In Hitman 3, Escalation is Delicious

The escalation missions in Hitman 3 are really teaching me the game.

I gushed quite a bit about how much I’m loving Hitman 3 on our recent review/spoilercast. But even so, I hedged a tiny bit at a late-podcast question, about whether I’d dive into all of the extra content, especially the bonus “escalation” missions. These are ever-intensifying hunts, challenge runs, essentially, that require you to knock off an increasing number of targets in increasingly specific ways.

And honestly, I was a little scared! One of the main reasons I like Hitman 3 so much — even more than Hitman 2, a game I really enjoyed — is because the normal difficulty level seems perfectly tuned to allow for some of my impulsivity. I felt challenged, but very much allowed to experiment and play around (and sometimes just totally goof off), in the main game. Escalations are supposed to be difficult though, and I wasn’t sure my high-chaos 47 playstyle would translate into anything fun at all in the tougher modes.

But this weekend, I very gingerly dipped my toe into escalation. I tried out the first mission (The Phoenix Ascension, which I believe launched with the Playstation version of the game) on the Dubai map, and prepared for the worst. The very first objective calls for you to pacify (knock out, but not kill) a character who is hanging out in a garden area, with a shovel. I scoped out the area briefly, then set about finding a shovel. I looked in the initial garden a bit, but figured that, in this super difficult mode I’d heard so much about, the weapon of choice couldn’t POSSIBLY be too close to the target. So I searched.

Floor by floor, and room by room, I combed through the Burj Al-Ghazali, looking near  every tiny garden, every plant, every maintenance room. Nothing. In the process, I tried a few funny things (like messing around with the art installation), and even unlocked a shortcut I’d been missing. I made progress! 

I eventually found out how to go from one side of the building all the way to the railing where my target was standing. She was standing, of course, about three feet away from the shovel that I spent the better part of 90 minutes looking for.


I may be a doofus.

Once I got the hang of things with her, and the next target, and the next after that, I was hooked. Escalations may be tough, and I’m sure later versions are much, much harder, but they teach you so much about the game, and force you to use different methods than your go-tos. This is the real immersive sim in the game, and I am here for it.

I ran to the Playstation store and purchased the deluxe pack for Hitman 3, so I can sink my teeth into all the challenges and extras as they come out. Will I finish all of them? Probably not. I’m still playing with a relatively high degree of chaos (though I’m certainly much better at the game than I was when I wrote this, about my FOMO and impulse control). But I’ll have a great time dipping in, and who knows? 

Maybe Hitman 3 will make a competent assassin out of me, after all!