Asynchronous multiplayer will make its Hitman debut in the form of a competitive Contracts Mode.
One of the greatest strengths of Hitman is its ability to provide multiple avenues for completing your objectives. Players can explore, experiment, or just plain goof off in several detailed environments, coming up with their own fun on the way to an assassination target. IO Interactive has had great success with the formula in single-player, and hopes to do the same with Hitman: Absolution's new asynchronous multiplayer Contracts mode. With the new mode, players not only take on challenging assassination missions, but design hits of their own to share with the game's online community.
After choosing a level from the single-player campaign, aspiring designers assign up to three NPCs as targets and alter level parameters like disguises, weapons, or the number of missed shots. Once the contract is live, players compete for speedy completions and skilful kills. "Instead of thinking how can I solve a murder," IO's Christian Elverdam explained, "you're thinking how you can commit a murder."
Just as in the single-player game, Hitman's dynamic environments provide many opportunities for an enterprising assassin. "There's always more than one solution," IO's Torben Ellert noted, "even if the creator has seemed to do something really smart." For example, a contract to kill multiple targets scattered across a single level can be achieved using a sniper rifle from a distance or by rushing across the map with a sub-machine gun. Contracts simply puts the objective creation in the hands of other players.
For players who like to show off their achievements, Contracts will provide three mode-specific leaderboards. Richest Assassin will list the most successful contract players, while Most Skilful lists those who complete especially challenging or graceful kills. Finally, the Most Popular leaderboard will list contracts that have received the most likes from Hitman players.
Personally, I think this is a promising idea. One of the things I enjoyed most about previous Hitman games was revisiting levels I'd already completed to see what else I could do in their sandboxes, and I expect I'm not the only one. Contracts sounds like it will turn that entire aspect of the game into a player-designed competition, which could provide even further reasons to keep playing well after you've fired the single-player campaign's last shot.