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Hitman developer IO is making an online fantasy RPG that looks pretty Warcraft-y

Is IO Interactive’s fantasy game ‘Project Dragon’?

title art for IO Interactive’s next project, a fantasy RPG. Three figures are backlit by a setting sun; one appears to be an elf, another a human, a third a dwarf in bulky armor. Image: IO Interactive
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Hitman developer IO Interactive is developing an online fantasy role-playing game that’s set in a “new world, [and] a new IP,” and will “expand for many years to come,” the studio announced Tuesday. Based on that description, and a single piece of artwork (that looks pretty darn Warcraft-y), it’s a big swerve for the studio known for its work on Hitman and Kane & Lynch.

IO Interactive says the new project is a new adventure for the studio, and a “deeply personal one.” Like similar forward-looking announcements from Blizzard Entertainment, Crytek, and CD Projekt Red, the early announcement of IO Interactive’s new game is also a clarion call that it’s actively hiring.

Here’s how the developer explains its new project:

For many, this journey is also a deeply personal one that began long before we started making games for a living – and it started with the fantasy genre. From the “Fighting Fantasy” books compelling you to choose your path, alone, against wizards, lizards, and thief kings. To the togetherness, camaraderie, agony, and delight found around the tabletop. For some it meant taking the role of a game master: Part storyteller, part AI opponent, part guide, part villain. For everyone around that table it meant creativity, imagination, building a world together, and a shared goal in creating a great game experience.

This idea – that a diverse group of individuals with different skills and strengths can work together and become more than the sum of their parts – is what inspires us. It inspires the fantasy world we are building – and it inspires how we build it.

IO’s fantasy RPG may be the project known as “Dragon,” which Windows Central reported on in 2021. Early descriptions of Project Dragon said the title would be a multiplayer game with a “connected-world RPG” design. The game is said to be continuously updated, seemingly a live-service game in the vein of Destiny 2 and World of Warcraft. Project Dragon is also reportedly being developed with assistance from Microsoft, and may have some level of Xbox exclusivity.

IO Interactive recently released the Freelancer mode for Hitman World of Assassination, the renamed release of Hitman 3 (which now includes Hitman and Hitman 2 content). IO announced another new game project in 2020: a game based on the James Bond franchise called Project 007.

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