Freelancer - From CTT to Launch (balances, and changes)

We are one week to Freelancer.

Here are the balances, and changes made from the CTT and its feedback.

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In early November, we opened up HITMAN: Freelancer to a Closed Technical Test to gain valuable feedback and insights from our players. Today, we want to share some of the key changes from what you may have seen in the CTT compared to how the mode will launch.

Merces Economy

To improve the immersion around the economy, we changed the Merces amounts to seem more valuable by adding two zeroes to all values (Example 5M is now 500M).

Prestige objective communication and Quality of Life

Freelancer has a help section called Field Manuals in the Intel menu page. Here, you can find a description of the available Prestige Objectives and the specific rules for completing them. This information is quite hidden, so we have dedicated a wall setpiece to show that information up front, so that the players can plan ahead. We also added an option to reselect the chosen Prestige Objective, so that it’s possible to change your mind when considering the choices between objectives, locations and gear in the planning phase in the safehouse.

Added persistent item versions of select Freelancer Tools

We have chosen to stick to our design around the rules for losing Freelancer Tools. To alleviate the frustration that some players feel around losing their favorite gear in the Freelancer Tool category, we have made new versions of these tools that are known as ‘Collectors Editions’ that can be purchased and stored persistently on gear walls.

To phrase this in a different way, a player can choose to buy a rare lockpick that will not be lost on Campaign fail, for instance. We also added some UI-tags on the Freelancer Tool items so that a player can always see if an item will be lost on a mission or is bound to a campaign.

BALANCING

Playtime, overall difficulty and XP progression

In general, we were happy about the metrics we saw from the Closed Technical Test about playtime, the overall difficulty, and the XP progression. These matched our expectations quite well, so we didn’t tweak the balancing around these areas much. The game-mode is deliberately balanced and takes inspiration from rogue-lite mechanics to rely on using consequence to add adrenaline-infused tension to the gameplay.

Base Payout

We have added a ‘base payout’ that the player will earn for completing the mission. This means that players can earn money even without doing the optional payout objectives or prestige objectives. This makes earning money a little bit easier, helping less experienced players slightly. The base amount is higher for Showdown missions, which addresses an issue we saw in the metrics from the CTT, where players would earn less money in average on Showdown missions.

Completing Campaigns

We added a large Merces payout for players that manage to complete a campaign, to celebrate this effort more. We also made the Reward Crate item drops follow the difficulty in a more reliable way, so that the gear that is earned matches the accomplishment in a better way.

Payout and Prestige Objective balancing

We found that some objectives were a bit skewed regarding reward and difficulty, so we balanced payout values based on success and popularity metrics.

Underground Lookouts

In the CTT, we saw a lot of frustration from players failing showdown missions (and thereby Campaigns) by being spotted by Underground Lookouts in ways that felt unfair. To improve this, we introduced a grace-period so that a suspicious lookout can be dealt with before the suspect network is alerted to escape.

We also made lookouts telegraph this with animation, to make it more visible which NPC is a Lookout, when suspicious. Lookouts are still a pretty hardcore addition to be respected. Also, lookouts can still be alerted from distance (for example using a well-placed bullet impact distraction or deliberately positioned body) to support that the player can trigger an escape-scenario deliberately for a sniper strategy or similar.

Suspect exploit

The Closed Technical Test helped uncover some exploits around suspects in Showdown missions. Now it is no longer possible to use body containers to verify if a suspect is the target. We also added a Merces punishment for eliminating a suspect that isn’t the target to disincentivize the strategy of killing all suspects indiscriminately, thereby bypassing the investigation gameplay of the Showdown missions.

Collateral

We added a small Merces punishment for killing innocent civilian NPCs. A big fun factor in Freelancer is that it loosens up the stances on preferred gameplay styles that the main game has cultivated and lets players try more aggressive play styles, for example, without punishing or pointing fingers at alternative approaches. We didn’t want to change this, but still wanted to have the game mechanics encourage killing targets over civilians.

Number of Suspects

The number of suspects were found to be too overwhelming on higher difficulties, so these have been scaled down a bit.

Increased value for on-mission stashes

The stashes that are found on location have been tweaked so that they contain more valuable gear. To balance this out, there are now fewer stashes but our hope is that they’re worth exploring for.

Gear properties

We balanced some prices and gear capacities for specific items based on metrics and player feedback.

Challenge balancing

We got feedback that some of our values for the challenges were ridiculously high and would frustrate completionists too much, so we lowered these to feel more reasonable (while still providing aspirational goals to shoot for).

Tweaks on texts

We received feedback on some of the in-game text that wasn’t formulated as clearly as it could be, especially around objectives. We’ve made some revisions to address that.

Alt-F4 Exploits

The test revealed a number of ALT+F4 exploits similar to what we know from Elusive Targets. We investigated removing these but they can’t be separated from when the game is exited during a power-outage or crash. With the roguelite consequences in Freelancer we decided to favor players that are unlucky enough to experience this.

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Well it seems like all the major concerns I had about Freelancer during the CTT were addressed (aside from the bug halving Merces upon exiting the game, which wasn’t mentioned, but they’re probably not wanting to leave that in the game anyway), so good job IOI. And it looks like we can finally stop discussing steaks around here :slight_smile:

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Everything is looking and sounding great.

Just want to play the bloody thing now :wink:

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It may be wise to watch this video on my CTT Experience, if you want to understand my happiness more =) EDIT: This has been edited to not be as long.

I have a sneaking suspicion increasing the mercer payout is gonna make getting weapons too easy now unless the merchant prices are appropriately balanced out to compensate. My complaint was more that certain weapons were too tricky to get, not that mercers were overall stingy. However, maybe i’m wrong, and this may work out for the best.

Keeping a set of permanant weapons is a really good way of going about player failure; you still get punished for failing, but not everything is removed that would be useful to you, it’s really nice to see some consistency, IOI.

The base payout is a good call, that makes contracts worthwhile to do, even if you ignore other objectives; it may even bring more playstyles of “no side objective% runs”.

I suspect the showdown missions had lower payouts from couriers and such is partly due to the risk/reward of doing them versus killing the right target, and the over-abundance of mechanics.

Okay, I am convinced you saw my video of this exact scenario playing out IOI. The suggested change should make the time to react to changes much better, especially since things happened WAY too fast. I’m aware someone else on the forum suggested a grace period for these kinds of screwups, so hats off to them!

It was an odd design choice to not punish players who just shot everything with and head and a heart. It didn’t feel right, even for a game mode like Freelancer. Glad this was changed IO, i’m happy =)

The amount of suspects which got on my nerves pretty quickly trying to work everyone out. That may also help with your randomiser too to make the tells and looks system more consistent, instead of constantly lying to me, and others, as to who the Target was. Good call.

Glad the criticisms Me and others had were taken to heart IO, i’m actually looking forward to playing it again in it’s newer state. Hopefully I won’t die in embarrassing ways this time.

My only real complaint that hasn’t been addressed is my proposed checkpointing system (I.E, failing a mission shouldn’t fail the entire campaign, rather set you back to the last showdown mission as missions take too long, and it never felt good losing so many hours of progress). However, it’s possible this change won’t be needed if the game is better to play now. We’ll see next week =)

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Well they said “all values” so most likely, all payouts and prices were multiplied by 100.

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This is exactly the type of thing that earns IOI a positive review in my book. Say what you want about delays and missed blog posts, but they do seem to listen to their player base more than a lot of companies do. I’m very happy to see that these issues have been addressed. The recent discussion on base payout, for example, has born fruit!

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So if for some reason I “crash” the game not by alt+f4 the game will continue from where I left?

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A post was merged into an existing topic: Ambrose Island - Pre-release Discussion

I believe if the game “crashes,” alt+f4 or otherwise, it’ll put you back in the safehouse as if the current mission you’re on has never taken place. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

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That’s what I got out of IOI’s comments. They tried to fix it but couldn’t without punishing players that had a legitimate issue like a power outage.

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Now this is the type of response that makes me happy. It solves every issue except that of conflicting kill objectives on single-target maps, and I believe that there’s a good chance they might fix that down the road, as complaints about that will become louder now that most of the others have been addressed. The rest of these are fantastic attention to feedback and even address some things we didn’t even know we needed addressed, so kudos to IOI for their prompt response.

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Great changes, I like them a lot :heart_eyes:

I’m curious what the revised values will be. It used to be 10000 syndicate members and 1000 leaders among others.

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I’m generally really happy with all the changes. I hope that the non-target penalty for suspects isn’t too severe given the game actually encourages you to kill wrong suspects in a few challenges (though maybe those were changed too or you’re just expected to take a loss for a while).

Hopefully their fix to the body container exploit was to make it so no suspects are able to be hidden in them, cause I’d hate to lose a Showdown (and therefore fail an entire campaign) by accidentally hiding the true leader in a bin.

Also, no mention of the Merces being included in Mastery being changed, I know that was a point some people brought up in the CTT feedback.

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This was more a response to feedback given, not a patch notes full of fixed bugs. I presume these will stay internal.

OMG! This looks very promising. Glad most of it is properly taken care off. Now I hope we still can eliminate certain bodyguards without penalty.

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I’m curious about this as well - the post said “civilian NPCs”, so would there be no penalty for killing any guards, even if killing those guards isn’t part of an objective? They also added a penalty for killing the wrong suspects, but what about assassins and lookouts, do they count as “civilians”?

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Yeah, great news to hear that the Grindathon challenges are being addressed. This was my personal biggest single issue by light years with the CTT, so looking forward to seeing how much these are being scaled back by.

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Imo I feel they probably aren’t counting assassins and lookouts since they said “innocent civilians”. I feel that if they were gonna count assassins and lookouts they would’ve just generalized and said “non-targets”. But that’s just my speculation.

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I think that, aside from addressing the multiple kill objectives on single-target maps, I only have one more question leading up to Freelancer’s release.

With the addition of a penalty for killing innocents, I assume this doesn’t extend to guards? I would assume it wouldn’t, at least in terms of of optional objectives, but even if there aren’t any guard kill objectives I think I’d still prefer to not have a penalty for killing guards or anyone defending the target.

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Wish they made that distinction between NPCs like in the old games. Even then there were guards that were considered civilian and others that were non-targets that if killed wouldn’t penalize you too much. Hell, in H2.SA and Contracts you could kill some of them and still get SA rating.

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