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Agent 47 takes a break, next Hitman game delayed to March 2016

Developer Io-Interactive confirmed that the next game in its Hitman series will miss its original December launch date, and is now set to premiere early next year.

The studio attributes the delay to an increase in scope, claiming that the upcoming Hitman will feature in-game environments that are six times larger than the levels seen in the previous series entry Hitman: Absolution.

Related: Hitman: Agent 47 review

“It’s safe to say Hitman is the biggest venture we’ve ever undertaken at Io-Interactive,” the developer explains. “Not just in terms of scope and ambition but also in terms of the size of the game world itself. The playable area and density of our locations goes beyond anything we’ve built before. We’re striving to create a series of living, breathing worlds in those locations and we get pretty obsessed about every detail that you’ll experience.”

A “new release model” also impacted Hitman‘s development. Io-Interactive briefly outlined its staggered release plans, noting that it will publish “a good chunk of the game when it begins and then release the remaining locations over time.”

This approach initially limited the amount of content featured in Hitman‘s upcoming debut. The delay will grant Io-Interactive enough time to fill the game with more content at launch than was initially planned.

“We want to make absolutely sure you all get the best possible experience when you join, so we’ve made the difficult decision to move the initial release date to March 2016,” the studio stated. “These few extra months will mean we can add more to the launch content of the game, more than we had originally planned, and then follow with a tighter frequency of updates, which ultimately will create a better game for everyone. And in the end, that’s what we’re all looking for.”

Hitman: Absolution, released in 2012, took the franchise in a new direction with a more straightforward, narrative-focused campaign compared to previous series entries. Earlier Hitman games were divided up into stages in which players had to identify targets and pull off assassinations without being seen. The most recent series entry, the Square Enix Montreal-developed Hitman GO, featured drastically reworked gameplay to suit mobile platforms.

Hitman is now scheduled to launch in March of 2016 for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC platforms.