IO Interactive has been releasing new Hitman episodes every month since March. That streak is now broken as the next episode will be released on July 19th and it will be the first (and probably only) episode to not include a brand new location. Because of this, the episode is not titled Episode 4, but instead is called the Summer Bonus Episode.
The Summer Bonus Episode will reuse the Sapienza and Marrakesh locations. Unlike the Escalation Contracts or the Elusive Contracts, which repurpose missions with minor changes, this episode will be two completely new missions. The basic level design will remain the same, but new details will be added. For instance, the new Sapienza mission is set during the filming of a movie. Judging from the screenshot from the announcement, the town square portion of the level will have a movie set constructed in the middle.
I think this bodes well for the rest of the main episodes. Episode 3 felt like the game was spinning its wheels, which was not a good sign for the next four episodes. The monthly release started to seem too brief for the scale of the missions. When the Summer Bonus Episode was announced for July, I was actually relieved. A greater gap between episodes hopefully gives IO Interactive time to create more unique ideas and settings for the game. Also, since these new missions make use of already created environments, that possibly gives them even more time to work on the brand new environments for Episode 4 and onward.
The one question I have is how the Mastery Level system will work. Each location has unique challenges that give experience towards that location’s Mastery Level. Leveling up gives rewards like equipment to use across all missions, and also location specific rewards like new starting locations. Since the level is tied to locations instead of the individual missions, I wonder if the rewards will remain or same or if the level cap will be raised. Personally, I hope the level remains capped at 20, but new challenges are added. Marrakesh is the only location I have not leveled up all the way because the current mission is so boring. This new one could be the only way I bother to earn the maximum Mastery Level.
I do not particularly like the title of the episode. “Bonus” indicates to me that something extra is being thrown in for free. Yet, Hitman promises seven episodes, and the Summer Bonus Episode is included in the seven. This was obviously planned in advance as the game always only promised six locations. I think they should have promised six episodes initially and then put this out for owners of the Sapienza and Marrakesh episodes for free. Or name it something like “Episode 3.5”.
Other than that, I think the Summer Bonus Episode is a great sign for the future of the game. I have been saying since the beginning that Hitman could be the best game in the franchise. Episode 3 made me start to doubt this claim, but I think the Summer Bonus Episode is the course correction the game needs.
Riley Berry is an Associate Writer for MONG who is the loudest silent assassin ever. You can follow him on Twitter.