BioShock 2 Multiplayer: Extreme

As well as a lady in a Big Daddy costume, it seems the forthcoming BioShock sequel will also feature multiplayer. Crivens! But will this new mode be the Counter-Strike to BioShock’s Half-Life, or as inappropriately abstract as the infamous Deus Ex multiplayer patch? Of the just-released details, two facts stand out as super-fun: 1) we’ll finally get to visit pre-fall Rapture 2) this mode’s being handled by Digital Extremes, co-developer of UT and UT2003/4. Oh, you’re listening now, aren’t you?

Sounds as though no-one gets to be the the prototype Large Father who’s the protagonist of the singleplayer game, but rather everyone’s a Plasmid test subject during the fall of Rapture, warring over territory and powers in the sinister sub-aquatic city.

On that theme, it seems as though 2K plan to borrow a page from Call of Duty 4’s book, using the multiplayer to ensure the game stays around and in the headlines for some months, rather than simply enjoy a month of pre-release hype then suffer two years of people raging about it at great length on the internet, as with the original BioShock. Experience points earn you new plasmids, tonics and weapons, which you can combo in various arrangements to create an ostensibly unique character of your own. I’m not quite sure if this is persistent or just within the scope of a single game, but am endeavouring to find out.

And, as previously mentioned, the multiplayer is set before Rapture plunged into decay and anarchy. Well, maybe not before the anarchy, given there’ll be a bunch of plasmid-enhanced crazy men fighting each other. No word on if there will be civilians or any other sort of NPC, or just deathmatch arenas, but it’ll certainly be interesting to see what super-shiny Rapture looked like, given ol’ Andrew Ryan’s boasts about its splendour.

Digital Extremes are at the helm, which is a source of mixed feelings. On the one hand, they reportedly had much to do with why the original Unreal Tournaments were so top-notch, and some have blamed their omission from the UT3 team for its failings. On the other hand, their two singleplayer outings, Pariah and the recent Dark Sector, have been pretty darn dreary. By sticking to BS2’s multiplayer though, they’re very much playing to their strengths – genuine veterans of online FPS gaming, and their involvement is surely something to celebrate.

Full press release here:

2K Games, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. announced today that it has signed a partnership with Digital Extremes to develop the multiplayer experience for BioShock 2. Under this partnership, Digital Extremes is working closely with the creative team at 2K Marin to develop a new and substantial element that enhances the lore and fiction of the BioShock universe.

“The fans asked for a multiplayer experience and we answered,” said Christoph Hartmann, president of 2K. “With Digital Extremes delivering a multiplayer experience for BioShock 2 that features all of the things that make BioShock unique, we’re holding ourselves to a high standard so that we can deliver the depth and variety that fans of the BioShock universe demand.”

Multiplayer in BioShock 2 provides a rich prequel experience that expands the origins of the BioShock fiction. Set during the fall of Rapture, players assume the role of a Plasmid test subject for Sinclair Solutions, a premier provider of Plasmids and Tonics in the underwater city of Rapture that was first explored in the original BioShock. Players will need to use all the elements of the BioShock toolset to survive as the full depth of the BioShock experience is refined and transformed into a unique multiplayer experience that can only be found in Rapture.

Key features:

• Evolution of the genetically enhanced shooter – Earn experience points during gameplay to earn access to new Weapons, Plasmids and Tonics that can be used to create hundreds of different combinations, allowing players to develop a unique character that caters to their playing style.

• Extend the Rapture fiction – Players will step into the shoes of Rapture citizens and learn more about the fall of Rapture as they progress through the experience.

• See Rapture before the fall – Experience Rapture before it was reclaimed by the ocean and engage in combat over iconic environments in locations such as Kashmir Restaurant and Mercury Suites, all of which have been reworked from the ground up to deliver a fast-paced multiplayer experience.

• FPS veterans add their touch to the multiplayer experience – Digital Extremes brings more than 10 years of first person shooter experience including development of award-winning entries in the Unreal and Unreal Tournament franchise.

It seems inevitable you fine folk will have some strong feelings about this, one way or another.


  1. Turin Turambar says:

    I am not sure if the gameplay elements developed for single player will serve well for multiplayer. I am speaking about plasmids.

    And the win experience and upgrade your rank a la CoD 4 is already old hat. I hope for something more here than a DM. A asymetric type of match with objetives (a few big daddies trying to guard little sisters against several normal players?) would be more insteresting.

  2. FunkyLlama says:

    This makes me feel angry. I don’t really know why. Ah well. *rages*

  3. Xocrates says:

    Steam-Punk(ish) UT?

    Now I’m curious.

  4. Senethro says:

    Eugh, I hate earning stuff in multiplayer FPS. I hope that like CoD4, the PC version has some file in which you can just edit in the unlocks.

  5. hydra9 says:

    I liked Dark Sector. And the PC version was very pretty and ran flawlessly. Didn’t try out the multiplayer modes, but apparently they were pretty decent. Personally, I trust Digital Extremes to bring us good multi-Shock.

  6. cyrenic says:

    “Weapons, Plasmids and Tonics that can be used to create hundreds of different combinations.”

    Yeah, I’m sure that’ll be balanced.

  7. Crapknocker says:

    Frankly, I mourn what could’ve been a great multiplayer experience in the first Bioshock. Seriously, the barrels of oil, flame plasmid and frost plasmid set up some very interesting trap laying possibilities. Let’s hope the Bioshock 2: Electric Plasmid Boogaloo capitalizes on them.

  8. SwiftRanger says:

    “And the win experience and upgrade your rank a la CoD 4 is already old hat.”

    It has been old hat since BF2, sounds like a nice incentive again of course but the masses need a real MMOFPS soon or the world will end.

    Digital Extremes isn’t too bad for a multiplayer part, sounds like BS2 might be something after all.

  9. Sunjammer says:

    “The fans asked for a multiplayer experience and we answered,” said Christoph Hartmann, president of 2K.

    I’m kind of sure those weren’t the fans. Those were the non-fans clambering around looking for things to diss.

  10. Neut says:

    “Weapons, Plasmids and Tonics that can be used to create hundreds of different combinations.”

    But only 2 that’ll be in any way effective. ;)

  11. Jockie says:

    Well I guess the plasmid/weapons thing could work if they start off with some neat archetypes comparable to sniper, stealth etc. In fact if the core combat is good enough I could see it being pretty fun indeed.

    The only issue for me is how to get crazed plasmid fiends shoehorned into a team based MP game without it seeming too contrived or wrong. Deathmatch alone hasn’t sufficed for a long time.

  12. Lucas says:

    I agree with Turin: I think it’d be fun to have a Big Daddies v. Splicers escort game. You could then make the experience points deal more like money in CounterStrike. Plain deathmatch and team deathmatch are okay, but those modes don’t seem to gel well with the new, Daddy-centric single-player game we’ve heard about.

  13. Jeremy says:

    Sounds pretty cool in theory, but it just remains uncertain in my mind what it will actually be like. I’m always open for developers to try some innovative stuff though, hopefully these plasmids can bring a little something new to the multiplayer experience. I’m not really sure it’ll be unfair or unbalanced entirely, but people who are talented and able to put together great combos shouldn’t be punished for being awesome.

  14. Theory says:

    I’m pretty sure Digital Extremes only worked on maps for UT, with all programming and other design by Epic.

  15. Guhndahb says:

    Competitive MP in Bioshock 2 doesn’t interest me. But as long as it doesn’t divert resources from SP development I guess I don’t care. Proper story coop MP, a la System Shock 2, would be different and would be something I’d love, but obviously doesn’t fit what we know about Bioshock 2 so far.

  16. Nick says:

    @Neut: Most likely, sadly.

  17. ZIGS says:

    Enjoy your 7-hour long campaign

  18. Bhazor says:

    Three words
    Hornet arm clusterfuck.
    But if you gotta be clusterfucked you might as well leave a bewildering corpse.

  19. BlackBandit says:

    “Crivens”… ah, what a word. You’re more cultured than expected, Mr. Meer.

  20. Kirrus says:

    I think this is the only reason I’ll look at buying Bioshock2… I was quite disappointed by B1, as I didn’t really feel able to replay it :(

  21. Muzman says:

    Looking forward to what The Daily Mail et al make of the Snatch the Little Sister teamplay mode.

  22. Ace Justice says:

    The fact that you’re Plasmid test subjects should eliminate balancing issues. You can’t have a fair test unless all the participants have the same abilities. But the fact that you’re going to be able to unlock new plasmids to use kind of precludes the multiplayer being an unbalanced clusterfuck.

    Not that I’m vehemently against multiplayer in BioShock, but it won’t be as important to me as the quality of the story.

  23. jonfitt says:

    “And the win experience and upgrade your rank a la CoD 4 is already old hat.”

    As already said, CoD4 wasn’t nearly the first to do this, but even so I’d hardly call it old hat just because it’s not a new idea.

    Persistent fps multiplayer bonuses/perks/inlocks/ranks is the way of the future. It brings MMO-like progress and reward to fps games which keeps them interesting long after people would have moved on.

    Playing 10 rounds of CS:S to me has no point now beyond the enjoyment of each round. It becomes like some autonomic zombifying ever-war. Playing 10 rounds of BF2 puts you ever closer to that next gun… Ooh it looks so shiny… ok just 10 more rounds.

    Balancing unlocks/weapons is a difficult task to make sure that they don’t ruin the game for those who are still trying to get them, but that’s all part of game design.

  24. Senethro says:

    “Playing 10 rounds of CS:S to me has no point now beyond the enjoyment of each round.”

    Gentlemen, we have entered the twilight zone. What does it mean when playing the game for its own sake is not enough?

    Down with MMORPG features in the wrong genres!

  25. LionsPhil says:

    Well, it’ll certainly be interesting to see how this turns out. Unreal Tournament sans DE has…sucked. DE on their own have…sucked. Sum of parts, and all that.

    @Theory: ISTR they did some of the game coding (c.f. engine coding).

    @Senethro: Well said! “RPG elements” are the monosodium glutimate of game design.

  26. qrter says:

    I have no interest in a BioShock multiplayer at all. Yet I seem to have asked for it. Weird.

    A lot of the fun with plasmids was that you as the player were a kind of ‘puppetmaster’, toying around with your splicer ‘playthings’. In that set up it also became fun to experiment with different plasmid/weapon/tonic combinations. I’d think that when you’re going up against similarily powered beings that aspect will be quickly forgotten. It just doesn’t seem like the kind of game that lends itself well to multiplayer.

    I thought we were kind of past the obligatory “what, no multiplayer!?” kneejerk reaction whenever a game comes out (although it only seems to have been replaced with “what, no co-op!?”).

  27. jonfitt says:

    MP is a peculiar beast and different to a SP game. With a SP experience you have exploration and that old narrative chestnut we keep banging on about.
    I’ve been deathmatching for well over a decade (1995?) and fundamentally it hasn’t changed. There was initially interest in “Wow this is real people not bots”, and then there was “These team objectives are fun”, but how many ways can you kill a fool before it loses its appeal? So I’m using plasmids, or the Crysis suit, blah.

    There’s still a good mileage in the old ideals, many people cheat through the TF2 unlocks and just play regularly, but you can look at the huge spike in people coming back to the game and playing the new unlockable classes and see that people want to play for something.

    I’ll also still play games with no overarching goals with friends because that has appeal beyond the game in question. But you can bet we’ll be trying to improve our L4D survival times to get all the golds!

  28. Idle Threats & Bad Poetry says:

    There are some interesting possibilities. Anyone want to play CTLS, Capture the Little Sister? Having the object of your chase being a living being and especially a mutant little girl could add some interest. There could be questions of harvesting or saving involved. In the first level of the first Bioshock, the splicers did try to get their hands on her.

    I can picture now the screams over the mic about people who want to TAKE THE FRIGGIN’ EARS OFF!!

  29. Optimaximal says:

    2) this mode’s being handled by Digital Extremes, co-developer of UT and UT2003/4. Oh, you’re listening now, aren’t you?

    Given the dire-i-tude of Pariah & Dark Sector… No, i’m not :)

  30. BooleanBob says:

    You take that back! Deus Ex had easily the most interesting, thought-provoking and true-to-concept multiplayer of any PC shooter, evar. If half of the ideas that mode had were implemented in a new AAA release it would be hailed as the most exciting and innovative online game since Quakeworld. I’m serious.

    Oddly enough, this seems like the very new AAA release that may just do it.

  31. PC Monster says:

    Multiplayer Bioshock….?

    Not a fan of the concept, I have to say. Considering Bioshock 1 was all about the beauty of the singleplayer story, adding a multiplayer deathmatch component to the sequel feels exactly like the kind of heresy Valve introduced us to with those pointless Achievements in the Half-Life 2 games. Why not add a ‘Find ’em all’ “Where’s Wally” mini-game into 2001: A Space Odyssey or Citizen Kane while we’re at it, to increase their longevity and fun factor by encouraging repeat viewings? Find all the hidden Monoliths/Rosebuds and get a secret code that unlocks a special area of the film studio’s website, bursting with EXCLUSIVE CONTENT!!

    My Optimus thumb is pointing firmly down on this one.

  32. Rei Onryou says:

    At least they’re not splitting the development team in half to do multiplayer. This way, we should still get a great singleplayer experience, and maybe a decent multiplayer game too. Deathmatch/Team Deathmatch seem too dull for Rapture, but a Big Daddies vs Splicers escort mode or similar could work.

    If it’s pre Big Daddies, maybe some resource gathering mode could work. Groups of Splicers protect Little Sisters while they harvest Adam, then bring them back to their base for “extraction”. 2 teams doing this against each other could be fun.

  33. toro says:

    This sucks. Bioshock concept is a little too “intimate” for multi player games. But this is probably a test for Bioshock MMORPG – City of Rapture.

  34. Adventurous Putty says:

    Steam-Punk(ish) UT?

    Decopunk, actually.

    And, while new information about the game in the Eurogamer interview has given me hope that the plot may not be lacking in sophistication, I still kind of wish that the developers would focus less on the shiny multiplayer that some people who completely missed the point about Shock 1 demanded, and more on the whole Deconstructionist Objectivist dystopia world-building (or, since that’s already been done, the Deconstructionist something-or-other dystopia).

  35. LionsPhil says:

    You take that back! Deus Ex had easily the most interesting, thought-provoking and true-to-concept multiplayer of any PC shooter, evar.

    True as that may be, it was also a feature that few DX fans wanted—what with the game shining through its globe-trotting, a-god-am-I singleplayer—and also released “late” in a patch, so missed all the reviews. Its spectacular flop was hardly a surprise. Ironically, it’d probably have been more popular if it was released as a whole new title, and got itself a new set of reviews and new set of MP-hungry eyes interested, not a free addon.

    At least BS2 should avoid the latter mistake.

  36. Static says:

    “Gentlemen, we have entered the twilight zone. What does it mean when playing the game for its own sake is not enough?

    Exactly. I was talking with someone just last night about all the achievement nonsense. I don’t ever try for the achievements. They ruined TF2 when they started putting in all this fancy new stuff…I used to play it online all the time until they brought it in. If this is what’s going to happen to a multiplayer bioshock I don’t want it.

  37. BooleanBob says:

    LionsPhil: Everything you say, of course, is true. And Mssr Meer’s specific criticism was equally valid, but I thought the comparison he was offering implied a value judgement that was essentially unfair. So I gave it a bit of love; someone surely had to. It really was very good indeed.

    ps: I love your avatar! Although I constantly see it, wonder what Bowser has to do with science, then look closer and remember that it’s not actually Bowser, then remember that I’m constantly doing this. Man!

  38. SofS says:

    Digital Extremes are based in my city (London, Ontario), so I feel slightly guilty that I’ve never played any of their games. Said games are really not my thing, though, so I suppose vague hometown loyalty only goes so far.

  39. Benny says:

    “But this is probably a test for Bioshock MMORPG – City of Rapture.”

    Dont make jokes like that toro, they might actually come true…