Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Hitman (2016) - Episode 19 - Face Off

Starring John Travolta and Nick Cage...

To elaborate on a point I was making in the middle of this episode regarding the online nature of this game.

When players launch Hitman (2016), the game will immediately attempt to connect with I/Os servers. If the game fails to connect, then the player can still continue to play the game, but in "Offline Mode".

This is significant, because when in Offline Mode, players cannot do anything aside from the story mission, and cannot use any of the tools, starting locations, or smuggling locations that they unlocked. Summarily, they can play the story missions as if they never completed any challenges. And any challenges they complete while offline do not count and will not be applied once connection is reestablished.

In other words, unless players are online, they will play Hitman in the worst way possible. As a game, it technically works without an internet connection, but none of the really cool features will work without it.

I can understand that in some ways. I don't mind that leaderboards and the player made contacts can't be used without connecting to their servers. It also makes sense for the Elusive Targets require a connection in a way, since they're timed events and otherwise players could just readjust their system clocks to keep taking cracks at them.

That said, it is unacceptable that many of these other features require a connection. Completing challenges in order to gain area mastery, level up, and acquire new gear is *the* fundamental gameplay loop intended to inspire players to repeat missions using different approaches and tactics. It is why I have personally put more time into this game that I have all the other Hitman games combined (and I beat every Hitman game except Codename 47).

But even if they wanted to prevent cheating, and prevented players from completing challenges unless connected for that reason, I still would not understand why players can't use items they have already unlocked while they are offline. And even if players could not get credit for completing an Escalation unless they were online (because they give mastery points on completion), players should still be able to make an attempt/practice run of them.

In the face of an otherwise amazing game (remember, I still say this is better than Blood Money), it's a serious critique. And it's not something that should be let go of, even if the game as a whole is well-executed.

Confession: I have never watched Face Off, starring John Travolta and Nicholas Cage.

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