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Hitman was a sleeper hit from 2016, but it's not a surprise it flew under the radar. In truth, I don't think I've ever played a game which is this good, with a publisher so determined to ruin it. It seems clear that with Square Enix constantly changing the release plans for the game, to giving the game basically no exposure when it was releasing (hell, I'm a fan of the series and I literally forgot the game was coming out until the game went on sale after all the episodes came out), Square Enix seemed almost dedicated to undermining what is otherwise a rather excellent game. Jim Sterling has a video discussing this here, but now, the tides have changed.
The company behind the game, IO Interactive, was released from Square Enix's vice-like grip and is now publishing Hitman 2 through Warner Bros. Now, that doesn't particularly fill me with confidence, either, what with Warner Brothers being notoriously terrible as a publisher. Regardless, IO seem to have a very specific vision in mind for their upcoming sequel, inventively named Hitman 2.
Hitman 2 intends to be released as a hub game. This is something which was intended with the original release (the 2016 original, not the original Hitman: Codename 47 from yonks ago), but which I think has more of a chance now that the original release will actually be a complete game. It feels less like content is actively being withheld from players, and more like the game will have sufficient content to begin and throughout.
Now, will the missions be paid DLC? Possibly; I think expecting them to release entirely new game modes and levels as free updates may be a little ambitious. What I am expecting, however, is that the game will have frequent free updates of nebulous aesthetics like gun skins, low-effort timed contracts as seen in the 2016 release, and seasonal bonus missions. Similar to The Witcher 3, I would love to see Hitman be updated with free content which is cool to have but not essential for the players, and free. As such, when whole new game modes and levels come to Hitman 2 in due time, they'll be not only worth buying, but consumers like myself will actively want to buy it.
At least, that's the theory.
In truth, it already looks to be going this way—all the levels from the original 2016 release will be remade for Hitman 2, as announced in this video and will be free to players who already own the first season. Not only does this set a fantastic precedent for fan-favourite levels from previous installments to be remade in the extremely superior engine, but it also shows how much IO seem to genuinely want the trust between player and developer to be as strong as possible.
Now, all this isn't to say that the publisher can't completely cock everything up (Y'know, again). The big worry I can think of right now? Microtransactions. Microtransactions should come nowhere near Hitman 2, and, hopefully, Warner Bros won't screw the pooch too intently on this, as they did with Mortal Kombat X—particularly a sore spot for me as I bought the game on PC.
What I think is worth talking about is how IO Interactive really, genuinely seem to be building a game which is a love-letter to the fans. It feels like they're truly showing respect, even with the clear pressures of Warner Bros already breathing down their necks with Silver and Gold editions of the game which come with more content, pre-order DLC and the stuff which we've already, unfortunately, accepted in the modern day gaming industry.
But, for one of the few times in my life, I have genuine faith in a game development studio. Just hope the game actually does turn out as consumer friendly as I'm making it sound here... And I'll be sure to loudly criticise the game if it isn't.
Let's just hope it's a hit, man.