August 2015 was when Gamescom took place for the annual gaming trade show. Many games saw a reveal during the show, but one stood out from the rest, Mafia 3. Hangar 13 and 2K Games have been working hard over the past few years on the next chapter in the Mafia series, and now the game is finally here.

Tomorrow, Mafia 3 will debut worldwide and the long wait will finally be over. The game takes place in a fictional version of New Orleans, known as New Bordeaux. Mafia 3 takes players to one of the most tumultuous times in American history. 1968 is the year and Lincoln Clay is the protagonist.

Hangar 13 chose the time period they did with great purpose and intention. Picking a time in history like this meant confronting serious issues that still face America today. In an exclusive interview with We Write Things, Haden Blackman, who is the creative director and studio head at Hangar 13, described why they chose this time period.

“From very early on, we wanted this game to feel tonally different than previous Mafia games. Mafia II, in particular, provided a very romanticized version of the Mafia – which was fitting for that game, because it was set during the Golden Age of the Mafia. But we are focused on 1968, which is a year of great violence: The Vietnam War is in full-swing, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy are assassinated, even the Democratic National Convention erupts in violence,” Blackman said.

A gorgeous sunset from the world of New Bordeaux (Courtesy of 2K Games).
A gorgeous sunset from the world of New Bordeaux (Courtesy of 2K Games).

Those banners events in history presented some fine pillars for the narrative to stand around. Hangar 13 was then able to grasp those elements as a reference point, and move forward from there. Blackman spoke about how there is more to the time period than just the history you already know.

“It is also when the Italian Mafia started to be seen as more of a violent criminal enterprise with real victims, drugs started to become a major factor in criminal rackets, and the Italian Mob was being challenged by other groups. As a result, we knew that our tone had to be much more hard-boiled,” Blackman said.

Blackman’s statements do a fine job of painting the background canvas Hangar 13 presents for the events of Mafia 3. Now that you know the larger background of the game. Here’s Haden to talk about its actual story and the balance Hangar 13 strikes between appropriate violence and excessiveness.

“We are also telling a very personal revenge story, with a main character who has been betrayed and treated horribly by the current power players, so we knew that there had to be an element of visceral combat to pay off on that story.

“With all that said, we haven’t gone too over-the-top. Everything fits within Lincoln’s training as a soldier, and a lot of the violence is in the player’s control. Players can choose whether or not to use the brutal takedown mechanic, and can turn off lethal kills as an option,” Blackman said.

Lincoln taking the fight to his enemies (Courtesy of 2K Games).
Lincoln taking the fight to his enemies (Courtesy of 2K Games).

Mafia has always been known as a narrative-based franchise, and Mafia 3 upholds that reputation. Choice is a central theme of the gameplay and players will influence more than they know. Whether you are choosing to attack a rival gang or are assigning tasks to your underbosses, Mafia 3 wants you to feel the impact of your decisions.

“We’re very focused on telling Lincoln’s story, and crafting a game that allows the player to make some hard decisions in order to co-author the overall experience. For me personally, I feel that one of the great strengths of games is the ability to put players into the shoes of a character that they can’t actually be in real life, and we’ve tried hard to let you become Lincoln Clay, who is unlike any other character in games,” Blackman said.

While the series has always been focused on narrative, Hangar 13 has made this new experience more open. With Mafia 3 being open-world, this means a whole new level of freedom for players. Blackman believes “fans of the Mafia series” will be surprised by “the level of freedom” they’ve added to the game.

Open-worlds are inherently free and Mafia‘s systems will embrace that concept. The obvious freedom will be experiencing the story at your own pace, but also in how you make decisions. Blackman gave a few other examples of features that may surprise long-time fans of the series.

“For those who love game mechanics, you might be surprised by the quality of the open world combat; we really were dedicated to creating a true cover-based shooter in a complete open world environment complete with traffic and pedestrians. And hopefully everyone is surprised by the Sitdowns, which are perhaps my favorite part of the game. The decisions you make in those moments really do have meaningful consequences,” Blackman said.

Some of the cover-based action found in Mafia 3 (Courtesy of 2K Games).
Some of the cover-based action found in Mafia 3 (Courtesy of 2K Games).

Sitdowns are points in the game where gamers will need to assign tasks to their underbosses. However, favoring one versus another will indeed cause conflict among the ranks. The player will need to be careful with how they assign tasks to each underboss. That is of course assuming they want to keep everyone happy.

There are over 100 licensed tracks in Mafia 3 and it will have 3 separate radio stations. Within each radio station, there will be a number of unique playlists to choose from. In addition to the game’s original score, Mafia 3 will clearly have plenty of musical options for players.

You may be wondering about what sort of experience awaits you once you’ve played through the campaign. Some games have a New Game Plus Mode waiting for you, but Mafia 3 won’t feature that. Blackman addressed the topic and explained what may drive gamers to take a second playthrough in Mafia 3.

“We hope that players want to replay the game in order to make different choices, especially as it relates to their underbosses. If you gave everything to Vito in one play-through, you might want to play through again to see how the game is different when you spilt all the city districts evenly between your three underbosses,” Blackman said.

The wait is just about over for gamers as Mafia 3 hits retailers worldwide tomorrow. 2K is releasing the game on PS4, Xbox One and PC. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on Mafia.

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