Hitman 3: Freelancer Impressions – Silent Assassin’s Shed, Reimagined

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The Closed Network Test for Hitman 3: Freelancer recently ended, and after roughly 15 hours of gameplay it’s clear this mode is shaping up to be the best Hitman experience available once it fully releases next year. It’s not perfect, and the pool of random targets and kill requirements needs some major expansion, but the core aspect of planning and execution is even more satisfying than it has been in all three of IO Interactive’s most recent entries, almost entirely thanks to many new roleplay opportunities.

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The core element of Hitman 3: Freelancer follows players as they attempt to eliminate Syndicate Leaders – powerful crime bosses in charge of rackets like Organ Trafficking, Eco-Crime, and other unpleasant things. Players choose one of six random Syndicates to target in a series of four mission strings of increasing difficulty, and they receive bonuses or punishments depending on how they perform. Bonuses include mercs (a new currency used for purchasing weapons or tools mid-mission from suppliers) and new items at the safehouse, while a failed attempt will result in the loss of all the player’s non-stored items and a percentage of their mercs. In some missions, a failed attempt will also terminate the entire campaign.

Related: How to Get a Silenced Sniper Rifle in Hitman 3

These Syndicate missions in Hitman 3: Freelancer are an interesting mixture of past concepts, and are much more in line with the series’ overall tone than the Seven Deadly Sins DLC. There is a randomness to the target selection which brings to mind some of the best Contracts Hitman players have created over the years, the risk of a potential campaign failure retains the tension of Elusive Targets, and the extremely specific (but thankfully optional) kill requests are reminiscent of higher-level Escalation Missions. These requests are where the randomness of Freelancer’s design comes up against practicality, because occasionally players will be tasked with conflicting requirements for the same mission. Check out the image below, and note the requirements for extra merc payouts in the upper-left:

Hokkido in HITMAN 3 Closed Technical Test

In missions with multiple targets this issue doesn’t arise nearly as often, but in the areas with only one syndicate member to eliminate (like the one pictured above) it is impossible to both get an Axe Kill and a Collateral Damage Kill at once, which makes the listed potential mission payout of 60 mercs untrue. Thankfully, these mercs are really only useful for buying weapons from suppliers, and since nearly all the normal item and weapon placements in each map still exist collecting them isn’t really necessary unless players are looking to buy a specific item not native to that particular Hitman map location.

The biggest disappointment in Freelancer so far is the amount of repetitive target NPCs, something made more apparent than it may be in the end product by the small map pool of the Closed Network Test. The final version of Hitman 3: Freelancer will have 19 different maps from Hitman 2016 – Hitman 3, but the limited selection allotted in this preview meant that 47 was revisiting areas a lot, and that allowed the reuse of mission targets to be very noticeable. These targets also were often not nearby any of the larger-scale setpieces originally crafted for Hitman’s story missions, which mean cinematic kills and Rube Goldberg-esque traps are much harder to come by – but still very satisfying to pull off when you do.

Agent 47 On a Hospital Bed in Hitman 3

Randomness in game design is always a tricky thing to balance, and sometimes it feels like Hitman 3: Freelancer veers a little too far into overuse while still holding back in the wrong areas. Players choose one of three random Prestige goals to be added to their three other random bonus tasks, get randomly placed in a level, and are assigned a random NPC (or multiple) to kill. This sometimes means players start right next to their target, and sometimes means they have to traverse the whole map first. Sometimes they are given multiple goals that align with each other (Use Poison, Use Poison ((Emetic)), Snap Neck) and sometimes they are given conflicting tasks which can’t all be completed. Sometimes the target is an unknown NPC the player must follow and study, sometimes it’s just that guard in the second-story of the mob house in Whittleton Creek again.

Related: Hitman 3: How to Increase Mastery Level (The Fast Way)

The best aspect of Hitman 3: Freelancer is customizing and enhancing Agent 47’s home itself. While players initially only have access to an empty wall of weapon slots and a bunch of disheveled rooms and locked doors, after just a few missions they will have accumulated enough Mastery points to unlock new areas and decorations. Some of these are purely visual – what kind of table 47 has in his dining room, for instance, or what the pattern on his outdoor umbrella is – while others unlock new rooms containing items players can bring with them on assassinations. There’s a surprising amount of depth to the safehouse, and even in the Closed Network Test it’s clear it will take players quite a long time to unlock everything on display.


Hitman’s Freelancer House is Full of Secrets

Agent 47 Inside His Basement Lounge In Hitman 3 Freelancer

Some of these are purely for roleplay aspects, but there are multiple unlockable areas in Agent 47’s home which have a tangible effect on mission-to-mission gameplay. Players are given a Gear limit for what they can bring on assignments, and any tools or weapons with a “rarity” can be stored at the safehouse for use later, whether in the current Syndicate campaign or a future one. In addition to this, there are also many items scattered throughout 47’s house and the nearby woods which can be taken on missions and respawn indefinitely, such as a stethoscope in the infirmary (which works as a fibre wire) and a grape knife sticking out of a dartboard (which works as a knife). It’s honestly shocking how much customizable land and hidden bonuses extend beyond the safehouse, and ensures dedicated assassins will have plenty to look forward to in January.

Although it won’t be releasing for a few months yet, IO Interactive has already provided an impressive amount of content for players to excite themselves over. While a lack of variety in NPC targets and levels made grinding through Freelancer over the weekend feel a bit repetitive, taken at a normal pace (and assuming a larger amount of maps available) it’s hard to not get excited about the future of Hitman. Players can customize Agent 47’s loadout, clothes, and living quarters to create their own ideal version of what a high-level hitman’s home should look like, and, personally, so far that includes a helicopter, a small dinghy, a nice convertible, classical music on the radio, and fishing between missions. Lots and lots of fishing.

Next: Hitman: Why Agent 47 Has A Barcode On His Head

Hitman 3: Freelancer releases on January 26, 2023. Screen Rant was granted access to the Closed Network Test on Steam for this preview, which ran from November 3, 2022 – November 7, 2022.

  • Hitman 2 (2018) Cover Key Art

    Hitman 2

    Developer:
    IO Interactive

    Franchise:
    Hitman

    Genre:
    Stealth, Adventure, Action

    Platform:
    Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC

    Publisher:
    Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

    ESRB:
    M



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