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The Secrets to Success in Hitman

At long last, Agent 47 has returned. Hitman, the latest entry in the long-running franchise of the same name, puts you in the shoes of the stone-cold assassin as he sets out to eliminate targets assigned to him by his handler. But how you do that is almost entirely up to you; Hitman encourages players to come up with creative and novel ways of taking out their targets, which means the paths to victory are practically endless. Want to drop a chandelier on someone? Go ahead. Want to dose their drink? Here’s some rat poison. Want to drop one target off a balcony and onto another target? You’re the boss. The game rewards you for creativity and subtlety, offering experience points toward mastery of each mission, allowing you to level up with repeated attempts.

Here are five basic tips to help you get comfortable in Agent 47’s trademark suit.

Take your time.

Hitman is not about dashing in, taking out your mark, and dashing out. You could do that, but you’d be missing out on what makes the game great. This is a game about meticulous planning, lateral thinking, outsmarting your marks, and slipping away unnoticed. The more subtle and imaginative your assassination is, the better you’ll be scored. Better scores mean better access to gear, disguises, entry points, and the like – which can net you even better scores, and so on up the leaderboard. So if you want to do the job right, be prepared to invest some serious time. Take it slow, keep your eyes open, and opportunities will present themselves.

Get the lay of the land.

A key part of taking your time is getting familiar with your surroundings. Very familiar. And the thing about Hitman environments is that they’re big. In fact, if Paris is any indication, they’re enormous. Humungous. Really just rather on the large side. So if you really want to be a top assassin, you need to put in some time just walking around. First, get a sense for the general layout, of course: How many floors? Where are the stairs? Where are the exits to and from the building – and from the property? But you also want to keep your eye out for more subtle things. Grab anything that could be used as a tool or a weapon; as long as you can conceal it, there’s no harm in carrying it along, and you never know when it might help you take out your target. You also want to keep an eye out for items in the environment that might help create any, ah, unfortunate accidents for your target. If you want to get serious about your craft, plan to dedicate at least one completion attempt simply to exploration. Don’t worry; you can try as often as you like.

Look the part.

In Hitman, you can think of disguises as a kind of key. An appropriate disguise will allow you to access areas that would trigger suspicion if you were dressed as a civilian (or, well, a hitman). While some disguises can be found lying around in the environment, most of the time you need to get them from, er, an involuntary donor. Keep in mind that certain disguises will let you access more areas than others; for example, the staff of a facility might be able to go more places than a waiter serving an event at that same facility. But it seems that there’s usually at least one disguise that serves as almost a master key, allowing you to travel almost anywhere in the level without raising suspicion. So, part of your recon run should involve noting who’s dressed how, and where. And keep a special eye out for someone who might have the pull to wander through the whole level unchecked.

Know the codes.

Of course, even in the best disguise, you can be detected by someone who really knows their staff. First of all, keep an eye out for any character with a white dot over his or her head; those are the characters who will recognize you in your current disguise, so you really want to stay out of their way. But you also need to pay attention to the colors of the dots on your minimap that indicate character locations. If no one has any trouble with you, characters will be marked on your minimap in gray. If those dots turn white, get real careful – it means that whatever you’re doing will arouse suspicion if you’re seen. If you walk into an area and everyone is bright white, that means you’re not cleared to be there. If you play it cool, a character may do nothing more than escort you out (indicated by an X and an arrow over their head). And if those white dots get a white circle around them? Get your rear in gear, because they’re coming for you.

When all else fails, dig out your Notebook.

If you tap the View button, you’ll bring up your Notebook, which includes such useful items as a map of the level and a reminder of your objectives. But it also packs in two tabs that are oozing with information: Opportunities and Challenges. The Opportunities tab clues you in on special events that can set up unique assassination possibilities (by default, the game will point you directly to nearby Opportunities, but you’re encouraged to turn that guidance off in the tutorial, and doing so certainly makes for a tenser experience). But it’s the Challenges tab that’s actually most useful: By perusing the activities that the game singles out for extra XP, you can discover entirely new ways of taking out your targets. It’s like having a hint book baked right into the game. Use it responsibly!

Ready to slide on those black gloves and screw on that silencer? The first episode of Hitman is available now on Xbox One, with further episodes planned monthly until late this year.