Hitman 3 Is Off To A Rocky Start

Hitman 3 Is Off To A Rocky Start
Screenshot: IO Interactive
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You’ve probably heard this one before. A buzzy game hits the market. It demands some degree of internet connection. Everyone flocks to play on day one, only to hit a series of frustrating roadblocks. Online connectivity is shaky, if functional at all. There are issues with save data and character progression. Some players spring for upmarket versions — say, an “Ultimate” edition — and have trouble accessing the stuff they paid for. The developer fires off a series of apologetic tweets, says it acknowledges the situation and is “looking into it,” and publishes a FAQ addressing the most common issues with a string of answers that are thin, at best, and vague, at worst.

The game’s launch, in other words, is a mess.

The disaster du jour isn’t a Destiny or a Diablo or a Division. It’s Hitman 3, the latest in IO Interactive’s recent series of interactive Instagram posts, out this week for a whole bunch of platforms.

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Hitman 3 made me care more about its plot than crafting the perfect murder. The narrative, which I usually see as a flimsy excuse to play dress-up and cause globe-spanning mayhem, bleeds into the structure of its levels and creates some unexpected moments of emotion and vulnerability. Its dark story...

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Oh, boy. What happened this time?

Hitman 3’s problems started, allegedly, prior to launch. IO’s Hitman games have always had an online element, which relies on a persistent internet connection to track your progress. Kotaku’s Riley MacLeod told me that, when he was reviewing the game, connectivity would fade in and out. As far as he could tell, it didn’t have any major bearing on how he played. (In reviewing the game for PC Mag, Mike Williams ran into similarly wonky connectivity.) You can technically play Hitman 3 offline, but you’ll miss out on some unlocks.

That doesn’t sound so bad.

In a vacuum, no, that wouldn’t be a problem. It’s common for online games to have server issues before launch. Hitman 3’s servers were up and running (on paper) during the review period, but still hit some snags. And keep in mind that such issues existed despite the fact that only a small crop of reviewers — rather than the broader game-playing public — had access to the game.

Server issues persisted when the game officially launched on January 20. Bonus points if you saw that one coming.

Agent 47 stands above the cloud line in Dubai. (Screenshot: IO Interactive) Agent 47 stands above the cloud line in Dubai. (Screenshot: IO Interactive)

That’s not all. Hitman 3 technically allows players to carry over their progress — both in terms of character progress and unlocked levels — from the prior “World of Assassination trilogy” games, Hitman and Hitman 2. That process, too, hasn’t rolled out as smoothly as advertised.

Hitman games are defined as much by their locations as anything else. Prior games sent Agent 47 to ritzy destinations like Marrakesh, Morocco; Hokkaido, Japan; Miami, Florida; and Sapienza, Italy, which is not a real place but, c’mon, may as well be a carbon copy of Positano, Sorrento, Praiano, or any other vacation hotspot on the idyllic Amalfi Coast. If you owned Hitman 2, you could import any unlocked levels into Hitman 3 by downloading expansion passes called Access Packs at no extra cost. (Those who owned Hitman or Hitman 2 on disc have had to go through an even more convoluted download process. It’s a whole thing.)

Trying to find these Access Packs in each console’s proprietary storefront, though, could show them listed at price. Instead, players had to navigate to Hitman 3’s Store tab via the game’s main menu. But even that hasn’t guaranteed success. Some Xbox players have been entirely unable to access the first game’s Access Pack, even if they follow the guidelines to a tee. IO says a “resolution” is in the works.

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PC players, meanwhile, faced some mixed messaging about whether or not PC players would have to repurchase Hitman 2 on the Epic Games Store, where Hitman 3 is a timed exclusive. Currently, Hitman 2 is not available on the Epic Games Store, but you can buy the Hitman 2 Gold Edition Access Pack — which includes the base game and its add-ons — at an 80-per cent markdown through February 3. In other words, if you own Hitman 2 on Steam and want to play that game’s levels in Hitman 3, you’ll have to pay again. IO says a fix is in the works. It’s unclear why the Hitman 2 Gold Edition Access Pack isn’t marked down completely. (Kotaku has reached out to IO representatives for comment.)

And then there’s the actual data transfer. If you played Hitman 2, you can port your player profile — your XP rank, your Master levels, your unlocked suits, things like that — into Hitman 3. IO Interactive even set up a dedicated site allowing players to seamlessly settle the process. The site almost immediately buckled under the strain, with some players encountering error messages. At 2:57 p.m. ET, IO Interactive acknowledged the issue, writing, in a tweet, that anyone seeing a failure notification has been “placed in a queue on [their] end and processed. You can do no more.”

“We’ve taken steps to stabilise the carryover progress,” IO wrote in a FAQ Thursday morning. “We’re cautiously optimistic that we’ll avoid further issues and we’re on deck to keep thing[s] smooth as we reach peak hours.”

And then there’s the issue with cross-gen enhancements. It’s no secret that upgrading a game from its PlayStation 4 version to its PlayStation 5 one is already a confounding process. Hitman 3 throws an extra wrench in it. In some cases, PlayStation players have reported issues using a PS4 disc of the game to upgrade to the PS5 version, despite pre-launch promises from IO stating that next-gen upgrades would be free. Today’s FAQ directs players to first download the PS4 version onto their PS5, and then head to the PlayStation Store (on console only) and download the Hitman 3 Disc Upgrade Edition.

On top of all this, some small bits of downloadable content apparently aren’t even carrying over at all. Per IO, the Requiem Pack — which, fun fact, featured a white rubber duck — is currently “AWOL.”

Wow, ok, I take it back. That’s a lot. Why does this always happen?

It always happens, doesn’t it?

Speaking to Kotaku in 2019, developers rattled off a list of common issues that could potentially kneecap an online game, including crashes, system failure, a code issue, an unexpected influx of players, or even bugs on an individual player’s machine. Developer Rami Ismail, of Vlambeer, likened such launches to Mini Metro, the terrific minimalist management sim about building accessible transit in major metropolitan areas.

It’s important to remember, too, that issues like this aren’t universal. (See: All of the people who reply to articles about Cyberpunk 2077 with some diatribe about how the game runs swimmingly on their gazillion-dollar rig, and that it’s the game of the year, and why is it getting so much bad word of mouth anyway, what’s the problem?) For some Hitman 3 players, everything is peaches and gravy. For others, the entire ordeal has been an exercise in frustration.

And this is a tale as old as time anyway. Mass Effect: Andromeda launched as a buggy mess, before BioWare turned the ship around and transformed the game into, if not the best Mass Effect, a solid series entry. Similar things could be said about Halo: The Master Chief Collectionwhich is a freakin’ blast these days — or Diablo III. And everyone knows the No Man’s Sky redemption ark by now. Is Hitman 3 the next chapter in a long saga of now-great games that sputtered at launch? Only time will tell if IO can pull off this job.

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Comments

  • // In other words, if you own Hitman 2 on Steam and want to play that game’s levels in Hitman 3, you’ll have to pay again. IO says a fix is in the works. It’s unclear why the Hitman 2 Gold Edition Access Pack isn’t marked down completely. //

    A fix that I’m sure will not come before the limited time marked down price on EGS is gone, so players will feel compelled to rebuy it again just in case. All made worse if it’s content you already own and that was promised would carry over.

    The fact that even marked down by 80% it is STILL $27 AU is absolutely insane, and also means they’ll be wanting $135 AU for the previous games’ levels to unlock once the discount window disappears. Utterly incredible. The one thing I will say is that I heavily suspect Epic are responsible for this price gouging in particular.

    • They replied on social media 2 days after they got roasted its their mistake and until “they fix it” they are giving anyone who purchases Hitman 3 on EGS will get the game pass for free until that fix goes live.

      Still have no faith in them or EGS atm, can wait for Steam release.

      • The ‘legacy pass’ being given for free is only Hitman 1 content, not Hitman 2.

        You currently have to pay $27 to get the Hitman 2 content, and that’s at an 80% discount which only applies until the start of next month last I checked.

        I have some faith in IOI, but I feel like EGS is pulling strings and/or handicapping them because their store/client is honestly absolute garbage still in a lot of ways.

        • i usualy agree with what you say but in this instance youre talking out of your arse. io and egs has fixed the problem owners of previous games even cross platform are to get the inclusion.

    • Same pricing on all platforms. About $100 for H2 pass and another $50 for the H2 expansion pass. Ridiculous pricing.

      Didn’t actually check the price of the game if it wasn’t in the pass, but it and the pack usually go for sale about $20 each, so why even both with the pass at that point.

      Not to mention disc prices.

  • why the hell is no one talking about the broken black levels in this game? SDR and HDR black levels both look equally as broken. i am on ps5 for hitman 3 but own hitman 1 and 2 on steam and know this hasn’t always been an issue and i have seen a minority of people complaining about the black levels on pc too. are most game journalists general blind? i mean all i hear is “online is rocky, epic games is shit blah blah blah” but why doesn’t anyone mention how bad this game actually looks at the moment? dubai i could handle. but now im at the manor it looks like fucking stephen kings the mist throughout the whole level. any area with a slightly black shade looks foggy and grey and its really damn annoying considering how good the last two game were. there better be a fix for this in the very near future otherwise this is just total bullshit developing

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