We had the pleasure of viewing a hands-off demo from developer Hangar 13 and publisher 2K Games for our Mafia III preview. The third incarnation of the series, Mafia III is a completely open-world gangster title full of enticing characters with depth and fascinating locales, even including some familiar faces from previous games. While it is loosely connected to the other Mafia titles, it is its own game and we were very excited from what we saw.
Mafia III Preview — The Premise
Mafia III takes place in 1968 and focuses on Lincoln Clay, an African American man who is a Vietnam veteran and has just returned to New Bordeaux, which is a reimagined version of New Orleans. Without a family of his own, he found comfort in the black mob. Not soon after he finally found the belonging he always sought, the Italian mob, under the orders of Sal Marcano, massacred Lincoln’s newfound family. Being the sole survivor of the massacre, Clay is bloodthirsty and out for revenge. He recruits three people to be his underbosses in his pursuit for vengeance and Vito Scaletta, the main character from Mafia II, actually returns for this installment in the series. It is at this point during our Mafia III preview that things got interesting and we saw the dynamics of the characters, gameplay, and the massive open world that encompasses New Bordeaux.
Mafia III Preview — The World
Mafia III takes place in a reimagined version of New Orleans and is broken up into 10 diverse districts that Lincoln and his crew can take over in order to begin to exact revenge on mob boss Sal Marcano. Just as an example, one district, Frisco Fields, has a sense of heightened racism, which may play a part in in Lincoln’s interactions with the local residents. There is even a district called the French Ward, which is taken straight out of New Orleans. 2K Games actually described the city of New Bordeaux itself as the main character of the game, and from the brief glimpse that we had during our Mafia III preview, we could see how distinct each area is. In fact, the music in the game was one thing that truly stood out to us. It had that classic New Orleans vibe, full of jazz, blues, and classic songs from 60s era.
Lincoln has a number of different of ways to diminish Marcano’s influence, and one of the the largest ways is to take over rackets. This can be done using numerous tactics, and one that we witnessed was taking over a business enterprise that provided call girls, presumably to members of the Marcano family. You can also rob an orgy ring and seize the territory for yourself. Interrogating witnesses or members of the Marcano mob will also give you valuable information and kills will send a message to Marcano, although you have to be careful to steer clear of any witnesses. All of this helps you take over each district and reduce Sal Marcano’s influence in New Bordeaux.
Mafia III Preview — The Combat
During our Mafia III preview we were able to witness quite the action sequence which showed off a lot the game’s combat and gameplay. There are a number of different ways to approach combat — you can go in guns blazing, or you can take more of a stealth approach. Both were shown off during the demo and a combination of the two is probably most ideal. The sequence that we were treated to during our Mafia III preview was a massive set piece full of high-paced action and a sense of urgency in Lincoln Clay’s quest for revenge. There is a cover system in the game that does help with the guns-blazing approach. Stealth is incredibly valuable because it keeps you from being detected, but there are times where that just is not a viable option.
There are a number of different weapons in the game and your loadout is diverse. One thing that was pretty interesting was that the shotgun actually seemed to have a good amount of range on it, and as a shotgun fan, this was very exciting. Environments are destructible so you can’t stay in cover in one place for too long. In the latter part of the action-oriented portion of the demo, there was no choice but to simply fire away at enemies in a closed-off room, so moving from cover area to cover area became a pertinent aspect of survival. Your arsenal, from what we saw, mainly comprised of guns, but Clay also used molotov cocktails to light enemies and areas on fire. There is another really satisfying combo that is used in the game where Clay can melee an enemy, hold down the B button (presumably on the Xbox One), and pull off some killer moves, including a shotgun to the face, which looks incredibly satisfying. Enemies can also call for reinforcements, which can overwhelming, but you can do the same as well. This portion of the Mafia III demo was the longest, and it ended with Lincoln Clay sending a “message” to Sal Marcano in classic Mafia style.
Mafia III Preview — Character Dynamics
Mafia III is a game where decisions matter. Once you take over a district, decisions have to be made on which one of your underbosses will be controlling that district. Once you assign a territory to one of your colleagues, friction mounts up and you may even have to take one of your underbosses out in a firefight. All the characters want a part of the action and respect is one of the key factors in this. Not everyone will be happy by the decisions you make and this will ultimately lead to confrontation. What impressed us the most during our Mafia III preview was that these decisions will ultimately shape your experience with the game and how it plays out. Not only is the game open world and action oriented, but choices define each individual experience. You could play the game multiple times and in a sense play a completely different version of the game, giving it a ton of replayability, which is so rare in a genre such as this.
Mafia III Preview — A Promising Experience
Mafia III appears to have all the makings of a fantastic game. In fact, it was one of our favorite titles that we got to experience at E3. The atmosphere is unique, the New Orleans-like setting is incredibly intriguing, especially playing as a black man in the rural south, and it simply seems like a lot of fun with the combat and the rich open world that is ripe for exploration. It appears to have a lot depth and what we’re most excited about is being able to make those choices that ultimately define our experience with the game. Mafia III comes out on October 7, 2016 for Microsoft Windows, OS X, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, and if what we saw is any indication, it has the potential to blow gamers away.