Hitman Season One Review – The Final Verdict

December 10, 2016

I was fortunate to be one of the early adopters of Hitman. While the initial release had its share of issues, the launch was mostly positive and showed improvements over Hitman: Absolution as well as several callbacks to the popular Hitman: Blood Money. Nine months on and developer IO Interactive have finally wrapped up the first season, confirmed a second season is on the way, and continued throughout to provide on-going content and title updates. So how is the game looking in its final state?

The most controversial feature of Hitman was its episodic release format. Over the last few years this has become a popular model for story-focused games, often partially funding the project throughout its release schedule. Personally, I don’t like this model as it’s easy to get distracted by other games and it prevents you from fully immersing yourself in the world. This remained true with Hitman, particularly because the game’s Elusive Target mode was not available at launch and Escalation mode was only in its infancy. But now that these two modes have been fleshed out, there’s a lot more content on offer which enhances the overall experience.


Escalation mode challenges players to complete a mission multiple times, but each time different requirements are added. For example, in the Hanger Base level you are tasked with killing a KGB Colonel, then you have to rob his safe, kill a second target, etc, effectively “escalating” the mission. It’s an interesting take on the standard Hitman formula, and because these targets are not featured in the main story, it makes further use of the large open world environments.

Elusive Target offers limited time only missions which generally last approximately 48 hours and appear every two or so weeks. The missions feature unique NPC characters and add a gameplay twist by rendering Agent 47’s Instinct ability useless. Instinct normally highlights a target’s location, but in Elusive Target you’re only given a photo and an introduction video which provides clues on where they might be located. This breaks down the wall between videogame and real-life assassination, as you have to use your wits and uncover the clues to hunt down the target. Also, you only get one attempt – if you fail the mission or don’t quite get the high score you’re after, then there’s no do-over.


Arguably, one of Hitman’s greatest assets is Contracts mode. Here players can create their own missions by selecting any NPC character in a level and making them an assassination target. If you’re feeling especially creative, you can add special conditions such as using a particular killing method or while wearing a disguise. There are Contracts missions made by both the community and IO Interactive, prompting for a lot of replay value and letting you flex your creativity skills.

With all this content on offer in addition to the story missions, it’s easy to recommend purchasing the entire Season One collection. IO Interactive have finally delivered the living, vibrant Hitman world that fans were promised. Also, take note that further title updates are planned, along with the announcement that Season Two will utilise the same application and game engine. Further support and content can only mean good things for the future.

Over the course of Season One, players have been treated to many exotic open-world locations including a French mansion, an Italian villa, Bangkok hotel and a luxury cruiseship. All the locations are varied, containing a distinctive feel and various obstacles to overcome. For example, there is a level set in Marrakesh which features a maze of market stalls, crowds and various military training areas. This makes way for hiding locations amongst the traders, and you will have to eventually obtain a soldier’s uniform to enter the otherwise forbidden military areas. In contrast the Bangkok hotel isn’t quite as busy; there are a handful of guests relaxing and hotel staff cooking food and serving drinks. The trick here is catching your targets alone and away from prying eyes. It’s fun to explore every nook and cranny, and plan out different assassination methods for each target.


In my initial review I noted a few issues, including frame rate drops and dependency on online connectivity. Previously when players walked through large crowds there would be noticeable slowdown, but thankfully the title has been optimised and there are no longer any noticeable dips. The game is still largely tied to being connected to the Hitman servers. If you’re playing offline then you won’t have access to the Escalation and Elusive Target modes, and secondary challenges also won’t be available for story missions. There has been some progress – if you unlock items while playing online then you will retain access while playing offline. Despite this it still feels like players are being limited, and it is going to impact anyone with an unstable internet connection or if there are general network problems for the system you are playing on.

While it took a while to realise IO Interactive’s vision, Hitman Season One is an outstanding achievement and revitalises the series. There is a lot replayability thanks to the Contract, Elusive Target and Escalation modes, the levels are varied and encourage exploration, and constant title updates have ensured a smoother overall experience.


- Lots of content
- Smooth frame rate
- Living, vibrant world


- Offline content is limited

Overall Score: