The president and chief creative officer of Hangar 13 Haden Blackman has said the developer's 2016 title Mafia III is probably "more culturally relevant" three years on.
Asked by PCGamesInsider.biz at Develop:Brighton about how he'd assess the overall performance of Mafia III, the development vet said that the themes that that title explored, including racism and social inequality, have become much more applicable in the current American political landscape.
Blackman also said that much of the criticism the 2K-published game received at launch about bugs and poor mission design were fair, and that the studio had addressed a number of these.
Mafia III launched in October 2016, reaching a Metacritic ranking of 62 on PC. The PS4 and Xbox One versions fared better, hitting 68 and 67 respectively. Regardless, Blackman still says it's the game he is most proud of.
"In hindsight, the thing that is incredible about Mafia III is the staying power of it. The fact that we're still getting interview requests around the game, people still want to talk about it. It may be more culturally relevant now than when it came out because of things that are happening in the States. The social themes we explore in Mafia III are more relevant now than they were even three or four years ago," Blackman told PCGamesInsider.biz.
"We tried to create an experience where you're walking in somebody else's shoes, that most of us don't get the chance to walk in. The character is a Vietnam vet growing up in the South in the 60s who is also part of the mob; it's a very unique experience. But there are things there that still resonate today. It was in the V&A recently. The key for us is that we didn't set out to create something culturally relevant; we set out to tell a great story that allowed for some player agency and to really immerse the player in this grind of what it meant to be a mobster within this very pulp 1960s New Orleans environment. Our focus on that allowed us to hit on these broader themes. Overall, it's the game I'm most proud of. It was very difficult to make. We were building on proprietary tech, we were building a studio at the same time. It is Mafia but in some ways it was an original IP because we were creating everything from the ground up with a new city and story, as well as all-new mechanics. We overhauled everything from the driving to the shooting, even to interactions with NPCs. But I think some of the criticism of the game was spot-on. It took too long to get to the climax, the missions were spaced out too much, we required you to do various activities to make progress in the districts. The point was to make the user always feel like they were making forward progress but it had the reverse effect of making people feel they had to grind through parts of the game. It's a much stronger game now all the DLC is out and we did some patches in the first week or two that fixed some of the AI stuff. If people revisited now I think they'd find a much different experience than they did when the game first launched."
You can read more about Hangar13 in our forthcoming interview with the 2K-owned studio