The elusive targets feel way too bland, in my opinion.
The formula has just been to dance around a placement of guards and maximize body dumps. There's a bright hint and an easy to clear spot; you do a dry run, and then you know precisely what tool to bring. Sure, you have to do it cleanly, but there is some forgiveness if you're fast enough in the best disguise. And hey, at least for me, my first couple Elusives ended in absolute disaster.
I liked the idea behind Barbara! The body double complication is a fun one, but the limitations of Hawkes Bay basically wound up resulting in a slightly-tougher tutorial mission. I think that you guys at IOI should make Elusive Targets balls-to-the-wall. Broader target paths and more complicated NPC interactions where the player has to swiftly navigate through tightly-watched crowds, where disguises are extremely risky and body storage rare.
Accidents should be incredibly specific. Maybe the target picks up a package from a guy at one of 5 places in Sapienza. He stops off at all of these places regardless, and they all have different disguise/tier requirements. At each stop, he does a different activity which presents different opportunities. You have a small toolkit of three including the ICA safehouse smuggling.
"A ruthless mob boss; Silvio Forte seized on the power vacuum left by the late Silvio Caruso, effectively ruling over the populace with an iron fist. Ever-ambitious, Forte has systematically seized most of the idyllic town's property; resorting to extortion, kidnapping- and assassination, for the stubborn. Our clients are the De Luca Crime Family, who are likely looking to take Sapienza for themselves. To the victor go the spoils."
That off-the-top-of-my-head premise sets up a precedent for more difficulty. Make the maps more vibrant! You could close off spaces like the Observatory and Castle entirely (renovations?). He's a really paranoid guy. Not "one Mike Ehrmentraut knockoff following you around" paranoid, or "leave a key piece of intel right out in the open" paranoid. A cadre of bodyguards. All enforcers for one another. And they have a sharper range. They're looking out for snipers and will spot you if you're not in a /really/ creative spot.
Poison? Yep. But the wine is in his office, sealed. And he doesn't leave his bowl of Cheetos out in the open for you to sprinkle cyanide and/or rat poison on. Does he even eat in the mansion at all? Maybe it's randomized. And honestly, you should only be able to do one dry-run. Tweaking the randomization to your exact liking then resorting to the same old 'chuck an explosive in a corner and distract everybody' trick.
If you throw an explosive, he gets the fuck in his underground fortress. There is no way you're stealthing in there, and he is hunkered down. If you go guns blazing and somehow don't die/slowly chip away at the AI, 0 stars. The complications should be vast, and the opportunities slim. Elusive Targets should be a constant, hair-raising stressfest that make Silent Assassins, and their rewards, have true weight.
If they're insular characters, they should be paranoid ones. A megalomaniac Social Media executive responsible for aiding in political meddling and espionage the world over isn't going to drink from a glass that he didn't see filled. He's not going to smoke by a fucking bright blue blow-up beacon. His security cameras are ubiquitous. The server room doesn't have any storage containers- the nearest one could have very likely been used by you to store two other guards.
Go all out. Assassinate another assassin who utilizes similar tactics to 47. Assassinate several assassins a la Blood Money, though this time they're not ridiculously overt. ICA intel could be simple. "One's a sniper, one's a ground operative. They might have a field camp in the area, and if you discover one before the other, you could get a walkie talkie as a callback.
Sorry for the rant, but I feel like that would really justify the time limits on the contracts. I'd like to see some real imagination come out- I love the Hitman franchise, I have ever since I was a kid. Make ETs dangerous, thrilling, and rewarding. I wouldn't even mind them being less frequent if we got some better stuff.
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