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Hitman 3 beginner’s guide: 11 tips and tricks for getting started

Hitman 3 is excellent showcase of what IO Interactive can do as an independent studio, following 2018’s Hitman 2 and 2016’s Hitman. For the most part, it stays the course, introducing a few new concepts while keeping the core mechanics the same as the two games that proceeded it. For those new to the Hitman series, or those just brushing up their assassination skills, we’ve rounded up 11 tips and tricks in this Hitman 3 beginner’s guide.

Further reading

Take it slow

This tip mainly applies to new Hitman players who may not be familiar with how the games work. Hitman 3 is a stealth game, not an action game, and certainly not a shooter. Rushing things usually leads to being compromised. Your time in a level does factor into your final score. However, killing non-targets and being compromised also lowers your score, so it’s best to take your time and finish the level without being caught.

You shouldn’t expect to take down the level perfectly on your first try, either. Hitman 3, like the previous games, features a small bunch of massive, thoroughly detailed levels with multiple paths and plenty of hidden goodies. Part of the magic of Hitman 3 is replaying levels after you’ve already beat them, giving you the chance to make your kills cleaner and explore different opportunities. Beating levels also raises your mastery in that level, unlocking different starting items and disguises, as well as different starting points.

Find a lockpick and some emetic poison

There are two essential items for basically every mission in Hitman 3: Some kind of a lockpick and emetic poison. For lockpicks, you can find an actual lockpick in some levels, though most of the time, you can only bring one in after reaching a certain mastery level. Other items, such as a crowbar, can take the role. All of the levels in Hitman 3 have locked doors, and all of them have a way to unlock those doors (be it a key, crowbar, or lockpick). Opening all the locked doors you can not only makes navigating the level easier, but it’ll also raise your score at the end of the level.

Another essential tool is emetic poison (nonlethal poison). “Emetic” means the poison causes vomiting, but it doesn’t kill the target. Rather, whoever consumes the poison will rush to the bathroom to puke. As in previous Hitman games, this is a perfect opportunity for Agent 47 to sneak in and take out a target or subdue an NPC to get an item or disguise. You can usually pick up some emetic poison in service or staff rooms — most levels have something of the sort — or near any garden areas (such as the greenhouse in the Dartmoor mission).

Find new intel with your camera

New to Hitman 3, Agent 47 starts every mission with a camera. You’ll need to use the camera at some points during certain levels — Dubai and Dartmoor, in particular — but later levels don’t force you to take out the camera. There’s still plenty to scan, though.

If you open the map, you’ll see multiple little camera icons dotted around the map. These note items you can scan with your camera (usually intel, which raises your score). It’s a little tricky finding the items you need to scan, though. The item you need to scan won’t light up unless you’re very close and aiming directly at it. So, if you’re running around a camera icon looking for what to scan, rest assured that the scannable item is there; it just may be a little tough to find.

Save-scum like no one’s watching

Save-scumming, for those unaware, is the process of using manual saves right before critical fail points to maintain your progress. In Hitman 3, that means making a manual save right before any actions that could expose your identity. In addition to auto-saves, IO Interactive included eight manual save slots in Hitman 3. There isn’t a penalty to save-scumming, and it makes getting through levels (especially for the first time) infinity easier, so make sure to take advantage of it.

Doing so will give you the chance to actually make progress, but more importantly, give you the chance to experiment. Hitman 3′s levels, as we just touched on, are massive labyrinths of clues, intel, disguises, and assassination opportunities. Utilizing manual saves allows you to experiment with all the toys and tools dotted around the level without any of the consequences.

Listen closely

Hitman 3′s levels are littered with NPCs and items, but also unique story moments. The dialogue is some of the best the franchise has seen, perfectly balancing the serious and absurd. In addition to building out the lore of each level, some characters will provide hints about when they’re going to be alone or about different assassination avenues around the map. Sometimes, the best course of action is to find a safe spot and simply listen. You’ll gain a lot more information than you might think.

Be careful with disguises

Hitman 3 doesn’t do a very good job of explaining how disguises work. For the most part, they work like previous Hitman games, just with a few key differences. Like previous games, disguises are most useful for gaining access to new areas. In the Berlin mission, for example, dressing up as a security guard allows you to (almost) freely roam around the level without the worry of being caught. The only exception is getting too close to NPC. If you stick around, they’ll see through your disguise.

Just like in Hitman (2016) and Hitman 2, however, there are certain NPCs who can see through your disguise regardless of how close you are. Using Berlin as an example again, security guards with a gray cap are “enforcers,” while those with a black cap are standard guards. Enforcers can see through your disguise. Thankfully, you don’t need to look around for minor visual differences to spot enforcers. They’ll have a white dot above their head, and they’ll be noted on the mini-map with a white dot (not a black one). NPCs represented by a white dot can spot you.

You need to be careful with committing crimes while wearing a disguise, too. If an NPC catches you committing a crime, they’ll warn others, including tipping off others about your outfit. If you take down a target while dressed as a security guard, for example, and an NPC notices, they’ll recognize you in that outfit for the rest of the mission.

Follow a story mission if you’re lost

Every game in the rebooted Hitman trilogy includes “story mission” (referred to as “opportunities” in Hitman). Story missions add some guidance to otherwise hands-off game design. As mentioned, Hitman 3′s levels are massive and layered, allowing you to tackle your objective however you want. The problem: No guidance often translates to aimlessly wandering around (a situation almost all new Hitman players will find themselves in).

That’s where story missions come in. In addition to providing guidance, many of the story missions open up unique assassination opportunities and endings. In the Dartmoor level, for example, you’ll uncover a story mission from the beginning of the level. As you approach Thronbridge Manor, you’ll see a private investigator entering, revealing the Dartmoor murder mystery. Taking this path allows you to dress up and play the role of a detective, which is a lot more interesting than waiting to stab your target in a bathroom.

Finding story missions is easy, too, and calls back to an earlier tip: Listening closely. When you’re in range of a story mission, some dialogue will trigger, and after waiting a bit, the mission will reveal itself. Once you uncover a story mission, it’s up to you whether you want to track it or not. All levels in Hitman 3 have multiple story missions, so you’ll usually be rewarded for looking around for different opportunities.

Pay attention to challenges

Every level in Hitman 3 has a series of challenges (around 60 to 80, depending on the map). It’s impossible to tackle all of the challenges in a single playthrough or even a couple of playthroughs, so don’t worry about picking them up on your first run.

Challenges are broken up into different categories. For example, Chongqing has 15 assassination challenges, which task you with dealing with your target in various ways, and 18 discovery challenges, which award you for picking up different disguises and items, as well as exploring the map. Challenges award you XP at the end of a level, building your mastery to unlock new starting items, disguises, and locations. Make sure to take a look at the Challenges tab before deploying for a mission.

Additionally, each level has five “classic” challenges from previous Hitman games, and they’re the same across levels:

  • Silent Assassin: Complete the mission without being compromised or detected in any way, and only kill targets.
  • Sniper Assassin: Eliminate your target with a sniper rifle and complete the mission without being spotted. Only kill targets.
  • Suit Only: Assassinate your target and complete the mission wearing only your suit.
  • Silent Assassin, Suit Only: Complete the mission using the criteria of Sniper Assassin and Suit Only at the same time.
  • The Classics: Complete all of the “classic” challenges for a mission.

Avoid guns

Despite almost all Hitman covers sporting Agent 47 with his signature Silverballer, you’ll rarely use guns in Hitman 3. You can, technically, take down your targets with a gun. However, this is easily the least interesting way to dispatch your target, and you’ll rarely, if ever, get an opportunity to snap off a clean shot.

So, get creative with your kills. Doing so will not only give you a chance to tackle challenges, but also give you a higher a score at the end of the game (the goal is to get in and out without being detected, after all). Furthermore, guns are dangerous, even for Agent 47. If you forget to holster your weapon or, worse, strap a weapon to your back without a proper disguise, you’ll be found out before you even have a chance to use that weapon.

That’s not to say guns don’t have some utility, though. Sniper positions exist, and a silenced pistol can be an effective, quick way to deal with a target if you get them alone. However, Hitman 3 is a stealth game, not a shooter. If you can get through a mission without firing a shot, that’s a good thing.

Use shortcuts for subsequent playthroughs

New to Hitman 3 are persistent shortcuts, allowing you to unlock paths that you can take on subsequent playthroughs. This is the first time any element of a level is persistent in a Hitman game, making additional playthroughs much easier.

Shortcuts are locked with yellow bars on your first playthrough, and you can only unlock them from one side. You’ll also need a crowbar or some other way to break locks to unlock them. If you encounter the wrong end of a shortcut — that is, the fully locked end — search around the area. Shortcuts show up at the end of long sections of the map, usually circling back to earlier areas.

Make Instinct mode a way of life

Finally, make sure to use Instinct mode constantly (on PC, we even bound the Instinct mode switch to an extra mouse button). If you’re new to the rebooted Hitman trilogy, Instinct activates a grayscale mode that highlights persons and things of interest (items, targets, and NPCs). Items and objects you can interact with are highlighted in yellow, while targets are highlighted in red. NPCs are all highlighted in white, with a different icon above their head depending on their status.

A white dot means that the NPC can recognize you, while a spinning circle of dots means that the NPC is unconscious. There’s also a special orange outline for certain NPCs. This shows up when someone sees you committing a crime with a certain disguise. If you see NPCs outlined in orange, make sure to change your disguise.

That’s all useful to know, but Instinct mode is best for spotting items. With how detailed and intricate the levels are in Hitman 3, it can be difficult to spot different items around the environment. Instinct mode makes picking out what you need a breeze.

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Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
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