'Hitman' blows his cover next week on PlayStation 4

The beta launches on PC seven days later; both require a pre-order to access.

IO Interactive / Square Enix

The cold, calculated killer known only as Agent 47 returns to do what he does best sooner than we thought. That's assuming you have a PlayStation 4 and have pre-ordered the next game starring the cloned assassin, of course. While it might be going a different direction in terms of structure (multi-season, downloadable and episodic versus a traditional retail release), publisher Square Enix is sadly clinging to old methods of promo.

Pre-ordering the game ensures "guaranteed" access to the PS4 beta launching February 12th, with the PC test starting on February 19th. But if Ubisoft's taught us anything recently, in video game parlance "guaranteed" means about as much as "exclusive" these days. Let's hope for the best, though.

Oh, and there are a half-dozen missions that are only available to pre-orderers on Sony's latest console. A post on the PlayStation Blog says that "The Sarajevo Six" is a self-contained side story, and the premiere piece of that will be available with the game's March 11th debut.

Now, about those pre-orders. The $140 collector's edition, $60 standard version and the $35 "Intro Pack" each grant access to a few in-game bits and bobs inspired by one of the series' high points, 2006's Hitman: Blood Money. Want a white suit, white rubber duckie bomb and silenced chrome pistol? For now, those are locked behind a pre-order. At least they aren't tied to an individual retailer, I suppose.

And hey, episodic gaming has been paying out some pretty great rewards as of late too -- especially when it comes to stuff from Square Enix. Crappy business deals that leave Xbox One owners out in the cold aside, what I saw of the game at E3 looked really promising. Perhaps a slight uncrossing of our fingers is in order.