Hitman: Absolution wants to widen the franchise’s reach

In a familiar story for game studios these days, IO Interactive has stated that the next installment in the Hitman series will be “more accessible” than its predecessors. The director of Hitman: Absolution, Tore Blystad, recently gave an interview with DigitalTrends and explained the game’s new vision and hope for getting uninitiated players on board.

“The Hitman games of the past have been very hardcore,” says Blystad. “Even though the fantasy of the Hitman universe has a very universal appeal, the games have been so difficult to play, that it’s been more of an acquired taste. The biggest challenge that we had with this game was to make it much broader in every sense, so that it was easier to play and more accessible, but still retain a very strong, hardcore side as well. We don’t want to alienate any of our fans who have been extremely loyal for so many years.”

To that end, IO Interactive’s new in-house engine, Glacier 2, has many features that support player awareness and capability. “Everything in the game now is based on real-time feedback within the game engine,” Blystad continues. “Every action is updating in real-time, which is a change from how we worked before. When it comes to the game’s features, we have a separate tech team and gameplay team that work together to ensure the new features work in the game.”

Blystad goes on to explain the role of AI; “If you attack an enemy from any angle, then we’re able to have them fight back, or continue on in a normal state if you ignore them.”

“There are similar things in games like GTA or these bigger sandbox games, but it’s on a much less granular level because we have a very strong focus on the abilities of the characters. You get so close to the characters in this game. They all have names, and they have all some kind of part to play in the story, so that they act as believable as possible is the most important thing for us. It’s the most central part of the game.”

The new tech sounds very interesting, if a little nebulous, but I tend to become somewhat apprehensive when I learn that a series such as this will become more accommodating and less hardcore. It seems like the team has the right idea by increasing system fluidity and telegraphing more useful information to the player. I just hope that the series won’t go the way of Splinter Cell and make Agent 47 an acrobatic, Jack Bauerified, fast and overly agile Grim Reaper.

What do you think of Hitman‘s new direction and tech? Is “hardcore” becoming a dirty word for more developers? Does “universal appeal” even exist, and is it killing the identity of certain IPs?