Presented by 2K Games
Mafia III, the latest installment of 2K’s two-fisted drive-and-shoot series, is set against the backdrop of New Bordeaux circa 1968. Throughout the city are scattered vintage copies of Playboy magazine, available for players to find and collect as in-game rewards. You can even create your own library and browse through the issues—and their clever faux ads, some of which reference businesses within the game.
In anticipation of the game’s release, we spoke with Mafia III lead world designer Nathan Cheever. Read on as he shares some insight into the development of New Bordeaux, including the inspiration behind the Playboy integration. He also points us in the direction of a few of the 50 or so Playboys hidden throughout the game.
What inspired you to scatter issues of Playboy throughout New Bordeaux?
In the previous game, Mafia II, we had a partnership with Playboy, and we wanted to continue that in this game because a lot of fans like to hunt and be rewarded with magazine pinups. We found places in the game to put them that were relevant to the cover. For example, one of the covers has a girl in a jersey, so we stuck it into the stadium in one of the districts. And then other ones—if you find them, you’ll be in a good spot and see something interesting, like a vista or location or some suggested story about 1968.
We’ve heard that you designed satirical fake ads for the magazine.
We did do fake ads to cover up the real ads. What was interesting this time is that there actually is some article material when you find some of these magazines, so it pulls you back to that time period and the things that were going on during that year—or years, I should say, because we cover several years. So that was exciting. It wasn’t just a one-topic pick-up that you find within the game; it’s multiple things.
What kind of ads?
There’s a lot of smoking brand ads, since that was big at the time. [laughs] A lot of car ads as well. I’m not quite sure, but there might actually be some ads for some of the in-game restaurants.
We’ve also heard the game includes some mini-films. Tell us about those.
There is some of what we call “stock footage,” like beach go-go dancing, which you’ll find playing on TV screens that are relevant to the activities going on. In the French Ward, there’s a crime racket involving prostitution, so we had some locations set up to look like they were shooting stag films, and there’s some stuff playing on those screens.
Any other cool spots you want to tell us about?
The game has a lot of cool interiors. There are five jazz clubs you can go inside. We’ve got two burlesque clubs, two strip clubs. We’ve got lots of pawn shops and diners and bars and gas stations you can go inside. Some of them are racist, some of them are friendly. The racism element is a bit random depending on where you’re at, but when you successfully take over the district, most of the racism is pushed away. Game-wise, you can find resources like money, ammo, vests and things like that—major gameplay rewards.
What design details are you most proud of?
I think a lot of it is just the way we were able to capture the time period of 1968 with all the underlying social commentary and strife. And then the way we were able to compress what people remember about Louisiana and New Orleans into the Bayou [a district] and the culture that’s down there at that time. But we didn’t restrict ourselves to the literal real-world elements, so we were able to add some things to kind of spice up the game experience—adding a lot of hills and elevation to get the player off of that tabletop Louisiana background. Just the Bayou itself is a pretty big, expansive area that people can explore. When you’ve had your fill of looking at all the cool city stuff, you can go out into the wilderness, experience that—watch out for the gators and the rednecks—and then come back into the city and do some Mafia stuff.
As promised, Nathan Cheever revealed the locations of five Playboy covers hidden throughout Mafia III. We’re sharing them with you now, but keep an eye out as you explore the city. You never know where Playboy will pop up.
The previously mentioned Playboy cover featuring a girl in a jersey is strategically placed in the Southdowns’ stadium. Home to retired Italian mobsters, Southdowns is the most traditional Mafia neighborhood and has a pretty low crime rate. The local rackets are led by Capo Tommy Marcano, and the residents reap the benefits of stolen goods and illegal gambling. But you better be a made man, because trust does not come easily in Southdowns.
This Playboy cover is hidden on a balcony that offers a great view of New Bordeaux. As you might be able to tell from the architecture and design, Frisco Fields is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city. It’s also one of the most racist. The district provided the perfect environment for the white racist Southern Union to thrive alongside some of the most illicit drug rackets. Outsiders risked being attacked for setting foot in Frisco Fields. Good luck.
Head over to Tickfaw Harbor, where you’ll find another one of the hidden Playboy covers. Overseen by Capo Enzo Conti, Tickfaw made a name for itself as one of the largest shipping hubs in the country. Check out some of the local establishments in the district; you can find this clever cover hidden inside one of the mob’s bars.
Informally known as “Irish Point,” Pointe Verdun is obviously the home of the Irish. The rough neighborhood is run by Marcano Lieutenant Roman Barbieri—aka “The Butcher.” Barbieri operates a meat-packing plant front, but the origin of his nickname is really due to his M.O.: fillet the victims and feed them to the gators. Luckily, the Playboy cover in this district is hidden far from the water.
One of the most iconic districts of New Bordeaux, the Bayou’s swampy isolation gives the mob some space for moonshining and drug smuggling. You can find this camouflaged Playboy cover in one of the hideouts overlooking the cloudy waters, but you’ll probably want to grab it and go. All members of the mob use the Bayou for one common purpose: getting rid of evidence. The high-class gators lurking in the swamp frequently dine on dead bodies for lunch.
Mafia III releases in-store on October 7th.