Non-lethal neutralizations are so easy, that lethal force is pointless - how I would fix that

Disclaimer: I don’t think such significant changes will be applied to an already released game anyways, so these are mostly just my theoretical thoughts about how the game could be even more amazing than it is. Now they probably can be considered in future games at best.

Previous titles were much more balanced in that matter. For example, in 2:SA, Contracts and Blood Money your anesthetics were limited, so you either wisely choose people you’re pacifying, rely on disguises and safe routes to get your well-deserved Silent Assassin reward, or at cost of your rating kill whoever stands on your way - it’s fast, unlimited and can be done even from a distance. In Absolution putting people to sleep is no more tied to consumables, yet still takes much more effort than killing due to long and very noisy non-lethal choking, so lethal force was relevant for those who didn’t bother.

In WoA chokes became very quick and practically silent, while blunt object hits and throws are even quicker and don’t effectively differ from lethal knife hits and throws. In H2016 there were at least no sedative/emetic guns and bombs, yet in H2 and H3 they have added even that. In other words, killing became pointless, since non-lethal neutralization options are just as easy. It reduced the challenge and devaluated Silent Assassin rating in my opinion, which is no more a mark of a clean run, but rather a routine of destroying recordings. You can literally lure KO the entire map one by one, pile up the bodies and still keep SA.

It’s not only stupid from the gameplay perspective but also realism-wise. Making people not dead and not injured, but exactly forever unconscious just by choking them a bit or hitting them with a wrench is really unconvincing. Spin throwing wrenches is a different story, however - it’s straight-up garbage and I hate that mechanics. Even though throwing knives is unreliable in real life, it will do for 47 - a generically enhanced professional, but homing soda cans and briefcases look ridiculous.

So how could it be done better?

Blunt weapon throw KOs must be cut completely, choking and melee hits should remain, but a victim will wake up in several minutes (e.g. 5min) and alert guards. Accident KOs work the same, except victims don’t negate SA by waking up. Their bodies are draggable, but can’t be hidden in chests and their clothes can’t be taken, unless you kill them or inject with a sedative syringe, making them asleep permanently.

The main tool for permanent incapacitation of NPCs is now a sedative syringe. The poison injecting mechanics have to be improved to be more consistent - wider angle, possible on stairs and towards unconscious NPCs, bound to a button other than punching to avoid unwanted hand-to-hand. Bodies found of poisoned/sedated people don’t negate SA unless they were dragged, naked, or melee KOed before injection - then you better hide them in a chest or closet.

In a loadout, syringes don’t occupy the regular item slots anymore but have 2 additional ones specifically for them. Per mission you can take two syringes of any of the three types of poison, identical or different. This doesn’t apply to consumable poison vials tho - they work like before. In other words, you can get rid of 2 unwanted non-targets consistently, or 3-4 if you found a good use for a consumable sedative, or 0-1 if you are going to take lethal/emetic syringes.

So what’s the point of these changes?

  1. I’d like to make the game a bit more challenging by limiting KOs and closer to previous titles. Encourage people to play it more like a social stealth game, rather than a generic one about sneaking, hiding and knocking out; think ahead and be more creative with different ways to get rid of unwanted witnesses; look for spare disguises when possible.

  2. Turn Silent Assassin rating into something more valuable than just a set of rules you follow every run, and on the other hand, let you care less about collateral damage in more casual plays. If you are just ticking off challenges and don’t want to be limited with only 2 pacifications, instead of boring choking and meleeing you can have fun pushing people over ledges, creating accident explosions, strangling with a fiber wire, shooting, etc. Why not if you don’t go for SA anyways? The major problem - there is no effective middleground in the game between Silent Assassin and “Screw it, I just need it done” - as soon as you killed at least one non-target, there is no motivation to stay undetected or erase recordings. It’s actually not that hard to solve by adding more different rewarding ratings, but that’s another topic, worthy of a separate post.

  3. Not a main goal but rather a side effect - balancing out some of the items. For example, a sedative vial would be now actually useful at times, while lethal and emetic syringes - still strong, but not without trade-offs anymore, since you have to pick them at cost of sedatives.

What for items such as dart guns and gas bombs?

As for gas bombs - idk, but I have an idea for dart guns. Darts should occupy slots for syringes in a loadout and might be injected manually or shot through a dart gun. A dart may contain any type of poison (even the lethal one), but if it was shot from a distance, it remains in the target’s body until you get close and remove it (an action just as quick as a neck snap). If a poisoned dead or unconscious body is found with a dart sticking out - it negates SA, otherwise doesn’t. Emetic darts are not spotted in a body as long as the victim is conscious.

What do you think? Let me know.

I see no reason why anything should change. The very mechanic you have an issue with was one of the better additions to the series. Being able to knock out any NPC and keep SA was the exact point. This encourages SA play in more players, which is how the game is meant to be played. Anyone who kills non-target NPCs is doing so because they want to, not because they have to in order to get to the target. This is the point. Nothing should change.

4 Likes

And in Blood Money you can still get SA even you are spotted and surrounded by multiple guards shooting at you, don’t you think it’s as rediculous as the “SA with body everywhere”?
it’s just a question of style, no matter what the SA rules are players (espacially speedrunners) will find a way to overpass it. ioi chose to change the style in the Trilogy and it’s successful, that’s it. if they think the old style is better they may make it that way in the next game.
If someone loved the classic ways they can simply not use the throwing pacification or tranqs, or play the old games. Hitman don’t have to keep the same style all the time, different sytles can make peace with each other.
Think about Assassin’s Creed, we got the classic Ezio trilogy, the Kenways with more act and tools, the a-bit-RPG Unity and Sydicate, and the full-RPG Origin, Odyssey and Valhalla. different styles, different fans, people can just choose which style they love.

Anyone who kills non-target NPCs is doing so because they want to, not because they have to in order to get to the target.

What’s the point to add many cool ways to kill non-targets without a practical use for them?

And what’s the point of SA rating, if it’s not challenging to get?

That’s why we have No Knock-Out challenges; try to do it without touching anyone except the target. That’s where the challenge lies. The ultimate Hitman challenge is to make an accident kill without knocking anyone out, killing anyone else, distracting anyone, etc.

And the point of the cool ways to kill NPCs is, firstly, meant for the targets, not random NPCs, unless the player wants to. And that’s where it comes in; if you want to just be a sadistic slasher or a John Wick and kill anyone in your way rather than incapacitate them, you can, but you lose your rank, so you have to be prepared to not care about that.

2 Likes

How would the “alerting the guards” mechanic work or make sense? If they didn’t see you knock them out, all they can ask the guards to do is do a little sweep of the area, and it’d be stupid if they became enforcers considering nobody saw you. I also think that managing unconscious bodies would be too annoying for the casual player if they want to get SA.

Making SA harder will make casual players feel worse/get more frustrated. Better players can just impose restrictions on themselves if they want to feel like they’ve accomplished more, and this kind of thing exists for contracts for that reason.

4 Likes

And in Blood Money you can still get SA even you are spotted and surrounded by multiple guards shooting at you, don’t you think it’s as rediculous as the “SA with body everywhere”?

I do. It’s good they fixed bad things from previous games, but why don’t make it even better?

I don’t mind changing style in overall. For example, older games were much more dark and serious I liked them for it, but WoA tends to be more colorful and beautiful, sometimes even comical, and I like that too.

What I want is a trade-off between options. Lethal takedowns - more fun, easier to approach your target, but lower rating, non-lethal takedowns - more limits and challenge, but higher rating. There should be a practical reason to kill people and to not kill people and fair rewards for both. That’s my point.

How would the “alerting the guards” mechanic work or make sense? If they didn’t see you knock them out, all they can ask the guards to do is do a little sweep of the area, and it’d be stupid if they became enforcers considering nobody saw you.

The same point as found bodies getting reported. Even if noone saw you killing or knocking them out, it still negates SA. The fact that there is a guy walking around with a hammer and hurting random people should alert security.

Making SA harder will make casual players feel worse/get more frustrated. Better players can just impose restrictions on themselves if they want to feel like they’ve accomplished more, and this kind of thing exists for contracts for that reason.

Instead of making better players impose restrictions to themselves to make more casual players feel better, my idea is to add more middleground ratings. If you killed non-targets, but bodies weren’t found and you was never spotted/recorded on cameras - it should be considered as a good result and properly rewarded. For example, let’s add a “professional assassin” rating and tie most of the challenges and rewards to it.

1 Like

The only reason to kill anyone is because they are your target. Anyone else beyond that is player’s choice, where the reasons don’t matter.

2 Likes

Ratings, in the framework of changing the game, don’t matter as much, as you can, as you said, add middle ground. From a gameplay impact perspective, there’s no reason for a casual player to even hide bodies (with your suggested changes). They are somewhat unlikely to be actively trying to get SA or a good rating (they might not even have the indicator on), but will still likely feel disappointed with getting a low rating. Also, there’d be very little advantage to taking the trouble to hide bodies in containers: they’ll wake up anyway and tell someone, so you’ll just end up leaving them where they are knowing that they might get found because it’s inconsequential to hide them unless you beat the mission in less than five minutes. Casual players are hardly speedrunners, so I feel like this would punish the too much for knocking people out.

Regardless of middle ground ratings, I’d say that not getting those sweet five stars/top rating will still dissatisfy a casual player. It certainly would have disheartened me slightly when I started out. I don’t disagree with your ideas, I just think the system which you would change it to would needs to be more fleshed out and refined.

When playing for realism, I set a sedatives-only rule for KOs. If I need someone taken out and I have no sedative poison to spare, they’re dying. For this reason, I really want a second sedative syringe.

1 Like

This trilogy, more than any before it, and at least in the main mission maps, made player choice the key element. Limiting players to only lethal take-downs, only sedative knock-outs, or almost anything else could be seen as going against that element. It’s largely left to the player to decide what limits they want to use (or not).

It’s a game that allows players to go ham and shoot every NPC with a shotgun or get in and out without ever being detected in any capacity and that makes it great. I, for one, don’t usually care what rating I get unless I’m actually trying for something specific. I don’t mind missing out on 5-stars unless that was my objective going in (which is commonly is not).

4 Likes

Yes, that’s how it is now. And my point is to change that to make both clean and casual runs more fun.

Regardless of middle ground ratings, I’d say that not getting those sweet five stars/top rating will still dissatisfy a casual player. It certainly would have disheartened me slightly when I started out. I don’t disagree with your ideas, I just think the system which you would change it to would needs to be more fleshed out and refined.

Right, that’s what I meant when said that ratings rework deserves a separate discussion. I don’t think that a clean run with killing non-targets should be rated 0/5 stars, we need more complex system than this. I mean, you can play however you want just ignoring the score and still have fun, but I think it only makes the game better when it can rate and reward your efforts properly.

It doesn’t need to be changed, and that would be counterintuitive to why they made it this way in the first place.

3 Likes

I think the only thing I agree with is NPCs waking up after so long and wouldn’t mind seeing… But, there is a mod that lets NPCs awaken without an enforcer. It doesn’t make you lose SA and they don’t alert guards (or other guards). It gets really weird if you put them in boxes. After the time to stay KO’ed, you’ll suddenly have an invisible entity outside of the box. You can grab this… entity. It’s actually the NPC you stuffed into the box. Once they re-awaken they (would) become immortal/invincible. Meaning, you can even headshot them and they’ll keep going (assuming they’re guards with weapons that can fire back).

So, with that… I can see how and why there should be either some consistency, or make it so that NPCs can wake up while in boxes, but then they’d just need the animations and coding to come out of whatever they were stuffed into.

It might as well stay as it is currently for the sake of consistency and less (or no) confusion.

I will say that there are times when 47 can throw, say, a brick… There’s a way to do a fast throw (or, there was in H2, I don’t know if it still works in H3). The speed that the brick travels, if anyone were to be hit that fast in the head with a brick - their head would probably explode.

1 Like

This. I think that is really the best point to go with and here’s my take on it.

-Hard Knock Outs (I.E Blunt weapons and Chokes): Takes a long time till the victim recovers and wakes up to which they will run and report to a guard or inform other guards near by.

-Sedative Syringe, Vial and Accident knockouts: knocks them out for less time but once they wake up and providing they haven’t had their clothes stolen will not report it. Plus no SA loss if body is found.
Perhaps have the vial be given more choices on selection like takes effect after 30 seconds or another with 60 seconds so gives the NPC a chance to go somewhere private or a more convenient spot to fall down.

-Tranquiliser Gun and Sedative mine: Would have the shortest knock-out time with the same effects as a sedative (no knock to SA if found). This is more to keep it balanced and make the Syringe more useful item.
(While at it, I would also like to see the Dart gun from the Lust DLC be given additional ammo to make that a more considerable choice in tool and not just an inferior dart gun)

During that time if the player stores them in a cupboard the NPC won’t wake up. As this rewards the player for putting in that effort and will still make body storing a useful strategy.

I understand the idea of making knock-outs harder to perform than killing but I think this is the best way to balance it out with out over complicating it. These changes could also be applied to only work in Master difficulty as well as to keep it for those who want it to be more challenging.

1 Like

How a sedative poison, an actual drug in the blood, can work for less time than just hitting in the head? IRL it would incapacitate for a couple of hours, by the game time measures - forever.

My whole point was to not overcomplicate. Keep the usual gameplay, but instead of unlimited KOs - only two, and instead of unrealistic choking/hitting - realistic syringes. It actually doesn’t make the game much harder, 2 knockouts per level are more than enough if you don’t do this mindlessly and for no reason. Sometimes you may need to come up with a more creative way to get rid of a guard instead of choking, like leave a weapon in front of a guard and do what you need to do while he is stashing it, but in overall the gameplay remains the same.

As for 5 minutes KOs by choking or hitting in the head - they meant to be risky and situational. For example, setting fall accidents without spending a syringe just to drag someone to a ledge, or to pacify a guy who spotted you and sedate him afterwards, or when you ran out of syringes, but escape is close and you sure the guy won’t wake up or be founded until you finish.

More balancing act between gameplay and realism. Still gives some strengths to a choke out and blunt knockout while giving syringe some pretty strong buffs and choice of when is best to use it over a fish to the head.

Adding additional loadouts for syringes and having to think about sedating a person you just pacified sounds like an overly complicated experience.

Plus forcing or getting the optimal experience during SA runs to bring constant syringes also feels it will kill the freedom of choice the game wants.

I’m basically on @Heisenberg’s page with this, the current system that the game uses is pretty much spot on, and I think the OP’s suggested changes would make for a less fun experience, not a more fun one.

3 Likes