, whether or not they have been recorded on camera or if bodies were found. Completing challenges in a mission will award players with Mastery Points. Gaining enough mastery points will cause the player to earn a level of Mastery Level, with a total of 20 levels. As the player progresses through the 20 mastery levels, each level will earn players new items including new gadgets such as weapons, different types of poison and explosives, new agency pickup locations, or new starting locations.
IO Interactive introduced a "live component" to Hitman, with new content being delivered regularly in downloadable form. This includes time-limited missions called "Elusive Targets". If a player fails to assassinate an elusive target before the mission expires, or alert the target and allow them to escape, the target will not return. Successful completion of multiple targets yield cosmetic rewards for the player. "Escalation contracts", which are contracts created by the developers, include multiple stages that requires the player to complete certain tasks such as assassinating a target with a specific weapon or disguise or breaking into a safe. Completing a stage will progress through the escalation, and the difficulty will increase with new targets to assassinate, new challenges to comply with or new changes to the level. All additional downloadable content after release will be free of charge. Hitman: Absolution's online Contracts mode also returned in Hitman, allowing players to assign up to five NPCs as assassination targets, set requirements for how to kill them, and share their contract with other players to compete for high scores on.
In Season 1, 47 fulfills several assassination contracts for the International Contracts Agency. Though the contracts at first appear to be unrelated, an unidentified man, referred to only as the "shadow client", has covertly coordinated these contracts to attack a secretive organization called Providence, so that the ICA will appear culpable while disguising his own involvement. The final contracts of Season 1 address the fallout caused by the ICA uncovering the shadow client's actions, and by Providence discovering the ICA's role in the attacks.
In 1999, 47 is initiated into the ICA, demonstrating exceptional aptitude as an assassin, though the ICA is unable to verify his background or uncover any information about him. Despite misgivings by ICA Training Director Erich Soders, who sets up 47 to fail his final test, 47's handler, Diana Burnwood, helps 47 to prevail. The events of 47's subsequent career are then shown as a montage of assassinations from the previous five games in the series.
20 years later, the shadow client performs an assassination for Viktor Novikov, one of the heads of the international spy ring IAGO, and receives a copy of all of IAGO's gathered intelligence as payment. The shadow client proceeds to use the IAGO files to identify Providence's secret operations. To cover his tracks, the shadow client anonymously discloses to MI6 an impending IAGO auction of an MI6 NOC list, to take place at a fashion show by Novikov's designer label Sanguine. In Episode 1, "The Showstopper", MI6 hires 47 to prevent the sale by assassinating both IAGO ringleaders, Novikov and Dalia Margolis, at the fashion show in Paris, France.
The shadow client sets two more ICA contracts in motion in order to disrupt Providence's activities without exposing himself. He discloses, to a stockholder in the Ether Biotech Corporation, a secret Ether project to develop a deadly weaponized virus. In Episode 2, "World of Tomorrow", the stockholder hires 47 to assassinate Silvio Caruso and Francesca De Santis, the Ether scientists in charge of the project, and to destroy the virus prototype housed at Ether's biolab in the fictitious town of Sapienza, Italy. The shadow client also discloses an impending military coup d'état in Morocco to Hamilton-Lowe, a construction contractor with lucrative government contracts in the country. In Episode 3, "A Gilded Cage", Hamilton-Lowe hires 47 to eliminate the conspirators behind the plot, General Reza Zaydan and fugitive bank CEO Claus Hugo Strandberg—both secretly Providence operatives—in Marrakesh, Morocco.
At the same time, the shadow client obtains two keys required to open a vault in New York which holds information on Providence's assets and operatives. He obtains one from banker Eugene Cobb, a Providence operative, while engineering Cobb's death in a plane crash, and he obtains the other by tailing and killing a Herald, a Providence messenger and liaison, who had been dispatched to investigate the virus's destruction. Using both keys, the shadow client breaches the Providence vault and steals its contents, prompting two Providence members, a man named Fanin and another, unnamed man, to investigate. The unnamed Providence member realizes that a coordinated attack has been launched at Providence.
Finally, the shadow client sets up an ICA contract to draw another Providence member, the recluse media mogul Thomas Cross, into the open. Cross had ordered a coverup that exonerated his son, famed indie rock singer Jordan Cross, for the murder of Jordan's girlfriend, Hannah Highmoore; the shadow client reveals the truth to her family. In Episode 4, "Club 27", the Highmoores hire 47 to kill Jordan and Ken Morgan, the lawyer who conducted the coverup, while both are staying at the Himmapan luxury hotel in Bangkok, Thailand.
Deploying forces from a private militia under his control, the shadow client kidnaps Thomas Cross from Jordan's funeral, then kills Cross and steals billions from his offshore bank accounts. The ICA, realizing that an unknown party has benefited from the Cross contract, reexamines 47's previous contracts and discovers the shadow client's role in anonymously leaking intelligence to the clients.
The ICA tracks these transmissions to a training camp for the shadow client's militia, an assembly of combatants and specialists recruited from across the world to fight Providence. Seeking to eliminate the shadow client for his manipulations, the ICA orders an operation prematurely due to Erich Soders's intervention. In Episode 5, "Freedom Fighters", the ICA sends 47 to the camp in Colorado, USA, to eliminate eco-terrorist and bombmaker Sean Rose, the militia's leader, as well as criminal profiler Penelope Graves, interrogator Ezra Berg, and combat instructor Maya Parvati, all militia members.
At the camp, 47 and Diana find the shadow client's research revealing the connections of the previous contracts to Providence. They learn for the first time that Providence, whose existence and covert control over world affairs were thought to be mythical, is real. Though they find evidence that the shadow client knows 47's identity, the pursuit of the shadow client is sidetracked when they also discover that Soders is secretly a Providence agent. The shadow client and the other remaining militia commander, hacktivist Olivia Hall, use this opportunity to go into hiding.
The ICA discovers that Providence has only recently recruited Soders, after tracing the recent attacks on Providence back to the ICA. In Episode 6, "Situs Inversus", 47 eliminates Soders and his Providence liaison, Yuki Yamazaki, at the GAMA private hospital in Hokkaido, Japan, before Soders is able to trade a list of ICA operatives to Providence.
Subsequently, Providence uncovers the shadow client's role in the attacks as well. The unnamed Providence member approaches Diana, seeking to hire the ICA to target the shadow client. Upon her refusal, he offers to reveal information about 47's unknown past, leading her to reconsider.
In "The Icon", 47 visits Sapienza for the first time. 47 assassinates actor-director Dino Bosco, to save the client, L'Avventura Pictures, from Bosco's financially ruinous budget demands while filming a superhero film for the studio.
In "A House Built on Sand", 47 visits Marrakesh for the first time. 47 thwarts a planned sale of client Hamilton-Lowe's trade secrets from Hamilton-Lowe chief architect Matthieu Mendola to rival construction magnate Kong Tuo-Kwang, assassinating both men and intercepting the documents.
In "Holiday Hoarders", 47 visits Paris for the first time. 47 assassinates professional thieves Harry Bagnato and Marv Gonif as they attempt to burglarize the Palais De Walewska on Christmas. The targets are a nod to Joe Pesci's and Daniel Stern's characters from the holiday film Home Alone.
In "Landslide", 47 visits Sapienza again. This time, 47 is hired by Silvio Carusso to assassinate Marco Abbiati, a snake-tongued wealthy businessman-turned-politician, who is returning to his hometown to run for mayor.
47 receives contracts to assassinate the six former members of the Sigma deniable operations paramilitary unit of the CICADA private military company, who were collectively responsible for war crimes committed during the siege of Sarajevo, but evaded prosecution by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. In this alternate storyline, 47 tracks each Sigma member to one of the Season 1 mission settings, with the events and characters of Season 1 serving as backdrop.
At the Sanguine fashion show in Paris, 47 eliminates Scott Sarno, who serves as CICADA's European Director of Operations. In Sapienza, 47 eliminates Gary Lunn, head of security at the Ether biolab. In Marrakesh, 47 eliminates Walter Menard, who has been hired to extract Claus Strandberg from Morocco. At the Himmapan in Bangkok, 47 eliminates John Stubbs, in retirement and on holiday with his wife. At the militia training camp in Colorado, 47 eliminates Patrick Morgan, who has been recruited by Sean Rose into the militia.
For the final contract, 47 is sent to the GAMA hospital in Hokkaido to both eliminate Taheiji Koyama and retrieve a set of files documenting Sigma's operations. If 47 approaches the target, Koyama, deducing 47's identity, confesses that he himself ordered all six assassinations to bring the Sigma members to justice for their crimes, and that he and his comrades each became rich by attacking and bombing a convoy of refugees fleeing Belgrade, and stealing the convoy's concealed cargo of gold. Koyama instructs 47 to publicize the Sigma files before freely submitting himself to death at 47's hands. After completing his objectives, 47 remarks to Diana that despite the release of the files, public indifference would nevertheless relegate Sigma's long-past atrocities to obscurity.
Hitman was to be developed by Square Enix developer Square Enix Montreal, a newly established studio. Due to cutbacks and layoffs at IO Interactive, other projects were not followed through, and they shifted their attention to a new Hitman game, and Square Enix Montreal turned their focus on developing smartphone and tablet versions of Hitman and other games.
On 16 January 2014, an open letter was filed by IO Interactive, sharing some news details on the next game. It stated the intention to make the next version less linear, with more open-ended maps. On 28 June 2015, the first concept art of the game was released. On 18 March 2015, Square Enix trademarked "World of Assassination", which was later revealed to be a promotion slogan for Hitman.
On 15 June 2015, a full reveal of the game took place at Sony's E3 2015 press conference. A gameplay trailer of the game was released during Square Enix's press conference on 16 June 2015. Also on 16 June 2015, David Bateson confirmed that he would reprise his role as Agent 47.
The Hitman beta, featuring the prologue of the game set in a secret recruitment and training facility, was launched in February 2016, with the PlayStation 4 version released a week earlier than the PC. It was available for a limited period to players who preordered either version of the game from selected retail or digital outlets. A second beta was announced for all PlayStation Plus members that was released on 4 March at no cost.
In March 2016, advertising company Omelet announced they had collaborated with Square Enix for a new campaign called Choose Your Hit. People could vote online or through Twitter to "kill" either Gary Cole or Gary Busey, with the "winning" actor who received the most votes lending their voice and likeliness to the target in an upcoming mission. It was announced one month later Busey had won and would feature as the target in a mission released sometime in mid 2016. On 18 July 2016, Busey was announced as the seventh elusive target in the game, and his mission would be available for seven days starting on 21 July 2016. Cole appears in the mission as well.
Hitman was originally set to be released on 8 December 2015 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but was later delayed to 11 March 2016 so as to allow additional development time for IO Interactive to include more content into the base game. The PlayStation 4 version of the game features six exclusive missions known as The Sarajevo Six. Players who pre-ordered the game gained access to the game's beta, which was released for PlayStation 4 on 12 February 2016 and Microsoft Windows on 19 February 2016. No season pass was available at launch, as the company considered the addition of paid-content a "wrong approach".
Originally, the game was to be released in an "intro pack" that included all the base content, including Paris, Sapienza and Marrakesh locations, six story missions, three sandboxes, forty "signature kills", a contracts mode with 800 different targets, and regular events held by the developer. New missions and locations set in Thailand, the United States, and Japan were to be released after the game's launch, and a full-priced version was to be released following the release of this post-release content. No downloadable content was to be released for the game and no microtransactions were to be offered, and new missions, locations and targets were to be added to the game regularly as free updates after the game's release. This format of release was inspired by modern TV shows, and two seasons is set to follow after the completion of the first season. According to the game's lead writer, Michael Vogt, season 1 only serves to introduce the game's characters, whereas the game's story would become increasingly important in later seasons. Io Interactive intentionally prevented adding lots of story content in the first half of season 1 to ensure that players can relate themselves to Agent 47, a merciless assassin who travels around the world to kill targets assigned to him.
On 14 January 2016, it was announced that Hitman would instead be released in an episodic manner; on-launch, the game would consist of the prologue and Paris missions. New content will be released on a monthly basis, including the remaining two cities of the main game (Sapienza and Marrakesh) in April and May 2016 respectively, followed by the previously planned Thailand, U.S. and Japan expansions by the end of the "season" in late 2016, as well as weekly events and additional planned content between the monthly updates. These expansions will be available at no cost to those who purchase a full-priced digital copy of the game, but those who purchase the "Intro Pack" must purchase them. IO Interactive head Hannes Seifert explained that the move was designed to provide the team time to develop the game's levels, and to allow them to "create a living game that will expand and evolve over time and establish a foundation for the future — this is the first game in a storyline which will continue and expand with future Hitman games." After the release of Marrakesh, IO Interactive announced a "Summer Bonus Episode". It was released on 19 July 2016 and features a remake of the Sapeniza and Marrakesh levels, which "will also present a range of new in-game Challenges and Opportunities and an entirely new setting for Escalation Contracts and Elusive Targets."
A port for Linux, developed and published by Feral Interactive, was released on 16 February 2017.
Hitman is separated into seven episodes, to be released in consecutive calendar months, starting in March 2016.
Hitman has received generally positive reception on Metacritic, as well as generally positive critic reviews. The metascore for the full game is 84, 87, and 83 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, respectively.
Online game progress and unlocks will not carry over to offline mode if players lose connectivity; IO Interactive has confirmed that this is part of the live component experience and not part of the digital rights management. This issue was partially rectified with a patch on 28 November 2016.
In an interview with PCGamesN, lead online designer Torben Ellert has stated that past Elusive Targets will not be making a return, citing that the quality of the older content would not stand up to newer ones.
Hitman was chosen as Best Game of 2016 by Giant Bomb in their 2016 Game of the Year discussions. Giant Bomb's staff summed up their decision for their Best Game of 2016 by saying, "2016 was filled with huge debuts, finales, and resurrections, but the surprise success of Hitman had us talking, sweating, cursing, and laughing more than any other game this year."
Intro Pack received positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Microsoft Windows version 81.25% based on 8 reviews and 75/100 based on 17 reviews, the PlayStation 4 version 78.35% based on 44 reviews and 77/100 based on 69 reviews and the Xbox One version 74.38% based on 8 reviews and 75/100 based on 11 reviews. Arthur Gies of Polygon awarded it a 7.5/10, praising it as a "promising start to the game" but felt it was more unfinished than episodic. PC Gamer expressed a similar sentiment that, "Hitman feels unrefined and unfinished in lots of small but important ways."
Sapienza received positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Microsoft Windows version 86.25% based on 4 reviews and 84/100 based on 7 reviews, the PlayStation 4 version 84.38% based on 26 reviews and 84/100 based on 37 reviews and the Xbox One version 75.83% based on 6 reviews and 79/100 based on 7 reviews.
Marrakesh received positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Microsoft Windows version 79.20% based on 5 reviews and 79/100 based on 7 reviews, the PlayStation 4 version 73.88% based on 17 reviews and 75/100 based on 26 reviews and the Xbox One version 76.67% based on 3 reviews.
Bangkok received mixed to positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Microsoft Windows version 78.25% based on 4 reviews and 78/100 based on 6 reviews, the PlayStation 4 version 70.86% based on 14 reviews and 71/100 based on 22 reviews and the Xbox One version 85.00% based on 2 reviews.
Colorado received mixed reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Microsoft Windows version 75.00% based on 1 review and 74/100 based on 6 reviews the PlayStation 4 version 70.23% based on 13 reviews and 70/100 based on 18 reviews and the Xbox One version 90.00% based on 1 review.
Hokkaido received positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Microsoft Windows version 82.50% based on 2 reviews and 83/100 based on 5 reviews the PlayStation 4 version 82.91% based on 11 reviews and 81/100 based on 20 reviews and the Xbox One version 82.50% based on 2 reviews.