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Do You Need to Play Mafia I and II to Understand Mafia III?

mafia III

Fuggehdabout it.

One of the big games of this month is Mafia III, the third entry in the long running franchise from 2K. Even though the series has survived three console generations, it’s not quite as big as some of the other open world crime franchises, such as GTA or Saints Row. The last game in the series released six years ago, and you may be wondering if you need to play the other two games in order to get the full story. Well, the answer is largely no.

While the first game is said to be pretty dang good, and the second one is even better, there isn’t much change between the titles on a gameplay level. They’re open world crime games, and if you’ve played GTA, you’ve played this one, give or take some era-specific details. You won’t miss a whole lot of much if you just decide to go into Mafia III completely not having played the original two. (Though when you get the chance, you can play them on PC.) That said, the real meat of this question is going to be in the story.


See, Mafia III takes place in 1968, 17 years after the second game in the series. Across all three games, you play as a different protagonist; the first Mafia put you in the shoes of mobster-turned-rat Tommy Angelo recounting his life story, and the second was about war vet Vito Scaletta. This new game is about black war veteran Lincoln Clay and his efforts to reclaim the city of New Bordeaux from the Italian Mafia. To help him in his efforts, Lincoln has three lieutenants — Cassandra, Burke, and Vito. While it’s likely that missions from Vito will reference his old adventures in some way (“This reminds me of that one time…”), Lincoln is the focus of the game’s story here. That aside, the three games are all unconnected — or rather, that’s what you would think. While it’s not like he’s to this series what Master Chief is to Halo, Vito is still somewhat vital to the Mafia series, as least in terms of continuity.

If you’d like to read about Vito’s role in all three Mafia games, read on. But be warned, spoilers for Mafia and Mafia II ahead.

Diehard Mafia fans will note that Vito is actually the connecting thread across all three games, even though he’s technically the lead for only the second game. Tommy, the lead from the original game, gave up his old crime friends in exchange for witness protection. After the old crew is locked away and convicted, Tommy is a free man… until 1951, wherein two men interrupt his grass watering to show up to his front yard and shoot him in his face. Those two people are Vito and his friend Joe, doing a favor for Tommy’s old boss Ennio Salieri in exchange for some quick money. Brief of a moment as it is, it establishes that the two games are connected in some capacity. It doesn’t have a larger bearing on the Mafia II story as a whole, though, as Vito ends up winding into even worse trouble later on, and winds up having to watch his friend Joe get taken away by rival mobsters to die.

Vito’s story of power concluded with Mafia II, so it’s unlikely that anyone who’s still gunning for him will show up to also make it Lincoln’s problem in Mafia III. But since he’s more or less the face of the franchise to some extent, it may mean that this’ll be the mobster’s last hurrah, and he’ll be passing the baton off to Lincoln, or whoever else ends up being the lead in the hypothetical next game.

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