Mafia III is an action-adventure video game played in a third-person perspective, in which players assume control of Lincoln Clay, a Vietnam War veteran on a quest to seek revenge for his friends, who are murdered by local mobs. The game is set in 1968 New Bordeaux, a reimagined version of New Orleans, with the open world design allowing players to freely explore the game’s world. Players can complete objectives using a variety of approaches. For example, players can use the weapons provided in the game, like shotguns and revolvers, to eliminate enemies. Alternatively, they can make use of stealth tactics throughout the entire mission without being noticed by enemies. The core gameplay revolves around gunplay. In addition, players can also perform executing moves and engage in melee-combat. The game also features a cover system, allowing players to take cover behind objects to avoid enemy gunfire. Players can also interrogate non-playable characters after defeating them in order to gain more information on their objectives. Players can attack and overrun locations owned by the Italian mob, and assign one of their lieutenants to operate the location.
The game takes place in the year of 1968, and revolves around Lincoln Clay, a biracial orphan and Vietnam veteran. As an orphan, he was constantly looking for a family, until he joined the armed forces and fought in the Vietnam War. After serving, he returned to New Bordeaux (a fictionalized version of New Orleans) and rejoined the black mob. After surviving a murder attempt by the Italian mob which kills the whole black mob in the process, Clay is saved by a priest and attempts to start his own criminal organization to get revenge. Clay is aided by three allies, which include Cassandra, Burke, and Vito Scaletta.