IO explains how Hitman's constantly-shifting online challenges change the game

The next game in the Hitman series - or "Hitman," for short - is not only episodic in nature, but also a connected experience. In other words, to get the most out of IO Interactive's upcoming assassin simulator, you'll need to go online. The reason for this was never entirely clear before now, but the developer has taken to Steam to explain just how the game's live features will work.

There are four key components to Hitman's online content: Elusive Targets, Escalation Mode, Contracts, and Live Challenges. Elusive Targets are special assassination contracts that only exist within a mission for a set amount of real-world time, and are gone forever once they either escape or are killed by you. The target won't show up on your map, nor will they be highlighted while using Instinct (or as I like to call it, "assassin vision"). You'll have to use clues and reference a photograph to make sure you hit your man.

Escalation Mode challenges you to make your kills increasingly complex by throwing new obstacles, requirements, or even shifting level layout. For example, the first phase of Escalation Mode might require that you kill your target with a sabre. The next phase might require you to kill the target with a sabre, while dressed as a waiter, and removing security camera footage. The next phase could add more elaborate rules to the game, while changing up security camera locations or throwing in more traps to avoid.

Contracts function the same as they did in Hitman: Absolution - make your way through a level however you like, then challenge your friends to do it the same way. Pretty simple compared to the rest of Hitman's online features.

Lastly, Live Challenges are special, community-inspired feats for players to attempt. IO writes that one of the first such challenges it's thinking of implementing is "Hammer Time," based on a run by "2AngryGamers" where only a hammer was used to knock out every guard on the level. That sounds pretty fun, but IO does note that Live Challenges are not a guaranteed feature and are still being tested. So maybe don't get too excited about that one just yet.

Hitman's prologue and first mission will be available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC starting March 11, with new content released monthly.

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Sam Prell

Sam is a former News Editor here at GamesRadar. His expert words have appeared on many of the web's well-known gaming sites, including Joystiq, Penny Arcade, Destructoid, and G4 Media, among others. Sam has a serious soft spot for MOBAs, MMOs, and emo music. Forever a farm boy, forever a '90s kid.