Mafia 3's latest DLC, Stones Unturned, is a significant improvement from its last DLC, Faster Baby. The storyline about Donovan's CIA and Vietnam past is far more compelling than the horribly racist town of Sinclair Parish. Considering that Lincoln spends most of his time in New Bordeaux being called the N-word by white racists and then proceeding to shoot said white racists, doing the exact same thing in a new town didn't feel fresh. Fortunately, Donovan is a much more interesting character and his hunt to find a stolen nuclear warhead feels a lot different than your other missions in Mafia 3. Combine that with a whole new location away from New Bordeaux and fun (although way too easy) turret battles, and Stones Unturned is a DLC well worth your money.
Stones Unturned can be purchased through Steam for $14.99
Stones Unturned shifts the focus away from Lincoln Clay to his rogue ex-CIA helper, John Donovan. Donovan was easily one of the most interesting characters in Mafia 3 with his Vietnam stories, great relationship with Lincoln, and hilarious shouting matches at the Congressional hearings about the Lincoln's systematic destruction of the New Bordeaux mafia. His character seemed to have a lot of layers and Stones Unturned peels back the Vietnam aspect of Donovan's past.
An old enemy named Connor Aldridge has recently entered New Bordeaux and Donovan recruits Lincoln to help him unravel why Aldridge is here. It's telling that for the first time Donovan appears scared. While he mocked the New Bordeaux mafia and never seemed to doubt Lincoln's ability to decimate them, Donovan's close-lipped and fearful of Aldridge. And we immediately see why, since the first lead on Aldridge leads to a massacre at a bar.
From then it's a chase to find Aldridge, as Lincoln and Donovan slowly unravel Aldridge's master plan. Throughout the missions, we learn why Donovan and Aldridge hate each other and what exactly happened in Vietnam. The story leads Lincoln and Donovan to secret CIA safehouses in New Bordeaux, to an island with a downed plane, culminating in a final battle at a secret nuclear silo.
Part of the reason Stones Unturned is so engaging is that stakes are upped to such a high degree. While it's feels justified to seek revenge for your murdered family and strike a blow against 1960's racism, it's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Lincoln's story never extends beyond Bordeaux and Faster Baby's story never extends beyond the small town of Sinclair Parish. But Stones Unturned storyline has far reaching implications tha could affect the world balance and all of America, maybe even the world. Don't forget, Mafia 3 is set at the height of the Cold War. America had just narrowly survived the Cuban missile crisis. The detonation of one nuclear warhead could lead to nuclear apocalypse if the United States blame the Soviet Union or vice versa.
Lastly, Stones Unturned is a lot of fun becauses of the rapport between Lincoln and Donovan. You can tell they've been friends and worked together for a long time before the events of Mafia 3 and Stones Unturned. They have little verbal jabs back and forth and have the ability to make jokes in tough situations. It reminded me a lot of buddy-cop movies, like Lethal Weapon. My favorite was a running joke in the final mission about who keeps setting of the alarm.
The core gameplay of Mafia 3 hasn't changed in Stones Unturned. It's still third person cover based shooting. The enemy AI is slightly improved, but that really isn't saying much since the AI in Mafia 3 acted like their parents had dropped a brick on their head when they were a child. All you needed to do in Mafia 3 was sit behind cover and wait for them to pop their heads out and get shot in the head or get blown away by your shotgun as they charged you one at a time. The enemies in Stones Unturned are highly trained (although trained is being used very loosely) mercenaries. All armed to the teeth with automatic weapons and body armor, they attempt to flank you and provide a slightly more challenging combat experience.
There are two new main features to the gameplay in Stones Unturned: turret combat and sniper support. Another CIA buddy of Donovan's, Marshall, helps during the mission and offers sniper support during combat. It's basically like throwing a grenade, but instead of an explosion there's silenced sniper shots. You highlight a small circle and any enemy in that circle is sniped. It helps a lot if you're trying the stealthy approach, which I recommend given just how many mercenaries you have to face. The second feature is turret combat. Donovan drives the Humvee and you mount the 50 caliber machine gun on the back. You use the turret to destroy the various vehicles changing you before they can blow up your vehicle. It works really well in the jungle battles, but feels very out of place in New Bordeaux. There's a mission that has you, Donovan, and your target escaping a New Bordeaux office in a Humvee while enemy Humvees are chasing you. You are careening across freeways and streets, blasting at enemies with your turret gun, while getting shot at, cars are exploding, and there are zero cops. I understand it's a video game and there's very little realism, but it still felt very strange that no cops showed up at all. I'm pretty sure the National Guard would be called out if this happened.
The best part of the gameplay in Stones Unturned is when you and Donovan leave New Bordeaux. Fighting in the jungle adds a lot more to the cover based shooting than the back alleys and rackets of New Bordeaux. It almost becomes a VIetnam shooter, since you and Donovan are dressed in camouflage with M-16s taking down enemy bases. Just leaving New Bordeaux is refreshing and I hope the next DLC has Lincoln in a situation outside of New Bordeaux.
A real flaw in Stones Unturned is the boring side missions after you complete the main quest. In Faster Baby, the side mission was upgrading your weed business and finding specific strains of weed to make stronger and more expensive batches. It wasn't groundbreaking, but it was fun to work towards maximizing your business. In Stones Unturned you complete three bounty hunter missions for Marshall. These missions are remarkably dull. You drive to the target's location, wait for the target, shoot him with a sleep dart, put him in your trunk, and drive back to Marshall. I'm not entirely sure why the CIA sniper couldn't simply do that himself.
Stones Unturned also unlocks a new vehicle and two new outfits.
Graphics and Audio
There aren't really much changes to the graphics or audio in this DLC. Your car's location is added to the minimap and you now have the option to remove the rearview mirror on the top of the screen. I didn't notice any new songs added to the radio. The graphics seemed mostly the same. Cutscenes still look great, character animation was fine. I had no bugs, crashes, or framerate drops. Irritatingly, the bizarre orange sky and weirdly drawn clouds are still present, but at this point I'm used to them.
Stones Unturned is a DLC worth your time. The action in the jungle is a refreshing change of pace from the typical gameplay in Mafia 3 and Faster Baby. The relationship between Donovan and Lincoln is a lot of fun and learning about Donovan's shady CIA history is really interesting. The stakes are significantly higher and that adds a lot of tension. Yes the side mission after the main campaign is boring and short, but that's not enough to make Stones Unturned not worth it. If you enjoyed Mafia 3, then there's no way you won't enjoy Stones Unturned.
|+ Compelling Story||– Bad Side Missions|
|+ Refreshing Change in Scenery|
– Gameplay is Still Repetitive
|+ Great Dialogue Between Clay and Donovan|