Hitman's general gameplan in most matchups is to secure hits into a 4S hard knockdown in order to begin his safejump vortex. Where the challenge begins depends on the matchup - as a generalist, Hitman has to adapt to his opponent's gameplan accordingly. For example, against characters with shorter reach like Grappler and Striker, you can generally opt to use his long range disjoint buttons to poke and pressure safely from a distance. On the other hand, against zoners or other characters that have superior reach, Hitman lacks any anti-projectile or safe approach tools, forcing him to rely on universal system mechanics to get in patiently. Once in, Hitman's goal is generally to pressure via safejump mixups looped into more hard knockdowns until the opponent dies.
His gameplan can change dramatically in awakening, where whiff punishing or landing a reversal can be a game ending threat as his combo conversions become much more damaging and reliable, allowing him to play far more patiently due to the opponent being forced to respect Shattering Strike followups.
Hitman has a lot of solid buttons for multiple distances in the midrange. 2B is one of his best pokes with 5A also being a solid option, having faster startup but a bit less range. 5S is also a solid to just put up a large hitbox, though note that this can be slid under and is awful on whiff due to playing the full animation out no matter what. 6S, while not being great in neutral due to slow startup, is great in hit confirms and blockstrings, being able to close the distance to convert into followups when Hitman is able to connect with his other long range options. 5M is a slow, huge, but risky call out in midscreen - its gigantic hitbox makes it powerful at beating airborne opponents preemptively, and is devastating on counterhit, crumpling a grounded opponent which lets Hitman run up and begin his most damaging combos via 2S or 5M.
Against opponents that want to be fullscreen, Hitman unfortunately lacks options to approach safely outside of universal options, such as run blocking, jumping, and rolling.
When the opponent is one that wants to play close and Hitman is fullscreen, then controlling space to force the opponent approach is usually the way to go as Hitman. His standard Midrange options listed above work just as well when the opponent starts to approach.
Up close is where the slow startup of a few of Hitman's normal options tend to become an issue. 5/2A are the usual go to moves to stuff the opponents options. Grab is also an option to open up an opponent that is respecting Hitman's strike options. At worst, Hitman still has a decent reversal in 623M to fall back on to get out of a sticky situation, which becomes much more reliable and threatening in Awakening.
Hitman's offensive pressure really starts when the opponent is made to block either a 236M or a 5B. 5B is Hitman's safest normal at -2 on block, allowing him to leverage the threat of his cancel options to reset pressure or go for throws which also allow him to continue pressure. Once Hitman is able to get a solid hit, the main routes for combos will usually lead into either the 2S > 5M loops for damage or a 4S > 4S OTG for a HKD and oki.
If the opponent is fully respecting Hitman's pressure options on block, he can opt to go for a 100 mana start guard crush sequence:
5A > 5B > 2B > 2S > 6S(1) > 236M , 5A > 6S(2) > 236M , 5A > 5S(1) (whiff strikes) 5S(3) > 6S(1) > Guardbreak 5M combo starter > ...
The sequence works when a 5A is blocked close-up, as the opponent will be close enough for 236M > 5A to connect. 5S leaves a contestable gap during the whiff before the gunfire which can bait DPs depending on range and active frames. 236M > 5A is not a true blockstring, but is a pressure reset frametrap that should beat optons that are not invincible and slower than 6f. The 6S(2) > 236M portion must be done precisely on two hits of 6S in order to make the following 236M DP safe, as the spacing of 6S(1) leaves Hitman too close to beat most DPs.
2B and 5S are solid pokes against grounded opponents. 5A, j.A, and the second hit of 2S can all work against airborne opponents.623M and 5M are able to deal with both but the reversal can be reliably safe jumped due to its poor vertical reach, or outright baited. While 5M is a powerful haymaker option, it has slow startup letting it get stuffed easily by a close range opponent.
Since his anti airs are powerful but slow, instead of reacting to airborne opponents, Hitman players will often need to condition the opponent to jump in order to score rewarding hits as a read.
Hitman's best anti air moves are 5A, Rising j.A, 2S, 5M, and 623M:
5A is one of his fastest normals paired with a very solid vertical and horizontal reach, making it his most effective reaction anti air against descending foes. On hit, it also reliably converts into combos that carry the opponent towards the corner.
Rising j.A is a fast and effective air to air confirm thanks to its multi hit nature, that can lead into a HKD thanks to j.M. The large disjoint also helps it beat opposing air to air attempts, though at longer ranges it may not convert into anything
2S is a slower option, with the second hit only activating at 22 frames, but it has a gigantic hitbox, covering wide space in front and above Hitman. On air hit, it yields some of the highest returns of all his anti airs, confirming into 5M for loops or starting other combo routes.
5M, while his slowest anti air, can be Hitman's most rewarding one depending on spacing and resources. While it hits hard, covers a lot of space, and leads to great return on hit, it is very slow which requires it to be used preemptively, and if hit too far away it can be impossible to get an actual combo. On air Counter Hit, it forces a hard knockdown which lets Hitman get an OTG 4S.
623M is Hitman's invincible reversal and as expected can be used as an anti air, but the first two hits have virtually no vertical reach while the third hit does, meaning it must be used against opponents jumping deeper compared to the timing other characters may prefer to use their reversals at.
Conversion primarily helps Hitman in two areas, Mixups and Combo Conversions.
Conversion lets Hitman get a true 50/50 thanks to his instant j.B, as normally it must be delayed to convert into anything but with conversion it can be linked into a falling j.B or j.S which can then link into a full combo. This 50/50 comes due to it being instant, forcing the opponent to guess between it and a 2A which leads into a full combo on its own.
Hitman also gets to run his RPS mixup on block by using conversion during a blocked 236M, as this lets Hitman run up to the opponent while they are still blocking the 236M projectile and run his 2A/Slight Delay j.B/Grab rps.
Conversion can let Hitman fully confirm into a combo when something goes wrong that would cut a combo short, such as the opponent being in the air or a spacing issue. This will normally be done by using conversion on 236M against an aerial opponent to continue the combo, or after a 5M launches the opponent too far to get another 2S naturally during his loops.
Another example could be using Conversion on a long range 2B hit in order to microdash in and launch with 2S where it would otherwise whiff.
Fighting Guard Cancel
Thanks to Guard Cancels leaving white health for the opponent, Hitman can make use of it to get back in by using a 6S and conversion cancelling it should it whiff, which circumvents the move's greatest weakness.