Contract killing is traditionally a solo venture. You seldom see two bald, dead-eyed men in black suits riding a tandem bicycle to their next assassination mission, and with good reason: it’s hard enough to slip by unnoticed as a lone operative, let alone as one of several.
Ghosts mode flips the traditional Hitman formula on its head, however. Whereas before hits were longform exercises in individual patience and planning, in this all-new multiplayer mode victory comes from pulling off hits quicker than your human opponent.
You’re both hunting the same target, in the same location. But while guards will only react to you in your own game, not your online opponent, there’s still plenty of tactical complexity to be found in Ghosts.
When you take down a target, a timer begins. You must keep their body undetected until the timer expires in order to score. While you’re busy doing that, however, the next target appears. If you’re still tending to the body by dragging it or dumping it somewhere, your opponent has the chance to get the jump on you and make their way to the target before you. In this way, the advantage can see-saw one way and then the other in Ghost matches.
The first to score five eliminations wins the match, so above all this is a mode about fast-paced action, which naturally means you’ll be adopting a totally different approach and moving through areas as fast as possible. Keep an eye out for hostile non-targets though, as you’ll lose a point for killing them. It’s best to retain a sense of stealth on the go, then.
Further tactical wrinkles are added with the introduction of Ghost Crates, which spawn periodically through the round and offer new items to the player who reaches them first. Securing a Ghost Crate might just be enough to turn the tide of a match, if you employ your newfound equipment successfully enough to take out your target speedily.
Targets are also time-limited, so if nobody makes it to them and takes them out in time, the target switches to someone else on the map. That makes for moments of potential agony or ecstasy as you choke your mark out in the dying seconds, praying to the ICA handler gods that the kill will count before the timer expires.
As you’d expect, Ghosts Mode is radically different to the core Hitman experience which has always offered slow-burning solo gameplay. It’s both a means of honing your skills for single-player, and demonstrating them in a live multiplayer environment. It’s a first for the series, and should definitely be checked out in between your globetrotting adventure through the six levels of campaign mode.