Elusive Targets and Escalation Mode

Last month, IO Interactive, the developer of the new Hitman game, stated that there would be a “major live component” when it releases for PS4, PC, and XBOX One on March 11.  The developers have now finally revealed exactly what they meant.

Speaking to Steam, IO Interactive Community Manager, Travis, went in-depth on the new Elusive Targets.  Elusive Targets are contracts that are available for a limited time.  Travis stated that Elusive Targets “are the closest thing to the Hitman fantasy that we’ve ever created.”  Each target will have its own briefing video and a photograph.  These targets will not appear n your instinct mode, so you’ll have to rely on the photograph and clues from the briefing video to find your target.  You only have one chance to locate and eliminate your target.  Succeed or fail, the target is gone for good.

Travis explained further:

Each Elusive Target will have a custom briefing video, a backstory and a unique reason for being in that location. When you’re actually playing in the location, the Elusive Target will not appear on the map and will not appear in Instinct. In order to find them, you’ll need to use clues from the briefing video and a photograph that you will be able to review. You’ll need to explore, find your target, learn their patterns and come up with a plan to eliminate them – all whilst playing. The pressure will be on when you’ve got the target in your sights. If you miss the shot and chaos breaks loose, you will need to have a plan B, because the save-game is disabled during an Elusive Target. If you kill the wrong person or die when trying to exfiltrate, that’s it. Game over, the target escapes.

As the season unfolds, you’ll earn in-game rewards for completing multiple Elusive Target contracts. The rewards are signature suits from previous Hitman games and versions of those suits with gloves. There’s also a version of the signature suit from the new HITMAN with gloves.

He also explained Escalation Mode.  Designed more for fun than realism, Escalation Mode adds a series of challenges to a hit.  Focusing on completing each of the challenges increases your rank in the leaderboards.  Each contract will have five stages for Agent 47 to complete.

As an example, the first stage could be to eliminate your target with a sabre. Then, the second stage could be to eliminate your target with a sabre whilst dressed as a waiter and removing any security camera recordings within two minutes. We are able to change where the security cameras are and also add additional ‘security’ measures to the locations, such as laser trip-wire explosives that you’ll need to avoid.

Hitman will also have a Contracts mode similar to Absolution.  Players can replay levels of their choosing and take out any character in the level in any way they please.  Other players attempt to kill the target the same way for money.  The price of the contract depends on the difficulty of the hit.

Finally, there’s a Live Challenges Mode.  These are community-inspired challenges, but there’s no guarantee this will be in the final game.  It’s still undergoing testing, but IO Interactive is hopeful it will be in the game.

As you’ll have seen from the recent Beta period, the game is full of challenges you can complete to prove your mastery of a location. We are looking into creating new challenges that we can periodically add to the game. These challenges will be an homage to some of the more elaborate, amusing, difficult or creative feats that we see our players complete. As an example, one of the first ‘live challenges’ we are looking at creating is called “Hammer Time” and was inspired by a ‘2AngryGamers’ livestream of our PS4 Beta, where they used only a hammer to knock out almost every guard in the ‘Final Test’.

I was skeptical of the episodic release format, but thoroughly enjoyed the recent beta.  IO Interactive sounds like they’re adding a lot of content to Hitman and I’m looking forward to March 11th.  I’m especially intrigued by the Elusive Targets.  It sounds like it’ll add a rogue-like aspect to the game.  What are your thoughts on IO Interactive’s announcements?  Did you enjoy the beta?