The WOA Trilogy Became Too Stale? - Looking Back On 6 Years Of Content

During 2015/16 we finally got something refreshing after the disappointing drag that was Absolution. Agent 47 and the Hitman series were going back to its sandbox based roots: Hitman Blood Money style. More ambitious than ever before. We knew 3 seasons were coming so the hype was unreal knowin that years of new Hitman content were ahead. The trailers for the first three maps were magnificent and the episodic release began. Along came the elusive targets. Special mention being Gary Busey who was chosen by the community in an online battle between him and Gary Cole. In the summer of '16 we got access to two sensational bonus mission which utilized the existing maps in a different way, and later got Bangkok and Colorado. Some mayor backlash was outed, but we were compensated with the stunning final map Hokkaido. Knowing two more seasons were ahead, a new year of speculation began.

Then during E3 2018 came an unexpected but very welcome surprise: the Hitman 2 announcement (voiced by our new celebrity elusive target Sean Bean/The Undying). We saw the planning and execution of a hit taking place during a formule 1 racing event. On top of that came a seperate announcement for Hitman: Sniper Assassin. A pre order bonus for the hardcore Hitman fans. A few weeks later came the Colombia announcement trailer, and in november the game got released with a lot of new features. Hiding in crowds/foiliage, working mirrors, tranq guns and the long awaited briefcase. Hitman 2 was full of improvement and additions, but that was not all. IO Interactive announced additional content before release including new maps and bonus missions. The best of both worlds: a full game release with episodic DLC. So fort came New Yorks “the bank” and Haven Island’s resort. This second game was full of fan service and maps that were requested back in 2016/2017. Even after the Square Enix fall-out, IO Interactive was on top of their game.

There was only one game left to finish of the ambitious story of the WOA trilogy. About 1,5 years later IO came forth with the announcement of Hitman 3 during the PlayStation State Of Play event. We got our first impression of a much darker game which many had longed for. Some fans feared Hitman got too comedic and colorfull to be taken seriously. It was a pleasing sight to see IO telling us that this final chapter of the trilogy would be much darker and serious. Another six maps were promised before, and everyone was eager to know were this long adventure would end. In january 2021 Hitman 3 released and along came some trouble. Epic Games debacle, server meltdown, mixed reactions about the final mission and the lack of new features. The game was darker as promised and certainly a good game. January 2022 saw IO come forth with a year 2 of H3 content. No one expected it, everyone was hyped. Hakan Abrak telling the community that new missions, storylines and maps were coming our way was huge. The fanbase got it’s jab of adrenaline to go full speed on the hype train again after a whole year of playing the same game. Ambrose Island got released in july. A map that repeated some old concepts but still came out unique enough to stand on its own and be loved by the community. And here we are now, waiting for Freelancer to come out in the second half of 2022.

However, after 6 years of playing the same game (more or less), it begs the question: is the WOA trilogy becoming too stale? As noted Hitman 2 brought the most new content wereas Hitman 3 finished the storyline and scaled back a bit on the larger scope. Less mission stories, cinematic kills and new unique items. After all this time, playing Hitman 3 awakens the feeling that one is still playing the same game as 6 years ago. Maybe its the fact that the entire trilogy is built in the same engine and therefor plays the same as before. IO came up with Freelancer mode which will perhaps give us something game changing. As for the rest, how does the community feel about this?

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Before I start, let me remind my fellow forum members of my background. I never played Hitman (2016). I didn’t realize it existed until sometime around 2019 (though I had played the earlier games - just wasn’t paying attention to games between 2012 and 2019-ish). At that point I bought Hitman 2 and just played whatever was in Hitman 1 inside the Hitman 2 engine. That’s all to say that I really don’t have any idea of what was in the base Hitman game and what came later. I missed all of the original Elusive Targets and only got to play the Undying Returns and the Politician in Hitman 2 due to finding the game late.

The content that has been released can generally be sorted into two camps: Repeatable content and One-and-done content.

Examples of repeatable content clearly include new maps (Ambrose, Haven, etc.). By “repeatable” I mean that there is value in playing more than once.

Examples of One-and-done content include escalations and challenges. Once I complete one, I don’t usually bother to go do it again.

The Seven Deadly Sins content can be sorted into either group. Some players very firmly believe they are One-and-done escalations with zero replay value. Some others believe they are replayable and fit into the repeatable group. I personally have replayed several of them many times and others only once.

I don’t generally feel that IOI is required to provide any post launch content, but they choose to do so, so the question of whether that content is good, or keeps the game fresh, is entirely valid. I think that for the most part, it is.

If IOI releases a challenge (like the most recent Dartmoor challenge to unlock the Floral Baller), it takes most players sometime between 10 and 20 minutes to complete. Once done, most people are not going to bother redoing the steps necessary to complete the challenge.

Whenever a new map is released, if Mission Stories are included, those are usually also one-and-done types of things. I have personally done every mission story but I can probably count on one hand the number I have done more than once. This is all part of exploring and completing the level. The level, as a whole, becomes more replayable because of the missions stories and challenges. It’s probably unreasonable to assume that a new mission story would ever be added to an existing map so that can be ignored as a possibility.

Cinematic Kills, while nice to watch and neat to earn, don’t make the game for me. I don’t care if there are any cinematic kills. Once they’ve been seen, I don’t need to see them again and I don’t personally miss them when they are absent. 47 kills his target in whatever way. Whether it’s “cinematic” or not is immaterial and that doesn’t add anything to the game for me.

Unique items are a double edged sword. Many items that are released are the subject of complaints. People complain that the item is either a useless reskin or an overpowered item that breaks or unbalances the game. There have been some genuinely good new items introduced, but it feels like most of them are not welcomed by most players (or at least the most vocal ones).

In the end, what makes good post-launch content? Is it something truly unique and engaging that brings you back to the game over and over? If so, should that be part of the post-launch stuff or a new DLC or an entirely new game?

Is post-launch content just something to keep you playing the base game? If so, a new item, a small challenge, or an escalation would fit the bill pretty well. It brings you back to the game for a little bit but it’s not some major download that most players would expect to have to pay for.

I don’t feel that there has been any less of that type of content in the post Hitman 3 period frankly. There has been less outright new stuff, sure. Less Elusive Targets and less unique items for sure, but not less post-launch content. IOI is smart to use the community to generate contracts and feature them. They’re smart to highlight the older Elusive Targets and make them playable. I think if players find this type of content tedious or not worth playing, that’s valid, but it’s still free content that no one is actually entitled to in the first place.

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TBH, i couldn’t give a toss about playing the same game as there was always… usually new content for ME. I intentionally got Hitman 2 back in August 2020, so i missed all of Hitman 2016 and Hitman 2 but i never ever in my time since get bored with the formula. NOT ONCE… ok maybe when we’d get the Collector 3 (or more) times. I’ve and always will enjoy the WOA trilogy and i wouldn’t change a thing about it (content wise) it never got stale for me IMO.

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No, it’s not stale at all. In fact, because I still haven’t beaten all challenges, unlocked all items, or played Freelancer yet, I would even say that I haven’t yet had a proper full playthrough. That would be ICA facility, then the bonus missions/special assignments, then the WoA story, with Patient Zero, the Sniper maps, and Ambrose Island being inserted in the appropriate places between chapters, then 7DS, then Untouchable, then DGS, then Freelancer. Technically, even with that, I’ll never truly be able to play it in full since the Sarajevo Six is likely to remain beyond my reach forever, and I consider its story as taking place during the bonus mission/special assignment period before the main story begins, so one part of it all shall always be missing.

Anyway, until I can do all that, and multiple times with all the different suits and kill methods available, this game will hold my interest for a long time.

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Frankly I don’t really care about cinematic kills, sometimes I want to take a picture of a cool kill in my own way but then it’s a cinematic kill with no camera control. The lack of cinematic kills in Hitman 3 for me is only a good thing.

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i feel like the hitman formula is one i can return to time and time again, and i think woa is pretty much the peak version of it; it has never felt better. i need a break (as with any game… i’m fickle), but i love coming back to it and conjuring up how I’m going to approach it this time. there’s a lot of room for self-expression so i can make my own fun.

it has a lot of space to be many things; perhaps more convincingly than a lot of other games. if you look at the community, you have people who treat it like a puzzle game, a racing game, a shooter (from tacti-cool to doom style), a kinda rpg or cine-sim (i made that one up sorry), competitive, a fuck about, a lore/narrative archeological experience - loads of things. kinda like gta, i guess.

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It’s certainly getting a bit familiar, but I don’t think it’s at a point I would call stale yet. If freelancer is fun I could see another 6 months of play time in it for me. If IO wanted to sell another map and/or another set of new missions on old maps (think Patient Zero 2, 3-5 new missions all as a stand-alone story) I would buy that. I’d probably buy 1 more set of new missions on old maps and as many new maps as long the previous one was still good, but doing this I would have to change my expectations from an “exciting bc it’s new” thing to something slightly less exciting bc it’s not so new.

Depending on which movie franchise we love we get excited about Marvel or Star Wars, or Star Trek, or even Stranger Things season 4 despite any new entry being more less what we expect based on the past entries. WOA is similar to that now.

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I’m not of the opinion that the game is getting stale.
But, I think that the framework of the game is. Currently.

The missions can still entertain. Ambrose showed us that new one can still be created, well crafted, and with new mechanics. And the old ones can still be challenging if one give themself a bit more, a personal restriction. I just replayed each map “loadout only”, or for a more particular example I just did Bangkok Jordan Cross confrontation SASONKO no throwing. So there still is some play.

Nonetheless I can’t deny that some bits are stale. We are starting to be at the (current, more to that later) limits of the game. And desire to do more is hitting a hard wall.

  • Missions are self contained. Because such is the fundamental design of the game. So this means no consequences, no larger gameplay loop, no hook.
  • The inventory is full, and paradoxically restricts the design. Does anyone remember when in Hitman 2016 if the player wanted to poison all target they had to search the level because only one dose was possible in the loadout ?
  • Escalations really showed their limits since Hitman 3. The need to reset and erase progression to replay. The mode doesn’t work well anymore. They are not progressive stages anymore, they are gameplay narrative, full on new play mode. But constrained in this strange framework of an escalation. A framework that breaks the flow. The only one I recently replayed is the Berlin Lust escalation. Because it’s one stage, and more of a game mode you can play around with than anything else. In the same vein, I only replay the garden show with a custom contract where all five targets are active at once (1).
  • Elusive Targets are starting to be more of a chore than anything else. Especially with the ETA. I even hope that they will soon be given some well given rest (and some rest to all the completionnist)

All of this, I won’t deny, is stale.

But, well Freelancer will arrive. And apparently will answer back.

(1) Which by the way is much more fun, since you can’t just pick the same item three time for an easy elimination, you have to use everything to eliminate them all.


But in the medium to long term, Yes the World of Assassination trilogy will be stale. I even think it went stale, restrictive, to some of the developers some time ago.
In the short term, the current walls will be broken, there will be new mechanics, prototypes, fun ideas, but even then some new wall be founds, hit. And those one will be load bearing walls.

There is a reason IOI said that if 47 comes back it will be with a new formula, a new vision.

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I’m in the minority but for me, it went stale after playing Untouchable. I basically felt there was nothing I’d really look forward to in the future compared to 2016 and 2018. Even the ET’s aren’t as fun as they used to be for me, I got into a long period where I just would throw a duck at them and leave.

I really hope freelancer is my cup of tea, but I’m not sure if it will be. Time will tell.

Honestly though, the older games never got quite as stale for me. I revisited contracts after 2016, and escaping with the detonator in Rotterdam was way more fun than anything in WOA for me. Something about the tension of those games.

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Try a run where you can’t use the boxes or the closets and you have to use a knife for the targets. You’ll end up with a lot of bodies found ruining your 5 star rating, but if you play on Master you have to be good enough to be gone before the guards figure out what’s going on. It can be very fun in some levels and downright frustrating in others.

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Of all the video games in the history of video games, IOI keeps adding which keeps us coming back like that extra drink we all need before going home. However, we always want more. That’s what keeps the customer coming back. New maps, new escalations, and smartly making all the elusive contracts an arcade option vs 10-day only is very smart. I’m a truck driver, cross country. Hard to be home for a certain 10 days when I’m on the road.

The VR mode and the return of the HUT with being able to bring items into the game and out is another nugget for us to keep going.

New escalations, we also need GOOD eacalations. :grinning: