IO Interactive has delayed Hitman 3’s roguelike Freelancer mode again, this time to January 26 next year.

Announced in a dedicated blog post, the developer revealed a full roadmap for the long-awaited mode, which also includes further progress updates and a closed technical test that arrives in November.

“We’ve decided to push beyond our original scope for launch and include almost all locations from the World of Assassination from day one,” IO Interactive said in the post. “We’re continuing to work on making the launch experience as frictionless as possible for all players. We’ll have more to say about that in future Road to Freelancer posts.”

The closed technical test will allow select Hitman 3 players on Steam to play Freelancer ahead of its launch next year.

“The closed technical test is all about putting our servers under stress to prepare for launch,” it added. “We also want to get an early idea of player behaviour and do some economy [and] XP balancing in a real-life scenario on a big scale. These are the final checkboxes we need to tick off before we launch.”

Freelancer mode was previously due to be released in spring 2022, but was delayed in May as a result of a previous testing period that led IO Interactive to decide that more time was needed to improve it.

While the delay will be disappointing news for some, the Hitman developer has spoken out against studio crunching – meaning staff being overworked to create a game faster.

Speaking to IGN last year, IO Interactive co-owner and CEO Hakan Abrak admitted that he’d encouraged crunching in the past but went on to regret it. “I did learn it’s not only destroying souls, but it’s also not an effective way of developing games,” he said.

“Today, I’m not saying we’re not doing ‘overwork’. We do at times. But it’s something that needs to be felt… like, a good clear purpose… from within the team, and it needs to be on a shorter period than these long crunch periods.”

In our 9/10 review of Hitman 3, IGN said: “Rich, rewarding, and highly replayable, Hitman 3 is one of the barcoded butcher’s best appearances.”

Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelancer. He’ll talk about The Witcher all day.

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