Hitman is too easy and predictable for experienced players. Suggestion - Add new difficulty level with increased damage (2 shots pistol, 1 shot rifle = dead)

The game is too easy and too predictable for experienced players

I played the freelancer technical test, and after it was over I played some elusive target arcade in the base game today.

I there is something missing when playing hitman after you have played all the maps and found all the different ways to play them. The entire game becomes deterministic. When I open the map on any gamemode to check where the targets are, I know within a second how to get there and how to take it out.

The gameplay then is just spooling through the performance. A series of quicktime events.

The highly deterministic gameplay works for the base game missions as long as you have not completed each map, and that means having played it over and over to find all the ways to play it. And it is a great experience for many hours of gameplay. The game was built for replaying missions and finding new ways and stories. And no other game does it as good as hitman.

However once you are through with it, and know everything, then the challenge is gone. I would even say most of the gameplay is gone.

Because if you are an experienced player and you play a random contract, do you really “think” of how to complete it? Does it feel like an engaging complex web of situations to solve? Or is it just a thing you run through to get an unlock?

Freelancer solves that partially in the syndicate takedown missions which are 4 out of 18 campaign missions. However the remaining 14 missions do not solve it, they are deterministic quicktime events.

If you are an experienced player what makes you feel fear or a sense of tension?

For me it is only:

  • Syndicate takedown missions (if alarm goes off, more targets flee than I can shoot, possibly ending the campaign)

  • Lining up a complicated situation to get a challenge completed in the base game. Because screwing it up means you have to redo it.

  • Failing an elusive target.

However what is never causing me any sense of concern is the amount of guards in an area.

This post is not specific for freelancer, more a suggestion for the game as a whole.

So here is a set of suggestions that could be packaged into a new difficulty setting that would be used for all gamemodes.

Increase weapon damage to realistic levels

This would be a small change in the gameplay code.

  • Make all pistol shots kill the player in 2-3 shots, and all rifle shots in 1 shot.

  • And turn off autohealing.

Because currently, the player is an unstoppable terminator that regenerates after using cover for a few seconds. I think there is almost no situation in the game where there are enough guards present to stop a player to get what he wants.

Do a thought experiment (or try it ingame for yourself). Imagine you would get your favorite suit unlock by killing 20 guards in a crowded map in under a minute. Most experienced players would solve that on their first try, with an unsuppressed pistol.

And I think this is the ultimate test to see if a gameplay feature “works”. Give players an irrestible reward they value, and see how quickly they get through the obstacles to it.

Here is a gif to demonstrate it:(I wanted to make this a gif however giphy appears to be overloaded)

What you can see in this first clip:

  • I pull out my gun in full view of 3 yakuza bodyguards.

  • Then I wait for the initial reaction (at which I could have started shooting) until they raise their guns and do the prompt to surrender.

  • Then I fire at the first guy, and the second guy gets one shot off before I get him too, and the 3rd guy (with a submachinegun) does not even fire.

All of this is on master difficulty.

Second clip:

  • I throw a wrench at the third guy, grab the first guy and defeat the second guy in hand to hand quicktime before anyone fires a shot.

What this should show is that:

  • There are almost never enough guards in a given area to stop an experienced player

  • gunfire or fear of death, and related to that, being spotted is not a concern players have, the only bad consequences would be a failed challenge objective. And a player who does not care for that has no callenging gameplay left in the game.

Freelancer sort of has high weapon damage as a feature, some npcs are assassins, that if they spot you, can take you down in 2-3 hits, and they raise their guns faster and spend less time with warning or “startled” behaviour.

Imagine the possibilities

  • Imagine all nps with guns, even lone ones would be such a dangerous threat that it could end your mission in 2-3 shots, and with rifles 1 shot.

  • Imagine running away from a sitution in santa fortuna with guards with rifles and mac10s spraying the area with gunfire. Imagine the tension of one rifle shot ending the mission. The feeling of reward of sneaking past this.

Stealth should not be “too” optional.

I think this would enrich the game. An extreme example is alien isolation, where the alien is an unstoppable monster that you have to get away from. That you have to outsmart, outsneak, avoid. Would Alien Isolation have been a great game if the stealth was not a necessity and just an optional thing? You could still fight the alien with guns and flamethrowers, however it would only scare it away from a short time, and your ammo was limited. And this is how it should be in Hitman. You can still try to use guns to force your way through however the odds would be overwhelming.

The game is supposed to be about a master assassin sneaking into areas where there is an overwhelming force presence of armed guards, and he completes the mission by mostly not being noticed. And combat should be an option, however not a comfortable choice. Currently that risk is not present, experienced players can choose to turn into terminators that should everyone to get out. And I think many players quite often shot their way through certain maps just to get to an unlock faster.

All it would take is a new difficulty setting that increases weapon damage and turns off auto healing. It would not require a new set of achievements or recognition for playing it. It would just be a great and efficient way to reintroduce challenge into the game for players who have seen it all.

To summarize:

  • Imagine you play the game just for the core gameplay substance. Not for an unlock, or a challenge, or mastery. Just to have an engaging stealth experience as a master assassin trying to sneak into highly guarded areas to take out a target without being seen.

  • Is there anything to make you feel excited if there is nothing to lose?

  • Do you really care about getting seen on a camera in Santa Fortuna and 10 guards with automatic rifles come looking for you unless you want to play silent assassin?

  • Increased weapon damage (as a new difficult setting) would be a highly impactful change with very small development time.

Not detracting from any of your points or suggestions, but there comes a point in any game where players who are legitimate experts will find it no longer challenging. Even with the settings you suggested, you would eventually reach a level of familiarity with those changes where it’d be boring again and you’d want an even more difficult mode.

At some point the developers have to just settle on a common enough denominator and leave it at that. If that leaves a group of players without enough challenge to satisfy them, that’s probably just the way it will be.

20 Likes

Why would you think otherwise when there are puzzle contracts with No Pacifications / Perfect Shooter / No Bodies Found etc where you not only have to think how to get to the target, but also how to kill them while respecting the complications?

Technically weapon damage would never even be a factor for a good player, since when guards start shooting at you it means you messed up somehow. Just look at some SA speedruns, you’ll probably not see many guards firing at the player.

4 Likes

I’ve said for a very long time that if you’re playing this game in a way where you’re getting into firefights, you’re playing it wrong. Weapon damage shouldn’t even be a consideration in this game.

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I think on syndicate takedown missions that would not get boring. Because they have assassins guarding the targets, and assassins are liek guards, however they draw faster, kill in 3 shots, and do not spend time with waiting or warning behaviour.

I would like to have that level of difficulty as an option for the whole game. That is why I suggested it as a difficulty setting. Because players have wildly different difficulty expectations, and because this is a single player game, IOI can afford accomodating both extremes.

And the change would only require minimal development work (because the gameplay code already has some npcs do fast damage like that.

What I would like to have is the optional objectives should be backed by harsh consequences in form of wildly dangerous shootouts. (as a difficulty setting option).

To me normal missions feel like playing with cheat codes. Like if in a racing game, if I lose traction because I drove too fast into a curve, I would be able to cancel out the physics and prevent the car from flying into tirestacks.

Another point I would like to make. There are games, where the difficulty remains so harsh that it never gets boring. An example is L4D2. It was released in 2009, and today right now it has 17000 concurrent players.

The main reason is that the game has an adaptive difficulty that analyzes the player performance in realtime and adjusts the difficulty to creates pauses and overwhelming danger in unpredictable ways.

Here is a comparison of hitman3 and l4d2:
https://steamdb.info/graph/?compare=550,1659040

Of course Hitman3 is a single player game that would not reach such high engagement, however I think the point is valid that harsh adaptive difficulty can provide near limitless engagement for players.

And L4d2 has no ingame cosmetics, unlocks or levels. And it is 13 years old, and has 10 times more concurrent players daily than Hitman3 has.

Not saying that Hitman3 is bad, it is the best game of its kind, however there is room for more difficulty for longterm playability.

What I think may help Hitman in future games (or do I say even the new Bond game)?..is when you die, the levels automatically change (procedurally generated), no one level is predictable*…but have it based on the Freelance mode. I can’t remember the game I played, I think it was The Persistence (VR game on PS4), Everytime you died the level would change it never repeated.

*Like the Paris level can have over 100 different versions (buildings, loot boxes, safes, locations, and even the targets can be procedurally generated in different areas of the map, no way to learn a level always changing), so everytime you play a level, it would be like the first time.

May be you are just too good at the game.

1 Like

I think this is a good idea. L4D2 has a lot randomization, the amount of zombies spawning, where they spawn, where they will come from. What routes are locked.

The purpose of my suggestion is for IOI to consider exploring the upper difficulty end. Because for experienced players, unpredictable difficulty is what keeps them playing for longer. Freelancer itself is an expression of this.

We already have the Master mode as a higher difficulty to Professional.
The mode is not highly praised and maybe not even popular, I guess this tells IO enough about how reasonable it is to invest into another mode.

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TBH I think Master Mode is just a pale shadow of what Pro Mode was in H1, so the criticism is certainly justified. If IOI kept the most interesting features of Pro Mode (suspicious items, separate mastery track, map items in NPC inventories) instead of the worst ones (“let’s just add a bunch of cameras and psychic enforcers here and there”), Master Mode would probably have been more popular.

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:joy: That’s a terrible example; L4D2 isn’t difficult, the AI is just so broken it’s literally almost impossible to play if you don’t have a full team of four human players.

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I feel like this couldn’t be further from the truth.

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If you avoid sustaining any damage during contract creation, you should be able to add a complication where any damage regardless how little would mean instant death.

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I’d dare to say that a lot of people who reached the point of not being challenged by the game usually don’t even get into combat enough to make the enemy damage relevant in the first place.

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I would disagree.

L4D2 was built to be played as a team of 4 players. Playing with AI was always just an improvised thing.

I think that is the case on most maps. However there are situations where players can just shoot their way through a situation if they want to hurry.And I think that option is too easy. Hokkaido is an example. I find myself often just shooting my way through half the map because I was spotted. Just to complete the mission faster.

I think there is evidence to support my assumption.

  • Roguelike games as a whole for example. They are built around being so hard that players fail most of the time to get to the end of the game.

  • L4D2 is I think the best example of it. Because the game has no external motivators to make players play it. It has no unlockables. Nothing, no skins, no attachments. It was the last multiplayer game valve made without microtransactions. And the gameplay is so hard because the AI adapts on a strategic level how hard attacks players. And L4D2 after by now 13 years still has 17k players concurrently per day. Very few games have that many players concurrent, and even fewer have it if they are made in 2009.