Mafia III has some issues. Despite that, I’ve been enjoying my time with it. I really like losing myself in the sprawling, multifaceted city of New Bordeaux. The game’s navigation system does a great job of enabling that.
If you’ve played an open-world game in the past five years, you know how this usually works: you’ve got a GPS-enabled minimap in the corner of your screen, and it guides you to missions and other waypoints. On the upside, you don’t get lost because you’re so directionally impaired that you sometimes forget how to get out of Target (me). On the downside, you spend all your travel time staring at the corner of the screen, rather than the beautifully realized city in front of you.
Mafia III has that (despite being set in 1968, a year notable for many things, but mostly its complete lack of GPS), but the game augments it with street signs that appear on the side of the road as you progress between places. They look like this:
Each block gets a sign, telling you to either keep going straight or turn. Basically, it’s turn-by-turn GPS holographically projected ahead of you. If don’t want to, you never have to look at the minimap, let alone stare at it until its image is irrevocably burned into your retinas.
Disregarding the fact that this would make more narrative sense in Watch Dogs 2 than Mafia III, it’s a great quality of life feature, something I’d like to see every open world game adopt in some form or fashion. Too often, these sorts of games devolve into rote hikes between point A and point B, rather than opportunities for exploration. Mafia III forces players to spend A LOT of time driving, so it’s nice that I can at least take in the view and, if I see something interesting/weird, say, “You know what? Screw this mission. I’m gonna go check out that thing over there.” And then, “Oh shit, it’s an alligator. This was a terrible mistake.”