Agent 47’s strategies have developed over the course of Hitman’s nearly two-decade long video game history, which spans PC, console, and mobile game releases.
Hitman 3, the final installment in IO Interactive’s trilogy, means that fans can finally relax while the developer focuses on a new James Bond 007 game.
This list will take you through the entire series of Hitman games, from the first game to the World of Assassination trilogies and the Hitman spin-off games, in chronological order.
Finally, as we learn more from IO Interactive about the future of the Hitman franchise, we will add to this list.
The Hitman Series
The protagonist of the hitman series is a genetically modified assassin who travels around the world carrying out agency contracts. His assassination services are in high demand because of his stellar reputation.
The Hitman series, as a whole, is more concerned with gameplay than story. While the games do have an overarching story, IO Studios focused more on the locations and assassinations in the level design of most episodes.
Who is Hitman Agent 47
Agent 47 is the protagonist of all of the major Hitman games. Because of his superior genes and training, he was designed to be the ideal assassin. The two main plot lines of Hitman reveal both his past and present.
Do I Have to Play All the Hitman Games in Order?
You can jump into the Hitman series at any point; there’s no required order. Any of the Hitman games can be started at the beginning, and they will fill you in on what has happened so far. There is a school of thought that says you should play Hitman 2 first, rather than any of the other games in the series.
Hitman, on the other hand, is set in a world with a lot of history and a lot of moving parts. Consider playing the “World of Assassination” trilogy, which begins with Hitman 1. You could start from the beginning with Codename 47 if you’re very committed and like more classic video game formats.
Original Hitman Games
Hitman: Codename 47
Published on November 19th, 2000.
Windows Is The Platform
The first Hitman game, “Hitman: Codename 47,” introduced players to the series’ silent assassin, “Agent 47,” and the murky spy world he operates in.
The plot follows Agent 47 from his recruitment by the International Contract Agency to his eventual breakout, all the while instructing players on the fundamentals of assassination and completing contracts in semi-open worlds.
Stealth was central to the gameplay, and players were encouraged to experiment with different disguises as a foolproof way to sneak into restricted areas.
Codename 47 was one of the first games to implement ragdoll physics and realistic cloth simulation, but it was met with mixed reviews upon its initial release.
Hitman 2: Silent Assassin
Dissemination Begins on October 1, 2002
Windows, Playstation 2, Xbox, and GameCube
At the beginning of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, we are told that Agent 47 has retired from ICA and is now enjoying a quiet life.
When 47’s friend, the Reverend Emilio Vittorio, is abducted by a band of mysterious gunmen, he is forced to rejoin the ICA in order to find him.
Missions now have varying outcomes depending on the player’s approach to completing each contract, greatly expanding the game’s replay value.
The game’s artificial intelligence (AI) was improved for the first time in the series, and the ability to incapacitate enemies instead of killing them was added.
Date of Publication: April 20, 2004
Windows, Playstation 2, and Xbox
Both a remake of Codename 47 and a sequel to Silent Assassin, Hitman: Contracts aimed to improve upon the formula established by its predecessors in terms of gameplay and visual quality.
Several new missions are introduced in flashbacks as Agent 47 heals from his wounds following a botched mission.
Similar to Silent Assassin, Contracts improved the game’s artificial intelligence to make for more difficult enemy encounters, better animations, and a more intuitive in-game map.
The majority of early reviews for Contracts were very positive, praising the film’s evolution and improvement in production value.
Hitman: Blood Money
Date of Publication: May 26, 2006
Windows, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Xbox, and Xbox 360
Two years later, in Hitman: Blood Money, Agent 47 returned to do battle with The Franchise, an assassination organization that threatens to bring down the ICA.
Climbing, unarmed melee combat, and the ability to hide bodies from detection were all introduced to the gameplay.
It is now more difficult to remain undetected by enemies once the player has been tipped off; instead, Agent 47 must take measures to reduce his wanted rating before continuing.
The increased scope and stealth options in Blood Money, such as the ability to make certain deaths appear as accidents to NPCs, were praised by critics.
Dissemination Begins on November 20, 2012
Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Mac.
Hitman: Absolution was promoted as an easier entry in the action-stealth series that still adhered to the series’ signature gameplay mechanics.
Agent 47 is tasked with keeping a genetically engineered teen named Victoria safe from various criminal organizations and the International Criminal Court’s (ICA) plan to train her as an assassin.
When compared to previous Hitman games, the most noticeable change in Absolution is the increased emphasis on linear-based missions and level designs.
While the game was well-received overall, some critics and fans complained that it watered down the Hitman formula too much in an effort to please everyone.
World of Assassination Trilogy
Date of Publication: March 11th, 2016
Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Linux, and macOS
With the World of Assassination trilogy, released in 2016, IO Interactive aimed to revitalize the Hitman series.
The first game in the series was titled Hitman, and it featured Agent 47’s return to his role as a world-traveling assassin for the ICA across six separate missions that were released over the course of several months.
The game’s design, which places players in vast open worlds with a wide variety of weapons, disguises, and ways to complete contracts, struck the ideal balance between difficulty and playability.
The increased freedom of choice made the game easier to pick up and play for newcomers while still offering plenty of challenge for seasoned Hitman veterans.
The official date of release is 11/13/2018.
Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One
IO Interactive decided to release all six episodes of Hitman 2 at once, expanding on the story and gameplay structure introduced in Hitman 2016.
In it, Agent 47 works with the ICA to learn more about the shadowy Shadow Client who hired them for Hitman 2016 and their possible ties to Providence.
Since Agent 47’s advancement is now tied to his ability to take control of specific locations, missions have a slightly different structure.
Fans were pleased by the inclusion of online co-op, and many saw Hitman 2 as IO Interactive’s and the series’ return to form.
When: January 20, 2021 (Release Date)
PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox 360, Xbox 360 S, Xbox One, Xbox X/S
Hitman 3, the final installment in IO Interactive’s World of Assassination trilogy, refined the series’ formula and added rich new environments for players to explore after the success of Hitman 2.
The story continues where Hitman 2 left off, with Agent 47 attempting to destroy the mysterious Providence organization before it can manipulate global politics.
Permanent shortcuts and Virtual Reality (VR) support were added, and new guises and weapons gave players more ways to customize their experience.
Hitman 3 received positive reviews, and the game’s open ending suggests we won’t be saying goodbye to Agent 47 just yet.
April 17th, 2014 – Date of Publication
Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Linux, iOS, and Android
Square Enix Montreal, rather than IO Interactive, developed the spin-off game Hitman Go, which features a turn-based puzzle mechanic.
It’s a tabletop board game where you control Agent 47 through a series of grid-based levels populated by miniature figures.
Just like in the main games, Agent 47 can switch between disguises and eliminate enemies by strategically moving around the board, and new enemies and game mechanics will be added as the series progresses.
Critics were initially skeptical of Hitman: Go, but the game was praised for its art direction, game design, and satisfying adaptation of the franchise once it was released.
Date of Publication: June 4, 2015
Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android
Hitman: Sniper, a shooting gallery game also developed by Square Enix Montreal, is the second mobile spin-off game to be released.
Agent 47 uses long-range sniper rifles and a first-person perspective to line up shots and eliminate enemies.
Players, like in the mainline games, can use the environment to their advantage and cause “accidental” deaths, which are usually presented as side objectives.
As Agent 47 advances through missions, he gains access to new weapons and weapon abilities, enabling him to employ ever-more ingenious tactics.
Here’s the Hitman game in chronological order
- Code 47: The Ultimate Hitman (2000)
- Silent Assassin: Hitman, 2002
- Assassin: Agreements (2004)
- The 2006 film Hitman: Blood Money
- (2012) Hitman: Absolution
- 2014 Hitman game
- 2015’s Hitman: Sniper
- 2016 Hitman
- 2018’s Hitman 2
- The release date for Hitman 3 is set for 2021.
The Entire Hitman Timeline Explained
1950s: Creating the perfect clone
Fans of the Hitman series know that Agent 47 is a cloned assassin who kills high-profile targets for money, but they might not know why or where he was originally created. The first game in the series, Hitman: Codename 47, reveals his backstory.
The German physician Otto Wolfgang Ort-Meyer is the true progenitor of Agent 47. Dr. Ort-Meyer was fixated on enhancing the human body through genetic engineering. When Dr. Ort-Meyer joined the French Foreign Legion in the 1950s, he became friends with four other criminals: Lee Hong, Pablo Belisario Ochoa, Frantz Fuchs, and Boris Jegorov.
Dr. Ort-Meyer had the idea to develop a genetically engineered super-soldier while serving their country. Dr. Ort-Meyer left the military and went back to regular life. He moved his genetic experimentation operations to a secret lab in the basement of a Romanian asylum he was running. The genetic material for a number of clones was provided by Dr. Ort-Meyer and his four colleagues. The clones, now known as the “Five Fathers,” were created to serve as organ donors, but they quickly proved their worth as assassins.
1964: Agent 47’s early years
Although 47’s backstory has been pieced together since 2000, it wasn’t until the 2016 series relaunch that developer IO Interactive dove deeper into the cloned assassin’s early years. Hitman 2, released in 2018, and the Agent 47: Birth of the Hitman comic book miniseries, both published in 2018, finally addressed these occurrences.
Agent 47’s birthday is September 5, 1964. Dr. Ort-Meyer secretly fostered him and other cloned children in a lab below the asylum. 47 is portrayed as a cold and solitary individual throughout many of the games in the series, but he showed signs of humanity as a child. After befriending a boy only identified as 6, he took in a stray lab rabbit. When they were young adults, the two boys broke out of the asylum. Dr. Ort-Meyer injected 47 with a memory-erasing serum and framed him for the murder of his best friend to break his will of resistance.
The parents of Diana Burnwood, who would later become 47’s long-term handler, were killed during a training mission in which 47 and 6 participated.
2000: Assassinating the Five Fathers
Hitman: Codename 47, like Agent 47 himself, was a rough draft of something better to come. In 2000, the first game in the Hitman series was released exclusively for personal computers. While it did lay the groundwork for the series’ signature stealth gameplay and introduce major recurring characters like Diana Burnwood, it shared little else in common with more recent entries in the series.
After a prologue set in 1998 (when Dr. Ort-Meyer lets 47 out of the asylum), the rest of the series focuses on 47’s early missions for the International Contract Agency (ICA), a shadowy assassin ring that serves as his primary employer. (Hitman, released in 2016, will cover the time in between, during which a young 47 was recruited into the ICA by Diana Burnwood and Erich Soders, and he trained to be an assassin.)
Four major antagonists, some of whom can only be defeated after completing lengthy multi-stage missions, are all eliminated by Agent 47. Four of the Five Fathers were identified as the ICA’s targets, and Dr. Ort-Meyer was the client who hired the agency. After killing his last creator, Agent 47 goes back to the asylum. He must first, however, defeat multiple duplicates of 48, a more advanced clone of himself.
2002: 47’s first retirement
The second Hitman game released in 2002 for the PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, and GameCube, in addition to the PC. Months after the events of Codename 47, 47 retires and takes a job as a groundskeeper at a monastery in Italy. This is where Hitman 2: Silent Assassin begins. As expected, he is recalled to duty.
The game kicks off when the mafia abducts 47’s one and only friend, the kind Catholic priest Father Vittorio. It is revealed that one of 47’s biological fathers, Boris Jegorov, is the brother of Russian terrorist and arms dealer Sergie Zavorotko. To eliminate everyone involved in the illegal sale of a nuclear weapon, Zavorotko kidnapped Father Vittorio and used him to coax 47 out of retirement. While on his mission to save Father Vittorio and eliminate Zavorotko, Agent 47 knocks out targets in St. Petersburg, Japan, Malaysia, Afghanistan, and India. He is traumatized by the ordeal and decides to rejoin the ICA as a result.
Gameplay challenges such as eliminating the target completely undetected to earn a “Silent Assassin” rating were introduced in the first Silent Assassin game, as the name suggests.
2002-2004: the ICA’s first rival
Even though the next game wouldn’t come out for another three years, the novel Hitman: The Enemy Within (published in 2007) helped bridge the gap by detailing 47’s life during that time. More information about the ICA and the shadowy world of high-stakes assassination is revealed in The Enemy Within. The novel depicts an internal coup attempt by a French organization called Puissance Treize (or “Power 13”) against the ICA. At one point, the new leader of Puissance Treize, Pierre Douay, and a Greek shipping tycoon named Aristotle Thorakis are among the conspirators who are implicated in 47 and Burnwood’s reversal and elimination of them.
A flashback to 47 supposedly killing 6 is also included in the novel. Despite Hitman 2 disproving this false memory, this is the first time fans meet the 6 character. The novel also features a brief appearance by Father Vittorio. Otherwise, neither Puissance Treize nor the events of the book are referenced in any of the video games. However, this is neither the first nor the last time an unknown assassination squad has attempted to eliminate the ICA.
2004: Recovered memories
Hitman: Contracts was released in April 2004 for PC, PS2, and Xbox, two years after the release of Silent Assassin. This was a condensed take on Silent Assassin’s gameplay elements. The story opens with 47 recuperating from a gunshot wound to the stomach sustained during a botched assassination attempt in a seedy Paris hotel room. The game’s levels represent his fading and returning consciousness, during which he recalls various missions from his past.
Some of these missions are brand new, such as the murder mystery of “Beldingford Manor” and the gleefully depraved “The Meat King’s Party,” while others are remakes of missions from Hitman: Codename 47, making them available to console players for the first time. Both the terrifying “Traditions of the Trade” mission and the entire Lee Hong assassination sequence were faithfully recreated. The story of 47’s daring escape from the Romanian orphanage where he spent his formative years, dodging multiple S.W.A.T. teams, is told in the game’s opening mission.
2006: The Franchise emerges, and 47 “dies”
Hitman: Blood Money, which was released in 2006 on PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox 360, and PC, bridged the gap between the 6th and 7th generations of consoles. The first Hitman game to take place in North America, Blood Money propelled 47 to the highest levels of American politics.
As 47 took out targets all over the United States, a new ICA rival known as “The Franchise” emerged and wiped out every ICA agent bar 47 and Diana Burnwood. Ultimately, 47 foils a Franchise plot to assassinate the President of the United States. Burnwood then allegedly betrays 47 by poisoning him and turning over his body to the Franchise in an effort to end the war. At 47’s funeral, however, it is revealed that the poison was actually a sedative, and he returns from the dead to destroy the Franchise once and for all.
With an 83 Metacritic score at the moment, Blood Money is undoubtedly one of the best games in the Hitman series.
2006-2011: down on his luck
About five years pass between the events of Blood Money and the beginning of the next Hitman game, Absolution. The novel Hitman: Damnation covers a portion of 47’s life during this time. Damnation, by Raymond Benson, is the sequel to the first Hitman novel. Beginning in 2011, Diana Burnwood’s disillusionment with the ICA (for reasons that are elaborated upon in Absolution) is established. It appears that she leaves 47 in Nepal while he is in the midst of a mission that results in serious injury to him. Even the world’s best assassin can hit a rough patch, as evidenced by 47’s decision to leave the ICA and pursue a freelance career.
In the novel, we meet Benjamin Travis, Burnwood’s rival at the ICA, who successfully recruits 47 again. In order to run for president of the United States in her place, American televangelist Charlie Wilkins hires 47 to assassinate Dana Linder. Wilkins orders a hit on himself to silence 47, but 47 ends up taking out Wilkins instead.
2012: 47 betrays the ICA
In 2012, Hitman: Absolution was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. This time, 47 appears to double cross Diana Burnwood by killing her in her Chicago home as the game begins. Benjamin Travis, Agent 47’s new ICA handler, gives him the assignment of retrieving Victoria, a genetically modified teenage girl.
47 doesn’t want Victoria to become an assassin, so he helps her get away from them. Travis eventually reveals that he made Victoria without ICA approval and had 47 kill Burnwood to cover it up. Instead, 47 merely made a mock shooting motion at her. After Burnwood and 47 have finished off Travis, they assist Victoria in escaping to a normal life.
It told a character-driven story that dug into 47’s background, but it also had some contentious elements that were eventually phased out in subsequent games by developer IO Interactive, such as more linear level design and an enemy detection system constrained by a charger bar. Absolution was also the last Hitman game published by Square Enix. When the show was restarted, it went in a completely new and unexpected path.
2016: Yet another shadowy organization emerges.
The new Hitman game was released by IO Interactive in 2016 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Linux/Mac, and Google Stadia. The game was rebranded as Hitman and released in episodes. This time, instead of having new missions added all at once, they would be added every few months. Hitman condensed the sprawling franchise down to its essentials, creating open world sandbox levels that beg to be explored and replayed countless times. The time gaps between levels were designed to make you come back and explore the same areas multiple times. So, this installment focused more on the missions themselves and less on the story.
Hitman picks up four years after the events of Absolution, with 47 and Diana Burnwood once again working out of the ICA to carry out a series of hits for the Shadow Client. All of the victims turn out to be members of Providence, yet another mysterious group in the Hitman canon. A Providence operative approaches Burnwood at the game’s conclusion and offers to spill the beans on 47’s history with the organization.
2018: Double- and triple-crosses
Hitman 2 was released by IO Interactive for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Stadia in 2018 without an episodic release schedule. The Providence contact reveals to Diana in Hitman 2 that the Shadow Client is actually 6—the clone boy Assassin 47 befriended as a child. 6 is now known as Lucas Grey. Even though players have yet to find out why, Burnwood finds out that 47 and 6 were hired to kill her parents.
In order to learn more about Providence and their dealings, 47 and Burnwood get in touch with Lucas Grey. Dr. Ort-Meyer, 47’s creator and one of his genetic fathers, was a member of Providence, and the group aspires to global dominance. Grey gets 47 and Burnwood to work with him to destroy Providence.
It turns out that their contact in Providence is The Constant, who is supported by three other high-ranking members known as Partners. 47 and his team successfully nab the Constant. He says he initially contacted 47 and Diana after learning of a coup attempt by his Partners. If we don’t find out who these Partners are after Hitman 2’s conclusion, they may take over Providence and the rest of the world.
Which Hitman Should I Play First?
After familiarizing yourself with the fundamentals of each game, you should prioritize the factors that are most important to you. Start with Hitman or Hitman 2 if you’re looking for something with more up-to-date visuals. Get the full picture of Agent 47 and the ICA by starting at the beginning.
Don’t lose hope if you’ve played every Hitman game and still want to sneak around. The developers of Hitman are currently at work on a James Bond video game. So that could be something to keep you occupied until the next Hitman game is released.