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Unlike console players, PC players have to buy Hitman 2 again to unlock its levels in Hitman 3

UPDATE: IO and Epic say they're working on a solution.

UPDATE 18 JAN 2021: IO and Epic have said they're working together on a solution to Hitman 3's Hitman 2 problem on PC.

"We guarantee that players will not need to repurchase the games," IO said in a tweet. The developer said its solution will be rolled out "in the coming weeks" (Hitman 3 goes on sale on 20th January), and until then, the Hitman 1 Game of the Year access pass will be free to own for all PC Hitman 3 players in the first 10 days after release.

Epic issued a statement of its own on Twitter: "We never want players to feel forced to repurchase content on the Epic Game Store that they bought on another PC store so they can access features in a new game.

"We are working closely with IO Interactive and you will be able to access past content from earlier Hitman games."

ORIGINAL STORY 16 JAN 2021: Unlike console players, PC players have to buy Hitman 2 again to unlock its levels in Hitman 3, developer IO has confirmed just five days before the game's launch.

In a lengthy blog post detailing Hitman 3's launch, IO explained the game's access pass system. Hitman 3 lets you access locations from the previous games in the trilogy (Hitman 1 and 2) and play them all under one roof, so to speak.

"Essentially, we have set up H1 and H2 as DLC for Hitman 3," IO said.

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This means you can buy - or redeem/download for free if you have already bought that content from the same store you pre-ordered or bought Hitman 3 from - an access pass and get access to its content within Hitman 3. For example, if you buy the Hitman 2 standard access pass DLC for Hitman 3, you get access to the locations and missions included in the Hitman 2 standard edition within Hitman 3.

So far, so good - on console. On PC there's a big problem: you can't play Hitman 1 and 2 levels on the Epic Games Store unless you own them on the Epic Games Store, too. Hitman 3 is a timed Epic Games Store exclusive, and while Hitman 1 Game of the Year Edition is also on the Epic Games Store, Hitman 2 is not.

The upshot of this is PC players have to buy Hitman 2 again as DLC to unlock its levels in Hitman 3 - even if they already own it on Steam.

"We've done everything possible to make this process smooth and player-friendly," IO said.

"However, due to various circumstances out of our control, we want to acknowledge that the process is different to our initial plans for PC players."

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In an August 2020 blog post, IO said PC players would be able to carry over their progression and unlocks from Hitman 2 on Steam into Hitman 3 on the Epic Games Store, and that it would be possible for PC players to import locations from the previous two games into Hitman 3 on the Epic Games Store.

"We want to make it a seamless process for our PC players to enjoy Hitman 3 on a different PC platform and continue to enjoy the benefits of our World of Assassination," IO said at the time.

Clearly, something has changed within the last five months to make that no longer the case. Whatever it is, IO has yet to say.

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As a fillip, the Hitman 2 standard access pass and Hitman 2 gold access pass will be 80 per cent off for 14 days after the launch of Hitman 3 on the Epic Games Store, and will continue to be discounted regularly, but there is no getting away from the fact PC Hitman fans are losing out - and as you'd expect, they aren't particularly thrilled to find out about it just five days before launch.

Console players watching while PC players riot because of Epic & having to rebuy Hitman 2 from r/HiTMAN
Hitman 3 pre-order process in a nutshell from r/HiTMAN

Hitman 2 PC owners who want to play its levels in Hitman 3 must now either open their wallets and buy the game again, or wait a year for Hitman 3 to hit Steam. Neither option is good news.

Meanwhile, on Stadia, the access pass system isn't required at all. And, it's worth noting Hitman 3 - the first game in the trilogy to be available on Nintendo Switch - has all the access passes available to purchase through the Hitman 3 in-game store.

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