Whether you’re a Hitman veteran or a more recent convert who just got their start in this World of Assassination, the new roguelite Freelancer mode is gonna force feed you a slice of humble pie and make you feel like a fake gamer. That’s a good thing–this mode is, in essence, the endgame for this rebooted Hitman trilogy. Short of actual new maps, Hitman Freelancer is a great way to tie this experience off because it’s extremely tough in some brand-new ways, and the overall structure is very different from what we’re used to thanks to the new framework.
Before, each mission was completely self-contained. Nothing you did in one mission would matter in the next. But in Freelancer, death has consequences: you lose everything you had in your inventory, and half of the money you’ve been earning for jobs. Not to mention you might have to start over from scratch.
But succeeding at Hitman Freelancer is not impossible, and the learning curve isn’t as steep as it may seem at first. So much of it is just about getting a handle on what’s important and what isn’t. That would take hours if you just dive in head first without guidance–a delightful experience, and the way we went about procuring our understanding of this mode, but not everybody has the time.
So if you wanna skip the self-tutorial period, we’ve got eight pieces of advice that you’ll wanna consider as you and Agent 47 go hunting.
Freelancer is hard mode
While this mode does skip one of the most annoying aspects of Master difficulty (bloody kills rendering a disguise unusable), Freelancer is hard mode from the very beginning, and the further you get into it, the harder it gets. You’ll notice early on that guards have eagle eyes and tend to respond to murders in larger numbers than you’re used to. By the third tier of its tiered mission structure there will be a security camera around every corner and you’ll get immediately melted by guards if you hold a letter opener in public.
This isn’t meant to dissuade you from trying the mode. No, this is just our way of telling you that you need to have a healthy respect for what you’re going up against here. While there are still fun and games to be had in Freelancer mode, you’ll need to take everything pretty seriously if you want to get very far.
Remember what actually matters
Hitman Freelancer is full of distractions–bonus objectives to complete, safes to crack, couriers to take out, loot to steal, etc etc. But, ultimately, that stuff doesn’t matter. What does matter is killing your target and not getting killed in return. That’s it!
Having better guns and money to spend is great. But in this mode, where you cannot save or load your game, where if you screw up you might have to start over from the beginning of the entire campaign, your survival matters far more than a safe that’s surrounded by guards who can see through your disguise. While that extra 3,000 merces–the mode’s exclusive currency–might come in handy later if you can pull off the heist, it’s probably not worth the time or risk involved to get it. So don’t be afraid to leave money behind.
You’ll need luck to make it to the end
Quit clowning around and get in there.
There’s something you need to accept up front when you start playing Hitman Freelancer: you will lose campaigns even though you did everything perfectly. Sometimes it’s just bad luck, and sometimes it’s bugs. Sometimes NPCs witness a murder through the floor or ceiling and compromise our disguise. Sometimes you spawn into a level in a hostile area with a guard looking right at you. And with the way alerts spread stupid fast in this mode, that kind of thing is often a death sentence.
Since losing a deep run already feels pretty bad as it is, regardless of whose fault it is, it’s best to accept now that your failures aren’t always your failures. Luck matters.
Silenced guns are your best friend
We’ll admit that we didn’t fully appreciate just how hard we leaned on our default silenced pistol until we no longer had one by default. Because, holy cow, it really does change the equation in your head when you walk into a mission with literally nothing. It’s a good thing at first, as that added complication helps get you acquainted with the extra overall difficulty. But as that difficulty ramps up over the course of a campaign, a silenced weapon is going to help you so much.
There are five ways to get a silenced gun: as a reward for increasing your Freelancer Mastery, as a reward for defeating a Syndicate, by buying one from an arms dealer during a mission, by looting one off a guard who’s carrying one (such as the penthouse guards in Dubai, all of whom have either a silenced SMG or assault rifle), or by looting a silenced pistol from an assassin (they all carry one) during a mission to take out a Syndicate leader. You only get to keep one of each type, though, so there’s no need to take out every guard in Dubai just to collect their guns.
Don’t leave your gadgets at home
While you get to keep your guns for new campaigns as long as you don’t lose them during a mission, you’re guaranteed to lose your gadgets when your campaign ends. So there’s not really any reason to leave that legendary explosive duck at home if you have spare inventory space. Gadgets are use-them-or-lose-them items, so use them already. While your natural instinct will be to save the really rare stuff for when an objective calls for it, the nature of Freelancer mode demands that you stuff your pockets as full as you can with as many different gadgets as you have available when it’s time to head off on a mission.
Be prepared for some messed up spawn locations
Random spawn points add a fascinating new wrinkle to Hitman levels.
One of the quirks of Freelancer mode is you cannot start any mission with a disguise, and the game will randomly pick your spawn point. So, for example, in Marrakesh you might be spawned into the back of the military base, where you’ll be trespassing and every NPC is armed. Or in the Hokkaido morgue right behind two morticians who will scream for help if they see you, as pictured above. Most of the maps have spawn points like that, and Colorado pretty much only has that. It’s just something you’ll have to accept and learn to deal with, which honestly isn’t usually mega-difficult so long as you’re ready to go as soon as you load in and keep your cool.
Leader suspects will have only the traits listed, no more and no fewer
When you’re on the hunt for a Syndicate leader, Diana will give you a list of traits for the correct target: four physical characteristics, and three behavioral ones. The correct target will display exactly the characteristics listed, and only the characteristics listed. So, of course, if the target is supposed to have a tattoo but the suspect you’re looking at does not, then that suspect isn’t the target. But the inverse is also true: if the suspect has a tattoo but the target description doesn’t mention a tattoo, then that suspect isn’t the target. A suspect having an extra trait is just as disqualifying as them not having a stated one would be.
Sometimes you’ll get really unlucky and have a target who just hangs out in a busy crowd with no real openings for taking them out without causing a whole scene that will quickly get you killed. And in those cases I like to use the Napoleon Blownaparte gadget. This thing, which you cannot take home with you, is a very common, but also very special, item in the new Freelancer chests that are scattered around each level.
This thing is actually two gadgets in one. It’s a noisemaker at first, drawing the attention of anybody who’s near it. And then it’s a remote explosive. But since it looks like a toy, you generally can toss it on the ground wherever you want without getting in trouble, then slip out of the room before blowing it up. It’s messy, but it’s also relatively safe compared with most assassination methods in crowded areas. It’s also expedient if you’ve been in a level for a while and just want to move on.
Just be sure you toss it near your target rather than at them–beaning somebody in the face is still a crime!