The Mafia series is one that has always revolved around the idea of family. Whether it’s Tommy Angelo from the first game trying to protect his wife and child or Vito Scaletta working for the mob to help his mother and sister out of debt, family has been a cornerstone of the series’ stories. The upcoming Mafia III is no different but that’s where the similarities end, as developer Hanger 13 aims to take the franchise into a new and diverse direction.
New protagonist Lincoln Clay is a biracial orphan and Vietnam veteran who has been searching for a sense of family his whole life. After returning from the war, he finds just that when he joins The Black Mob, a crime organization in New Orleans. This is short-lived however, as the local Italian mafia murders the entire crew, which Clay barely survives. Furious, Clay starts his own criminal organization with the help of his lieutenants and wages a gang war with the Italians.
The game is set in New Orleans in 1968, a time plagued by racism and anti-war sentiments. The developers promise the world will be fully explorable and have optional objectives, such as capturing territories from the other families. The world itself looks colorful but dreary, with lighting effects really emphasizing the frivolity of the place. A nightclub was shown off and it featured bright colors and hippies partying, in line with the times.
Gameplay demoed shows Clay performing melee executions, and utilizing the cover system from the previous game, with Clay sticking to a chest high wall at the push of a button. Gunplay looks visceral and furious, as Clay is not as methodical in his movements as Vito was. However, the game isn’t just about action, as a stealth system will be in Mafia III as well. An indicator above characters will show whether they are suspicious or alerted to your presence.
Clay has three lieutenants to help him out. Cassandra is a black woman who is the head of a Haitian gang. Burke heads the Irish mob and has ties with the police. Finally, Vito Scaletta returns as an older man and possibly has connections to the Italian mob. As you conquer territories around the city, assigning them to each of the lieutenants will grant you special buffs. Specifics weren’t revealed but an example given was Burke’s ties to the police.
Driving in Mafia III is said to have a slight arcadey feel, as a result of simple mechanics. An auto-targeting system will allow you to shoot out tires and the like while driving. Radio stations have music from the era such as “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals and “All Along The Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix. An interrogation system will also be in the game where an NPC with information can be intimidated by taking them in a car and driving recklessly. A meter will fill up as you freak them out until it fills and they crack, after which you can let them go or kill them.
With a new city archetype, the lack of a traditional mafia plot, and playing as a black man instead of the stereotypical Italian, Mafia III is doing a lot different from the other games in the series. The developers promise the game will differentiate itself from other open world titles, like Grand Theft Auto V, and will focus on telling a compelling tale that will also address the social issues of the time. Mafia III is set to be released on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One sometime in 2016.