HEAT VISION

'Hitman 2' Features Thousands of NPCs

The sequel to the popular assassin franchise will feature more immersive sandbox gameplay, new tools for Agent 47 and a wide variety of options to take down your target.

Two years after IO Interactive brought the deadly assassin Agent 47 back to games in 2016's Hitman, the studio is set to deliver another round of lethal stealth gameplay when Hitman 2 hits shelves this November.

At last week's Electronic Entertainment Expo, IO and Warner Bros. Interactive showed off a lenghty demo mission from the upcoming sequel. Putting players back in control of the world's most deadly professional killer, the demo gave free reign to explore an Indy car racing event in Miami, Fla. as Agent 47 tracks down his target, an heiress to a family fortune tied up in international arms dealing and guilty of several war crimes. 

If the set up sounds dire, it should be stressed that it is anything but. The demo is brightly colored, vibrant and an absolute joyful blend of bizarre characters and interactive, dependant game mechanics that act like tipping dominoes connecting choices to consequences.

"It’s quite a bit,"  Markus Friedl, executive producer at IO Interactive told Heat Vision of the choice available in the game. "What you saw was only part of the free demo. So, in the final one, it’s going to be an even bigger sandbox experience."

What was shown in the demo was a massive open-world map with literally hundreds of NPCs populating it — just like would be seen at a real-life racing event, or so ESPN's coverage would lead one to believe.

In the pursuit of your target, a number of different options are availabe, ranging from knocking out a flamingo mascot and donning his vibrant vestments to infiltrate VIP sections (apparently mascots have major pull), disabling a chef with a large fish (it resembled a seabass or possibly a branzino) or simply tracking down your sniper rifle stashed in a sequestered parking garage and firing off some rounds at a racing Indy car from a rooftop (about as difficult as it sounds).

Of course, as an assassin, the name of the game is stealth, and Hitman 2 offers a brand new system to help Agent 47 dissappear among the throngs of pastel-color-sporting spectators of the Miami raceway.

"Our Miami location that you see in the final builld is a location where I think we’ve turned everything up a notch again," said Friedl. "We have almost 2,000 NPCs in that location, combined with a new feature also where you can blend into crowds. Many, many more tools and items for the player to pick up on, a fish being a very popular example. So that’s another thing—adding another layer of fidelity. [It’s] very much about how many pieces and what tools we are giving the player in order to interact with this world and how can the world react to the player’s actions."

While the demo was just a small taste of what the final game will offer, the choices were still staggering and the freedom for the player to pursue their target in their own way is impressive. 

It isn't only the single-player experience fans can look forward to in Hitman 2, however, as the new game will feature co-op online play for the first time in the Sniper Assassin mode.

"It’s a new game mode that you can already get now when you preorder the game," Friedl explained. "And a franchise first — it’s co-op online. It’s super exciting."

Sniper Assassin, of which a separate demo was shared with Heat Vision prior to last week's E3, similarly puts players in control of Agent 47 as he perches high above a secluded Italian villa to pick off a gang of former thieves at a posh, invite-only wedding. The gameplay is somewhat similar to the main game's, with mutliple routes to the same endgoal, but done so from a distance with a high-powered rifle as opposed to on-the-ground stealh infiltration and fish-clubbing.

Hitman 2 will hit stores on Nov. 13 for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

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