If there was one thing that shocked me at E3 2016 it was just how incredible 2K’s booth for Mafia III was. To put it bluntly, it was absolutely sensational and if you haven’t seen what it looks like, do yourself a favour and have a look online as it really is a sight to behold. The booth itself made me realise just how confident 2K Games must be with the Hangar 13 developed Mafia III and thankfully, after sitting down and watching the presentation at Mafia III’s booth, its easy to see why.
The presentation started with the team from Mafia III showing us just how big the game was in terms of the size of the map and the content within said map. Mafia III takes place in New Bordeaux (a fictional take on New Orleans) during 1968 and you take control of the main character, Lincoln. The presentation then talked about the different district that are available to explore (10 in total) within the huge landscape that Mafia III offers. Each district offers something different for players to explore compared to the next. One district like Delray Hollow for example is all about heroin production and sex ring trade, while another district like Bayou is more focused towards gun running and Frisco Fields is ripe with luscious parks and mansions owned by the wealthy. Each district has money that goes directly to the boss of each region and its up to the player in how they approach the game to take control of each district within Mafia III’s map and in turn, to be confronted by a boss of the region in question. Its not a straightforward approach to take control though, with a variety of different options available to the player when exploring. Each district (from what we were shown in the presentation) look very different from one to the next and thats a great sign that the game will offer something that we feel fresh and new depending on which part of the map that you’re exploring and something that won’t feel like a “rinse and repeat” gameplay that many open-world titles suffer from.
One thing that surprised me in Mafia III was just how approachable the game was in terms of how the player can approach each objective. In the presentation that we’re shown, Lincoln was shown not only going in all guns blazing in a brothel, but also showing that the game has a stealth element as well where he sneaks about till he finds his target. Once the target was found, the game switched to more of a gun-play style situation with Lincoln unloading a bullet into his main targets head. It looks as though you could easily play through this whole scenario using only stealth if you so wish and thats a nice little addition and something that doesn’t limit you to how you want to play. Once the target was dead (and because of the extremely loud gun), all hell broke loose with the targets goons taking aim at you. One nice little piece of the gameplay that was shown was when Lincoln descended the stairs, one of the pimps was calling in backup on a payphone that was attached to the wall. Mafia III seems to have some sort of tactical element involved and its something to keep in mind when the game is released in October. At this point during our presentation, the dev team then showed us a ability that Lincoln has that shows that you can call in a group of your gang to help kill the rest of goons that are attacking you. Again, a nice little tactical element of Mafia III it seems and from what was shown, it worked very well with AI gang members doing exactly what was needed of them.
During our presentation, we were also shown a part of the story that takes place on a riverboat and involved trying to take out a mobster. The way the game created the riverboat burning and sinking with people jumping overboard trying to survive the carnage with bullets flying from all directions was absolutely sensational and really set the tone for what Mafia III is all about. During the riverboat scene, we were also shown the games melee system and “evacuation” style button prompt kills. They fit the tone perfectly and although brutal, its exactly what to expect from anything that has the word “Mafia” attached to it. After a brief change in environment and tone, Lincoln now sees himself using the stealth mechanic by sneaking behind the mobster in a swampland area making sure not to get caught in the process. The tension and mood the dev team have created in this section of the game stood out for me and it really showed the different tonal elements the game throws up and thats down to the fantastic score thats featured within the game as well. You can go from a dimply lit borough shoutout to a swanky riverboat political fundraiser to a moody, grim swampland in quick succession and each time, each one looked absolutely outstanding. Graphically Mafia III is a looker and a half. Beautifully rendered fictional take on New Orleans, fantastic voice-acting and animated character models and some of the best lighting I’ve seen in a long time, all add up to show off some many strengths that Mafia III has going for it.
The last section of the game that we were shown during our presentation was something that involves main character Lincoln sitting down with a a group of his underbosses and having to choose one (and only one) of the bonuses of what each one was offering. This was all done through a cutscene and a button prompt for the player to choose. Once a decision has been made, the consequences of the other underbosses’s will depend on a variety of factors, but we were shown a very brief section of the game where Lincoln had to take out on of his underbosses (or former underbosses at this point) due to betrayal. Its another tactical element of Mafia III that looks very promising and hopefully there are enough varying differences to not keep this from being repetitive.
Overall, Mafia III looks absolutely incredible and before I even see the presentation, it was my most anticipated title of 2016. Now that I’ve seen what the game has to offer, I’m even more ready for October and the release of Mafia III. The game sets the tone perfectly for the time period and setting, the brutality of Mafia gang bosses and the look and feel of everything else associated with this timeframe in history. Mafia III is packed with so much to explore and to divulge in to within a setting as gorgeous as New Bordeaux is, this may well have just set the benchmark for open-world games.