2016’s Hitman saw developer IO Interactive make a tremendous return to form. Hitman 2 saw the studio take everything that was great about the first game in the World of Assasination Trilogy and polish it even further. From what we can tell from our Hitman 3 gameplay preview, IO is setting up for a conclusion to the trilogy that not only looks the part, but plays it too.
IO has been transparent about what fans and players can expect from Hitman 3 performance-wise. In its Under the Hood demonstration, the studio showcases its updated Glacier 2 engine, which features improvements to lighting, reflections, gameplay interactions, and AI capabilities. IO also states that the game will run on next-gen consoles and high-end PCs at 4K 60FPS, with HDR also supported.
During our preview of Hitman 3’s Dubai and Dartmoor missions, we were quick to note the improvements to the game’s lighting and reflections, even with the absence of raytracing. Hitman 3’s executive producer, Forest Swartout Large, tells The Loadout that the work to integrate raytracing – undertaken in conjunction with Intel – into the game later this year is now underway. As for whether consoles will get raytracing, Large simply states that IO “will be updating the Glacier 2 engine, so you can take from that what you will.”
Fans currently using last-gen hardware should also feel at ease. Game director Mattias Engström tells The Loadout that IO uses last-gen consoles as “a baseline that we need to adhere to at all times” when it comes to development. “Whatever we put on the next-gen consoles is the cherry on top,” he says. With the recent fiasco surrounding CD Projekt Red and Cyberpunk 2077’s performance on last-gen consoles, this will certainly come as a relief.
Xbox One and PlayStation 4 owners will also be pleased to know that IO isn’t skimping out on features, either. Engström notes that much of the work that has gone into the Glacier 2 engine – particularly regarding lighting and reflections – for this final instalment will also feature in last-gen versions of the game. “It’s just gonna straight up look better,” he asserts. With that said, the best experience will, naturally, be had on next-gen hardware.
The demonstration video also pivots heavily on ‘immersion’ – something which IO has been keen to explore with Hitman 3’s PlayStation 5 version using the DualSense controller’s haptics. Large tells us that haptics “were a real treat for the game designers, the level designers, and the sound designers to nerd out with.” Although we know so far that IO’s implementation will include trigger resistance when using Agent 47s arsenal of weaponry, Large notes that the studio has also looked at “bespoke moments and implementations” throughout Hitman 3’s campaign. “We’re very proud of our implementation of haptics, so please check it out and let us know what you think,” she says.
With the moody, rain-soaked, and neon-drenched Chongqing also revealed in the video, it is easy to suggest that IO has created the environment simply to showcase what its new and upgraded features can do. “Not at all,” Large stresses. “Design comes first always in Hitman games, and everything else follows.”
Travis Barbour, IO’s community manager, further adds that the introduction of a “darker” location like Chongqing had long been on the community’s wishlist. “I specifically remember when we showed off the Chonqing level where it’s raining. There were segments of the community that were just like: ‘they finally did it, they gave us a nighttime level with rain’ – it’s really good to see.”
Hitman 3 is set to launch on January 20 on PlayStation 4, PlaySation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Microsoft Windows. PC users based in the UK can preorder the game on the Microsoft Store here, while those based in the US can do so here.