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Hitman 3 new modes revealed, Hitman Trilogy coming to Xbox/PC Game Pass – Polygon

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Hitman 3’s second year starts with a bang
Hitman 3 developer IO Interactive is celebrating the game’s first birthday on Jan. 20 in a big way, starting with the release of Hitman Trilogy, which will debut in the Game Pass library on both Windows PC and Xbox, the studio announced Thursday.
The bundle includes all three games in the World of Assassination trilogy — 2016’s Hitman, 2018’s Hitman 2, and 2021’s Hitman 3 — and it will also be released the same day on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The PC version of the trilogy (and of Hitman 3 itself) will be available via Steam as well as the Epic Games Store, since the game’s one-year exclusivity agreement with the Epic Games Store will end as of Jan. 20. IO did not announce a price for the trilogy; we’ve reached out to the studio to ask, and we’ll update this article with any information we receive.
Hitman 3 is also coming to another new platform on Jan. 20: PC virtual reality. The VR mode has thus far been available exclusively on PlayStation VR, support for which is limited to the PlayStation 4 version of the game. Now, Hitman 3 PC players — whether on Steam or the Epic Games Store — will be able to check out the entire World of Assassination trilogy in VR (if they own the first two games on PC as well as Hitman 3).
IO did not provide details on headset compatibility, saying only that it will be “supporting the most popular hardware to deliver the best experience to as many players as possible.” That likely includes headsets such as Oculus Touch, which use separate controllers in each hand, allowing players to use both hands to throw items in Hitman VR: Aim with the left, and fling with the right. For many more details, including VR gameplay footage, check out the Hitman 3 year 2 reveal video.
In addition to new platforms, Jan. 20 will mark the beginning of Hitman 3’s second year of content. That day, IO will release the first of two new game modes coming in 2022: Elusive Target Arcade. This expands upon the fan-favorite Elusive Target mode by requiring players to take out targets in succession, completing multiple contracts simultaneously and unlocking rewards along the way. The biggest change from the existing version of the mode is that Arcade Contracts will be available permanently, unlike the limited-time events that Elusive Targets are. However, failing any step of an Arcade Contract will result in a 12-hour lockout, so there’s still an element of time gating to the new mode.
This spring, IO will follow up Elusive Target Arcade with a completely new mode called Freelancer. This single-player mode offers an array of campaigns for players to tackle, each of which comprises a series of missions — playable in any order — in which Agent 47 must take down a criminal organization. As a, well, freelancer, 47 isn’t working with the ICA’s support in this mode; his gear isn’t permanent, and between missions, he’ll have to return to his home base to resupply.
Here’s how IO describes Freelancer campaigns:
Campaign missions have been reworked to fit the Freelancer mode. For example, locations will have new NPC types, that can either help or hinder your progress. Suppliers will offer a selection of weapons and items that you can acquire to increase your chances of success, whereas other NPCs will alert Leaders and make your job more difficult. In addition to these NPCs, there are several other elements that will make the Freelancer campaigns unique. You’ll be able to find safes, hidden stashes and even other NPC Assassins…
That location, simply called Safehouse, is one of the two new maps that IO has announced so far for year 2. It isn’t a traditional Hitman map — it’s a customizable space with areas that players will unlock as they progress through Freelancer campaigns. There’s a firing range for testing weapons, a closet to try on new outfits, and even decor to tailor the place to one’s own liking.
Finally, IO touched on a few updates that are coming “later in 2022.” They include a number of PC-specific visual upgrades such as real-time ray tracing — for reflections and shadows — which will be available for the entire World of Assassination trilogy in Hitman 3. Another one is support for XeSS, Intel’s competitor to Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), which is debuting this year alongside Intel’s Arc GPUs. (You can see a brief demo of XeSS in Hitman 3 in this Intel video from October 2021.) IO will also be adding variable rate shading to the game later this year, which improves performance by dedicating fewer rendering resources to parts of the image that are less important.

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"Will Sony buy Ubisoft?" and other questions after Xbox's shock acquisition of Activision Blizzard – VG247

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On January 18, 2022, Microsoft announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard. This is a platform holder buying one of the biggest games publishers and one of the world’s biggest games. Call of Duty, Activision’s flagship product, has suffered some declines in recent years, but it remains a massive series. And more significantly, it is one of the most popular games on PlayStation.
Activision Blizzard is also a company embroiled in lawsuits and ongoing conflict with its employees, and has had its reputation seriously harmed due to a sexual misconduct scandal.
I am a business journalist, and there’s a lot to discuss here in terms of industry consolidation, workplace practices and business models. But if my Twitter feed is anything to go by, there are a lot of buring questions from gamers, too – particularly around what this means for the future of Call of Duty, and how PlayStation might react to this industry-changing announcement.
It’s a bit too early to know the answers to these. But we can make some educated guesses based on what each company is saying. So let’s get to it.
Whenever you talk to Microsoft, you’ll hear execs and marketing types talk about the ‘billions’ of gamers that it wants to reach. Considering its consoles have never even cracked 100 million sales – and indeed, only a few consoles have ever reach that level – the company has to think beyond the console to do this.
That involves being big in PC, big in mobile, and big in countries outside of the US and Western Europe. It involves making console games more accessible and more affordable.
That’s why it’s building up Game Pass, and it’s why it is trying to make games streaming work, and it’s why it’s buying all these games and studios, and investing heavily in technology and cloud gaming.
Lots of people will focus on Call of Duty, for obvious reasons. It’s one of the biggest games brands in the world. But in Blizzard, Microsoft has a major PC games studio, and in King, it would own one of the most successful mobile gaming developers out there. Activision – even more than Bethesda – gives Microsoft the creative talent and content that it needs to make what it’s doing with subscriptions, streaming, and technology reach those ‘billions’ of players.
That’s its goal.
Big consolidation of games companies can lead to concerns over creativity and opportunities. But there are also potential positives. Activision Blizzard will likely have a bit more freedom to spend longer on their games, and will no longer feel the pressure to have to release big sequels to their franchises regularly. For those gamers concerned about Blizzard’s recent output, being part of the Microsoft family might just give them the space they need to get back to its best.
There will inevitably be some questions that Microsoft will need to face around this deal. Antitrust and monopoly laws are designed to stop one company becoming too dominant, and putting them in a situation where they basically control the market. Xbox is now certainly a massive gaming powerhouse in this regard, owning some of the biggest and most profitable titles in games. It has the power to really transition the business towards a subscription-based future.
However, the games industry is huge, and there are lots of big players out there. Xbox may have a number of big IP and developers, and operates across most major platforms. But it isn’t the biggest console games company out there – that’s Nintendo and Sony. On PC, it’s a long way from challenging Valve. And on mobile, King may be a major player, but there are other significant names out there, such as Zynga.
But those are just the traditional games companies. Facebook’s investment in the Metaverse, Epic Games has Fortnite, there’s Roblox, Google with Stadia, Apple on mobile, and even Netflix and its games expansion. There is a lot of games competition out there right now. It’s never as simple as all that, but there’s a lot of reasons to suggest that Xbox isn’t a monopoly in games. Not yet, anyway.
No. Call of Duty will definitely remain on Xbox, PC and smartphones. The real question is: will Microsoft stop Call of Duty coming out on PS5?
Possibly, but not definitely. Call of Duty is a global, mass-market games brand that extends well beyond one platform. In many ways, it’s not too dissimilar to Minecraft, which is a true multi-format video game that Microsoft also operates. Taking Call of Duty off PlayStation will boost Xbox console sales, but will likely hurt Call of Duty in the process – that series has a lot of fans on Sony’s console. Xbox may well decide that there’s a lot of value in having a major game on a competitor’s console.
Yet, you could argue the same thing is true with Elder Scrolls, and Microsoft has made it clear that the next game in the series will be an Xbox exclusive.
This has an active and engaged audience on PlayStation already, and as a free-to-play title, the whole point is making it as accessible as possible. So in this case, I would be very surprised if Warzone disappeared from PS5. Just as I would be surprised if Elder Scrolls Online suddenly went Xbox exclusive.
It’s possible, but then it always was. Microsoft’s acquisitions are not purely about Xbox consoles. In fact, they’re mostly about driving the Game Pass subscription service, which is on PC. Microsoft has some popular PC titles like Age of Empires and Flight Simulator, but Blizzard takes that up another level.
The real thing for Microsoft here would be to incorporate an IP like Warcraft into its existing PC Game Pass subscription service.
You have to hope so. Microsoft isn’t perfect, but it has been vocal in its efforts to be a more inclusive, welcoming and diverse business. It’s not saying much, but the Xbox management team is one of the most diverse in the games industry, and it’s rightly proud of that.
It’s worth noting, however, that Microsoft has a ‘limited integration strategy’, which basically means it buys companies, offers them help, but ultimately leaves them to operate how they want. The thinking is that if they go in and meddle too much, it risks damaging what made it successful in the first place (and Xbox has certainly made those mistakes before). This strategy started with the acquisition of Mojang, and it’s worked very well for it so far.
It’ll be on Activision to ask for help from Microsoft. And I suspect it will.
Workplace culture doesn’t change overnight. New processes take time to bed in. Bad apples need to be moved on and replaced by the right people. Microsoft could certainly help, but it’ll take time.
This depends on what PlayStation wants to achieve. The reason Xbox needs these studios and these games isn’t purely to sell more consoles, but to grow its subscriber base in Game Pass and reach new markets.
Sony already has a successful console platform, a strong base of studios making great games, and it’s currently popular in far more markets than Xbox.
But it is facing competition, not just from within games but outside, too. And if it wants to fend off these rivals, or even compete better with new concepts like Game Pass, it may need to keep acquiring.
And PlayStation has been acquiring companies. These acquisitions may not be on the same industry-shaking level as Activision or Bethesda, but this is the games industry we’re talking about… who can say where the next smash hit will come from? It could be a big studio like Infinity Ward, or an entirely new start-up. Sony has been investing a lot in new teams over the past 12 months. Last year it signed the first game from Deviation Games (ex-Call of Duty veterans), Firewalk Studios (ex-Destiny folks) and Haven Studios (former Assassin’s Creed devs). Maybe this generation’s big hit video game will come from one of them, rather than an established player.
But watch this space. We are in a world of rapid consolidation. Maybe next week we’ll hear that Sony is buying Ubisoft. Or Facebook is buying Sony. Or Netflix. The games industry is changing quickly.
Potentially anybody. We can all see how attractive a company like Sega might be to Xbox, or Square Enix to Sony. There are plenty of people looking to buy, the question is who might want to sell?
Take-Two, Ubisoft and Nintendo have all previously stated that they are not for sale. But things change. Ubisoft is currently struggling to keep staff following a number of workplace scandals, and its games and business practices are coming under criticism. It may have famously fought off a hostile takeover before, but might it be more open to an amicable takeover now?
What I can say, is that we’re less than three weeks into 2022 and we’ve already had two of the biggest games acquisition in history (the other being Take-Two/Zynga). There will be more.
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