So I wanted to start this topic to talk about something that bothers me with these two games (hitman and hitman 2). Hitman story missions.
I’ll be referring to both games as hitman(hitman and hitman 2) and name other hitman games by name.
Skip ahead to tldr if you don’t like someone trying to write for the first time in a while xd
I personally played a bit of old games, some absolution but I mostly played hitman blood money and I generally refer to newer hitman games as “hitman blood money but bigger”, but one thing that bothers me about newer games is the guided approach to story missions, expecially in hitman 2 where at the end of a level you’re prompted with “do you wanna do these”. Hitman blood money also had pre scripted story things (dropping a chandelier , swapping a gun, dropping a piano etc),but instead of the game outright pointing at them, and guiding you step by step on how to do them you were left with a blank sandbox, and you had to find them while playing, instead of clicking on “track” and going to that location and then the next.
Hitman blood moneys story missions felt more like a puzzle that you had to find, explore, and figure out. What are the steps,okay how do I do this, while the new hitman games feel like someone is taking your hand, picking up a puzzle piece and finishing it on their own but letting you feel like you did something. In new hitman games you even feel bad in a way punished for not doing these guided missions because of the point system, while in blood money no matter how much you fuck up during the planning and discovering the puzzles you always have this feeling of “alright how can I make this work”.
Hitman and hitman 2 offer so many improvements to play in these sandbox levels, but somehow misses the mark with story missions where instead of experimentation it takes your hand and tells you exactly how to do things or else you lose points or get story mission failed.
TLDR: personally hitman and hitman 2 story missions somehow depart from the games core mechanics and ideas: to experiment,to see what happens,to finish an object in many different creative ways you come up with. While blood money offered less but felt a lot more personal because there was no guidance and you felt like YOU were solving the puzzle.
I totally see what you’re saying about the game almost feeding you with these funny ways to complete missions that would be fun to think of by yourself. But I got the impression that these hints could be turned off in the settings? Haven’t tried it myself yet (but I’m considering it once I move past Miami) so I’m not one hundred on exactly what information it holds back, though.
The post-mission cards I’d like to say can be more or less ignored.
It can be turned off. Everything can be turned off, which is neat.
Before I played Hitman I didn’t like the idea of them. Now I do, because they are fun scripted events that are easy to pull off, kinda relaxing.
They are extremely guided, more so in 2, right? But they are also just one way to do things. The challenges can show you that there are many other ways to carry out assassinations that are just as fun, and where you really need to figure it out yourself.
I like the mission stories a lot! I think they’re a great way to get eased into a level, and probably serve as great onboarding for people who don’t have much experience with the series.
They do award more points, but I think that’s to get you through the first few mastery levels quick so you can get access to new tools/item locations/starting points, which really open up the levels. It’s a good design decision imho, as it eases you into the progression loop before you get into the more difficult and freeform challenges.
I kind of view them as an easy mode for a lack of a better term. They guide you by the hand to some scripted content the devs went out of the way to intentionally include, and they also give you the most overall “plot” in terms of information about the interconnected narrative. It makes sense that they’d give you the most reward for doing these things because they want to incentivize you to actually learn about the plot. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re frequently the most comical.
I don’t know how recently you’ve played Blood Money or the other Hitman games, but a lot of the time they were less than subtle about their hints. They pretty firmly guided you into the direction of doing these things, maybe not with a psychic glowing objective in the world, but it wasn’t something you just blindly stumbled on by luck.
I like that they’re a part of the game, because it does give you a nice onboarding process to the levels and the mechanics. If you’re not interested in poking around and creating your own weird chaos, it lets you feel cool and accomplished without purely handing you a win. At the same time, it doesn’t give you enough information to go all out and challenge yourself for things like suit only silent assassin. You still need to figure out how this little pieces can thread together into a larger whole.
My general approach is I will poke around the level until I figure out how to do my SASO without any assistance. Once I’ve managed to pull that off, then I’ll go do the story missions for the mastery points and to find out what’s going on. Once I’ve gotten the dry, clinical take on the level, then I can go a little nuts and be stupid about things.
I think it’s fine, you can turn the hints off and there’s a bunch of stuff in each map that still has the same flow but you have to find it yourself instead of it having an associated story mission. They put enough amusing and fun kills in the mode that handholds you but still leave some room to grow/see everything. Having an item unlock for doing all the suggested stories on each map is kind of whatever, most of them are replaceable with stuff you can get elsewhere.
For me, if a conversation sounds interesting enough I like having the option to track it. This game can get weird in all kinds of fun ways, 47’s got some fun dialogue, and so do a lot of the other targets and NPC’s. If hints help me to see more of what IOI included in this game I’m all for it.
I don’t know how many people here have done the elusive target for “The Undying”, but I found it maybe too hand-holdy. I know you don’t have to follow some of the mission prompts, but they hit you with a lot of options and info off the bat and seem to make it a pretty easy target. Maybe that was because it’s the first elusive target for Hitman 2 and they’re trying to have a level playing field for new players and returning players alike.
I feel like there is a tension in these two statements that is worth talking about, and not one that I think falls down badly on anyone involved.
There’s a concept in behavioural psychology called the ‘default effect’, which argues that, by making something a default option, you increase how often that item is selected. This has a lot of implications, both in terms of designing systems and in deciding policy. For example, if you make organ donation opt-in rather than opt-out, you decrease the amount of organ donors (as people will choose not to opt-in – lots of reasons why). Alternatively, if you are setting prices, if you make the default asking price $20, $10 seems like a great offer (50%!) – if you set it at $10 by default, suddenly it’s not such a great value proposition.
I think there’s a similar feature for games. Even if you can opt-out of the hints, I think it does shape the medium of how that is received and perceived by players. While it is worth saying that it’s changeable, I don’t think it should be overlooked that, as ever, their default nature makes them hard to overlook, as not using them actively feels like foregoing something rather than simply not opting into an advantage.
(P.S. I love the hints system – I think I’d rather dislike the old Hitman games, personally!)
If the game incentivizes behavior by giving points for performing certain actions, it is indirectly disincentivizing any behavior that isn’t rewarded with points. By quantifying the assassination paths and gamifying the completion thereof, they’ve created a meta that is more about completing objectives than the stealth meta of the older games. I don’t remember if Codename 47 through Contracts rewarded you with much of anything for Stealth Assassin runs, but I do know that Blood Money moved towards a rewards system by incurring penalties on the following missions for performing slow, dirty hits, giving you more money to buy weapons with if you performed particularly well.
Whereas the older games were laser-focused on clean play, the new ones are very much concerned with directly rewarding exploration. They are, arguably, more focused on encouraging the player to fully experience these microcosms than they are on rewarding the player for performing assassinations. This is evidenced in how much the player is rewarded for simply following every little story to its conclusion, regardless of the assassination’s effectiveness, speed, or subtlety.
So, I see why you feel this way. I, too, feel this way. Others are right: you can turn these hand-holding UI tooltips off, which I always do, but that doesn’t change the game’s design. It just changes how much of the game design you are responsible for experiencing on your own. I do love the Opportunities; I feel like they validate spending much, much more time in the levels than previous Hitman games ever did, and that’s saying a lot given that they, too, encouraged a variety of different assassination methods. Regardless, the game is unarguably different in the latest two iterations. The purity of that core Hitman experience is still there, you just have to reach into the game and disable a bunch of stuff in order to tease it out, which is explicitly indicative of how different these games are from their predecessors, further validating the OP’s point.
I don’t have anything to really add to your good post about defaults and how they reinforce intended playstyles (kcin’s post above is also excellent), but I do want to apologize to the OP if it seemed like I was calling her out on having missed the options – rereading my post, it’s more defensive than I intended, which is my bad.
On a related note though, I just got home and booted the game up to check the options menu. I’m actually surprised at just how extensive it is. Not only can you turn off in-game hints but also any information in the challenges list that you haven’t yet uncovered yourself (bar the thumbnail), and tons more. I probably won’t turn all markers off (the red target highlight feels good) but some of it for sure.
The defaults post was really interested,and I guess I should’ve mentioned it in my big post that I wanted to give an opinion on this game the way it comes out of the box, I knew about the settings, should’ve mentioned it.
I also forgot to point out that as far as I know you don’t get any points for doing levels on your own,there’s no “creative solution” bonus. Which I don’t even know how you’d get. Maybe I like story missions less because I find it really fun to poke around more, don’t get me wrong you can still do that with story missions except if you want to unlock mastery on a level you kinda have to do these missions
I can definitely see myself forgetting how the missions actually were in hitman blood money since it’s been a while. But I distinctly remember how great it felt to finally snap it all into place, because just getting around some of the maps was a bit rough. I did forget to mention that some of them feel very guided but because there is no actual guide, there’s no mark to lead you to a place it still felt like you were finding everything. Even the silly piano bit is so obvious but because there’s no mark to go to it makes me go "…ahh I could use that piano but how, where do I put the mine " instead of “oh okay I have to go there to do it”
In terms of what the game rewards, and what it encourages you to do, it certainly encourages you to follow the mission stories. But just doing those won’t max out your mission mastery. You’re expected to do things in all sorts of ways. There are plenty of interesting methods that are flagged in the mission challenges that the game doesn’t guide you through step-by-step, but will reward you for figuring out. The story missions are a good way to find out why the people you’re killing are arseholes, to get some familiarity with the level and the ways you can make people move throughout it, and to unlock the basic mission mastery rewards so that you have more options when making your own approaches or playing Escalations (sorely missed, at the moment) or contracts.
I appreciate that they’re there, and it’s worth noting that, if I remember correctly, tuning down the guidance or turning it off entirely is the first option in the gameplay section. As much as the game has them on by default, it also recognises that turning them off may be a priority for a lot of people.
I think having them on by default is ideal for newcomers (who are - I suspect - more likely to play the game as it comes and not mess with settings); it introduces a lot of the game’s humour and lack of self-seriousness in a way that is important for a game that is about being a professional assassin, it introduces the concept that it’s important to listen to conversations and figure out ways to make people move throughout the level, and it helps to offset a lack of experience and make it easier to get through the game for someone new.
Again things I forgot to say, I think these missions being there is a good option, it’s better user experience, a lot more people will do them and experience them what I don’t like is by default I can click on any mission,not even the one I heard a conversation about and follow the marker. That’s the part that I really dislike.
I wish there was a way to have my cake and eat it too but there’s not really. The overall design is much more welcoming to new players which is a good thing imo. But it loses some of the charm of the old games, and I’m not a fan of hand holdy mechanics.
I’m probably in the few but just seeing “story mission failed” or not getting any additional points that tell me “hey you did a good job” after I come out of mission is pretty defeating. Like…oh I didn’t do it the way they wanted me to so I don’t get any acknowledgement. The general let’s say objective is to be a silent assassin and kill only the targets, which is fine by me, doing it more stealthy feels better because you get points as soon as you do something. Or you don’t get the red text that you killed a non target. But then after you spend a lot of time carefully going through the level, eliminating targets getting out and then it’s like “you didn’t do it how we wanted you to, so no points for you”. And at that point story missions to me feel like a required thing, you have to do them to unlock locations. You have to do them because you won’t get points.
Maybe it’s just me but as soon as you add a point system to any game,if I don’t see myself getting points I feel like I’m doing something wrong. Or just by not giving points it makes me feel that way is not worth it
Update: the cake and eat it too part, I can…with options XD
The story missions are the tutorial for the level. They are there to give you a guided look through the level, to expose you to various areas, their occupants, and whatever items and assassination opportunities you might see along the way. The loop of the game is that you’re meant to play these stages over and over and over and over and over again. Differently each time. The story missions are to ease you into things so that you start to learn the level and can plan your own methods.
I don’t feel any particular way about the story missions, but I love the challengers. They’re the meat of the game for me. They’re kind of the opposite of story missions, in that they’ll tell you what to do, but give you almost no instructions for how to do it. One of my favorite memories from Hitman 2016 is of doing a silent assassin sniper run in Marrakesh, which for some reason I can’t remember required chasing after a particular guard in the beginning to steal a keycard before he went somewhere off limits to me. I also love the ones like pushing Dahlia Margolis onto Viktor Novikov in Paris because it’s so simple, but I never would have thought to do it on my own.