Thanks for the write-up! I got Hitman 2016 through the last Humble monthly bundle and was just wondering about the same stuff. I made a pledge never to pay more than €10 for any game, so it took some 2 years of waiting but I’m okay with that. No need to spend on expensive hardware and games.
I played through all the previous Hitman episodes before, including the very first. That one actually had a nice story about Agent 47 finally discovering his origins in the basement of a Romanian asylum, but not being able to save during missions drove me nuts.
Concerning most gameplay mechanincs, there’s nothing new under the sun since Hitman: Blood Money or even Hitman: Contracts. The franchise is basically just following current game industry trends while trying to polish the experience.
Unfortunately these years, everything is about DLCs and episodic content. Both decrease upfront investment and increase returns for game publishers, with most customers being worse off by getting an incomplete game for a higher price.
I consider the same to be true for challenge/achievement/collectible systems: you replace real game content (maps, complex story missions, innovative mechanics) with low-quality artificial chores (collectibles, grinding, fetch quests) that on the one hand utilize ‘evil’ addiction and behavior-shaping methods of hooking on players, on the other hand saving money for publishers (less expensive assets are needed), or outright extorting money from players through pay-to-win mictoransactions.
Fortunately, Hitman hasn’t jumped on the microtransaction bandwagon so far, but for me, the episodic content and the ‘few missions with many challenges’ concept show an intent of corporate greed (‘increasing project ROI’) rather than releasing a complete, enjoyable work of game art.
What I think saves Hitman is that the concept of completing an assassination in several creative ways has always been part of the genre so I can say it looks kind of justifiable on the surface. And thank God there are no collectibles (‘find all 20 Agency drops in the mission’) nor mictrotransactions (‘buy this special disguise or intel for 200 points’).
I personally don’t like where the AAA game industry is heading these years, and I wonder how the majority of players (i.e. casual players) react to these design decision.