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2K has released the first gameplay footage of its lavish Mafia: Definitive Edition remake in action.

Nearly 15 minutes of video lies below, narrated by Hangar 13 boss Haden Blackman. We get a good look at the game’s city of Lost Heaven in the 1930s, and then an action sequence set in a more rural location, on a rainy night full of tommy gun shooting and car chases.

To mark the occasion, we’ve been chatting with studio Hangar 13 about its work on the from-the-ground-up remake: what’s changed, what’s the same, and whether Mafia 2 might one day receive the same treatment.

“I’ve sat there with people that haven’t played Mafia 1 again since they originally did to watch them and talk to them about it and get an idea about how we would upgrade the experience,” associate game director Alex Cox told my colleague Tom Morgan, describing how work on the remake project began. “And they loved the setting, the story, the characters and all of that stuff they remember – and then they’re obviously seeing it rendered in its original resolution and polygonal graphics.

“Things like that… you’re like, okay, fine, it’s an old game. But then there are things like design conventions which haven’t aged very well, particularly the kind of quite aggressive challenge when you’re playing it – the expectation that you die many times before you complete a quest, for example. Failure is a common experience when you’re playing through – it’s quite unforgiving.

“So the gameplay has been modernised. We’re a cover shooter now versus what was originally a kind of run-and-gun old-school TPS design for the original. But overall we wanted to be quite faithful to the original game and to recreate it and to bring it back for a lot of players.”

As well as a need to update the original’s gameplay, 2K noted how many modern Mafia fans simply had not played the original. Mafia 2 was the entry point for many, while as little as 20 per cent of Mafia 3 owners ever played the first, Cox continued.

“When we looked at the statistics and things we can see from our 2K online stuff, the majority of people who played Mafia 3 hadn’t played Mafia 1 – maybe only 20 per cent of the players that came into the franchise with Mafia 3, which is a much bigger game in terms of the audience that it reached. We just saw there was a great opportunity there.

“We felt the best thing that we could deliver on was to just be true to the original in terms of the scope of design, the story and everything like that, but to make it so it was more palatable to modern players, to add a lot of the presentation and gameplay polish and things you’d expect from a modern narrative-driven action game.”

Mafia: Definitive Edition is the third and final part of the series’ new trilogy re-release, though Hangar 13 has said there were very early discussions on whether it was worth a from-the-ground-up rework of Mafia 2 as well.

“There was a discussion a long, long time ago to whether or not we do 2 as well,” Cox said. “But then we looked at Mafia 2 and – particularly when you run 2 on a high-end PC now – it still looks pretty good. So the return on investment in terms of the amount of effort it takes to actually rebuild the whole game – even if it’s just seemingly simple things like improving the textures – it’s a lot of work. We didn’t think we were actually going to be bringing much to the table by remaking it.

“The things we get in the Definitive Edition are some nice technical features we bring over from Mafia 3, the main thing being a slightly more sophisticated combat model where the gameplay is just a bit more robust. The thing we felt was the best approach was to polish it up and make it so it was playable at high-res and actually playable on current gen.”

When asked about forwards compatibility with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, Cox concluded there was “nothing to talk about at the moment” on any further work to the series – or where it may head next in a fourth instalment.