Back in 2016, IO Interactive established a new era for its cult-favorite Hitman franchise with Hitman: Season One. While the episodic release model didn’t stick on PC or consoles, that game’s grand levels and inventive murder carried over to 2018’s Hitman 2. Now, the studio has delivered Hitman 3, the capstone to the World of Assassination trilogy. Featuring expansive levels, new ways to kill, and graphical improvements, this excellent PC game makes it easy for anyone to become a bald, bar-coded assassin.
Hitman 3 picks up after the end of the last game, with the stunningly bald Agent 47 revolting against his former employers, the International Contract Agency. Whereas his considerable disguise and murder skills were formerly controlled by the ICA, those abilities are now turned against the organization. It’s time to fight the power, by any means necessary.
New features and improvements round out the overall Hitman 3 experience. First and foremost is the massive visual overhaul. IO Interactive crafted larger, more beautiful locations. You’ll wander China’s neon streets and climb a golden spire in Dubai. The lighting engine has clearly improved, with the fluorescent lights in an underground, German club looking absolutely fantastic. The levels look great even without ray tracing, which IO Interactive isn’t adding until post-launch.
There are also smaller, in-game additions. Agent 47 now has a camera that lets you take pictures of targets and evidence, or hack certain objects. Passcodes, which used to be automatically entered into a system, now must be manually entered. The access codes are better hidden in the environment, requiring you to actually search walls, desks, and other areas to get ahead.
IO Interactive has also added shortcuts to each level. These are locked ladders or doors that only open from one side. It’ll take some time to wind your way through a level to reach the spot to open these shortcuts, but once you do, they’ll be open for future playthroughs. It’s another way to reward you for exploration and replaying levels.
Hitman 3 is largely based on the same foundation that IO Interactive built for its first two games. You must clandestinely infiltrate an exotic location, using your wits and cleverly obtained disguises to make your way towards your intended targets. While you can just shoot your target in cold blood, Agent 47—and by extension you—is a professional, preferring to do things quietly.
We might not be able to travel right now, but Agent 47 still jet-sets around the globe to kill. Like the previous entries, Hitman 3 has six locations to explore: Dubai, UAE; Dartmoor, United Kingdom; Berlin, Germany; Chongqing, China; Mendoza, Argentina; and the Carpathian Mountains, Romania.
Steam. In all, there are 20 levels. That’s a lot of Hitman, especially if you’ve never played the series before.
IO Interactive gets a bit playful with Hitman 3’s levels. Dartmoor takes place within an old English manor, with a setup that recalls Rian Johnson’s Knives Out. You can take the place of the private detective and solve the murder, though that’s not necessary to assassinate your target.
Berlin begins without many of the normal hallmarks of Agent 47’s missions, with no plan and no gadgets to kick off the level. Beyond that, your targets are unknown; you must immerse yourself in the location, getting to know the back hallways and the smoky dance floor. Only then can you learn who your targets are, a new spin on Hitman’s usually meticulous planning. In one later level, you must kill a target while not hurting another, even though both are always in close proximity. IO Interactive knows exactly what Hitman is at this point, giving the studio room to mess around with the formula.
sniping with a high-powered rifle. Think of it as slow, long-range Time Crisis.
One mode that doesn’t return this time around is the multiplayer Ghost Mode. The 1 vs. 1 mode was added in Hitman 2, but IO Interactive found that players preferred a solely single-player experience. That means that Ghost Mode didn’t make the cut, and Sniper Assassin’s co-op play was likewise cut.
Speaking of online, Hitman 3 also requires an always-online connection. You can play in offline mode, but your actions don’t count in terms of challenges or mastery levels. That would be fine, except the online connection isn’t always 100 percent rock solid. It sucks to be on a good run only to get disconnected, leaving you to cross your fingers and hope you reconnect.
Hitman 3 is available on PC through the Epic Games Store. With this entry’s graphical improvements, the minimum system requirements have increased. You gaming PC needs at least an AMD CPU Phenom II X4 940 or Intel CPU Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz CPU, an AMD Radeon HD 7870 or Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 80GB of hard drive space. The recommended specs require a 4GHz Intel Core i7 4790 CPU (there’s no AMD equivalent because of an Intel partnership), an AMD GPU Radeon RX Vega 56 8GB or Nvidia GPU GeForce GTX 1070, and 16GB of RAM.
My personal desktop packs an AMD Ryzen 5 3600X CPU, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, and 32GB of RAM. Right out of the metaphorical box, Hitman 3 ran at an almost-locked 60 frames per second. It looked great, with few issues during my play time. Hitman 3 doesn’t support ray tracing (yet) or DLSS 2.0, but up-to-date systems should have little issue running this game.
Hitman 3 on its own is a fantastic game, with grand locations to explore and new ways to kill numerous unsuspecting targets. IO Interactive knows what makes their emotionless, bald, murder machine tick, and it does a great job of putting him through the paces.
If you spend a little more, or already own the previous games, Hitman 3 is an amazing package. It celebrates years of development effort with improved graphics, new mechanics, and 20 levels to dive into and enjoy. There’s no series quite like Hitman, and IO Interactive has given its wonderful World of Assassination trilogy the proper send-off.