Hitman is one of those game series that has always had a steady base of fan support but never managed to jump into the mainstream the way that contemporaries like Splinter Cell and Metal Gear solid have managed to do. Part of that reason is likely due to how hardcore and realistic it can get. It’s also somewhat of a sandbox-style game, offering very little direction on how to complete your goal—instead giving you the tools to play and releasing you out into the game.
Well, now that sandbox-style play is available for not one, not two, but all three recent Hitman games in VR. The result is something of a mixed bag, but if you love the series, you’ll find it hard not to like what’s on tap here.
I started the Hitman series back in 2012 with Hitman: Absolution, but the series started way before that, dating back to the PS2 era of gaming. The game was brutal and creative in ways that stealth action games never were. The freedom to do whatever I wanted to achieve my goal was incredible.
Becoming other people, setting up traps, confusing enemies, and luring your targets to their doom is something that many games try for but rarely succeed in the way that Hitman does. When I found out it was getting a VR version, that was all I needed to sign up.
Hitman VR was released on the PS4 and PSVR but has since come to PCVR as well. There is a lot to get into when trying to figure out how this game works and if it works well or not, so let’s get started.
Differences between the Versions
Hitman VR is available on both the PSVR and PCVR, but there are some big differences between the two. On PSVR, you’ll be playing strictly with a controller. That means no motion controllers are available to use with this version. Everything you do in the game is done via your typical controller.
This limits the gameplay a ton, but it gives you a more consistent experience due to the mechanics playing out as you’d expect them to in VR. This also gives you a consistent performance, which we know can be a huge thing to nail when it comes to VR games.
On the PCVR, you get motion controls for the first time with the series. This is both a blessing and a curse because it’s clear that IO Interactive did not do its homework with VR games before putting this one out for sale. It’s still an awesome thing to have Hitman in VR, but the implementation is a bit questionable. There are certain things that Hitman VR misses the mark on.
Moving Around in Hitman VR
The movement in Hitman VR is done by either your controller on PSVR or your motion controllers on the PCVR version. It’s relatively smooth on both, but on PCVR, performance has been an absolute catastrophe. Regardless of the headset or GPU I’ve played it on; it’s been pretty choppy throughout, making movement difficult.
Other movements in VR include climbing, crouching, and sneaking around. Unfortunately, the VR implementation here in PCVR and PSVR versions is pathetic. You cannot perform any movement in the game yourself. Instead, you’ll be watching animations such as climbing instead of taking part in it.
This includes crouching as well, which is baffling on so many levels. When it comes to a game that emphasizes that movement like Hitman does, not having a physical crouch is crazy to me. Ladder climbing, sneaking, and crouching are all handed via buttons either on your PS4 controller or motion controller. Watching yourself climb up a ladder in VR is a weird experience. So many games have nailed this experience better with a lower budget. I’d say this is a big missed opportunity that feels lazy more than anything.
One other thing you need to consider is that regardless of the platform you play on, Hitman VR does not support room-scale. That means you have to stay in place when playing. Plenty of games don’t support room-scale, but even further, Hitman VR doesn’t support any movement of your feet. If you move, even while in place, your head will become displaced from your body in-game, creating a jarring effect that will make you sick. The result also looks terrible, so we’re getting pretty much nothing good here.
If you lose your body in the VR space, you can recenter your game with a button press which will also recalibrate your height to boot. Losing your body in-game can be pretty annoying, but it’s easily fixed.
You can vault over obstacles in your way when you’re moving around the game world, but again, this lacks any kind of real VR implementation. Because of this, you will vault over them without any animation; instead, it will teleport you there.
Combat in Hitman VR
Combat is a pretty big part of VR games, and Hitman VR is no different. Here, you will have the most VR interaction of anything in the game. The combat on tap with Hitman VR is a mix of gunplay and melee combat, and thankfully, both work pretty well here.
To equip a gun, you have to open your inventory using whichever button you have bound to it on your motion controller and then hold the grip button to grab the weapon. You can also put the weapon into your holster sphere, which is located in your stomach/chest area for some reason. Once you’ve got your weapon of choice out, you can pull the trigger to fire it.
When it comes to two-handed weapons, most VR games let you control them with your offhand to help control the recoil better. That isn’t the case here, as the left-hand mechanic in Hitman VR is among the most useless things in the known universe. You will be controlling things like assault rifles and shotguns with one hand even though in the game, it shows you holding it with both hands. It not only looks terrible; the control is terrible, too, as the spray of these weapons is very tough to predict.
If you were hoping to march through the halls of Hitman levels wielding the classic Silverballer gun with two hands on the hilt of the iconic pistol like an expert assassin, you can forget about that. Here, you can use only two-hand weapons when they are weapons like submachine guns or assault rifles, even though the left hand does nothing when you do so.
The sniper scope here is also terrible, as it’s not even a real scope. It’s implemented like someone had a non-VR game and forgot to create a VR equivalent without checking how other games handle gun scopes.
Unlike most VR games, though, in Hitman VR, the reloading is done automatically, leaving you with no reloading action to pull off, which is disappointing, to say the least.
If you’re using a melee weapon like a hammer or a knife, you can use them the way you’d expect. You can hit enemies or anyone with a melee weapon, and they do a lot of damage. However, the physics involved are kind of inconsistent. I suggest doing a pretty powerful swing to make sure you will actually hit the enemy you’re swinging at. It will increase immersion, but most of all, it will actually work.
If you use an explosive weapon, you can actually place this manually. This opens up a ton of options for luring your targets to their deaths as well as triggering an explosion to distract enemies. When you place an explosive, a trigger will magically appear in your hand. From there, you can trigger the explosion using the trigger on the motion controller.
If weapons aren’t your thing, you can also walk right up to people and punch them in the face. It’s as dumb as it sounds, but it works, and sometimes a good right hook is all you’ll need to take down an enemy. I don’t recommend trying to punch your assassination targets to death, as this will be met with a little bit more resistance.
You can also grab enemies by the head and smash them against things to take them out as well. This works very well, too, and can be a quick way to take an enemy down without alerting too many people.
On PSVR, combat is a lot more straightforward. Controls are like that of a first-person shooter. You can access your inventory via your controller and equip weapons from there. Due to the lack of motion controls, you aim with your analog stick. Both melee weapons, as well as guns, are controlled with the trigger.
This process lacks any physical engagement whatsoever. The combat does work well here despite that. As long as you don’t mind the lack of motion controller support, you will find a lot to like here, no matter what platform you play it in.
Immersion in Hitman VR
Immersion is the name of the game in VR, and the whole point of these headsets is to make you feel like you’re in the world of these games. Hitman VR takes a bizarre approach to this, to say the least. First of all, your left arm is almost entirely useless most of the time. For some reason, the left arm is mostly there as window dressing, which makes 0 sense and leads to some of the most hilariously stupid-looking moments I’ve had in VR.
There are some occasions where your left arm comes in handy, though, and that’s when it comes time to pull out the stealth action the series is well known for.
That stealth action mainly has to do with putting an enemy in a chokehold to subdue them. Here, that would appear straightforward, as approaching any enemy with no weapon equipped will allow you to take them down quietly. That’s where things get trippy. You need to grip the enemy by the neck to take them down, and that’s where the crazy physics of the game comes into play.
It’s tough to grip an enemy by the neck and not have their character model go absolutely haywire. There have been endless videos showing people attempting to be stealthy only to watch a hilarious display of physics gone wrong as the enemies start flailing all over the place.
This happens because the torso in-game is so badly implemented that doing anything with either arm will move you a slight amount each time. This causes the VR body to lose its place and act off the wall. It does work, though, so feel free to approach enemies who are unaware of you as long as you don’t mind seeing them go flying into the sky shortly thereafter.
If you’d rather use piano wire and have access to it on a level, this works a bit better. You just approach them from behind and then raise your arms over their head and bring the wire down around their neck to pretty much instantly strangle them. I’d say they could’ve done better implementing the strangling mechanic into the game, but that’s not exactly something I want to feel that is real in the first place, so I’ll let that one slide.
One thing that is incredibly fun to do in Hitman VR is knock guards out and then drag and hide their bodies. The sequence is generally along the lines of this. You knock a guard out, take their clothes by pressing a button on your motion controller, either A or a variation of that for non-Oculus users, dragging and carrying the body to an unseen location.
You can stash bodies in dumpsters, throw them over railings or leave them in the bushes. Carrying them around is also relatively simple as there is nothing resembling of a weight simulation in this game, so dead bodies become as light as a feather and are very easy to move around because of that. It is tough to get them to go over railings, though, as physics tends to go crazy sometimes, but when it works, it’s great.
Stealth in PSVR is handled a bit differently and a bit more effectively. In one of the only uses of actual VR in Hitman VR on PS4, you hold R2 to make a fist. Then you basically shove the controller into whichever enemy you want. It will knock them out completely cold. It can feel a bit awkward at first. It’s a lightning-quick way to take down enemies while getting to actually use the VR aspects that the game has to offer.
In addition to this, you also have the use of piano wire, which acts similarly here. When you pull out the piano wire, approach an enemy from behind, and then lift your arms up and over them, then begin strangling them, it’s an awesome thing to see in VR and, again, is one of the only real uses of VR that Hitman manages to have.
Interacting with the World
Other than stealth mechanics, you’ll be doing some mundane things throughout Hitman VR to complete objectives, such as picking locks, opening doors, stealing things, and generally causing chaos of varying degrees from start to finish.
Opening doors in the game is handled by hitting a button to open the door. However, once you do that, you will be able to push it open or closed using your VR hands, which makes one wonder why they didn’t allow you to open the door with your hands as well. I digress.
Most of the time, you can pick up items when the game deems it an item that you can use. This includes things like vases, wrenches, and other things you can use to either attack enemies or use as a distraction. Throwing the e items is usually the best idea, and here, that is done by throwing something with your right arm.
This is easier said than done because throwing anything with a decent amount of strength behind it will cause things to go completely haywire most of the time. As annoying as it may seem, I would opt to underhand objects if you can. It doesn’t feel as cool for sure, but it will help in the long run.
It needs to be noted that you have nothing resembling VR holsters here. Everything you can equip comes out of your chest for whatever reason. Any time you move your hands near your chest, a giant white circle appears that lets you take items and weapons from it. That is the only time you can equip a weapon or item in the game. There is nothing to reach for over your shoulder or available to unholster from your hip pockets, so just know that going in.
Tweaking the Experience
Most VR games will need a certain amount of tweaking to get things to everyone’s liking. I’m unhappy to say no real accommodations are made in that regard. You have some options to tweak your use of vignettes and teleportation vs. smooth movement. Still, the real issue here comes with the complete lack of VR graphics settings.
Hitman VR is a lurry mess when you first fire it up. The lack of graphics options to fix this is just an egregious oversight that makes the experience very tough to play through.
Using Your VR Arms
There are several tools and gadgets you’ll need to use while playing hitman VR. Unfortunately, those revolve around the use of your arms. Your VR arms in Hit an are hilariously bad. They don’t line up with your body or your VR body, and even worse, there is no way to alter their positioning whatsoever. That means you’ll b dealing with awkwardly bent elbows flailing about as you try to do simple tasks. These tasks include taking a picture with a camera or, god forbid, trying to put a code into a keypad.
If you want to bend down to pick something up, good luck because the game doesn’t calibrate your height to the height of Agent 47. The result will be you reaching for something that you can’t quite reach, and I’ve nearly fallen over in the real world trying to reach for something.
It all feels simply terrible to use. Honestly, the PSVR version seems like a dream because it actually works. If you’re on PCVR, you should at least try to get the height correct in order to make the use of your arms make a bit more sense. You will use your arms to not only attack enemies, aim your weapons and throw things, but you will also use them to access your holster spheres.
The location of the e-holster spheres is so idiotic I can’t even begin to explain it. It’s essentially located in front of your VR body, making it very easy to accidentally pull out a hammer when you’re trying to fire a gun and vice versa.
Your left-hand doesn’t pick up anything in the game world, so everything you want to pick up, throw, or even touch has to be done with your right hand. You might think that there is an option to reverse these controls in case you’re left-handed, and while it would make a ton of sense, it simply does not exist.
Presence in Hitman VR
If there is one thing that Hitman VR does incredibly well, it gives you a sense of presence. While there are countless issues with the VR implementation, you do feel like you’re in this world because of the amazing scale and proper size of people that you will encounter in the game.
Many VR games screw this up, but Hitman completely nails it. Everything from objects to the people you’ll encounter feel and look very lifelike. While it’s a far cry from the photorealism of something like Half-Life: Alyx or Resident Evil 7 VR, it’s still outstanding work in this regard.
The combat effects in VR are also pretty brutal here, too. In comparison, it’s not on the level of Blade and Sorcery when the combat physics are doing the right thing. You just successfully buried a hammer into the back of an enemy’s skull. You’re going to feel it. It will feel a bit disturbing at times as Hitman doesn’t mind getting a bit bloody on screen.
Speaking of blood, when you take damage, your whole screen will slowly glow red. This shows that you’re taking damage, and while plenty of games utilize this mechanic, in VR, it’s pretty scary to see and really ups your need to find cover and get out of harm’s way because the effect is pretty unpleasant when its right in your face in that way.
Praydog’s Mod, a Light at the End of the Tunnel?
If you are in the VR community, you might have heard of a modder called Praydog. He’s quickly gaining acclaim because he’s managed to convert Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3, Resident 7, and Resident Evil 8: Village into full, motion-controlled VR games. With that in mind, the rumor mill has been working full time. It seems that since he’s conquered the Resident Evil series, that Hitman VR might be next up for his modding genius.
Now, this is merely a rumor, so when we could expect to see it working in full is not known at this time, but considering he took a game with no VR implementation like RE2, RE3, and RE8 and completely created motion controls out of thin air that actually works amazingly, I would think that he could do a lot to fix the borderline broken VR mechanics that currently hamper the Hitman VR experience.
Thankfully, one awesome thing about Hitman VR is you can get access to the entire trilogy and play each of the levels in VR. This gives you hours and hours of content, and the VR mechanics are pretty much the same throughout. If you can stomach the wacky VR implementation here, you’ll find yourself with an endlessly replayable experience that rewards creativity.
Hitman VR has so many different paths towards your objective that you can find yourself playing maps repeatedly to see what an alternative route would do.
PSVR vs. PCVR Versions of Hitman 3
This is an awfully tough fight here. On the one hand, you’ve got the motion controls of PCVR, which are pretty bad, but it’s still an actual VR game. On the other, you’ve got the more polished PSVR version with no motion controls but plays a lot better using a normal controller.
I still think the PCVR version is better because of its modding potential and the fact it might get fixed one day, but that might be wishful thinking on my part.
Question: Are all Hitman Games Available in VR?
Answer: All of the current iterations of Hitman are available in VR by purchasing Hitman 3. Each game shares the same VR mechanics and can be played as such.
Question: Does Hitman VR on PSVR have Motion Controls?
Answer: It primarily uses a controller, but it has a few tasks like strangling that use VR mechanics similar to that of a motion controller.
Question: Is Hitman 3 VR on Oculus Quest 2?
Answer: It’s not an official Oculus Quest 2 game, but it can be played by either using the Oculus Link or Oculus Airlink to play it.
Despite its litany of issues, Hitman VR is pretty much the only VR game of its kind, and there is a lot of value here. If you can get over the awkward implementation of VR, you will find a game that rewards your creativity and has some truly awesome levels to play through.