The sixth game in the Hitman series won't be out this year, developer IO Interactive announced today. The delay should result in some significant changes to the game at launch, though.

Hitman was expected to arrive in December with a "significant chunk" of the final game. The development team would then release additional missions throughout 2016 for no additional charge. That's still the plan, except that the initial launch will now happen in March 2016. What this means, the new announcement on Hitman.com says, is that players will have more at their fingertips at launch:
These few extra months will mean we can add more to the launch content of the game, more than we had originally planned, and then follow with a tighter frequency of updates, which ultimately will create a better game for everyone. And in the end, that’s what we’re all looking for.

A larger launch build and shorter turnaround for the updates are both good things. I get the feeling that some players will be reluctant to pay $60 for part of the game at launch. The more IO Interactive can give players on day one, the better.

IO Interactive attributes the delay to the size of the new Hitman. They say that it's the biggest project they've ever undertaken. While Hitman: Absolution's missions were diced up into several smaller areas, the new Hitman will have expansive mission areas inhabited by tons of characters. Today they released an infographic that compares the recently revealed Paris mission with the largest level from Absolution:

Infographic about Hitman 6's missions

The new Hitman doesn't completely wash away the changes from the previous game, though. The Contracts mode referenced in the image first debuted in Absolution. This mode lets players create custom missions from the existing maps in the game and then share them with other players. In each contract, the creator specifies one target or more as well as restrictions for the kill. For example, players might have to use a specific weapon, avoid detection, or not miss any shots. This mode added some serious replay to Absolution so I'm glad it's returning for Hitman 6.

Instinct mode, another new addition from Absolution, will also be part of the next game. Instinct mode was a special ability that helped Agent 47 avoid detection or more easily spot enemies. It served as training wheels for new players and a way for veterans to save an otherwise spotless play-through. IO Interactive has said that this feature will be simplified in the new game, though. Whether or not you end up liking it this new incarnation of Instinct mode, I imagine the game will give you the option of turning it off.

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