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Hitman Freelancer puts the assassination planning into your hands

The new Hitman Freelancer mode will arrive January 26, adding a new player-directed campaign with randomised elements and systemic game mechanics

Hitman freelance mode: Agent 47 stands in the rain at night on a neon-lit Chongqing street

The Hitman Freelancer mode announced a year ago is finally arriving this month, with a release date scheduled for January 26, developer IO Interactive has revealed. The mode makes Hitman 3 into a true sandbox game, removing all the mission pre-planning done by Agent 47’s handlers and letting players take down a global crime syndicate however they choose.

The Freelancer campaign is a new spin on the existing World of Assassination maps. Where before there were scripted event chains and finishers, and every mission stood apart as its own murder sandbox, this time things are more interconnected. Agent 47 operates out of a safe house, picking up clues on syndicate members who look like ordinary citizens.

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Each mission will be player directed: you’ll pick where to go, which objectives you want to try to accomplish, and what gear to bring with you. IO Interactive says there’s “no guarantee that an objective is possible when on the mission,” and that players will need make sure they’re picking the correct locations, objectives, and gear when they set out.

“There’s no hand-holding Mission Stories with scripted custom kills,” the developer says. “Every iconic takedown in Hitman Freelancer is an emergent construct of systemic game mechanics and the foresight and creativity of the player.”

You will get all the information you need to succeed, but nothing is set in stone: Freelancer has elements that are randomised and “rolled independently of each other.”

By taking out loyal syndicate targets one by one, Agent 47 can narrow down the list of possible organisation leaders – and then take them out. You’ll be able to pursue whichever arm of the organisation you like, and each one will demand a slightly different playstyle.

The update arrives January 26. Our guide to Hitman 3 shortcuts will help you plan your route through the lavish settings featured in the latest game.