Ready to learn about IO Interactive’s James Bond? Let’s hear all about it!

It’s been nearly four years since IO unveiled its Bond game. How long until we get a solid look? When Hitman 3 launched in 2021, I — like Agent 47 donning a clown costume — temporarily became a different person.

As a lifelong single-player enthusiast who rarely gets into live-service games for more than a few sessions, Hitman 3 surprised me by fully capturing my attention for the entire year. IO Interactive’s Unique Approach To Live-Service
It got me to take my live-service medicine by hiding it in the single-player peanut butter, combining the focused craft of a game like Dishonored with the long-term incentives of a game like Fortnite. But Hitman isn’t about just beating the missions once.

It’s about replaying them over and over again in an attempt to discover everything they have to offer. It was a game that fundamentally altered the way I played for a while, and I even ended up spending a few dozen hours with Halo Infinite’s multiplayer because Hitman had sold me on the joys of replayability. Since Hitman 3, nothing has captured my attention in the same way for the same duration, and I don’t expect anything else will.

That is, until IO Interactive launches its next game: Project 007. Since 2020, we’ve heard basically nothing about the forthcoming James Bond game. IO announced the 007 game with a barebones teaser that showed a bullet being loaded into a gun, then firing.

On its website, it also revealed that the game is a “wholly original Bond story” and will show us the famed agent’s origins, as he earns his 00 status. In the three years since, IO has remained tight-lipped, pushing out updates for Hitman 3 (which has since become Hitman: World of Assassination) including a roguelike mode and a new level. But it has kept quiet about other projects in the pipeline.

The result is that we’re in the midst of an unusually long gap for the Copenhagen-based developer. Hitman (2016) was released episodically, and Hitman 2 launched about two years after the final episode. Hitman 3 similarly launched two years (and a few months) after Hitman 2.

Before the World of Assassination trilogy, IO was on a similar schedule, with one or two years between most of its releases. The one exception, which can help us understand what the studio may be going through now, is the four year gap that separated the release of Hitman: Absolution and Hitman (2016). With 2016, IO was going back to the drawing board, reconceiving what Hitman levels could be and how they could be released.

Following in the footsteps of Telltale’s The Walking Dead and Dontnod’s Life is Strange, Hitman moved to an episodic release model. Its six levels launched from March 11 through October 31, 2016. That was markedly different from Absolution’s traditional release, and the levels themselves were different, too.

To encourage replayability in the period between releases, each map had tons of different objectives to discover, entrances and exits to unlock, and kill opportunities to MacGruber your way into. It was a thorough enough reboot that it effectively carried the games forward through 3’s release in 2021 without many big changes. With Project 007, IO is likely at the drawing board yet again.

Hitman made IO a good fit for Bond, but that doesn’t mean it could just give Agent 47 a British accent and a full head of hair and call it a day. But, after three years of silence, I’m ready to see the ways its shaking, not stirring, its identity yet again.

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