It started with a man in a flamingo costume.
He had stolen the mascot outfit, and was waiting to meet the same driver, Sierra Knox, that I had been assigned to kill. I knew this because he was distracted and blabbing it on his cell phone in the basement of this Formula 1-esque track in Miami, and my mind jumped to how quickly I could steal that costume. Because who doesn’t want to do murder while dressed as a 6-foot-tall flamingo with comically large eyelashes?
While there will be many ways to kill Knox when this stage comes out with Hitman 2 later this year, the ability to wear a mascot costume through most of the mission shows the sequel hasn’t lost the last game’s surreal, humorous edge. While you could always play it straight in Hitman, there are plenty of ways to get weird, like walking down a catwalk disguised as a supermodel to get closer to your mark.
“I think it’s very much about providing temptations,” said Hitman 2 executive producer Markus Friedl at E3. “It’s constantly about tempting the player to do something, and maybe do something that they have not tried before. So, it’s teasing the player a little bit all the time with these temptations along the way, which include new tools and items for you to explore.”
As for our flamingo-suited man, Friedl said you can do more than steal his suit, as he’s also lost his car keys. You can pick up those keys and help him out, he told me, but you can also use the keys to your own advantage, and “the world is gonna react properly in both directions, no matter what you choose.”
“These storylines that are embedded into our sandbox levels that let you just pick up on a conversation,” Friedl said. “And that leads you down one route, or you can completely disregard it. I write these unique stories the way of telling these small stories inside the locations part of that as well.”
Hitman 2 will abandon the episodic formula and will include six full levels in the campaign when the game launches. They’ll be the full puzzle-box experiences fans of the first game have come to expect, and IO Interactive will further support them with different limited-time modes, like Elusive Target and Escalation Contracts. (Friedl was mum on whether we’d see any celebrity elusive targets, like Gary Busey or Home Alone’s two bumbling burglars, but it’s safe to assume Hitman 2 will remain weird.)
“We consider this humor, this little bit of tongue-in-cheek humor, very much part of the Hitman DNA,” Friedl said. “It’s part of what we are making, it’s part of who we are, it’s part of how we want to tell stories, it’s part of what we want to give our players to enjoy. And I think I can honestly say a lot of people are enjoying it so we’re definitely gonna continue doing it.”
Hitman 2 will launch on Nov. 13 for PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One.