The Hitman franchise has been going strong since the first game hit the PC and consoles back in 2000.
And the most recent entry in the series, Hitman 3, sure has been a hit for Danish studio IO Interactive, selling millions of copies and becoming one of the most popular games of the current console generation since its launch in 2021.
Hitman 3 is meant to be the conclusion to IO Interactive’s “World of Assassination” trilogy, which began in 2016 with the launch of their Hitman reboot game. This was meant to bring back the classic Hitman gameplay which many fans of the series thought was missing from IO’s earlier game Hitman: Absolution, a more action-focused, linear game than the stealth-focused Hitman: Blood Money had been.
Blood Money had been something of a fan-favorite, even if it lacked Absolution’s mainstream appeal: its open-ended levels and gameplay possibilities made it a classic, even if the 2006 game has not stood the test of time so well…
However, the new Hitman trilogy has delivered everything fans could have wanted and more, and is now available as a complete package titled Hitman: World of Assassination. Actually, Hitman 3 was renamed to Hitman: World of Assassination and existing owners of the game got all the levels from the earlier Hitman 2016 game and Hitman 2 for free earlier this year.
But the inevitable question is whether there will be another Hitman game, is Hitman 4 happening?
Anyone who has played through Hitman 3 knowns that the game is meant to be a conclusion to the current, modern trilogy of Hitman games. It puts an end to the story which began in Hitman 2016, ending the conflict between rival organizations the ICA and Providence, and closing the story arc of characters like Lucas Grey, one of the major characters who appear in the game aside from protagonist Agent 47 and his handler Diana Burnwood (obviously, any future Hitman games will surely feature Agent 47 and Diana, unless IO Interactive wants to shake things up dramatically of course…).
Of course, taking into account that Hitman is IO Interactive’s most successful franchise, it would make sense for the studio to make another Hitman game in the future, even if this is unlikely to be titled “Hitman 4”.
A new Hitman game won’t be a continuation of the World of Assassination trilogy, as the current trilogy is complete no matter how you look at it. Actually, IO released a brand-new location for the game last summer (Ambrose Island), bringing the total number of locations in the game to 21.
Ambrose Island, an island in the Andaman Sea, is another expansive sandbox in which you have to murder two targets and complete an additional objective, and also fills some missing gaps in the trilogy’s story.
Also, IO Interactive added a new, complex game mode (named Freelancer) to the game in January, which has players hunting down members of criminal syndicates all over the world, making use all of the trilogy’s locations to deliver a great gameplay experience with a focus on improvisation.
Freelancer is more than icing on the cake and is a new way to enjoy Hitman 3 (or Hitman: World of Assassination as its now known), plus the fact other game modes (such as the Elusive Target Arcade) have been added to the game it’s clear the current trilogy is as complete as it gets.
But there’s no doubt that another Hitman game is coming in the future, as the franchise is IO Interactive’s cash cow after all, but it could still be a ways off. This is especially true taking into account that IO is now busy with other projects, amongst which is obviously their upcoming James Bond game, something the studio’s co-founder referred to in a recent interview with Eurogamer.
“Right now a major, major new Hitman game: that’s a little bit on hiatus as we’re building another agent fantasy that’s also taking up a lot of our time”, said IO Interactive’s co-founder Christian Elverdam, adding that “obviously we’ll come back to [our] beloved Agent 47. He’s still very much in the heart of this company”.
IO Interactive has said in the past that their 007 game could end up being a trilogy, but that obviously depends on whether the first game is a success or not. Also, the studio is working on an online fantasy game too… The matter, though, is that none of the studios other games besides the Hitman series has really been a success (remember Kane and Lynch?).
If their James Bond game does turn out to be a triumph, though, it’ll take much longer for IO Interactive to return to Hitman, even if the studio would be in a much better position to make a brand-new Hitman game if their experience with 007 turns out to be a success.
Because the truth is that Hitman 2 and Hitman 3 almost did not get made… Back in 2017, IO Interactive used to be part of Square Enix, but the Japanese company dumped the studio due to the poor performance of their Hitman 2016 game. IO was on the verge of extinction, even though they were able to complete Hitman 2 (which was published by Warner Bros.) and self-published Hitman 3, which turned out to be one of the top-selling games of 2021.
Hitman fans, though, will also be looking forward to IO’s James Bond game, which is likely to bear many similarities to the modern Hitman games. Actually, the modern Hitman trilogy features fabulous locations which could have come straight out of a 007 movie, such as the coastal town of Sapienza and its secret underground laboratory. Hitman protagonist Agent 47 gets to visit the kind of high-class locations (such as a Paris palace in the 2016’s first mission) that Bond would be comfortable in, even if Agent 47 is always an interloper looking to ruin the party (and commit murder of course), never truly fitting in the luxurious locales he gets to dwell in…
IO’s James Bond game might also be played in third person, but it’s unlikely to feature the kind of sandbox gameplay seen in the Hitman games. Actually, it may be more of a linear game with mainstream appeal like 2012’s Hitman Absolution was, so Hitman purists might not be so satisfied with it after all, as the game is likely to be aimed at a different audience due to the constraints of working with the James Bond licence.
Either way, it’s clear that another Hitman game is likely many years away, and almost certainly will be a reboot of the franchise and not a continuation of the previous games. Nonetheless, Hitman fans can keep enjoying the current Hitman: World of Assassination trilogy, and still look forward to IO Interactive’s future projects like their James Bond game, which is one I’m hoping does live up to the hype when it’s eventually released.