I have been doing accessibility reviews for long enough to see clear patterns in games. One of those is that in every new entry in a series, following industry trends, becomes more accessible than the last. This has been true of Gears of War, Assassin’s Creed, Uncharted, Tomb Raider, and so many more. So you can understand then my shock upon seeing that in Hitman 3, the third entry in the free-form trilogy, IOI made no meaningful improvements in the series’ accessibility, leaving it woefully behind the inclusion of nearly every other next-gen (current gen?) title.
With the introduction of “World of Assassination,” which allowed players of Hitman 2 to play through the Hitman 1 campaign in Hitman 2, IOI brought all of Hitman 2’s accessibility improvements (the massive subtitles being the most notable) to Hitman 1. I was eager to dive into Hitman 3 through World of Assassination and enjoy even more improvements across all three games. The fact that there aren’t any accessibility improvements to speak of is odd, to say the least, but the things that have been major barriers throughout the series still being the very same barriers is mind boggling.
With subtitles on and set to the largest option, the game begins beautifully. Just as Hitman 2 did. If all subtitles could be that nice and big and thick, well, you’d see me complaining a lot less on Twitter. There is no speaker name shown during the cutscenes, though that’s not particularly uncommon.
In-game the subtitles are very slightly smaller than those in the cutscenes but still legible, even without a letterbox. There’s a dash to indicate a change in speaker which is nice, people need to know when the speaker has changed, but there’s no indication of who is speaking. A huge issue if the VO isn’t just the playable character monologuing the entire time.
This becomes an even bigger issue in levels where there are dozens of NPCs where any one of them could be speaking. Subtitles exist to serve a purpose— to show what is being said and who is saying it. When subtitles only serve half of that purpose, you have failed to provide functional subtitles, no matter how big they are. Also note the poor placement of the interaction prompt in the above image.
The most infuriating subtitle issue in Hitman 3 (which has been an issue since Hitman) is the complete lack of subtitles for non-story mission NPCs that interact with you. In the above image, 47 has walked into the suit wearing man and stood very close to him for an uncomfortably long time. The man says things to him but the only thing displayed is a question mark over his head. While IOI has failed to include anything moderately helpful with the question mark, they have successfully captured the immersion of Deaf and hard of hearing players with their question mark.
The game doesn’t fare any better for physical accessibility.
Players cannot remap controls (on console) nor is there even any control scheme option. In addition to that huge barrier, players also cannot adjust the interaction long presses and rapid button mashing is still required and unchangeable for various interactions. For me, the most annoying physical accessibility issue is that while 47 does have a handy assassin vision that highlights key items and people, you must keep RB held to use it. In most games with similar features, you are able to press it and it will remain onscreen for a short period of time but not here.
Lastly, we have a problem that will impact low-vision players enjoyment— interaction prompts.
There is definitely a difference in the size of the interaction prompts but not so much so that it makes a significant accessibility impact, especially for players trying to read them on their couch sitting a reasonable distance from their TV.
Hitman 3 is optimized for Xbox Series X and PS5. It’s stunning with its ray tracing. IOI clearly put in the effort to make a great next-gen game and they succeeded. What they failed to do though was keep in line with what I think is fair to call accessibility standards of next-gen games, making Hitman 3 an accessibility failure that many will likely be unable to enjoy.