Hitman 3 Preview: A Promising Conclusion to the Trilogy

While Hitman 3 is now set up to end the story that has been told across this trilogy, it also [...]

While Hitman 3 is now set up to end the story that has been told across this trilogy, it also might prove to be the best jumping-on point for those like myself who have wanted to more closely see what it has to offer. Hitman is the one franchise over the past five years or so that I've continually wanted to dig more into. I own the first two games in IO Interactive's new reboot of the series but I have only passively dabbled with both of them on and off. But Hitman 3 seems poised to change that.

Based on my early time with Hitman 3 on PC, the game is very similar to its counterparts. The general structure of each mission, the multiple ways in which you can take down targets, and the gameplay mechanics found here are all basically the same. That shouldn't come as a surprise given how IOI has continued to build on to the first two games after their respective releases over the years, but if you're expecting this third installment to be drastically different compared to what we have seen before, you might end up being disappointed. That being said, this third entry isn't without some noteworthy new features.

From the get-go, it's apparent to see that Hitman 3 has received a rather notable improvement in the realm of visuals. Textures, characters, and lighting all look better compared to IO Interactive's Hitman 2. Even though it might not be a true "next-gen" game that is specifically made for new hardware, what's here looks darn good.

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This increase in what the game's engine is capable of also extends to the scope of some of the levels that you'll find yourself in. Hitman 3 is able to pack more characters on screen now than ever before and also boasts some truly vast, captivating locations. This is noticeable within minutes of playing the first mission of the game set in Dubai. Before you even get set on your path to pursue the mission's targets you'll be treated to a stunning view.

As for the gameplay changes, there are a handful of new gadgets that Agent 47 can use that make sleuthing about a bit more interesting than before. The most notable of these is a camera which can be used not only for purposes you'd likely expect but also those you wouldn't. The camera can interact with certain objects in the environment to unlock doors, windows, or other objects and can also be utilized to get more information on some of your targets. Conversely, if you'd just like to whip it out to take a picture of someone that you may have assassinated in a funny manner, you can also do that too. The camera comes with Agent 47 on every mission now as well so it's an item you'll get a fair amount of use out of.

So far in my short time with Hitman 3, the aspect I have oddly found myself appreciating the most isthe new progression system. Hitman has always done a great job of showing you all the different permutations that each level has to it, but other than clearly highlighting these various paths, I have always wished the series would encourage you to replay levels a bit more. Fortunately, that complaint seems to have now been rectified to a degree. Once you wrap up a level, you'll gain a variety of experience points that push forward your overall level. As you reach new milestones within these levels, you'll then be able to unlock new items that you can take with you on future levels.

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I think the main reason I like this new progression system is that more than ever before, it has encouraged me to keep coming back to replay missions. Replayability is something that this new Hitman series has encouraged for a long time but the added ability to earn rewards on a routine basis makes it much easier to dive back into a level than ever before. I'm not sure if this system will prove to be what hooks me on Hitman 3 more than my time with the other games, but I really like how I've seen it used in action so far.

Based on what I have played so far, Hitman 3 seems like, well, more Hitman. That's obviously not a bad thing in the slightest, though. IO Interactive has continually proven over the past couple of years that it has a strong grasp on what this series now is and what it needs to accomplish in order to succeed. Hitman 3 looks like it has all the makings to be another successful outing for the series, but we'll see if the full release lives up to that hope.

Hitman 3 is due out later this month on January 20th and will be coming to PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, and even Nintendo Switch via the cloud. Keep an eye out for our full review of the game in the coming weeks.