I probably don’t need to tell you what Hitman is, given its 20 year history and immense popularity. But just in case you’ve woken up with a case of near total amnesia and a nifty tattoo on the back of your head, it’s a stealth assassination game where being unremarkable is more viable than never being seen, despite the fact that player character Agent 47 is a towering muscular man with apparently only one facial expression and vocal tone. The three most recent entries in the series – calling themselves simply Hitman, Hitman 2 and Hitman 3 – have been especially well received, allowing players a sandbox experience with large and opportunity rich maps, that each had alternate mission paths, ranking systems, and more. The games also had an expanding list of limited time missions, one attempt missions, and user created missions all in the name of creating an ever expanding Hitman experience, with one game building off of the next. For awhile, people were unsure where the series would be headed after the end of the story missions in Hitman 3. Would we continue the story with a Hitman 4? Would the series reboot again like it had done with Hitman in 2016?

And then IO interactive announced an update to Hitman 3 and the answer was none of the above. Instead, Hitman 3 would see a rebranding – to Hitman: World of Assassination, the overarching name for the rebooted trilogy – most of the levels of the previous two games would be added onto that game for free, and a new mode, Hitman Freelancer, would be added to the game. In addition, Hitman 1 and Hitman 2 would no longer be available for individual sale, though people would still be able to play them if they were already purchased. According to IO interactive, these changes were made to simplify and streamline the process of getting the full World of Assassination experience that they promised all the way back in 2016, and part of that was to make sure that all players had access to the majority of the levels from the previous games (a few bonus levels from Hitman 2 are not included in the base version), especially because these levels would be necessary to actually enjoy the new Freelancer mode.

Rewards and Unlocks are for the entire Freelancer mode, as opposed to per level in the main story
Rewards and Unlocks are for the entire Freelancer mode, as opposed to per level in the main story

So, what is Hitman Freelancer? It’s a new rogue-like campaign for Hitman set after the end of Hitman 3, where 47 must take down syndicates of otherwise normal looking people to prevent them from amassing too much power. He must do this with no assistance apart from a little bit of help from Diana in the form of tools and whatever money and weapons you can find in the levels. You don’t even start with a silenced pistol. Instead you will need to get Merces – the in-game currency – from finding couriers, completing bonus objectives, and completing contracts in order to buy new weapons and tools to make missions easier. You can also find weapons and tools in missions and bring them back with you to add them to your arsenal, but by the same token, if you get killed during a level, any weapons and tools you had on you (apart from a few exceptions) and half your money will be lost. Rogue-like, natch. You don’t need me repeating the rules there.

So, what are the rules for the new campaign? Firstly, the missions can happen on any nearly any level, including I believe, the bonus levels from Hitman 2, the targets can be basically any NPC in a given level, except the named ones from the story mode. In some levels you’ll know who the target is immediately, but in others you will have to deduce who the target is to successfully eliminate them. Complete enough hits, and you take down a syndicate, take down enough syndicates, you complete a campaign. All the while you gain XP, much like in the main campaign levels, but for the freelancer mode, instead, allowing you to unlock more of Agent 47’s new safehouse to explore, more in-level carrying capacity (oh yes, you have an equipment limit in Freelancer mode, though that’s more about what you can take in to a mission than carry with you in one), new special weapons for 47 to use, new outfits, and big piles of money to help him along in his freelancing, though it seems money becomes fairly trivial after a few playthroughs.

You have to buy or find and keep weapons and tools to add them to 47's roster in Freelancer
You have to buy or find and keep weapons and tools to add them to 47’s roster in Freelancer

Other rules to keep in mind are that 47 can spawn into a level at any given entry point, including right next to a target, or right next to a set of hostile enforcers who can recognize 47 on sight – or both at once. You also don’t fail a campaign if you die or a target manages to escape once, but it does put all other levels in the campaign into high alert and failing a second mission will end your campaign. If you do fail a campaign – and you probably will for the first several goes until you get used to the new campaign rules and the curveballs each level can throw you – the game will take it easy on you with a small stipend of an assassination tool such as a taser, distraction, or explosive, as well as some Merces to get you going.


I have played several campaigns of Freelancer, and I have found it to be fascinating and altogether much more difficult than the primary Hitman story, which is down in part to the complete lack of equipment available to you at the start, but also to how I think guard patrols are faster and are much quicker to notice 47 than before. I could be wrong. I just know I’ve failed several assassinations and am likely to fail many more.

Early missions are difficult and worth little reward. Optional objectives deliver the majority of the payout
Early missions are difficult and worth little reward. Optional objectives deliver the majority of the payout

Now, there are a couple of things to be wary of. Freelancer was only added to Hitman 3 and the change-over is, as far as I can tell, only backwards, not forwards compatible. So, If you have Hitman 1 and Hitman 2, but not Hitman 3, you will not get Freelancer or any of the Hitman 3 content for free. I also have one big complaint I have with Freelancer, and it’s got nothing to do with the mission formatting or the gameplay, all of that is great if basically the same as in the earlier iterations of the new series. No. my big gripe with Freelancer mode is that IO interactive disabled saving and loading during levels. This is all well and good and befits the roguelike nature of the new campaign, but they did not see fit to implement a bookmark save function so you can stop mid-way through a level and resume from that point with the save deleting itself on load. At the moment, the only way to quit a level and not have it count as a failure for a mission is to ALT+ F4 out of it, which just dumps you back to the safehouse like you never even started the mission. Please IO, give me a bookmark save so I can stop partway through a level if something comes up. More now than ever levels can become very long and the ability to quit and close my game for things like dinner and bed would be extremely appreciated. You want to make the World of Assassination experience easy to start, but please, make it easy to put down and pick up whenever I need as well.

Tim Reviewed Hitman: Freelancer on PC with a code provided by IO interactive. The score is only for Freelancer mode, not the full World of Assassination.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments