Agent 47's next adventure will be released in multiple parts. Today publisher Square Enix announced that the next Hitman game will be a "fully episodic" release, with the first episode of the game, which takes place in Paris, due to launch on March 11th.
An episode set in Italy will follow in April, followed by one in Morocco in May. The company says that it will then deliver regular monthly content updates throughout 2016, including three additional locations: Thailand, America, and Japan. Weekly "live events" will also be released periodically. The first episode will cost $15, while subsequent episodes will be $10 each; alternately you can purchase the whole game up front for $60. A traditional physical release of the game will launch at the end of the year.
"Part of that decision is for that little bit of extra time to ensure every location we release is at the quality level fitting for a Hitman game," Hannes Seifert, head of developer IO Interactive, says of the new release structure. "But the main driving reason is that this will allow us to create a living game that will expand and evolve over time and establish a foundation for the future — this is the first game in a storyline which will continue and expand with future Hitman games." Yesterday the developer cancelled preorders for the game, saying that it was "adjusting a few things."
The new Hitman was originally supposed to launch last December, but IO delayed the game until March in order to "add more to the launch content of the game, more than we had originally planned, and then follow with a tighter frequency of updates, which ultimately will create a better game for everyone." The game is expected to be significantly larger than past Hitman games, with a focus on open-ended, sandbox-style gameplay.
While episodic gaming has become popular among publishers in recent years, the release structure is typically used for smaller, narrative-driven games such as Life is Strange or Minecraft: Story Mode. Hitman will be one of the first blockbuster titles to be released episodically, though it likely won't be the last: Square Enix is also experimenting with an episodic release for the upcoming remake of Final Fantasy VII.