Unlike many other developers, IO Interactive did not opt for a separate, delimited mode or transferring a handful of levels to VR. The whole of Hitman 3 can be played in a different perspective from start to finish. That visibly requires a lot of hardware.
Invisible crowds and booming music
Hitman’s vr mode runs in a not too spectacular resolution anyway – the PlayStation VR glasses are limited to full HD after all – but also has a lot of pop-up . Many objects, but also the many pedestrians that determine the atmosphere in many levels, only appear late in the picture. For example, in the Marrakesh level, the market seems empty, until you actually enter the market and a whole crowd spontaneously appears around you.
Nevertheless, it is great that it – also in vr – pitch pressure can be. After all, when all the foot soldiers are loaded, you really have to squeeze through the crowd, while the protesters further up offer a perfect cover to investigate how to infiltrate the Swedish embassy. The underground disco in Berlin is also a real experience in Fri. You can already feel the thumping basses swell outside the factory, and the music becomes more penetrating and rich the further you walk inside. At such times, the VR experience is at its strongest.
Still, it’s a lot harder to find the perfect opportunity to strike in VR. This way you have a very limited ‘instinct’ at your disposal. In normal mode you can instinctively see interesting objects and follow enemies through walls, but in VR only your primary target is still indicated. In addition, the minimap is missing. This not only makes navigating the sometimes maze-like levels a lot more difficult, but also keeping an eye on the walking routes of enemies off the screen.
In part, that fits very well with the VR experience. It is not a bad idea to make a Hitman game in vr just a little more realistic by switching off such attachments. Yet IO Interactive itself also knows that it is all not optimal – it is not without reason that the game switches back to the lowest difficulty level before automatically. Hitman was developed with all those accessories in mind, and you notice that when you suddenly have to miss them in VR.
Misses the mark
The biggest obstacle, however, is the controls. In VR, Hitman cannot be played with the Move controllers, but only with a regular DualShock controller. As a concession, motion control is used again. You aim your weapon with a complete DualShock in your hands. You can even tie a strangulation rope around someone’s neck using a swishing movement with both hands.
This control is neither meat nor fish. PlayStation VR doesn’t really excel at motion tracking, but moving with a DualShock is even more imprecise than with Move controllers. In addition, many actions that you would normally perform with one hand – such as firing your weapon or pressing a button – feel very uncomfortable in this way. Are you aiming with both hands, or are you releasing the controller with one hand to make another sort of aiming motion? In any case, neither of them feels natural at all.
The controls are uncomfortable in every way and, apart from that, very imprecise, while in Hitman you have to be able to rely on accurate and fast controls. It’s a bit of a shame if your perfectly timed headshot misses the target just because your virtual arm suddenly starts to shake.
Simply adjusting the camera perspective and controls is obviously not enough.
For when you’ve already seen everything
If you already know certain levels inside and out, vr is a nice way to make those levels even more once in a whole new way. You will miss the minimap and instinct less, and it may be less frustrating if your perfectly planned murder is executed a little less perfectly. In that respect, the addition of vr fits well with this third part, especially since you can also replay the levels from Hitman 1 and 2 (if you also own those games).
A unfortunately Hitman in VR is not highly recommended. There are too many snags to the experience for that. If proof of concept the mode is certainly interesting and it proves that there is potential in a Hitman vr game . But for that to really work, next time IO Interactive would have to choose to build the game from scratch for VR. Simply adjusting the camera perspective and controls is apparently not enough.
Fri on PS5
Then this: on PlayStation 5, getting the VR mode to work is quite a hassle. To be able to play Hitman in VR, you need to install the PS4 version of the game. Saves in a level cannot be synchronized between the PS4 and PS5 versions, but fortunately your overall progression syncs nicely. You also need an adapter to connect the PS4 camera to the PS5 (which is free to request from Sony), but you also need a PS4 controller. After all, the PS5 controller does not have a light bar and therefore movements cannot be registered. If you’re used to the graphics from the PS5 version, the step back in VR mode (from the PS4 version of the game) is also extra large.
IO Interactive cannot be blamed for all this; PS5 games simply cannot use VR themselves. But it is something to keep in mind if you plan to play the game on PS5. You do get the PS4 version as standard with the PS5 version of the game, so you do not have to purchase the game twice.