E3 2016: Mafia 3 Looks Like Fall’s Most Promising Open-World Game

Coming off of the massive onslaught of open-world games in 2015 and early 2016, this upcoming fall release season seems surprisingly devoid of sandbox games. Watch Dogs 2 and the newly revealed Dead Rising 4 are two of the heaviest hitters in this category, but both have major questions surrounding them. If you want to get a bit cheeky, you could through Divinity: Original Sin 2 into the mix, though that particular game doesn’t necessarily fit into the same genre as the massive open-world action-adventure games mentioned above. You also wouldn’t be crazy to still be confused by the messaging around Final Fantasy XV, which is going to have some open-world elements to its credit.  On top of this, Steep and Forza Horizon 3 technically fall into the open-world category, though both of these fill niches, namely action sports and racing, outside of this standard realm. Granted, this doesn’t take away from how promising Forza Horzion 3 appears, as its predecessors were some of the best racing games we’ve ever experienced, but a direct comparison with a title like Dead Rising 4 or Watch Dogs 2 does feel a bit silly.

When you take inventory of all of these games, it’s not outrageous to think that Hangar 13’s Mafia III is the most promising open-world title set to release this fall. The combination of an open-world loaded with interesting activities (something Mafia II lacked) and a potentially intriguing narrative make the third Mafia title a game that has all the makings of something special.

Mafia3_Constructionyard

While we knew about the setting, premise and some of the elements on the periphery of Mafia III, E3 2016 functioned as a major blowout for 2K’s signature fall title. The dichotomy surrounding main character Lincoln Clay, who is diving back into the mob life after serving his country in Vietnam, is downright fascinating. Add this to the fact that getting the opportunity to play as a biracial character in the midst of the racial turmoil of 1968, and there’s a chance that Mafia III could boast one of the strongest narratives of the remainder of the year. Still, the biggest complaint surrounding Mafia II was that its world felt entirely too empty, causing players to question whether or not it should have been an open-world title in the first place. From everything that we’ve seen and experienced at E3 2016, it’s clear that 2K and Hangar 13 are committed to changing this up. Players will have the ability to play three under-bosses, including Mafia II’s Vito (who appears within the first thirty minutes of the campaign), against one another through the use of side-missions and other activities. Not only does this allow players to shape the world in the way in which they see fit, but it also gives longtime fans of the franchise a chance to see as much Vito as their hearts desire. Add this to a constantly changing amount of money being filtered into specific mob bosses and their territories, and it seems as though Mafia III might have solved the ever-present issue of making its open-world check-box elements feel one with the narrative as a whole.

As shocking as it might seem to some gamers, Mafia III is playing with house money at this point. Everything we’ve seen so far shows that this is a carefully crafted title whose world is just as much of a main character as Lincoln Clay himself. Of course, if it turns out that 2K and Hangar 13 don’t dive far enough to the potentially engrossing racial tension at the core of its story, then Mafia III will wind up being a disappointment. With that said, if you’re looking for a fantastic example of how to paint your open-world game as the premiere entry during a release period, look no further.