Hitman 3 is fantastic. I’m loving the game, with its delicious third-person immersive elements, massive, intricate levels, and amazing moment-to-moment chaos. While I adored the last game as well, I never actually finished it. Mainly because I basically can’t control myself in stealth games.
You see, I love stealth games (especially of the immersive variety, like the Dishonored games). I like to think of myself as a patient, debonair master technician of stealth. A connoisseur of silent takedowns. An expert on finding that perfect window of execution. I enjoy thinking tactically about how to approach any given situation — to bring down whatever little jerk stands between me and some bigger big jerk, using the many tools at my disposal to do so (errant blunt objects, pool balls, bananas, etc.).
But herein lies my problem: I’m impulsive when I play. I may spend 10 minutes standing in the shadows, studying my targets, plotting an intricate set of moves. Then I’ll see some wild interaction — say, an element I can sabotage in the backstage area of the art installation in the Hitman 3 Dubai level, for a recent example. And, like a toddler in a candy store, I can’t help myself. I fucked with the sabotage element, then attacked a lone tech crew member (in full view of the others, like a fool), then another… Then the third. Needless to say, I caused a huge ruckus and alerted the guards and generally fucked up any chance I had of doing anything smoothly for the next 20 minutes.
But Hitman 3 on Professional (the normal difficulty level) feels tuned just right to let me wreak a certain amount of mayhem without completely screwing myself over. I think my high-chaos play style had a lower ceiling in previous games, but here, I can usually run away, hide in a locker, and wait until things reset until I try again (or try something equally ill-advised). It’s fantastic!
But it’s created another “problem” entirely of my own making. Because now that I can do a bit of anything, and get away with most of it, I want to do everything. I want to see and facilitate every possible interaction in the game’s rich and expansive worlds. There is so much to see and do — so many ways to incite chaos and off my evil targets, so many funky outfits and weapons and side stories — that I get caught up in a tailspin. This is not the fault of Hitman 3. The game specifically offers dozens of challenges in each level, mission stories, and perks for replaying (such as new outfits, hidden caches, and alternate starting points) to encourage replay. You are meant to tackle these worlds like you would a rich ice cream sundae — slowly, in many different bites.
But my clown ass is tries to huff it all at once, and occasionally getting overwhelmed by FOMO. I want to do the drug dealer storyline in Berlin! And also the plot where you can dress as the club owner and do a clandestine business meeting! And also vibe on the dance floor! And light up the wild tree centerpiece over the DJs! And skulk along the waterway, slowly taking out guards! All of it!! Now!!!
I recently watched a fantastic talk by Arkane Studios’ lead level designer, Rich Wilson, about the design of the (fantastic) Mooncrash DLC for (the equally fantastic) game Prey. The team arrived at so many of its brilliant design decisions in a variety of ways. In one part of the talk, Wilson describes the branching paths that players may or may not even know exist, simply by choosing to tackle problems from a certain angle.
I was actually playing the game while listening to parts of the talk. That’s when it clicked for me. I think I need to stop playing Hitman 3 like it’s Mooncrash and start taking more discreet bites of this proverbial sundae. I need to do story missions in one playthrough, then allow myself to breath and jump back into missions and seek some of the other good stuff.
I think this approach (if, admittedly, a little Eat, Pray Love) will help me get the most quality time with 47. That’s the most important interaction, after all.