How the New Hitman Freelancer Game Mode Changes How You Play HitmanFeb 21, 2023 | 1 Votes
The modern Hitman trilogy has been hailed as one of the best games to play, not just because you get to play as assassin extraordinaire, Agent 47, but you also get to plenty of replayability due to the insane number of challenges offered, really forcing you to explore each location, gather intel on your mark, and finally, make use of various, and sometimes, creative ways to kill your target as silently as you can, giving you more bang for your buck.
The franchise has recently undergone a massive revamp that sees all the modern Hitman games being consolidated into a single all-encompassing title, Hitman: World of Assassination. While this is great news and all, the update also comes with a brand-new roguelike game mode and, to further sweeten the pot, this standalone-worthy game mode, named Hitman Freelancer, is provided for free to owners of the trilogy.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… Agent 47 is working completely freelance now? How would that even work considering that the ICA will never ever let go of their most precious… asset? Well, technically, your job is to take out whatever main target the ICA has you zeroed on, so you aren’t exactly 100% freelance. However, unlike the campaign mode, you get to choose which syndicate to target and from there, you get to choose your own marks out of the few choices given. In a way, you get to fight a vigilante war against your preferred syndicate.
Similar to most roguelikes, Hitman Freelancer is segmented into four sections with each offering three missions in total. The goal here is to take down 4 different criminal syndicates of your choosing – all of which are scums of the Earth, I assure you - which correspond with the four sections. But of course, this is easier said than done since each mission’s difficulty will increase as you progress. There’s also a hardcore mode that you can activate if you think the missions aren’t hard enough.
Depending on your choice, the first two of the three missions will involve taking out trusted syndicate members of a much lower rank. For those missions, the target is marked clearly and you can immediately go about strategizing how to best take the target out right from the start. This includes scouting out the mission location, which is quite massive with some maze-like aspects to it, I might add, learning your target (and the guards’) routines, and finding what you need to pull off the job.
However, there are several significant twists here. For starters, you won’t have access to an inventory filled with your usual tools. Instead, what you have is a camera (by default), and whatever weapon/s you’ve decided to bring along with you. If it’s a new run, it likely meant that you’ll only have access to a simple pistol (without the silencer… the horror!) …if you remember to equip the gun from the display wall back in the safehouse (more on this later) prior to deploying, that is. You’re expected to make use of what you find or can get, including disguises and keycards.
In the campaigns, you’re usually deployed in a fairly safe area and will make your way to more hostile territory from there. However, you may not be afforded such luxury in Hitman Freelancer. The deployment spot is completely randomized, so you may sometimes find yourself in the middle of hostile territory on your very first mission. There’s also no save scumming here, and if you messed up a takedown or something, you’ll have to deal with the consequences or risk failing the mission. There are plenty of autosaves as well so in case real life comes calling, you can take a break from a mission without fearing you’d lose progress.
If you fail any of these missions, such as by getting yourself killed or escaping from the place before completing the main objective, the game doesn’t reset itself as a roguelike would. Instead, it’ll increase the alert level of your next mission, making it a lot harder to pull off disguises and sneak around unnoticed. There may also be other assassins around, some of which may not actually be protecting the target but some other people in the mission, so choosing who to subdue can also be tricky here.
For the third and last mission, you’ll be going after the head honcho of the syndicate you’ve chosen. The Showdown mission here isn’t as clear-cut and you’ll be required to figure out who your mark is based on intel, such as appearance, outfit, and personality, you’re provided. You’ll have to use a Suspect Camera to identify the actual target out of the several lookalikes roaming the place before doing the deed.
For Showdowns, the target can be spooked as well, and if you’re making too much… noise, the target could flee the place, making you fail the mission. Failing a showdown carries a heftier penalty as it’ll completely reset the run and you’ll have to start from the very beginning. Each mission also comes with a list of additional objectives that you can complete to earn additional Mercers, in-game currency. Some of these optional objectives can contradict each other, making it possible to only complete one of the two.
On each mission, the location will also have several interesting POIs that might be worth investigating. For instance, you can find Couriers who will drop a lot of Mercers if they are slain or knocked out, as well as Suppliers who will sell you unique weapons and items in exchange for Mercers. Besides safes that contains plenty more Mercers to loot, that is if you can crack them, there are also chests that will grant you a consumable when opened, though you’ll only get to take one of three choices provided. If unused, the items and weapons will remain in your inventory if you successfully completed the mission and are safely extracted back to the safehouse.
Yes, you get a safehouse in this game mode from which you can plan your missions. It also houses the only way you can safely store your weapons and items – the display wall and briefcases. You see, the weapons you managed to pick up - usually from guards - in this game can be brought back to your safehouse, if it’s in your inventory when you escape the mission area, and added to your display wall. The display wall work as a sort of storage for your weapons while the briefcases help store your consumables, like explosives, but only for those with rarity.
It is crucial to progression because you’ll lose whatever you have in your inventory if you fail a mission. Guns that are on the wall and items in the briefcases will remain there even if your progress is reset due to the failed Showdown, allowing you to have a bit more weapon and item choices on your next run. To help you, you’ll also get a reward chest every time you make it to the safehouse. Similar to the chest you find within a mission area, you’ll get to choose one out of the three item choices given and you can then bring that item with you on your next mission.
Due to how Hitman Freelancer is designed, you definitely can’t play this game mode the “usual way”. For example, since you know what you’re expected to do in the next mission, that it up until the Showdown, you might want to “stock up” on what you need beforehand. What this means is that if you know you’ll need a shotgun for a optional objective in the next mission and you happened to see a guard having one in your current mission, you might want to take the guy out, and stash the weapon somewhere safe until you’re ready to be extracted and can retrieve it. After all, there’s no guarantee you might find a guard with a shotgun in the next mission.
Since there’s no replaying the same missions to obtain all the feats and challenges, you just must play run after run on Hitman Freelancer to “collect” them all. This is good and all since the whole premise of this game mode is for you to increase your familiarity of each location in every run to the point where you’ve basically memorized the place and the guard routines enough to know all the important spots right from the start like where to get a certain disguise or the poison you need for a side objective, as well as how to get the items, making each run’s missions easier and easier to complete.
Unfortunately, there’s one major downside to the game – despite being a single-player game mode, albeit with a leaderboard, Hitman Freelancer must be played entirely online and boy! Does it gobble up a whole lot of bandwidth.
All in all, Hitman Freelancer offers players a refreshing new way to play Hitman, giving them more freedom to both plan and execute their targets. Considering the replayability of this roguelike game mode and the insane amount of content here, Hitman Freelancer could have easily been a fairly pricey DLC that many would have been willing to shell out their money for, but this mode is given to owners of the trilogy for free. It is definitely a worthy gift to fans of the Hitman trilogy and franchise!