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Hitman 3 is even better with a bullet journal

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Perfect for a first-time Hitman player

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a photo of a Hitman 3 bullet journal on desk with a fountain pen and coffee Photo: Nicole Carpenter/Polygon

I am not someone who typically uses stealth strategies to play video games — even in ones where I’m supposed to, like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. I’d rather arm my character with heavy melee weapons and blast my way through a level, which is why the Hitman series never really appealed to me. I learned very quickly when I booted up Hitman 3 on Friday that my preferred approach was absolutely not going to work. I would be forced to play stealthily, as developer IO Interactive designed it.

At first, I was lost. I wasn’t sure where to go, or what to do. I overheard conversations and immediately forgot them. I acted suspiciously and kept getting caught. My mind immediately went to a different hobby that’s helped me work through problems during the pandemic: journaling. (And then I opened our beginner’s guide, too.)

I have a journal that’s a diary, and another for work notes. Then I’ve got another with notes and thoughts on books I’m reading — a way to keep track of complex stories. (I also have a few more journals, but I don’t want you to think I’m weirder than you already think I am.)

So I started a similar journal, one specifically for Hitman 3 notes. This isn’t a new idea, at least, for other video games. Plenty of people do it — and there’s a whole community that rallied around journaling and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. There are plenty of different reasons why people do this; some want to manage and track collections or items found — to check off fish and bugs — and others simply want to honor their island in a creative way.

My Hitman 3 journal is a bit of both. I’m using it to track story missions and challenges I’ve completed (or want to complete eventually), but it’s also a place where I’m writing down essential things to remember — little pieces of the story that I might otherwise forget, like security codes or floor plans. As I’m playing the game, I find myself learning the “language” of Hitman 3, noticing small details that are colossally important — stuff that seasoned Hitman players might automatically pick up.

flat lay of a hitman 3 journal with a fountain pen Photo: Nicole Carpenter/Polygon

It’s functional, but it was equally important to make it cute. Typically, in my journals, I use stickers and washi tape to decorate, but I realized quickly that I may never find a crowbar sticker, so I had to draw. Functionally, I created the boxes and space for writing in pencil, before adding any drawings; that’s so I could quickly take notes in pen while playing.

It’s been really nice, after playing a bit of Hitman 3, to go back to the journal and fill out the space with doodles and thoughts. Hitman 3 is so different from what I typically play, and this is a way for the “language” of the game to stick. It’s been particularly handy as I approach the third level in Berlin, where developer IO Interactive dropped the story missions and sends Agent 47 — and me — in blind. I’ve used the space to track target travel routes and other areas of interest.

Without the story missions of the previous two levels to guide me, the Berlin level forces me to rely only on my learned understanding of Hitman 3’s language. It’s the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) ways that IO Interactive directs the player toward a hint, like what makes a person stand out or what sort of things to avoid. I often find myself writing down little tidbits of information gleaned from overheard conversations, some of which have come in very handy in leading me down a future path. So much of that language is learned through slow observation and listening skills; Hitman 3 feels slow to play, so it feels nice to take the extra time to write down collected information in a simple (and somewhat extra) way.

If you’re interested in starting your own, I’ve got some tips:

  • Use a quick-drying pen/ink — I love fountain pens, but when I’m scribbling notes quickly while playing a game, I don’t want to risk smudging. I used a Uni Jetstream and a Pilot Acro, both with fine tips, in a Traveler’s Notebook insert by Midori. For the gray highlights, I used a Tombow Dual brush pen.
  • Doodle and decorate! It’s just fun. But don’t worry about this while playing; just do it after.
  • Track challenges and collectibles so you don’t have to constantly trudge through menus.
  • Write down “memories” or memorable moments in the game — particularly conversations overheard.
  • Don’t worry about messing up. I mess up a lot, but I like to think it gives my journals character.