Since Hitman 2016 there has been much talk about escalations. We have seen considerable experimentation in their format. This thread is a place to discuss what we feel makes an escalation good. Feel free to use examples of existing escalations to make your point and make useful contrasts, but please keep your posts measured and constructive. Also, if you use examples of escalations, then please use spoilers if you are referring to specific elements. Some people might not have played the escalation yet and we don’t want to ruin their experience.
I’ll start the ball rolling…
I think that escalations are a perfect opportunity for players to experience something different to existing content. The challenge in making an escalation good is having sufficient variety and getting the right balance of freedom.
Those of us who played through them all from the beginning in Hitman 2016 will recall the five level format. Although the challenges escalated, some of the levels felt too similar to the previous levels and it was clear that the designers were sometimes struggling to think of a reasonable way to escalate. We are so grateful that IOI took on-board comments from a number of us who asked them to consider a three level formula. I believe we have all benefited from the greater degree of variety and creativity that is now introduced from level to level.
But in terms of variety, we are looking for something new. That is, an escalation should never feel like it could have been made in contract creation mode. One of the ways in which this can be achieved is introducing forced restrictions that are simply not available to us when creating a contract. This is where balance in freedom is key. Too limiting and it takes away the fun. Too much freedom and it defeats the purpose of having those restrictions. Targets, their movement, and the number of approaches are also key.
For example, the first two levels of Seven Deadly Sins Act 1: Greed escalated well and I enjoyed playing them. I loved the atmosphere and the whispering in 47’s ear. On level 3 there was a fantastic and unique mechanic, with the restricted loadout, you are forced to choose between sacrificing your hard earned coins for a silenced pistol or use a loud pistol on the map if you wanted to complete the challenge of collecting all 60 coins. I don’t like to be critical, but in my opinion one of the targets (the guy in the technical crew outfit) was badly chosen because he was in an area with two other NPCs and one container; one of them isn’t there immediately, but when she arrives she never leaves. Yes, you could get creative, but with restricted loadout and wanting those coins to complete the 60 coin challenges (I guess the notion of greed was successful here), knockouts were almost essential (you all know my preference for NKO) and it made dealing with that target far too limiting in approach. Having now completed all of the challenge in that escalation, I’ve yet to go back and get silent assassin rating on level 3. I will do it at some point, but I am in no hurry to do so, which is a first for me.
In my opinion, The Satu Mare Delirium escalation is a true masterpiece. The removal of almost all NPCs except the biker gang made it feel like I was playing on a different map. Although there were forced kill methods, the continuous changing of targets and locations from level to level felt like I was playing through an actual mission, with each level giving you chance to catch your breath before you continued to the next three targets. For the first time ever I thought it was a shame that we can’t select to replay individual levels again without having to reset the whole escalation and work through all of the levels again.
So on that final point, I believe that whether or not I would want to replay an escalation correlates strongly with an escalation being good.
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