The Hitman beta launches at 10am on Friday, 12th February on PlayStation 4 and then on PC a week later (as previously announced, the beta isn't coming to Xbox One). Developer IO Interactive has explained how it'll all work in a post on the Hitman website, and a few bits of new information have come to light.
The beta, which weighs in at 4.7GB, includes the Hitman Prologue, which is the beginning of the game. It reveals how Agent 47 joined the ICA and shows the first time 47 meets his handler, Diana Burnwood. There's an intro to the gameplay and its mechanics, as well as two free-form training hits. You can replay each hit as many times as you'd like during the beta period, which lasts for three days - IO wants to encourage experimentation.
This is worth noting: the only way to guarantee access to the beta is to pre-order the game digitally on PS4 via PSN, or PC via Steam. Or, you can pre-order the Collector's Edition. So, pre-orders of the full experience, Intro Pack (Hitman, remember, is episodic), and Collector's Edition, guarantee beta access.
Also of note: the Hitman beta is always online (you don't need a PS Plus membership to play). But, IO stressed, the main game is not. You can play the full game offline after you've downloaded an episode, although you won't be able to access what's called "live" content, such as weekly live events and leaderboards.
Progress does not carry over between the beta and the full game, due out on 11th March.
You might wonder why there's a Hitman beta at all, given the nature of the game, and the fact it's out in a month. Glorified demo? Pre-order incentive? Not so, according to IO, which said the beta help stress test the game's servers in order to ensure a smooth launch, and feedback will help direct gameplay tweaks.
Here's the explanation:
First of all, by just playing the Beta, it will help us to make sure our infrastructure and technology is ready and primed for March 11th. That means testing our servers more than we've been able to do ourselves and providing us with valuable player metrics. We'll be able to track lots of statistics that will tell us where you kill your targets, where you die and which items are the most used, for example. We can use this information to refine and improve the game.
Secondly, we hope that you'll take the time to sound off in the forums or on any of the places mentioned above with your thoughts, opinions and feedback on all aspects of the game. In Hitman Absolution, we patched the game with an adjustment to how quickly players were detected when wearing a disguise. This was based on feedback from our players. Feedback such as this is exactly what we want to hear as we will be able to review and adjust these matters before we release the game on March 11th. We cannot overstate how important and valuable this feedback will be to us.
Martin checked out the Hitman and enjoyed what he played. The video, below, shows off gameplay footage.