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IO on the infamous briefcase and how to balance zaniness with darkness in Hitman 3

IO Interactive is happy to embrace the zaniness in Hitman, but only when it makes sense.

The Hitman series has recently became known for its ridiculous, over-the-top deaths and sometimes zany assassination tools. With Hitman 3, IO Interactive wants to tell a darker story, without abandoning all the jokes and goofing around.

Speaking to VG247, communication manager Travis Barbour explained that some of that reputation was accidental.

"In Hitman 2, it sort of took us by surprise. The first trailer had somebody getting hit with a fish, and everybody went nuts for this fish," he said.

"One of the things we’ve actually heard is that not everybody likes that style for Hitman and it doesn’t always fit. Some people are like ‘Not the fish!! Marketing guys, don’t do the fish again!’ It sort of took us by surprise that it caught on, and we sort of rode the train a little bit, just like ‘Okay! People love this fish, there’s also a flamingo!’"

The now famous Agent 47 briefcase, which started out as an unintentional bug but later turned into a feature after IO saw the reception is one such example.

"Not all of it was intentional," Barbour revealed.

"The whole thing with the briefcase - it was a bug! It wasn’t supposed to be that way. Nobody put it in there, it was some quirk tied to the frame rate of your PC or something. But then we saw it and were like, you know what, just keep it there. It doesn’t really make sense to patch it - it’ll take us time, and someone will have to fix it… we could just leave it for a little bit, and then we brought it back as a feature, as a bit of a joke. That was fun."

Barbour stressed that Hitman 3 has many of those wacky items and potential for zaniness, but IO is taking a more authored approach to players' initial moments with every level, before leaving them to their own devices to discover the magic.

"We have a sort of focus on the first time you play through a level [in Hitman 3]. We want that to feel a little bit more handcrafted, a little bit more so you get a sense of the story. Afterwards, it opens up into complete freedom. That’s where you’ll more than likely find these weird and wacky things. They are still there - they’re just not quite being embraced in the same way," said Barbour.

Hitman 3 releases January 20 on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

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