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Mafia III

Historical Pulp Fiction: Haden Blackman on Mafia III

Hangar 13's studio head and creative director of the new title talks the explosive nature of family.

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The Mafia III reveal at Gamescom brought with it a few surprises: a different era, a new take on family, and an outsider's look at the mafia.

In the wake of the game's announcement and our own hands-off look at the title as Hangar 13 put Mafia III through its paces at Gamescom, we sat down with its creative director Haden Blackman to talk all aspects of the game's creation.

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You can watch the full interview above, but here's a few choice snippets:

On ties to the previous game

"We wanted to follow the tradition of moving it forward in time, so that's why we decided to put it in the ‘60s, but from very early on we knew we wanted Vito in the story to tie it back to Mafia II, to make it feel like one cohesive universe. And we reference other characters and other events and there'll be some other surprises along the way I think for fans of the franchise."

On the power of three

"It comes down to what do you give to these three lieutenants, and then what do they give you in exchange. So every hideout has an unique set of rewards based on the lieutenant [that it is given to].

"They're kind of almost like living skill trees. So if you know anything about skill trees you know you can either go broad or go deep. So if you really want to go deep on a skill tree you've gotta give everything to one mobster, well that's going to leave the other two guys unhappy, right! But if you wanna go broad and keep them all happy you can, but you might not get the pinnacle reward that Vito has to offer because you haven't given him enough stuff to warrant that. So there's an interesting balance there."

On tech...

"We haven't revealed the name of it yet, but it's all proprietary that we've built within Hanger 13. Some of it is tech that we've rolled over and have upgraded and improved from Mafia II, so there was definitely a solid foundation to build on for new-gen. But a lot of it is wholly new as well. We have a really solid tech team, hopefully it shows in the demo. I think the lighting's incredible, the variety of the pedestrians, the density of the pedestrians, are all pretty phenomenal."

...and driving Hollywood style

"The other thing I'm really excited about it is that we've really pushed on the driving models. So Mafia II is really well known for its physics-based driving model, which is fantastic and feels very different from any other games where driving is a major component. But we've taken that and kind of expanded on it and blown it out in someways, to make it feel more like a Hollywood action movie.

"There's a ramming function you can do, shooting out tyres, causing cars to flip. We treat the car as a weapon, so we have this move we call "the torpedo" where you point the car at a bunch of guys and then you bail out of the car and Lincoln pops out ready for combat because he's a trained soldier and the cars go and blow up.

"Our mantra around driving was we wanted to capture the sense of Hollywood action driving, and not to the degree where we would do crazy cuts and make it feel too cinematic, but just give it that little bit that you feel like you're a stunt driver in an action movie.

On the lack of multiplayer

"We're very focused on building up Lincoln as a character, so the game is really an unabashed single-player game. There is no multiplayer. But that's really because we wanted to focus on putting you in this role of Lincoln, really develop him as a character, really nailing the cover-based shooting, the physics-based driving model.

"I love multiplayer games, but being able to play a game that's a very curated story that I'm helping to craft along the way, those are my favourite types of games, so that's what we're building."

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