Hitman: Absolution interview: director Tore Blystad on killing Diana and pleasing fans

Hitman Absolution preview screens PS3

OPM: With the Chinatown and Hope levels you’re finally showing off classic Hitman gameplay. Why have you waited so long?

Tore Blystad: It’s been a long time since the previous game, and last year at E3 it was all about bringing Hitman back as a character and a franchise with all the bells and whistles we could muster. It’s a slightly different take on the classic Hitman games, at least, and the last year has been spent on, you can say, supporting that on the mechanics side, and the style, and on the story. Kind of leading up to this, as we call it ourselves in our campaign, the proof. It’s a very difficult game to promote because it has so many different facets.

OPM: Is Hope an open-world area?

TB: Story-wise, it’s kind of a beat of its own. This is one of the centrepieces of act two, but the other levels will be very different from what you see here. We will have the same focus on diversity as previous Hitman games.

Even though the locations might be kind of close-ish, they will still feel extremely different and make it more interesting to traverse through the game. So it’s a pretty big place, but as with the previous Hitman games it’s still focused on a microcosm rather than an entire city. Whatever makes sense in the space that you need to take down these five targets – that’s kind of the approach to the level.

OPM: You’ve got five difficulty levels in the game – why the odd number?

TB: How can I answer this? From a development point of view, we want as many players to enjoy the game as possible. We also get this from our user tests: even the old people when they approach the game have a far lower tolerance before they start getting bored and frustrated with the game. So things have to be a little bit more open, and there can’t be as much trial and error in the modern game, it seems.

We know that there are still people out there that really long for this extremely punishing experience where you really have to figure out everything by yourself and you’re not getting any kind of help or assistance to help you out. And you can say, of course, it’s a very large and ambitious game – and we need to appeal to a certain amount of people to make any sense to produce.

OPM: How hard is ‘hard’?

TB: Because we have these people who are so puristic in their approach, to give them something that’s only for them we have this fifth mode that’s the odd number out, that’s an extreme difficulty setting where you won’t get any help at all and you’ll be on your own completely. There will of course be things in the game incentivising very hardcore players to go there and play it, so they feel there is something in the game that’s special.

The Absolution team come from the previous Hitman games as well, and there is a strong urge from within the team to create something that’s really hardcore in the game. But it’s hard to negotiate only doing that, so this is a focus, but it has been this kind of extra-hard mode.