Mafia III Interview – Going Down a Path of Vengeance
Mafia III marks the comeback of 2K’s big franchise, which had been dormant for six years. There’s a whole new setting in this new entry alongside a brand new character, Lincoln Clay, who has been betrayed by the Italian mob and now has vowed to destroy them.
At Gamescom 2016, 2K showcased behind closed doors a new mission where Lincoln had to infiltrate and kill Tony Derazio, Sal Marcano’s money man. Something that I really liked from the live gameplay was the great feeling that hits seemed to have on enemies; too often games feature melee or ranged combat where hits don’t really seem to carry the appropriate amount of weight. That’s not the case with Mafia III.
After the presentation I was able to interview Hangar 13’s Design Director Matthias Worch to learn more details about the game, which is due for PC/PlayStation 4/Xbox One on October 7. You can choose between the written transcript and the video interview, available at the end of the article.
To start off, can you tell us a little bit about the relationship between Vito Scaletta and Lincoln Clay? Vito is kind of the bridge between Mafia II and Mafia III.
Yeah, Vito returns from Mafia II. We kind of know what happened to him, we’ve actually seeded some of these ideas on social media, but he’s in New Bordeaux now (our version of New Orleans). He was pretty much a made man at the end of Mafia II and there’s some falling out between him and Sal Marcano.
He’s one of the three underbosses that Lincoln wants to use. Lincoln is looking for criminals in the city who might dislike Marcano just as much as he does, so he’s gone out of his way to recruit these three: Vito, Cassandra and Burke. They form this really unlikely relationship – the way Lincoln gets them on board is to promise them that they’re going to rule the city.
Problem is, he’s pretty much making that promise to all three of them and then there are these sit downs where each underboss will try to get as much of the pie as possible from Lincoln. Lincoln has to try and keep them all happy and if you don’t do that, for example with Vito if you keep disappointing him eventually he’s going to walk and ally with Marcano.
Compared to Mafia II’s Empire Bay, is Mafia III’s New Bordeaux any bigger?
I actually don’t know. To make New Bordeaux the city we needed, we kind of looked at New Orleans and all the different facets of that city. That’s how we came up with these ten districts that we have in the game: we have the Bayou, a swamp land, and then nine districts where the population lives. The black neighborhood, the white neighborhood…Of course we have Downtown, which we showed today in the demo.
Ultimately, that’s exactly the size of the city we wanted, and we wanted to make sure it actually has a high density of things to do since we don’t want to have a big world that’s empty.
Many fans asked if you could talk about the side activities available in Mafia III.
We want to make sure we’re really using the open world in this game. This is one area where we knew we could have improved from Mafia II. The way the story unfolds with Lincoln dismantling Sal Marcano’s stranglehold on New Bordeaux is actually integrated into the open world, so a whole bunch of things you find in the open world are actually story related.
As you’re going through the city and you’re finding random backyards, you can actually see the actual mafia rackets taking place there: people getting extorted, people getting bribed and so on. Then there’s actual side activities: you may want to do favors for Vito, for example. You might want to run contraband for him, pick up stolen wares. There’s weed coming in from Cuba in the Bayou via plane, and you might pick up those packets of weed and bring them back to Vito. He also might want to know what happened to his best friend Joe (Barbaro, from Mafia II), he has some hints but you might actually be the person to help him.
Those side activities are distributed along the world as well.
Lately, open world games have been using random/dynamic events to make the world feel more lively. Do you have anything like that in Mafia III?
I think our game has a very handcrafted feeling. It’s very important to us and it’s what Mafia has always been known for: a really good story told really well and cinematically. Under the hood, yes, there might be some systems that we use to make sure that we can actually populate the game at a such high density, but I don’t think it’s a talking point. That’s not something I’d ever want the player to actually notice.
The important part is that this city feels densely populated and it all makes sense in a simulated world that would exist even if the player wasn’t playing.
A few months ago, Hangar 13 revealed that Lincoln can get into troubles by simply being in places where black people were not supposed to be in Southern America, 1968. What happens then? Will Lincoln be chased by the police?
In the missions, it’s mission-dependant. For example, there’s a mission where you’re infiltrating the White Country Club and you’re hanging out with the black servants in the back, pretty much sneaking in and eavesdropping on these wealthy white people.
In the city, the underlying systems just support people getting offended by what Lincoln might be doing. We have persistent cops, which are patrolling the streets and just roaming around; if they notice you committing a crime, they’re going to come after you. But if there’s no cop around and just a pedestrian gets offended by something you’re doing, the pedestrian will run to a phone booth and call the cops. Depending on where you are in the city, they’re going to get offended easier or harder.
If you are in a poor neighborhood, which is where the black people live, people aren’t really going to care what you do. Even when the cops are called, they’re probably going to take their sweet time. But if you are in Frisco Fields, which is this white suburban utopia where the whites live, people will be offended way easier just by your presence.
Since you touched on the cops, the community is eager to know how the police system works. Is there a wanted level? Can you tell us anything about that?
What’s interesting about this game is that you’re playing a black guy in 1968, in the South of America. This is when segregation officially was over, but especially in the southern parts of America that wasn’t really the case.
The cops are going to act very harshly, with prejudice, if they feel like you’ve done something you shouldn’t be doing. As I just explained, the way it actually works is very proactive. We don’t just have cops arriving after you’ve done something – if a cop is patrolling and notices you doing something, he’s coming after you right there and then. If they’re not there, pedestrians might call the cops on you.
You then have tools, with Burke you can control the response of cops, but you have to be pretty powerful to do that and you have to make sure Burke has enough influence in the city to do that. There is a wanted system in that the more serious the crime, the bigger the police response. You can actually see in the game how big the search area is.
I have a quick question about the demo we just saw. Lincoln used the stealthy approach, but he killed all the enemies – is there a chance to use a non-lethal approach, or maybe Lincoln just isn’t interested since he’s looking for revenge?
What’s interesting about this demo is that I never know exactly how it’s going to be played. There’s a switch we have in the game that lets you do specifically non-lethal takedowns. Tony Derazio (the final target of the demo mission) has a camera and has been expecting you at that point so you’re not going to sneak up on him, but to that point you could have non-lethally, slowly taken down every single person.
Can you give me an estimate on how long it will take to complete the game’s main story?
It’s difficult, because everyone plays differently. We have testers and some of them will just try to collect all the Playboy magazines – actually, what’s interesting is that we licensed articles this time around. So you actually get the articles from the time and you get to read about what was going in the sixties. What I can say is that initially we had playtests for a week and then we just realized that nobody was getting to the end of the game, so we had to extend our playtests to be at least one week and a half.
I think there’s a lot – it’s going to take a while.
You have announced a Season Pass, correct?
We have a pre-order right now and you’re getting some really cool weapons and cars out of that. That does include a Season Pass, though we haven’t actually talked about details for the DLC yet. For now we really want to focus on this game coming out on October 7, but there will be DLC and we’ll talk about details when the game is out.
Thank you for your time.