What I Want From The Next BioShock

Ken Levine has moved onto other projects, and Irrational essentially no longer exists, but publishers 2K have declared that the BioShock series will continue nonetheless. Good, I’m glad: the games so far have had downs as well as ups to say the least, but they have, to a one, attempted to do things that other big-budget shooters do not. It’d be a terrible shame if that was lost and the floor ceded to yet more military-inspired prepostero-realism. I’m also fascinated to see what a BioShock game that wasn’t led by someone who has, for better or worse, become something of a figurehead for game stories and high concepts would look like. Would they become more free to explore their own worlds, less hampered by the need to meet expectations of Big Ideas and Ultimate Answers?

There are things I’d like the next game to try. There are things I desperately pray it doesn’t do. These are just a few of each. Would you kindly take a look? (Contains some spoilers for BioShock 1 & Infinite).

Have a brand new setting, entirely disconnected from the other games

Two reasons for this – one is that Rapture (post-fall, at least) is over-familiar by now, and it would be sad to see the Big Daddies and Little Sisters lose whatever impact and pathos they have left, while Columbia didn’t quite click in the same way and a second attempt may not change that.

The other is that BioShock Infinite and its DLC went to great – possibly excessive – lengths to close the circle. Sure, you could spin new stories and characters off from it, but they’d always be in the shadow of the meta-narrative established by Infinite’s ending. It would not be edifying to play through tales that you already know don’t really matter, that are a sideshow to greater events, just one more lighthouse is an endless sea of them. Infinite’s conclusion was to say that all possible BioShocks, past, present and future, were part of Levine’s one central tale and universe. That all of this has happened before and will do again – and, in turn, perhaps that nothing really matters. Escaping that infinite loop – breaking the great chain – is necessary for a new game to have its own meaning.

Lose the period setting, but keep the cultural overtones

With Fallout also regularly milking the same vintage style meets fantastical technology teat, the formula is in danger of feeling stale. I don’t need to hear the Inkspots while shooting mutants again (although I wouldn’t want to lose the music/strange place dynamic). But there’s more to it than that: both BioShocks (for the sake of ease I’m treating 2 as an extension of 1 unless otherwise specified) tried to say something about philosophy and politics, but sheltered in history as they did so, rather than being pointed about the problems of latter-day society.

These are peculiarly intelligent games, at least by the standards of their big-budget peers, laced with (albeit sometimes muddled) commentary on the human condition: it may well be that they can be more powerful if they’re overtly talking about that condition today. The current racial tensions in America, rather than those of two centuries ago. The ongoing ideological war between left and right. The celebritization of leaders. How wars are fought now, how the ‘enemy’ is depicted. Privacy, worker exploitation, consumerism. Of course, this involves a terrible risk of becoming too worthy for its own good – there’s a fine line. But all meaning can be squandered when the formula endlessly remains ‘anachronism is fun!’ Our world is a twisted one too: there’s no need to look exclusively to the past.

And hell, wouldn’t you play a BioShock where the speakers played Taylor Swift instead of Bobby Darin?

Embrace non-combat

For a series which has consistently preached that empathy is a more vital force than violence, BioShock sure is reluctant to let its players interact with anything other than a weapon. Yet, in all the games so far, the most memorable sections are those in which you’re not directly fighting something or someone – you’re exploring, switching between admiration and discomfort at what you see, filling in detail on the world. But, God help me, if only you could talk to the monsters. Because most of the time, they’re not monsters: they’re people whose tales you’ve read and heard extracts of, people who have lost things, people who had plans for greatness.

The first BioShock draws an inviolable line between those who were mutated into killers and those few who kept their faculties, then ensures you’re kept at arm’s length from the latter. Infinite does include any number of ‘innocent’ characters but artificially clears the stage whenever it decrees combat is happening, lending an animatronic theme park atmosphere to proceedings.

I’m not suggesting that BioShock should become a conversations and quests game – though I would be interested to see that – but simply that it offers a choice of approach. The Burial At Sea Part Two DLC massively amplified the hitherto underused stealth systems, and offered an ongoing option to avoid combat rather than murder everyone, and at the very least I’d like to see more done with that. If you are feeling conflicted about the place you’re in and the people who reside in it, perhaps there could be the option of non-lethality, and even of total avoidance. If a situation turns to open violence, it would be because you’ve chosen for that to be the case – or perhaps bungled something – and there will likely be consequences to how you are perceived as a result.

BioShock 1 drew some fire because of the Manichean nature of its major choice – whether you consumed or saved Little Sisters – but as it happens I agree with the assertion that if you kill even just one little girl in order to make your own life easier then yes, you are a monster. The trouble is that it’s a hard choice parachuted in at prescribed moments, with a prescribed outcome, rather than one which reflects your general behaviour.

BioShock and Infinite both mandate that the only possible response is shoot first, have questions answered for you after, and then plot reveals arguably rob you of hero status. More options for stealth, non-lethality or even negotiation (perhaps a faction system) throughout would open it up and allow more plausible reflections upon your own morality, as well as more varied power and weapon upgrades, without going all the way into making it Mass Effect. A chance to explore the environments and the people in them, before deciding whether or not to blow them away.

More experimental weapons and powers

One of the joys of the first game, at least at first, was experimenting with Plasmid and weapon combinations, setting traps and chaining attacks. This wasn’t lost in subsequent games, but it wasn’t meaningfully furthered. It was too effective to simply shoot, and to lob the most destructive magic powers, and so in turn it was too tempting to do nothing but that. There’s bound to be a way to make those combo attacks more rewarding, more consistently available and more surprising, and less about occasionally stumbling across a puddle with three guys stood in it so you can conveniently electrocute it.

Lose the mysticism

BioShock wouldn’t be BioShock without science-fantasy, but the games are at their weakest when they ask for even more suspension of disbelief. The sea slugs and their magic mutant chemical, Elizabeth’s dimension-tearing powers, the concept of multiple realities to tie everything together, and of course the first game’s notorious Big Blue Man boss fight: all of these undermine the essential concept of a breakaway society fallen into darkness because its politics were too extreme or naive. We have to believe all this wild stuff, and that in turn means there are no rules: anything can be made to happen and hand-waved away if the writer desires it, which Infinite was particularly guilty of come its denouement. I was left feeling as though nothing was real, because the game was so free to pluck answers to any conundrum from the ether.

Even the Plasmid and Tonic powers, supposedly gained from genetic modification and experimental chemicals, struggle for plausibility, as well as failing to retain any sense that the player character was doing horrible things to himself. They are things which could be more convincingly replicated with mere weaponary, or some more visible, permanent modification of the player’s body.

Most of all, though, I’d like there to be a line in the sand between theoretical science and science-magic. The knowledge that a butchered, brainwashed man is inside a Big Daddy’s expressionless suit is harrowing; a nasty fellow who dresses as a bird and drinks a potion which can make him teleport and summon crows is not. Which in turn brings me to…

Don’t lose the horror

BioShock initially used its System Shock 2 roots, and what its own title suggests – creating a forlorn and sinister world of uncertainty and menace. As it wore on it became more about straight-up action, while BioShock: Infinite of course opted for all-out colour throughout. I admire Infinite for that, for trying to steer clear of the series’ own tropes, but at the same it hamstrung itself. We were supposed to believe there was a happy, bright society but which had monsters and murderers lurking in every corner. The switching between light and dark, often mere metres and moments apart, often made it feel unreal.

Some have argued this was deliberate, that Infinite really was trying to be a theme park, but even if that is the case I’m not sure the results were entirely effective. Some of the light sections – particularly the long stretch centred around the leisure beach – were hugely memorable, and it would be a shame if the series abandoned such attempts at life, but what we didn’t see was a real sense that this might be lost. If there are to be monsters, make them monstrous, not unexciting armed men who arrive from nowhere, the stage neatly cleared for them. I want fear back. The fear of what’s around the corner. The fear of what motivates this place. The fear of who’s watching me. The fear that I might be making a bad situation worse.

Go smaller, not bigger

BioShock 2 is, with hindsight, the most conceptually successful of the series, and I think that can be at least partially ascribed to its narrowed focus. It picked a smaller tale that existed purely within Rapture, was entirely resolved by the conclusion and in the main did not require huge leaps of faith or after-the-fact theorising. DLC Minerva’s Den went even further, a vignette almost untouched by the wider events and wilder ideas.

That’s the direction I’d like the next BioShock to take: a new place, and a tale which never seeks to go beyond that place. Lore is for the most fervent fans, but events are for everyone. Make the place real, make its stories rock-solid, don’t aspire to be everything, don’t strive for cosmic significance. There is power enough in places.

113 Comments

  1. Pazguato says:

    Well, I would prefer a new IP. Three games of whatever are enough.

    • JP says:

      this.

    • Shazbut says:

      Yep

    • trashmyego says:

      This. I have zero trust in a publisher living up to the narrative peaks of these games. Just don’t. Not that it will stop them from beating the name of these substantial works into a dead horse of mediocrity for the sake of money.

    • NomadSoul says:

      Exactly what I was thinking when I saw this. Rather than “Have a brand new setting, entirely disconnected from the other games” why not just create a new game! Levine did this when he created Bioshock as a spiritual successor to System Shock. I think Levine tried to tie everything up so tightly with the DLC so that 2K couldn’t create another Bioshock once he was gone. If they insist on creating another title, it should be a spiritual successor rather than cannon that builds on the previous titles.

    • jezcentral says:

      Hitman Blood Money, Grand Theft Auto 4, Metal Gear Solid 5 etc would like a word.

      (Sims 4, FIFA, Call of Duty, Battlefield etc are hiding, because they don’t support my argument.)

    • Rumpelstilskin says:

      That’s a pretty silly name anyway. I’m surprised “BioSchlock” jokes are not as common as they could have been.

    • Scratches Beard With Pipe Stem says:

      Broaden the IP: give Elizabeth a cameo in every 2K game from now on.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      Two was enough. The third already felt like reheated leftovers, even before the cringey attempt to handwave the re-retreading of the same themes with some pseudy mysticism.

  2. Jacksauce says:

    I would rather have a rabid wolverine use my genitals as a chew toy than listen to Taylor Swift, but that’s just me.

    • bee says:

      No, it’s not just you

    • falula says:

      Haters gonna hate hate hate ;)

    • criskywalker says:

      Shake it off!

    • grrrz says:

      didn’t know who Taylor Swift was until I read this comment and googled it. sometimes you’ve got to love blissful ignorance.

    • Jackablade says:

      If they were to keep the historical setting and run Taylor Swift through the filter that they used for the likes of The Beach Boys, Tears for Fears and Cyndi Lauper, the result could be quite tolerable.
      link to youtube.com

      • hemmer says:

        Also Postmodern Jukebox: link to youtube.com

        I personally can’t understand people hating so much on an artist, I for one like my genitals attached to the rest of my body.

        Not a fan of the lady but to each his own and everything for me, as my grandpa used to say.

  3. Jason Lefkowitz says:

    BioShock 1 drew some fire because of the Manichean nature of its major choice – whether you consumed or saved Little Sisters – but as it happens I agree with the assertion that if you kill even just one little girl in order to make your own life easier then yes, you are a monster. The trouble is that it’s a hard choice parachuted in at prescribed moments, with a prescribed outcome, rather than one which reflects your general behaviour.

    I would argue that the main problem with the Little Sisters moral-dilemma mechanic is that it really wasn’t a hard choice. You learn quickly that there’s more than enough resources around for you to never feel squeezed if you spare them, so you can spare them and congratulate yourself on what a good person you are without any real downside.

    In real life, people do all sorts of terrible things in desperate situations they would never imagine themselves doing. A hard choice would be putting you in a situation like that, a situation so desperate that you start to reconsider whether you can afford to cart your moral compass around with you anymore. That’s what this kind of mechanic needs in order to have impact by forcing the player to confront themselves.

    • epeternally says:

      Agreed. Bioshock 2 suffers from this as well, there’s absolutely no incentive to make the morally ‘bad’ choices.

    • Shazbut says:

      Out of interest, can you think of a single game which presents the player with a moral choice whereby the ethical route makes the game significantly harder on any level, let alone to the point where it’s a struggle to continue?

      • MrBehemoth says:

        I think this only works when there isn’t really an option. Like it seems like you can choose to do the “good” thing, but the circumstances are so desperate that it is impossible to. E.g., if in Bioshock there really weren’t enough resources available to avoid acting monstrously, even though the game signals you that you these resources should exist out there, you should have done better, you have chosen a weak, cowardly and selfish way out …Then it would mirror the kind of moral dilemmas that can occur in real life and make people resort to terrible things.

        On the other hand, do these binary choices actually exist to allow us to experience a moral dilemma, or do they exist to provide us with an opportunity to be magnanimous?

      • Yukiomo says:

        Crusader Kings II might be a decent answer? It’s usually possible to do well and expand in the game without being too terrible a person (at least by the standards of an aristocratic medieval ruler). But you can encounter situations pretty frequently where you want to acquire some new piece of land and options are either (1) wait a long time and risk any number of unforeseen things happening, or (2) murder several children.

        It’s not necessarily the case that not murdering said children will make you lose the game, but it is true that being a better person is the much harder option.

        • Shazbut says:

          Thanks for the comment. I might try that game again. I was too intimidated the first time

      • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

        Pathologic. Obviously not exactly a AAA shooter but it gets morality bang on by not having a ‘morality system’ just really pushing your survival hard and against the clock so you end up making horrible, selfish decisions to stay alive. Choosing not to kill, or rob children of food makes the game harder. Really hope they cracking the remake of this so more people experience it’s harrowing brilliance.

        • Shazbut says:

          Pathologic occured to me after I posted that. Ice Pick Lodge games are a rare case where one doesn’t know if they’ve made enough poor decisions to render the game unwinnable. It might almost be nicer if they rubbed in your face a little more the consequences of unnecessary cruelty.

      • CrazyMoai says:

        Definitely “This War of Mine”.

        Would you steal an old couple’s medicine and food?

        And what if you are starving, have one ill person of your group back in your base and do not have time to go anywhere else this night?

        I have played many times trying to live up to my moral standards AND survive but I always find myself doing something grey at least after a few days.

        • Shazbut says:

          Does it make it more difficult or is it just a case of, if you don’t rob them, you’ll die? It seemed that way to me

          • CrazyMoai says:

            well, you could choose never to go to their home and expend your night elsewhere. It is possible to scavenge things from destroyed buildings or make homemade items that you can latter barter for food.

            There is also other “inocent” people that are less of a moral trouble to steal from. Like three scared as hell girls that are parapeted on their home and shot any trespaser at first sight. I have no moral problem stealing from them but I always leave them some food. Hoever never thought of killing them.

            The more strict you are with yourself the harder it is. I would not say that is not doable playing as a paragon but yes really really difficult and in a way less real. I loved to see how while I took what I needed for living one day more I also tended to show generosity as soon as I could.

          • mouton says:

            It depends how are you doing at the moment. I never attacked those old folks, but that’s because for all its supposed greyness the game makes it easy to figure out who is “the bad guys”. Usually, in every occupied location, you will get to overhear a conversation. Plenty of “evil” targets will boast about robbing aid convoys, committing murders etc. so that you can easily waltz in and stab everyone with clear conscience. I wish it was less clear, but it is a great experience regardless.

      • ironhorse says:

        Life is strange. Sometimes it feels like you’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t. Definitely the most impactful and difficult decision making I’ve made in a game.

      • NZLion says:

        Honestly I found that to be the case with InFamous on PS3
        I am not good at aiming with a control pad, so the evil route (which is lots of AoE but causes a lot of collateral damage) was doable for me, while the good route (which requires precision aim) was an exercise in frustration that I was never able to complete

      • klops says:

        Age of Decadence. First-fallout-esque Rome-ish themed CRPG. I wouldn’t say that the game becomes impossible by being good but you usually miss stuff (XP, power, quests, lore) if “doing the right thing”.

        Asshole asks you to kill an innocent man:
        Yes -> you get much needed XP (important!) and 2000 gold (lots). Asshole becomes a lord
        No -> “thank you” from the innocent man.

      • Werthead says:

        Satellite Reign. You can choose not to mind-enslave innocent pedestrians and then use them as raw material for your agents’ future clones, but in doing so you massively limit your character’s ability to recover after tough battles.

        Later on in the game, after you upgrade the skill, you can hijack enemy soldiers and agents instead, but for most of it choosing the “moral” option would seriously hurt you and make the game extremely challenging.

      • quietone says:

        Papers, please.

      • noodlecake says:

        Games without consequences for your moral actions can. In Metal Gear Solid: Phantom Pain I tend to hold up guards, get the information I want, check to see what their skills are and then if they aren’t useful I blow their brains out and hide their body so there’s no chance of them waking up again and causing a stir.

        The first few times I did this I felt like a terrible, sick human being but it eventually just became procedure. Before that I just rescued everyone and sent them back to my base but it was taking a long time.

      • Archelon says:

        I’d have a couple of choices for “ethical choices making the game harder” here:

        1) Dogmeat in the original Fallout. He’s been with you for a long time (probably) and is your faithful companion, but breaking into the final base is many times harder with him by your side and you can’t just make him “sit” and stay outside- I remember having to slog my way through, constantly healing him when he passed through those evil forcefields. A lot of people just killed him. I recall you were actually supposed to kill him.

        2) Heather from Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. She offers to become your slave when you save her, and I remember thinking “sure, I saved her life, she owes me so I’ll keep her around for a while then let her return to her normal college life.” Nothing major. But she was so useful to keep around and I became more and more casually accepting. Then she got killed by baddie vampires and I realized I was a fucking monster for not sending her home earlier like I promised myself I would. One of the few times I’ve shocked myself in a game.

    • Rizlar says:

      In real life, people do all sorts of terrible things in desperate situations they would never imagine themselves doing.

      Do they though? Bit of a segue, but this bit of received wisdom doesn’t necessarily seem borne out by reality, where people in extreme situations often behave more selflessly than they would have expected. It seems like people do terrible things when a group mentality is involved, they are expected or coerced into doing it.

      Dunno though, it would be interesting to see the evidence for or against the idea.

      • gwathdring says:

        My thinking as well. It certainly makes for a better story when someone finds their breaking point and then has to deal with the ramifications of that, but most people in dire straights still don’t want to hurt or abuse other people just like most people aren’t going to saw their own arm off to get out of a jam.

        Hope is a very powerful thing, not always to it’s bearer’s benefit.

    • malkav11 says:

      You actively get more resources from sparing them than harvesting them, I believe, because sparing them leads to gifts of Adam (which I believe are largely in keeping with the amount you get by harvesting the same number of Little Sisters) and also special upgrades and such you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Which makes it a total no-brainer to save them all.

      If they really wanted to emphasize it as a hard choice, you should have gotten little to no Adam from saving them. Maybe have a few places later in the game where you can get certain things for free that you could have spent Adam on earlier, but leave you underpowered in comparison.

      • Rumpelstilskin says:

        Up until the first gift it does work as a hard choice though. Maybe that’s all it was supposed to be. I mean, does it matter a whole lot if you murder 2 or 20 little girls? If anything, the latter would make it more of a ‘game mechanic’ than a moral decision.

        • malkav11 says:

          Only if you haven’t read anything about the game. And in the modern age, you really can’t rely on the audience for your game coming in completely fresh past the first, eh, week or so of launch.

          • Rumpelstilskin says:

            That’d qualify as a major spoiler IMO, but any narrative event can be spoiled. I guess the main problem is if people (reviewers in particular) don’t see it as such and find it necessary to mention without spoiler warnings.

          • malkav11 says:

            To me it’s a mechanical spoiler if any sort, and that’s not something people care nearly as much about in discussion. It was definitely something I knew about Bioshock before I ever played it, and I played it pretty close to release.

    • Muzman says:

      A whole lot of its argument about the validity of that moral judgement the game foists on you would be much better made if the act itself was rendered in some way other than just a typical game choice. Or even a less-than-game-choice of PG vapor to little to no impact.

      And, no, the argument that the whole point is that you treat it like a game choice but are then shocked by the game’s moral absolutism into some higher moral space than other games is garbage. That angle seems to give a certain credence to notions that game morality should be measured the same as real life morality and that’s why games create unfeeling killers yadda yadda.

      No no no. Killing little girls (of dubious little girl status) in video games is not and cannot be absolutely wrong in the abstract. Video games craft their own moral landscape and we are used to them doing so. If you want to actually be different and make some meta point about that you have to actually do it.
      So you’re partly trapped into a monstrous act by your wider video game experience, in some larger point about a morality games don’t often deal with and freedom of choice. Ok, great. Then show it. The first little sister, if you harvest her, should drum this home. Her corpse should be left behind permanently, say in some hub area you have to repeatedly pass through as you progress through the game. All while you learn the nature of the sisters, what alternative options were really available to you and so on. Then, by the end, you might conclude by yourself that indeed you did something monstrous and should be damned. And if not the game’s narrative judgement would have a better argument. That would be something.

      Oh, but it’s yucky and ratings… Well bad luck then. Guess you’re just a cool environment for a not great shooter with delusions of grandeur.

  4. rcguitarist says:

    You know what the next bioshock will be, the answer is clear as day. It will be a multiplayer-only call of duty gameplay-like shooter. Level up your big daddy to unlock new weapons or buy a shortcut for $5.

  5. mrentropy says:

    I’d be happy if they went back to System Shock.

    • Blake Casimir says:

      Same here. I have no interest or desire to play another Ken Levine game, let alone another BioShock, after the vacuous mess that was Infinity.

      System Shock 3 please. Moddable. I want tons of spaceships to explore and lots of SHODANs to fight. Problem is a first person immersive sim allowing a lot of character design freedom, exploration and possible emergent gameplay isn’t what most devs want to make or are capable of making. It aint exactly low hanging fruit, after all.

  6. noodlecake says:

    I’m not sure they could keep the same feel without sticking to 1800-1950 style decoration. Maybe they could, but I’m a massive fan of Art Deco and Victorian design so I have a bit of a bias!

    Bioshock has a much prettier art style (imo) than Fallout, although I am a fan of Fallout 3/Vegas too.

    • criskywalker says:

      Maybe some gothic art in the future? I would love to see a dark cathedral with stained glass windows in a Moon colony city.

      • Malice the Hierarch of Anarchy and Terror says:

        Yeah, I would like to see a lunar colony. But gothic lunar city setting reminds me of Warhammer 40k.
        I think late Cold War era communist lunar city would be great.

  7. Xocrates says:

    Hmm… Agree some, disagree some, but the one I want to expand upon is the last one.

    “Go smaller, not bigger” doesn’t apply just to the Bioshock, but to games in general. There’s a tendency for escalation that is not healthy, and in several cases made some games visibly worse.

    Frankly, being able to tell a small, intimate, believable, story is half the reason Gone Home worked at all, while Bioshock Infinite’s DLC attempt at explaining everything made it feel like some self aggrandizing Fan-Fiction.

    And I agree, this is why 2 works. Both the original and Infinite are “big idea” games, and a lot of nuance was lost in the noise.

    • gwathdring says:

      Also see Arkham City the controversial state of the Open World genre …

      Definitely with you here. :\

      • gwathdring says:

        Sorry, Arkham Knight. City was an effective use of the open world concept, I think,

        • Jackablade says:

          It still lost a lot of the tight focused design that worked so well in Asylum.

      • noodlecake says:

        I can’t remember which Arkham game is which apart from the first one. I thought they lost a lot in the second game by moving to an “open world” at all. I was very anxious about the Witcher 3 for the same reason after The Witcher 2 was so ridiculously excellent, but with 3 they just filled the world with a ridiculous amount of top quality content to a degree that I didn’t think was even possible.

  8. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    With you on just about all points, except for the non-plausibility of the sci-fi elements.

    The over-the-top ridiculousness of it all- the idea of buying things like telekinesis, high explosives and the ability to shoot bees from your hands from vending machines… that’s what Bioshock is.

    • Bastimoo says:

      That’s exactly what I thought. The most brilliant parts of Bioshock were when the game was NOT logical and the scenes were mad.

      I loved it whenever I got a glimpse at a different parallel universe, the future or the past via tears and the powers are just part of it. Take it away and you got a regular shooter, which I would not want to play.

  9. falula says:

    That’s just, like, your opinion, man.

  10. Shazbut says:

    Bioshock is done, it is DONE! No IP could ever be more done.

  11. Grant says:

    I feel like some of these recommendations really miss the strengths of the Bioshock games that made anyone love them in the first place. If you took the period piece, the combat, the mysticism and the ambition out of the games they’d just be underwater horror games which would be ok I guess but a totally different fanbase.

    Also period pieces as a way for us to reflect on things happening in the present is brilliant. I don’t think any video game announcement has excited me more than “So we’re going to set it in 1912 America, the sun is shining, nationalism is at a fever pitch, and the Chicago World Fair flew away because it was too racist and aggressive to deal with the rest of the country.” I can’t imagine topical commentary on celebrity culture or Donald Trump saying anything nearly as interesting about America as that.

    • ironhorse says:

      The combat in Infinite definitely did not “make” the game.. it distracted from it, interrupted it, and occasionally slowed it down – annoyingly so. Everything else was gold though.

    • Zekiel says:

      Agree, somewhat. I think its unrealistic to expect them to lesson the focus on shooting – much as it would be nice to be able to talk to people, its not how triple-A action games work. They could come up with a situation (like Bioshock, and unlike BInfinite) where shooting everyone makes more sense though.

      I’m also ambivalent about setting in the modern day – I think the anachronistic period stuff is part of the charm of the series. There’s plenty more you could do with that – Victorians on the moon for instance. The most important thing, I’d say, is to not return to Rapture. We’ve effectively had 3 games there (including Burial at Sea as one) and its definitely played out. There’s lots more unique settings you could go for, and to me, the Bioshock series’ greatest strength is in creating an interesting world to explore.

  12. GameCat says:

    I just want Bioshock with Dishonoured gameplay, please.

  13. kwyjibo says:

    I’d like them to fire the writer of Bioshock Infinite.

  14. Freud says:

    The Bioshock series is probably most overrated game series in the last decade. It looks fantastic, but the stories are (beyond the “twist”, which you have zero way to influence) not that interesting and the shooting mechanics are below average.

    The universal praise of Bioshock: Infinite is baffling to me. It’s weaker than the other two games.

    • Pazguato says:

      Only played the first but I found it greatly overrated.

      Personally, I’d include The last of us in the most overrated games (soon series) in the last decade.

    • malkav11 says:

      Where are you finding universal praise of Infinite? Because while I think such praise would be richly deserved (I loved that game, Burial at Sea and all), I’ve rarely seen such scorn heaped upon a game on the internet.

      • Freud says:

        It has 94% rating on Metacritic, making it a top 15 ranked game in PC history.

        • Nereus says:

          By what metric is it weaker? I enjoyed Infinite significantly more than both Bioshock 1 and 2. Both the Rapture-set games were capable of keeping my attention but were always easy to put down. I didn’t feel the same with Infinite. Mind you I havn’t played the DLC, and I have heard really good things about Minervas Den.

          • Razumen says:

            Infinite had worse combat, less emphasis on environmental interaction (rifts were the extent of it in Infinite), Plasmids were less varied and interesting in Infinite (A lot of them basically accomplished the same thing), weaker story (in my mind), and the AI companion wasn’t anywhere as revolutionary as they touted it to be (glorified health/ammo box basically).

        • malkav11 says:

          It mostly reviewed well, yes. There’s been an enormous (and, in my opinion, mostly undeserved) backlash since.

    • Zekiel says:

      I disagree. The shooting mechanics were mediocre (particularly in Infinite) but the first and third games created an original place marvellously. Sure, it was all window dressing (particularly in Infinite) but it looked and felt like nothing else. I think that is a fantastic triumph and something that was rightfully praised highly.

      • Pazguato says:

        To create an original place is a great achievement but not makes a great game.

  15. Enfuego says:

    My first thought was Papers, Please. Although it’s not a shooter, the moral quandary it perpetually presents to the player is central to its success as a game.

  16. aircool says:

    Something new please… maybe cyberpunk or something that hasn’t been done for a while.

  17. Turkey says:

    It would be nice if they lost the amnesiac fish out of water shtick. Make the character a regular person who’s only goal is to survive whatever the new disaster is.

  18. iniudan says:

    Actually would prefer they keep the period element, but I just want From the Earth to the Moon to be the inspiration for the set up of Bioshock, as it’s pretty much the next logical step anyway.

  19. Jalan says:

    Looking at the concept art for the canned film just makes me depressed.

  20. death_au says:

    It sounds like what you want (and what I would really like to see, also) is a game based on the original Bioshock pitch: link to irrationalgames.com

  21. Raoul Duke says:

    So basically you want a game that isn’t Bioshock… Why not just find a different game instead of demanding that they take the setting, themes, gameplay and underlying philosophies out of an entertaining and interesting series. It’s like saying you want the next Mass Effect to lose the space setting and combat and not deal with the question of when violence is justified.

  22. w0bbl3r says:

    I was with you on the modern setting until you pointed out “wouldn’t you rather play with Taylor Swift playing in the speakers” kind of thing.
    Then I realised that a modern day bioshock would be a terrible idea.
    Maybe one set just slightly behind. Say in the 70’s. Maybe the 80’s at a push. When music was still decent. Or at least when there still was SOME decent music being made.
    Wandering around a 1980’s style rapture kind of setting, with Kate Bush playing the man with the child in his eyes…. now THAT would be something.

    • Razumen says:

      Lol, there’s still great music being made, it’s just not “popular” music.

  23. Jambe says:

    That was all pretty agreeable to me save the section against period settings. I don’t necessarily disagree, but 3 concerns:

    1) sometimes temporal continuity is a fine, even helpful thing (“OK I’m familiar with this, and this, and thi—OH WAIT YOU CHANGED THINGS!”)

    2) oftentimes contemporaneity is lazy or outright distracting (e.g. “kids don’t talk like that”).

    3) it’s on a line with neophilia/neomyopia which is, I find, peculiarly annoying, though there’s no accounting for taste.

  24. mcbob13 says:

    What I want from another Bioshock is, Nothing. I’d rather have something new. Biohock has run it’s course, just let it be and don’t ruin the series like Assassin’s Creed, or Far Cry.

    • Nereus says:

      But they havn’t even shown you the 5 billion weapon varieties you can loot from random containers in Bioshock 3!

  25. perilisk says:

    Personally, I want a new System Shock, though I know publishers are leery of old IPs. I did have an idea for a plot/setting/characters that could be used to link the two universes and stealth launch a new System Shock while marketing it as a Bioshock (and legitimately being honest about it), if 2K ever got the System Shock rights. The story twist would more of a conventional Total Recall/Matrix type thing, but the meta-twist would be that the whole time you spent in settings that looked a lot like Rapture and Columbia, you were actually still in the System Shock universe.

  26. Frank says:

    I want a game not written by Ken Levine. Oh, that’s a go? Excellent.

  27. Jason Moyer says:

    “And hell, wouldn’t you play a BioShock where the speakers played Taylor Swift instead of Bobby Darin?”

    No, not really. I’d play a WhateverShock where the soundtrack was done by GYBE! though.

  28. Jackablade says:

    If they let Jhonen Vasquez concept the entire game, then all would be forgiven.

  29. Nereus says:

    Here’s what I don’t understand. 2k effectively shut Irrational Games down. The message there being “You don’t make games that sell well enough to cover development costs” so next move “Hey we should make more of those games that don’t sell well enough to cover development costs, but this time remove the creative talent that made them so good in the first place.”

    So, they’re bringing back Bioshock so they can run it into the ground by restricting its budget and throwing unrelated developers at the theme? I really hate the state of AAA games where even sequels to IP’s deemed not successful enough are a more ideal choice than a new IP.

  30. Zekiel says:

    “One of the joys of the first game, at least at first, was experimenting with Plasmid and weapon combinations, setting traps and chaining attacks. This wasn’t lost in subsequent games, but it wasn’t meaningfully furthered.”

    I would argue that this WAS lost in Bioshock Infinite. The weapons were more limited (boring in comparison with Bioshock 2, limited variety in comparison to Bioshock since there was no alt-ammo and only 2 available at any time). The plasmids were more limited – your only ability to control your environment was through Possession. I think this was a significant factor in making BInfinite’s combat fairly repetitive.

    • Razumen says:

      Yep, for the most part there was only two forms for each vapor, a projectile version and a trap one. Not necessarily bad per say, but there really wasn’t much distinction from each vapor to the next, they all pretty much functioned identically that it turned into a flavour of the minute type of deal..

  31. Zekiel says:

    I think what I’d most like them to do with a new Bioshock game is:

    1) Come up with a brand new original setting that’s never been done in a videogame before

    2) Bring back the interconnected systems of 1 and 2 which allowed you to control your environment. By this I mean that fact that splicers and Big Daddies could be lured into fighting each other; you could [permenantly] hack turrets and cameras, while there was a plasmids that turned the security systems against splicers… lots of ways to cleverly turn the environment to your advantage, which were all lost in Infinite (where your only options were “choose something for Elizabeth to magic in” and “possess something temporarily”).

  32. Deadly Habit says:

    I want another System Shock not Bioshock.

    • Razumen says:

      Agreed! At least make a spiritual successor that actually plays like the originals for crissake…

  33. bill says:

    [i have only played Bioshock 1, so take that for what it’s worth]

    I don’t want them to ditch the period setting. That and the lovely art style was a large part of what made the game stand out for me. It was such a refreshing change from most other FPS.

    On the other hand, it would be nice to see a new setting. (though god knows how they can come up with another one that is original).

    All I ever really wanted from Bioshock was for it to change into Deus Ex after the big twist. And that’s kind of all I want now.. something less linear and audio-loggy, and more open world (not in the Ubisoft sense! in the Deus Ex / Bloodlines sense).

    Yeah, basically I want the structure and npcs of Bloodlines, with the setting and style of something bio-shocky. No vampires or melee combat though.

  34. Razumen says:

    Wait, what did Bioshock Infinite attempt that other big-budget shooters do not? It wasn’t even better than the first Bioshock gameplay wise…

    • Nereus says:

      Narrative. The last FPS with a narrative close to or better than (Better than, definitely) was Half Life 2 in my opinion. I enjoyed Crysis and Far Cry 2 more than both games (HLD and Bioshock Inf.) but not for narrative purposes.

      • Razumen says:

        How was it better? I don’t recall much of Infinite being innovative in terms of narrative.

  35. CutieKnucklePie says:

    “And hell, wouldn’t you play a BioShock where the speakers played Taylor Swift instead of Bobby Darin?”

    D: Egads no.

  36. mactier says:

    “Good, I’m glad: the games so far have had downs as well as ups to say the least,”

    What a strange thing to say. Ups and downs seems to be the whole extent and maybe a little going too far. They were all very solid, to say the least, and the majority (two of three) truly excellent titles (on the whole).

    It’s just that weird perception discrepancy when not having been so deep into gaming culture for a while (against my will) and then seeing some so overparticular statement, which is full of a long stream reasoning in constant proximity with these things..

    “The switching between light and dark, often mere metres and moments apart, often made it feel unreal.”

    I think they were going for the “violence inherent in the system”-thing, if you know what I mean. I didn’t think it felt unreal or was ineffective at all.

  37. NephilimNexus says:

    First they smashed down a false libertarian utopia, then they smashed down a fake neo-confederate utopia. I want to see them wipe out Portland next.

  38. czerro says:

    Personally, Infinite was a disaster for me. Bioshock 1 and 2 were very enjoyable, though I did find Rapture to be fascinating and compelling in the original, it kinda lost it’s shine in the sequel. Concept fatigue.

    I dunno that there can be a ‘successful’ Bioshock 3. I’m sure it will be financially successful, but will dead-end the series.

    They need an evolution just as Bioshock delivered over System Shock. This would require ditching the entire Bioshock intellectual property and coming up with something new. Since that is essentially ditching the IP, they won’t do that.

    What 2k owns right now is a license to little sisters, and Big Daddies, and a wonderful, but kinda exhausted landscape. I don’t see a future in a Bioshock title accept many years down the line when it could be rebooted and the palette cleansed.

  39. MrDarkboy2010 says:

    So… You want Bioshock to be more like Dishonored.

    I can Dig it.

  40. Cbeau says:

    “Have a brand new setting, entirely disconnected from the other games” — That’s pretty much what Ken Levine tried to do with every game, until they twisted his arm on Bioshock 2.

    “Lose the period setting, but keep the cultural overtones” — Bioshock in essence IS vintage environments. Perhaps System Shock is more up your alley. This is Bioshock, and will cease to be Bioshock if this is removed.

    “Embrace non-combat” — No, I refuse. I didn’t sign up for a stealth game. I get my stealth kicks in other places. Bioshock is CARNAGE. Since the first, all I’ve wanted to do is bust into a room and start murdering. This is the NUMBER ONE feature that has drawn me back twice now–the combat.

    “Lose the mysticism” — Are you batshit F’ing crazy? Without sea slugs, time travel, or any other significant science fiction replacement for these concepts, these games would have fallen flat on their faces and been lost in a sea of FPS realism.

    You made one valid point here..and it’s only that Bioshock Infinite lacked the fear of its predecessors. As for your closing statement about Bioshock 2 staying true to some perfect formula you think you have rattling around in your head–total BS. Bioshock 2 was the worst of the entire franchise, System Shock excluded. I view it merely as DLC for Bioshock 1 (making it some of the best DLC ever created.) It’s a stale rehash with a slightly more than decent story. Combat went to shit. Plasmids went to shit. Guns went to shit.