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What This Fan Wants From…Bioshock 4

Bioshock 4

Bioshock 4

We know that developers 2K have been working on Bioshock 4. There has not been a new Bioshock game since Bioshock: Infinite released on consoles back in the PS360 generation. It will likely be years yet before we see any details of what Bioshock 4 might entail. Today though, as a fan of the franchise, here is what this fan wants from Bioshock 4.

Bioshock and Bioshock 2

The first Bioshock game was undoubtedly one of the best single-player game experiences I have ever had. The story, the game world, and the style were just completely engaging. Bioshock was one of the few games where after finishing a playthrough, I immediately wanted to start again. After a few weeks break, I began a hard mode run and loved the game even more on the hardest settings.

Bioshock was a story that revolved around the underwater city of Rapture. Rapture was a city in chaos, after the effects of Plasmids started to take hold. Plasmids were powers that could be generated from a substance taken from underwater slugs. Once these powers began to disseminate across the population, anarchy ensued. Rapture turned from a prosperous social experiment into a living nightmare filled with horrific ADAM addicts. ADAM being the substance used to create Plasmids.

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The player enters the city of Rapture after surviving a plane crash in the Ocean. From there, a story unfolds which sees you battling through the city towards your destiny. Character progression happened by defeating large bosses called Big Daddies who protected Little Sisters. Once defeated players had a choice of whether to save said Little sister, or harvest them for more resources.

The moral choices were one of the defining aspects of Bioshock, yet players were rewarded taking the moral high ground. The ending of the game was then influenced by how you chose to play the game throughout.

Bioshock 2 was made by different developers and never quite achieved the heights of the first game. Players were back in Rapture, but as a different character. Alas, the story was just never quite as interesting and the game focussed too much on set pieces called gathers. Bioshock 2 needed a better story, and less of a linear path to compete with the original.

Bioshock: Infinite

Infinite was very, very different from the previous two games. In this third game, the original team that created Bioshock was back, again led by gaming genius Ken Levine. However, overall I always felt that Bioshock: Infinite was too ambitious and difficult to realise given the console limitations of the time. Infinite was perhaps an even better overall story than fans got in Bioshock, but the game world, and the gameplay were never quite as interesting as that original game.

Bioshock: Infinite was set in the city of Columbia. Columbia was a floating city in the clouds, separated from the rest of the world. Columbia was effectively the dream of a man called Comstock, who was considered a prophet, and it was built just after the American Civil War. The player was a man called Booker, hired to find a woman called Elizabeth, being held by Comstock. I won’t say any more about the story here, but it gets really messed up and in a brilliantly engaging way.

My issues with Bioshock: Infinite were all gameplay related, as said, the story was amazing. However, the game stripped away a lot of the RPG elements of the first two games. No longer did the players have access to a library of weapons and powers. Instead, choices had to be made of what limited number of items you could carry in the game.

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There was also no Bog Daddies in Bioshock: Infinite either. Instead, Daddies were replaced by a character called a Handyman. The Handyman mini-boss was used fleetingly though and failed to create the impact that Big Daddies had before them. The world itself had some issues as well.

Rapture was an underwater city, meaning there were places you couldn’t go which felt natural. After all, you were in the middle of a deep Ocean. Only in the second game could you actually venture into that Ocean environment. Rapture had a way of hemming you in, and making you feel claustrophobic. Yet, Rapture maintained the complete immersion the gamer has with that city because of its naturally restrictive environment.

I think the idea in Bioshock: Infinite was to give the player’s open spaces, but it remained quite linear. My issue was that you could see the game design in practice. Houses you could enter seemed more real and fully built, whereas the buildings you could not enter just seemed like painted walls. There were also invisible walls in parts of Columbia preventing you from going places the developers had not intended. Rapture on the other hand, didn’t need invisible walls, because you were trapped inside a giant tin can.

Bioshock 4

Bioshock 4

There are a few key aspects of the Bioshock franchise that I expect to be included in Bioshock 4. For a start, we have the fact that Bioshock: Infinite introduced us to the Multiverse theory. Gamers found that Rapture, and Columbia were one of many different alternate realities, with only one connection. There is always a man, a girl, and a City. In Bioshock: Infinite that was a pretty obvious reference to Booker, Elizabeth, and Columbia. However, one can also apply this rule to the first and second Bioshock games.

In Bioshock, the man was likely Rapture’s creator Andrew Ryan, as opposed to the player. The girl was probably a number of girls, and the way the game had you rescuing or harvesting Little Sisters. In Bioshock 2, the story revolved around a father’s search for a kidnapped daughter, who had been taken from him. There is more going on there, but I don’t want to spoil the biggest reveals of these games.

So there are key components I want to see from Bioshock 4. A new City, a connection between a man and a woman, and gene splicing superpowers. There is a temptation for 2K to go back to the well and tell us another story set in Rapture, I think this would be a mistake. We have now spent two games in Rapture. We also have DLC for Bioshock: Infinite which took the player back full circle to the first game again. It’s time to visit another city in the Multiverse. The power of the upcoming console generation means 2K can do far more with Bioshock 4.

Space City

I considered tow possibilities when thinking about what kind of city Bioshock 4 should be set. I always felt that the claustrophobic nature of Rapture should be replicated, and there are two choices for me to achieve that. Either have a city underground, or in space, I like the space idea better.

Having the city in space means we have to go a bit farther forward in the timeline. The probable best setting for Bioshock 4 in space would be the late ’70s or ’80s, when the space race was at its height. Imagine the plot of Bond film Moonraker, where a man creates a city in space and takes people way to create a new civilization. Of course, Bioshock 4 would tell the story many years later, after this new society has crumbled into a living Hell. The image above is an nice atmospheric shot from Alien: Isolation to give you an idea of where I am going.

Having Bioshock 4 be set in a space city, also allows an avenue for the superpowers aspect of the gameplay. I imagine the residents of this city discovering an alien species, a species that can provide abilities to those willing to take them. The guns and weaponry could also be upgraded quite considerably from the more historical settings of the previous games. I see a subplot involving alien species and maybe even getting into ‘ray guns’ to lean into that sci-fi genre.

The Gameplay

I want Bioshock 4 to get back to a similar gameplay style as the first Bioshock game had. I would classify Bioshock‘s gameplay as a cross between action RPG, linear shooter, and survival horror. Whereas, Bioshock: Infinite was definitely more of a linear shooter only, and had mild RPG elements and almost no survival horror. I want the story to be as profoundly entertaining as Infinite was, but with all the gameplay elements which made the first Bioshock game so loved by fans.

If I had to pick a few games which could describe what I am looking for? Let’s say Bioshock 4 is a cross between Alien: Isolation, Dead Space, System Shock (a spiritual predecessor), and both Bioshock and Infinite. I want to be under pressure and a little scared when I begin my journey in Bioshock 4, and Alien: Isolation is the most atmospheric and tense game I have ever played. However, I want to have the ability to upgrade myself into a space station conquering kick-ass by the end (see Dead Space). To that end, we need proper boss characters like Big Daddies from the first two games.

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What about semi-sentient alien creatures that protect Little Sisters, hulking beasts who are passive until they or their charge is threatened? Or, some human/alien hybrid, which effectively means humans turned into monsters, just like the Big Daddies.

With modern capabilities, we could have sections where the player has to head out into the vacuum of space to get from point A to point B. However, mostly the player would be confined within the corridors and pathways of the space city. I also definitely want to be able to plan for fights, I loved that aspect of the first game. I could choose when to engage a Big Daddy boss character, so I could set up traps and get myself prepared for a deadly fight. You could smash through Big Daddies with gun power, but I liked the choice.

Audio Diaries become…

One of the aspects which Bioshock entrenched into the games industry was the way the game handled collectibles. Like many other games, there were hidden collectibles scattered throughout Rapture, which if found could provide the player with more story. The genius of these collectibles compared with other games of this era was the fact they were audio. Gone were the moments of finding a hidden spot to sit and read through logs and small human stories. Instead, you could activate the log and listen to it while you carried on with the rest of the game. These audio logs were used to fantastic effect in Bioshock, shaping and widening the story as you progressed through the game.

Video Diaries

When Bioshock 4 releases we will be a few years into the Xbox SeX and PS5 generation. Why not take this idea one step further and also have video logs? I would not want these to replace all audio logs, as then I am back to finding a quiet spot to watch them. However, It would be cool for very specific video logs to be placed in safe areas. With video logs, the developers could not only explain the story, but occasionally show it as well.

It would also be cool to lull the player into believing they are safe when a Video Log is uncovered, only to break that safety dramatically later in the game. Video Logs have already evolved from Bioshock‘s audio diaries idea in some games, with varying degrees of success. Dead Space was an example of video logs done well, and like my ideas here, wasn’t in your face all the time.

I loved learning the story as I progressed in all the Bioshock games and that an aspect I want to see continue into Bioshock 4. The story should be vague and weird to begin with, opening up and making more sense as the game progresses. As with all other Bioshock games, I also want to have a cool twist at the end, something which makes us sit back and go “wow”. Bioshock, and Bioshock: Infinite both had mega moments like this, whereas Bioshock 2 did not, and was a lesser game as a result.

Wrap it up, Fanboy

Bioshock 4

When it comes to Bioshock 4, well, it might be already my most anticipated video game of all time. I’m expecting a work of art from Bioshock 4 given how many years we have waited and the tech advancements. I hope my expectations are not too heady, but I can’t help myself. The game I envision in my head ticks all the boxes of what I would want to see from Bioshock 4 aside from the story.

I have complete faith in 2K to deliver on the story. Instead, I’m trying to focus on what elements of the Bioshock formula need to remain, and which need to change.

Any Bioshock fans out there reading this? What do you want to see from Bioshock 4 when it eventually gets released? Thanks for reading and leave any thoughts you have in the usual place below.

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