Gameplay Mechanics in Mafia III describes various gameplay features for the game.


Mafia III features a host of gameplay mechanics and offers multiple options and features while progressing through the game's many missions. As the player progresses through the game, on-screen tutorial images that give a brief explanation of the feature or task will appear when a new mechanic is first encountered. This guide will attempt to briefly explain many of these features and others not mentioned.


Platform-specific game controls and button presses are not listed in this tutorial. These can be found by going to: Pause Menu > Options > Controls and selecting either Controller Preset or Keyboard Remapping accordingly.

In-Game Time

While no in-game clock is available, one in-game day is equal to about one hour of uninterrupted gameplay. Time spent in the pause menu, cutscenes, or scripted time changes in missions may affect this.


Earning Money

Lincoln can earn money from his underbosses through kickback, which is based on a percentage of their total earn. The maximum percentage is 2% and is paid every 24 in-game hours. It's important to note that kickback does not accumulate, and the clock is only reset once it's collected.

Lincoln can also gain money by stealing it from enemy locations, taking it from enemies he's killed, or robbing businesses, many of which keep a Cash Box. Money at enemy locations and rackets will be displayed on your mini-map by the "$" sign, or a green circle with an up or down arrow if it's on a different floor or elevation. Most of the money found in enemy locations is present from the start of Thicker Than Blood and does not respawn.

The Faster, Baby! DLC adds the optional mission Herbalism, which offers the opportunity to make a substantial amount of money by growing and selling weed throughout New Bordeaux.

Wallet and Bank

Money that Lincoln picks up is added to his wallet. This money is susceptible to loss if he is killed, so it is advisable to place it in his bank, either by visiting Sammy's Bar and placing it in the safe, or later by taking advantage of the Consigliere perk.

Spending Money

Business can be transacted through two in-game merchants:

  • The Arms Dealer sells all weapons, ammunition, and supplies. He also sells various vehicle, weapon, and Lincoln upgrades as they become available through perks and favors. He can be called up through the menu wheel anywhere in New Bordeaux and will arrive at Lincoln's location in short order. Weapons and supplies may also be picked up free of charge at various locations around the city; see the specific weapon or location pages for what's available nearby.
  • Big Rick's Custom Auto is where all vehicle modifications are purchased. The player can customize many aspects of a vehicle's appearance, like new paint, custom decals, Rims and Tires, superchargers, and much more. Modifications like the supercharger and custom exhaust are purely ornamental, and to get any actual performance boost you must unlock the vehicle modifications through favors or the arms dealer.

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The game offers both normal and simulation driving modes, and one or the other may be selected through the pause menu under options. This menu also offers choices in vehicle camera pitch and allows the player to turn on/off the rear view mirror and speedometer as well as the player car location icon.

Using Vehicles

Lincoln can drive any vehicle found in the game by approaching it and pressing the interact button while facing the door; however, taking a vehicle from the street is considered a crime and may incur a police response. The Vehicle Delivery perk offered through Thomas Burke gives Lincoln access to a fleet of vehicles that unlock over the course of the game. The perk can also unlock both the covert and occupied car theft abilities.

Slow-Mo Driving

Slow-motion driving was added to the game with update 1.070.0. It allows the player to slow down time while driving to better navigate difficult situations, making turns and maneuvers that would be impossible at normal speeds feasible. It can also be used to regain command of your vehicle after you've lost control. The feature lasts 8 seconds, and it takes another 6 seconds to refill the meter.

Map and Waypoints


The mini-map gives Lincoln a quick view of his surrounding area. It also highlights nearby friends, enemies, objectives, and any other points of interest. A white route will indicate the most efficient path to your next objective while in a vehicle.

Main Map

Entering the pause menu shows the complete map of New Bordeaux, Bayou Fantom, and if the DLC Faster, Baby! is installed, Sinclair Parish. Chapters, missions, and objectives are all revealed on the map with unique icons. These icons remain visible on the map no matter what zoom percentage is used. However, smaller icons such as locations, Medicine Cabinets, fuses, and collectibles will not materialize until you zoom into the map at least 50% and you have wiretapped that area.

Using Waypoints

Waypoints can be set on any objective, map icon, or location. Once set and while inside a vehicle, a white or green line will show the most direct route to your selection on the main and mini-map and road signs will indicate the direction and turns as they approach. A distance meter will appear giving the distance to your destination in meters, measured as a direct line to the objective, not the actual travel distance on surface streets.

While on foot, only the distance meter will show and can be followed directly to your destination. This can be especially helpful when looking for fuses or collectibles. Place a waypoint on any green or blue icon and the meter will lead you to it. As you near the object, the elevation of the distance meter will also indicate if the object is above or below your present location. Once you're close enough, intel view can also be used to aid in finding these items.

Vehicle Location

After you exit a vehicle, its location will be displayed on both the main and mini-map as a white car icon. This feature can be used to easily locate and return to your vehicle, and can be turned on or off through the pause menu under options.

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Intel View

Intel view allows Lincoln to exploit his situational awareness. Entering intel view highlights every enemy you've spotted in red, even when they're behind walls. These enemies will also be displayed as red blips on the mini-map. Enemies that remain hidden for an extended period of time may disappear from view until they're seen again. You will also receive vital information, such as the locations of Medicine Cabinets, Weapon Lockers, entrances, gates, and good sniper positions. Intel view also labels targets of opportunity and enemy targets like sentries and enforcers.

Wiretapping an area's junction box will highlight all nearby enemies regardless of whether or not they've been already spotted.

Inside Man

The inside man is offered with level two of the Consigliere perk. This replaces some features of wiretapping by highlighting all nearby enemies in intel view and showing them on your mini-map.

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Health Bars

Health is shown as green bars above the mini-map. The base amount is two bars, which can be increased to a maximum of five bars through the Mob Doctor perk. A health bar that has been partially drained will replenish itself over time, but once it's completely drained an Adrenaline Shot is necessary to refill it.

John Donovan

During Stones Unturned, Lincoln will be accompanied by John Donovan. If he takes too much damage, he will kneel down and be unable to continue, and there will be a small white heart rate icon above his head. Lincoln can approach Donovan and use the action button to heal him. However, this does not remove any Adrenaline Shots from your inventory. If left unattended, he will eventually heal himself.

Stamina and Recovery

Stamina determines the distance that Lincoln can sprint or swim fast. The baseline begins at about 7 seconds sprint or swim time, followed by about 6 seconds at normal speeds before he can go again. At its maximum, run time peaks at about 13 seconds. Recovery determines the speed at which health automatically replenishes and the amount of adrenaline needed to completely refill all health bars, which has a baseline of one shot per health bar. Stamina and recovery rates can both be increased through the Mob Doctor perk.


Wearing a Tac-Vest protects Lincoln from damage. Any damage received from gunfire, melee combat, falls, and vehicle collisions will be removed from the Tac-Vest until it's depleted. The Tac-Vest's condition is represented by a blue line above the health bars.


If Lincoln dies any progress from his current mission will be lost as well as about one half of any cash contained in his wallet. He will then respawn at the nearest safehouse, currently owned racket, or other safe location.

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Weapons and Gear


The crowbar is used in lock pulling. Lock pulling is a covert way to infiltrate locked doors as well as the only method of opening a Junction Box. On doors you get three attempts, after which you have to kick the door, drawing the attention of anyone nearby. On junction boxes a miss exits you from the operation and you will have to redo it. There is no number of missed attempts on junction boxes. When lock pulling, the smaller you get the green section on the first step, the larger it will be on the second.

Combat Knife

During Thicker Than Blood, Lincoln will recover his combat knife, and it will remain in his inventory from then on. While it does not appear with other weapons in the wheel menu, it is automatically taken out during stealthy and brutal lethal takedowns and will permanently neutralize an enemy.


Lincoln can only carry two firearms at any given time. This consists of one single-handed weapon and one two-handed one. If another weapon is picked up, the current one of that type will be dropped, but may be picked back up as long as Lincoln remains in the immediate area. Weapons can be selected by entering the wheel menu or using the change weapon button.


Ammunition can be purchased through the arms dealer or picked up from fallen enemy and other weapons located in the area. Simply walk over or near the weapon to automatically pick up any spare ammo it holds. Ammunition is not restricted to the exact weapon you're carrying; most similar weapons will yield usable ammo. Ammunition carry capacity may be increased through the Gunsmith perk.


The equipment section of the weapons menu allows selection of both thrown and placed explosives, and the Screaming Zemi distraction device. This menu also includes the Sniper Support markers added by Stones Unturned and the Throwing Knives added by Sign of the Times. The carry capacity of these items can be increased with the IRA Bomber perk offered by Thomas Burke.

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The Enemy

Sentries and Reinforcements

Most enemy locations will have one or more sentries. These men are lookouts who will call in reinforcements if they spot Lincoln in the area they're patrolling. It is advisable to neutralize a sentry by either killing him or cutting the phone lines through the Operator perk before he has a chance to call in reinforcements.

If reinforcements are called, they'll arrive quickly and typically consist of two or three cars with four men each. These reinforcements are specifically trained in taking out enemy infiltrators and are therefore stronger and much more aggressive than the standard foe. They will charge at Lincoln from multiple angles and even climb over fences or obstacles to reach him.


A racket boss's heaviest hitters are his enforcers. Killing enforcers hurts the racket's cash and loosens his control over the racket. Keep in mind that any enforcers left alive before you confront the racket boss will be waiting alongside their boss at the racket takeover. For this reason, it's a good idea to take out the enforcers before you confront the boss himself.

Enemy Respawns

Enemies will respawn almost immediately if the area is left before the objective is completed. Even straying too far away while exploring an area for nearby collectibles or other items may trigger a previously cleared area to repopulate with new enemies.


Openly engaging in battle on the streets of New Bordeaux may attract the unwanted attention of the police. Police response time depends on the district you're in, but once engaged they're quick to send in reinforcements and are more deadly than the enemies you face otherwise. Civilians may also call the police if they witness Lincoln commit a crime, display a firearm, or be engaged in combat, even if he has no weapon equipped.

Police Zones

The police may be called off and will even ignore crime for short periods of time by using the Police Dispatcher perk. The amount of time and level of police zone that can be cleared depends on the perk's current level. Blue police zones are represented by a blue shaded circle on your map and mean the police are currently looking for Lincoln. A blue zone may be called off with the perk from level one, or Lincoln can simply escape the zone or hide from police within it until the search is called off. Red police zones are represented by a red shaded circle on your map and indicate that the police have spotted Lincoln and are either in pursuit or engaged in combat with him. Red zones may be called off with the perk once it has reached level four, or Lincoln may try to escape to safety.


Alligators infest the waterways of not only Bayou Fantom but also the entire city of New Bordeaux, and they can be an especially deadly predator. Exercise caution while swimming, as they are especially adept at stalking their prey and attacking without warning. As weapons cannot be fired while in water, it's advisable to reserve your stamina while swimming to escape their attacks.

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Using a melee attack on civilians will put them down with one hit. In combat with enemies, multiple punches are required to subdue an opponent. If you are holding a weapon, your melee attacks are stronger, and the same is true for the attacking enemy. It is also possible to get a charge takedown while running toward an enemy who hasn't fully noticed you. To achieve this, run toward the enemy and end your encounter with a punch, which becomes a takedown if done correctly.

Counter Attacks

During melee combat you may be prompted to execute a counterattack. If you're successful Lincoln performs a finishing move that wins the battle. This often results in Lincoln flipping the enemy over, slamming them to the ground, and hitting them with whatever weapon is in hand or stomping on their head. This prompt may also appear when you rush an enemy and can achieve a charge takedown.


Whistling draws enemy awareness. Use it while stalking to thin out groups of enemies or to draw them away. Enemies will typically investigate a noise one at a time. With patience, you can lure multiple enemies into a kill zone and kill each with a stealth takedown, one after another. With intel and careful positioning, you can often draw attention to your main target first and avoid the rest of his men.

Stealth Takedowns

Stealth takedowns can be performed from cover or by sneaking up on an unsuspecting enemy. Using silenced weapons such as the Silentium pistol, which is available free of charge from the Arms Dealer, will help in keeping enemies' awareness of Lincoln to a minimum.

If no other weapon is equipped, the combat knife will be used for all stealth takedowns. You may also select the non-lethal option by going into the Pause Menu > Options > Game > Melee Takedowns > Lethal or Non-Lethal. Regardless of the option chosen, fallen enemy stay down permanently. The only difference is the amount of blood and violence shown in-game. Note that regardless of setting, all takedowns performed on police officers and female members of The Ensanglante will be of the non-lethal type.

Brutal Takedowns

When engaged in melee combat you may perform a brutal takedown on an enemy. When engaged in melee with an enemy, the attack button becomes a gauge or bar, which fills as you press and hold the attack button. During melee combat, simply press and hold the attack button until the line on the attack gauge enters the white zone and then quickly release it. If successful Lincoln performs a brutal takedown accompanied by a unique attack animation that coincides with the weapon currently held. If no weapon is equipped, Lincoln will stab the enemy multiple times with his knife.

Performing a brutal takedown on an enemy will temporarily stun any nearby enemies who witness the event. Lincoln can use this to his advantage to take out a stunned enemy with a melee takedown.

Brutal takedowns can be a bit tricky, as an enemy can interrupt the takedown sequence if you're too slow, which may cause a normal attack instead. If you continue to attack the enemy without executing the brutal takedown, Lincoln will eventually defeat them with a finishing move or be pushed back. Also look for the counterattack prompt to finish the fight quickly.

Vehicle Combat

While carrying a handgun and behind the wheel of a vehicle, you can engage in vehicle combat. Once your weapon is equipped, you will be able to cycle through targets in and around the target vehicle. Targets include the tires, engine, fuel tank, driver, and passengers, or in the case of a boat, the motor, driver, and passengers. Green triangles appear in the selection when you have acquired a locked-on shot. Once an enemy has exited a vehicle, they are no longer a selectable target and you must use free aim.

You may also throw Frag Grenades, Molotov Cocktails, and Proximity Mines from your vehicle. Explosives can either be aimed or simply dropped out of the window to hit any pursuing vehicles. While driving there is also a ram feature that allows you to cause major damage that can disable the target vehicle.

Slow-Mo Shooting

Slow-motion shooting was added to the game with update 1.090.0. It allows the player to slow down time to better line up their shots on the enemy. This can come in especially handy when taking out multiple enemies, lining up a long distance shot, or using the element of surprise to take out an enemy before they can alert their friends. This feature synergises incredibly well with a stealth playstyle. The timer lasts about 6 seconds and takes 20 seconds to recharge, but scoring headshots will extend the duration of the meter. The feature becomes available in The Way of Flesh, when you first visit Perla's Nightclub.

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From time to time Lincoln will have to interrogate informants for information. These individuals will first need to be subdued, and once Lincoln has his knife to their throat he can intimidate them into talking. Most informants will flee at the first sign of trouble, forcing Lincoln to chase them down. If they are not caught quickly, they will get into a nearby vehicle and attempt to drive off, leading to the drive like a madman mini-game. Informants cannot die until they're under Lincoln's control, so an easy way to prevent them from fleeing is to shoot them until they drop to the ground. You can then concentrate on the other enemy in the area and deal with the informant when clear.

Drive Like a Madman

Drive like a madman is an interrogation method where Lincoln scares an informant into talking by driving dangerously until the person gives in and tells him what he knows. Once started, a progress bar will appear at the top of the screen that will fill as you drive dangerously. Things that will make the meter increase are speeding, driving on the wrong side of the road, collisions or near collisions, taking jumps, and other dangerous situations. The meter will also decrease if you drive too safely, and driving too slow may make the informant jump out and flee.

Recruitment vs. Killing

Lincoln may be given a choice to either kill or recruit certain informants as well as racket bosses if the area has been wiretapped. This choice will usually be accompanied with a monetary incentive of a small amount of cash now, or adding a larger amount of earn to that racket.

From a financial standpoint, killing informants and bosses will almost always yield a higher reward. Recruitment only increases the racket's initial earn, not its maximum. Without any recruitment, each racket will start off exactly $20,000 short of its maximum earn. Subsequently, each trafficking mission will raise that earn to the same maximum amount, rendering any increase from recruitment irrelevant.

Even if you choose not to do the trafficking missions, Lincoln receives a maximum of 2% of a racket's earn in kickback, which is paid every 24 in-game hours. As an example, if an enemy offers $1000 cash when killed versus adding $2000 in earn when recruited, it would take a minimum of 25 in-game days before you broke even on the $1000 cash you gave up, assuming you manage to collect your kickback as soon as it becomes available every game day.

Informants disappear from the game immediately after confronting them, regardless of whether they're killed or recruited, while racket bosses that are recruited can be found at the racket location afterwards.

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District Takeovers

New Bordeaux has nine districts, each containing two rackets. Taking over a racket requires Lincoln to damage it to the point that it's no longer able to create any income. This will cause the Racket Boss to step in and try to get things back on track, giving Lincoln the opportunity to take them down as well. Racket takeovers may be started once they're assigned and worked in any order or even simultaneously.

Targets of Opportunity

Targets of opportunity consist of money, equipment, supplies, or personnel that the racket depends upon to operate and make profit. The location of these targets will be marked on the map with an icon representing each racket. Targets are often supplies that need to be destroyed by either smashing, burning or exploding them. To smash or burn them, approach the item and follow the on screen prompt. To blow up an item, either shoot or use an explosive on them. Many targets will have a container of gasoline or other combustible material placed nearby that can be shot, while vehicles and other items may require the use of explosives.


Some objectives will require finding and then tailing a person to their destination. To do this, begin following their vehicle until the tailing meter is displayed. The tailing meter will increase when any act that draws attention to Lincoln is performed. These actions include following too close, stopping for no reason, driving on the wrong side of the street, hitting other vehicles, endangering pedestrians, and blowing the horn or causing other vehicles to use their horn. If the meter fills completely, the subject will stop, exit their vehicle, and open fire. Players will then need to wait for another target vehicle to spawn elsewhere and begin the procedure again.

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Racket and District Assignment

As Lincoln takes over each racket he will assign one of his underbosses to temporarily run things while he goes after the rest of that district. Underbosses will offer favors in addition to their normal perks in order to gain the racket for themselves. Once both rackets and the main boss for a district has been dealt with, Lincoln will hold a sitdown and permanently assign the entire district to one underboss. Which one is up to player choice and does not need to be the one(s) currently assigned to the rackets.

Underboss Loyalty

Taking rackets away from an underboss will cause their loyalty to lower, and Lincoln will lose perks to correspond with their decreased income, though any favors received will be kept. This may also decrease the percentage of kickback the underboss pays, and if done repeatedly it will cause that underboss to turn against Lincoln, bringing about a betrayal mission in which Lincoln will have to kill them.

Loyalty may be raised by assigning other rackets and districts or doing trafficking and agenda missions for that underboss. However, once an underboss reaches the betrayal stage, nothing can be done to win them back. Once an underboss is killed, their second in command will take over, running any remaining rackets belonging to their faction, and their kickback will drop considerably, only paying out .4 percent of their earn. After that, no further rackets may be assigned to that faction.

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The Sign of the Times DLC introduces investigations to Mafia III. When you enter an investigation zone, it will be listed above the mini-map and the zone will be displayed as a yellow circle. To find clues about The Ensanglante, search for items to pick up, bodies to examine, or look for hidden clues with your black light. Using intel view will highlight all clues in blue. Once examined, they will highlight in yellow. When prompted, Lincoln will need to take pictures of some clues with his recon camera. While in investigation zones, some of Lincoln's actions may be restricted, such as weapon selection, running, crouching, or taking cover.

Other Gameplay Mechanics

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  • Xbox controller preset 1 - On foot
  • Xbox controller preset 1 - In vehicle
  • Xbox controller preset 2 - On foot
  • Xbox controller preset 2 - In vehicle

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