Since debuting with 2000's Hitman: Codename 47, IO Interactive's Hitman franchise has become a staple of stealth gamers everywhere. Over the course of 15 years and five core games, the bald, bar-coded Agent 47 has taken down countless targets, but his next challenge could be something entirely new.
The Hitman games have invited players to get very creative over the years, offering large levels filled with potential disguises, improvised weaponry, and multiple paths to success. Players could try to go in guns blazing, but these games reward patience and keeping a low profile, with the elusive "Silent Assassin" rating encouraging players to get the job done without being noticed. But a new trademark filed by Square Enix hints that a future incarnation of Hitman could pit players against each other.
GamingBolt reports that Square Enix has filed a trademark for something called World of Assassination. That could be just about anything, but given that Square Enix has had a new AAA Hitman title in the works for a while now, and that the game is due to be revealed this year, it tracks that World of Assassination could be related to the stealth franchise. If so, the cumbersome title suggests there's more in play than just another boilerplate sequel. GamingBolt theorizes it could just be another mobile game along the lines of Hitman GO, but the title is also evocative of World of Warcraft, and the possibility of a Hitman MMO or a sequel with a significant multiplayer element is definitely intriguing.
It's been two and a half years since Hitman: Absolution hit shelves, but we still know very little concrete about Hitman 6. The game was a no-show at E3 last year, but developer IO Interactive released an open letter this past January where they said the next Hitman game would feature less linearity and more open-ended maps, as well as ditching the notion of checkpoints. There's also that new movie, Hitman: Agent 47, due out this November. It would make perfect sense to unveil the new game at E3, with release targeted for the fall to tie in with the film. If Hitman 6 does significantly evolve the concept of the franchise -- adding a multiplayer element or even introducing World of Assassination as a tie-in MMO or mobile game -- IO would have plenty to talk about this June.
The core Hitman concept also lends itself very well to multiplayer. World of Assassination could take a page from the surprisingly enjoyable Assassin's Creed multiplayer, challenging killers not only to take out their targets, but to avoid being discovered and eliminated by other players who are also trying to stay below the radar. It would give Hitman a level of difficulty and replayability beyond even that for which the series is already known. They might have to rethink Agent 47's trademark look, though -- it's one thing to slip the bald head and barcode past a room full of bots, but like Han Solo once said, "Good against a living? That's something else."
The current-gen console world is also a lot more welcoming to MMOs and MMO-like games than in previous cycles. Destiny has addicted many console players with MMO style grind and progression, and both The Elder Scrolls Online and Tom Clancy's The Division are set to arrive on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One later this year. A massively multiplayer Hitman title could be just the thing for players craving something different.
Whether World of Assassination proves to be Hitman 6, a Hitman MMO, or something else entirely, expect to hear more by E3.