I know I probably won’t change your mind, but here are some thoughts.
It’s true that some mechanical “features” were cut: human shield, plate carrying, etc. But these were mostly insignificant to Hitman-gameplay in my opinion. Human shields are cool but not really that central to Hitman gameplay, as it is mostly a gunplay feature. There are other uses of course, but I think it was a design choice to cut the fat from the game, to not over complicate an already complex game.
To the contrary, the actual core Hitman-gameplay was deepened so much with WOA. Through the years, I lose sight of that myself, and nostalgia plays a part here too. The WOA levels are so alive, filled with opportunities for the creativity that’s at the heart of Hitman. In ways that make the old games look pretty basic tbh. Not to mention the spectacular setpiece kills with eavesdropping, planning, and long puzzles to solve, which is all so perfect for Hitman, but was never present in the old games. I remember how stunned I was by the level of ambition when I played Paris the first time in 2016. The level design is so complex and interwoven. It’s next level.
This point, I do agree with. They certainly did dial back the darkness and seriousness which does sort of annoy from time to time. But I also get it, some of the amoral stuff was was easier to get away with back in the wild west of early 00’s game development.
But they leaned too much into the comedy for my taste with WOA. The assassin fantasy is powerful on it’s own, it does not need so much over-the-top humor to work. I just think some of the silly stuff could be a little more subtle, so that a serious playthrough is actually possible for the one who enjoy that.
WOA probably did broaden their audience quite a bit. Good for IO. Good for Hitman. But my feel is that a significant part of the playerbase are 30s+ like me who grew up with the old franchise playing WOA as well.
The bugs are greatly exaggerated within the fandom imo. My advice: let it go and enjoy. You do have some choice in how much you pay attention to the flaws. Humans do have a negativity bias, of course. But the game will never be perfect, and they’re most likely pretty much done with the patching at this point.