Pathways 003 featured image

Welcome to the world of assassination, where a man slyly wanders the streets throwing rubber ducks at unsuspecting targets. The absurdity of such an item landing at their feet is often the last thing these victims ponder.

I often find that I enjoy custom rulesets when it comes to sandboxes. When it’s possible to parse a route by utilising different, non-standard methods, it can cause fascinating chaos.

Stealth combined with chaos is technically possible and is explicitly what I’m aiming for. This isn’t a virtuous mission, but I was running agency pickups only.

This map variant often feels like I’m cheating — all the walkways are the same, escape routes are similar, I know where 95% of the items are, but in truth, this is the core of why I enjoy this game so much. At some point, it becomes more of a simulation; people have their repeated routes and you can drastically ruin someone’s day.

I’ve only actually completed this mission once, but it seemed to have the most immediate eureka moment. The targets are easy and they exist in a location that almost every person on the map can enter, to the point that when scoping out the objective, I found them standing within the same room.

What could I do? I was shocked to see the objectives so close and barely had time to react. My immediate thought was ‘even if they start their walk cycle, the distraction of having a weird rubber duck placed at their feet should draw enough attention for me to flee’ — and the plan executed perfectly.

Let’s pause for a second and think about this. Multiple people saw me place the item. Knowing this, you would think they’d suspect me the second it exploded. Turns out it’s a new quirk of the AI which I’m going to utilise to the extreme.

Now that the room was all in chaos due to everyone witnessing somebody explode, the guard went to escort the other VIP away from the noise. The thing is, he was directly in front of the escaping Agent 47, which led to an attempt to pre-empt his path.

I placed a remote-activated rubber duck on the staircase, with the target due to walk right on top of it — let’s time this perfect and nail the bastard. I don’t actually remember what horrendous crime he was accused of, but 47 was surely going to make him pay and put on a fireworks display.

Massive cockup: which was clearly 47’s fault and not the person inputting commands. The target was inches past the blast zone, but this caused an additional ripple in the AI, which led to a fascinating twist.

The bodyguards and all the hotel visitors saw the explosion and decided to go elsewhere, all while the target homed in on a safe zone. The safe zone perfectly aligned with a lobbed item, because it was decided at some point that my 47 was going to carry a stupendous amount of explosives. I somehow managed to catch the target unawares.

Apparently in all the madness of three explosions going off, nobody suspected the bald visitor, who could be seen hanging around the two casualties and was visibly seen lobbing weird items, which seemed to have evaporated from existence.

This absolutely cemented my love of this game; I’d dropped off at one point, having had a bad taste in my mouth from the seriously tough Pro difficulty, fearing that my fun had been fixed out of the game. I took a bit of a sabbatical, but oh boy was the immediacy of this run and the explosive chaos within the absolute best feeling.

PATHWAYS is an ongoing series about the way we make our journeys through the worlds of games. You can read the rest of the series here.

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