20 Things you need to know about Mafia 3

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I’ve played and loved Mafia and Mafia II (PC versions) — the «larger-than-life» worlds captivated me and from recent gameplay videos it looks like Mafia III will be everything fans loved about the franchise — plus a ton of new features. Mafia III, of course, also looks gorgeous, but perhaps the most outstanding new feature of the game is Hangar 13’s decision to put race and politics at the centre of the game. Consider that Mafia III is about a half-black, half-white, Vietnam veteran from 1968 New Orleans (called New Bordeaux in the game) — A time of extreme political tension with anti-Vietnam protests and the Civil Rights Movements. The Civil Rights Act was approved in April that year after the assassination of Martin Luther King. Suffice to say, Hanger 13 chose a very specific period for Mafia III as it feeds into the character of Lincoln Clay.

Unlike previous Mafia games, in Mafia III you are an enemy of the Italian Mob — you’re part of the Black Mob and you’ve a score to settle. The real Black Mafia was found in 1968 to coordinated black crime in Philadelphia. In Mafia III you’ll engage in typical crimes that reflect the activities of the Black Mafia. Note again the political tone of the black mafia vs. white mafia.

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Open World Games, Outside Xbox and the PlayStation Blog got some hands-on time with Mafia III. Here’s a breakdown of their experience with same added insights from my side.

Conquer New Orleans — One district at a time

According to Outside Xbox, Mafia III provides an extremely detailed world with branching decisions, an open world mission structure with timely story based missions.

  • There are nine different districts in New Bordeaux. Each with its own architecture and atmosphere. Some of the areas include: a shipyard, an industrial district, a swamp land, poverty areas and the place where the rick folk live. For example, in the swamp area you’ll discover secret areas and hidden treasures. The real New Orleans has been called the most unique city in the US.
  • Take Note: You’ll notice how the police relates differently to each district, depending on its race, power and wealth
  • Each district offers its own crime racket, for example; extortion, illegal trade, or a prostitution ring, to name but a few. Because of the different rackets teach district has its own missions. Eventually you’ll be able to assign a lieutenant to a district — they are key to taking the city.
  • You’ll have three different lieutenants, each with their own abilities and skill trees: Cassandra, Burke, and Vito Scaletta (protagonist from Mafia II). Don’t favour one lieutenant overly much (give control) above the other two as the whole outfit could get into a hissy fit and complicate matters.
  • Your choices around the lieutenants have an effect on the game story and ending.
  • Lieutenant perks: Vito provides better weapons and protective gear. Burke adds backup in combat in the form of minions, while Cassandra can prevent enemy resources from being called in by cutting phone lines.
  • You have a variety of resources to use with each mission: Calling in favours, tapping phone lines, interrogation, informants, and more. Approach missions in different ways, for example, if you prefer stealth, then get Intel from Cassandra and interrogate a  subject. Intimidation was one of the strongest methods of keeping the real Black Mob in power. You’ll notice the excessive violence as a form of intimidation in Mafia III.
  • Missions seem extremely open, in the sense that besides the approach, you also get to decide who lives and who dies, thereby shaping the story.
  • A signature of the Mafia franchise is of course driving, and in Mafia III you can also upgrade your ride (Burke’s the man here).
  • The music is amazing, and 2K teased a list of licensed hits (listed in last section of article).
  • The design of the skill tree points towards strong replayability.

It’s all about staying alive

The PlayStation Blog provided screenshots, some backstory and a few pointers towards staying alive in violent New Bordeaux.

  • After Vietnam Lincoln returns to New Bordeaux where he rejoins his old gang
  • That gang is betrayed by the Italian mob with Lincoln barely making it out alive. It’s time for payback.
  • Just keep Lincoln alive, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings for him. So retreat if in a pickle, and approach the mission from a different angle.
  • If things heat up call in backup or cut the phone lines so the enemy can’t.
  • Balancing the power within your little network (lieutenants) is a game in itself. It has an influence on the story, dialogue, player income and resources.

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The unconventional world of Mafia III

According to Outside Xbox, everything about Mafia III says «unconventional.» An unconventional hero, an unconventional setting and as an open world game it does things a bit different. Here are five things that set Mafia III apart.

(Please note that there are some similarities in the videos, but the commentary differs.)

  1. The City: The French Quarter is a bustling, beautiful place and was the main attraction of the real 1968 New Orleans. The criminal rackets you break up is related to the district and mirrors the specific area you’re in. For example, downtown is about bureaucracy, corrupt officials and construction fraud.
  2. The Criminals: Where previous Mafia games focused on a romanticized version of the Italian mob, in Mafia III the tables turn — the Italian mob is now your enemy. Your team of three includes; Vito because he fell out of favour with the New Bordeaux Don, Sal Marcano (possibly based on the real Don of the New Orleans crime family). Burke, the leader of the Irish gang, and Cassandra, leader of a Haitian gang who are also at odds with the Italian Mafia. Fun fact, Cassandra is the first female Mafia gangster to actively play in a game. The real Black Mob had a strict hierarchy which kept members in line.
  3. The politics: Not men in grey suits making outlandish promises, but 1968 politics style which reflects a turbulent time in American history. Protests against the Vietnam invasion, and African-American civil rights movement. Lincoln is a mixed race Vietnam veteran he finds himself in the middle of these two political issues. Mafia II doesn’t shy away from displaying the issues that arose from those conflicts, like Lincoln being called the «n» word.
  4. The soundtrack: The swinging sixties brings it vibe to New Bordeaux in style. mafia III includes a lot of tracks from the likes of the Beach boys, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones and Creedence Clearwater Revival. There’s also a stunning Blues soundtrack that accompanies the action.
  5. The storyline: When you’ve broken open a district you’re free to take on side missions in any order as you want — or go directly for the boss. Once you’ve taken the area you’ll need to assign it to one of your lieutenants. You can’t keep all three equally happy, and your storyline changes depending on who you favour.

Mafia III releases worldwide on October 7 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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