Few games have had as much of an impact as BioShock, and fewer still are able to keep the quality and momentum going as the franchise expands. In what ways did the first BioShock stand out? How did they develop it further in the sequels? When can we expect to see the next installment in the series?
Find out by reading on!
Time of Publication: August 21, 2007
Playable Systems: PS3, PS4, XBox 360, XBox One, PC, Mac, & Mobile Devices
The first BioShock was hardly a run-of-the-mill game. BioShock is arguably one of the best games ever made, beginning with the story and premise and continuing through the fantastic art direction and engaging gameplay mechanics that combined first-person shooter and role-playing game elements.
You play as Jack, a reserved protagonist who, after surviving a plane crash in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, swims to the surface and learns about the lost city of Rapture. Without a doubt, this anarcho-capitalist dystopia is one of the most remarkable and unforgettable places ever conceived of.
After discovering this utopian underwater city turned totalitarian nightmare, Jack teams up with a mysterious radio voice who calls himself “Atlas,” and recruits Jack to help him save his family and eliminate city founder Andrew Ryan.
Jack must battle splicers, citizens of the city who have become violent addicts thanks to their dependence on the gene-altering substance ADAM, and the game’s signature enemies, the Big Daddies. In and around Rapture, these stalwart guardians of Little Sisters harvest and recycle ADAM.
In addition to morality and politics, the game’s plot also delves into sociological, psychological, and philosophical themes.
In addition to the first-person shooter and role-playing game elements already mentioned, BioShock also includes a variety of weapons and “superpowers” in the form of plasmids, which are reminiscent of those found in classic shooters. Even the weakest enemies are tough to kill, and ammunition is scarce. Rapture’s many challenges necessitate strategic thinking and the maximum utilization of the player’s arsenal, especially on harder difficulties.
Splicers, which come in a variety of forms, make up the bulk of the game’s enemies. Splicers can be armed with melee weapons, firearms, grenades, or stealth, and some can use both ranged and melee attacks while taking significant damage; others, known as Houdini Splicers, use illusions, teleportation, and plasmids to engage the player.
Big Daddies are the game’s signature (mini)bosses, and they appear in two distinct forms: melee (the Bouncer) and ranged (the Rosie). As the sole protectors of the Little Sisters, whom the player must rescue or harvest to obtain ADAM and new abilities, they are the most difficult enemies to kill but also offer the best rewards.
When it comes to video games, BioShock is among the rare few that leave a true legacy. It’s a fantastic adventure from almost any angle, and it was a major factor in video games’ eventual acceptance as a serious artistic medium.
A remastered version of BioShock was released for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2016. The original release supported the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. In 2017, support for macOS was added along with the remaster. The iOS port was released in 2014, but the game was taken down from the App Store because it was incompatible with iOS 7 and later.
Date of publication: February 9th, 2010
PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows, and macOS are all supported platforms.
BioShock 2 was released in 2010, following in the footsteps of the critically acclaimed original. Like the original game, this one is set in Rapture and continues the story begun there. However, this time around the player gets to be the Big Daddy.
In the first scene, a Big Daddy is shown escorting and protecting a Little Sister, a role he often plays in the game. This time, though, the player takes on the role of the stern watcher. The game’s main antagonist, Dr. Sofia Lamb, whose daughter Eleanor Lamb was transformed into a Little Sister, forces the protagonist to shoot himself in the head after a brief glimpse of what Rapture looked like before the fall and a violent encounter with a splicer gang.
Delta, our protagonist, is a Big Daddy prototype who has only ever been bonded to a single Little Sister. Years after his Little Sister has died, he is brought back to life and sets out on a quest through Rapture’s decaying landscapes.
The original BioShock was very accurate in its portrayal of a dystopian society, but it avoided discussing the role of religion in this world by focusing instead on the dangers of libertarianism. In contrast, the dangers of religion and collectivism are front and center in BioShock 2.
The core gameplay remains unchanged from the first BioShock, though the player’s arsenal has been updated. The wrench has been replaced by the Bouncer drill, and the revolver by a compact Rosie Rivet Gun. The other weapons have been modified to better suit the Big Daddy, though they are otherwise similar to the original game. In addition, Delta is able to use plasmids, which are otherwise unchanged from the original game, unlike the Big Daddies she faced in the first game.
Most of the enemies in BioShock 2 are still splicers, and all five types return, but there are also more (mini-)bosses this time around. There are now three distinct Big Daddy designs: the Rumbler, armed with mines, grenades, and a turret; Delta’s own Alpha Series peers; and the Big Sister, who is just as tough as a Big Daddy but much more nimble. In addition, the Minerva’s Den downloadable content added a new Big Daddy variant called the Lancer, which is armed with a potent ion laser.
Even though the player’s character isn’t as bulletproof as regular Big Daddies, BioShock 2 still has the same feel as the original game. In addition, the player can “adopt” and accompany Little Sisters on their mission to harvest ADAM in order to obtain additional ADAM; previously, the only way to gather ADAM was by killing Big Daddies.
Although it is a visually stunning and technically impressive game in its own right, BioShock 2 ultimately falls short of being a worthy sequel to the original. It’s natural for a sequel to fall short of expectations when the bar was set so high by the original. It fails to recreate the mood of the original, but many players find that the gameplay has been greatly improved.
BioShock 2 followed its predecessor’s release pattern of debuting on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC before making the jump to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and a remastered PC release. Meanwhile, in 2012, only the base game was released for macOS.
Date of publication: March 26th, 2013
Game consoles and operating systems supported include PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, Mac, and Linux.
A prequel to the first BioShock game, BioShock Infinite was the third installment in the series. A new location provided a welcome change from the dark, damp, and claustrophobic atmosphere of Rapture, and the gameplay was updated to reflect the rising popularity of first-person shooters. Many, however, thought that Infinite’s strongest suit was in the quality of its story.
The events of BioShock Infinite take place in Columbia, a floating city in the United States, in the year 1912. Infinite’s themes are fitting for the time and place, while the open, bombastic steampunk environments are the polar opposite of Rapture’s dreary underwater halls and corridors. Though it focuses primarily on theocracy, capitalism, and racism, it also broaches a wide range of other topics.
Booker DeWitt, the protagonist, is a former detective and war veteran hired by two shadowy figures to travel to Columbia and bring back a girl named Elizabeth. While there are echoes of the Big Daddy-Little Sister dynamic, Elizabeth is far from being a passive ADAM harvester thanks to her strange space-warping abilities, which can be used to the player’s advantage in combat.
In the end, BioShock Infinite has a more substantial story than its predecessors. Since the main character doesn’t remain silent throughout the game, this makes sense. However, going into greater detail about them would likely ruin some of the game’s surprises.
As was alluded to earlier, BioShock Infinite streamlines and speeds up the combat system. The player’s health is now protected by a shield that replenishes over time, and they are limited to two weapons at once (a change that didn’t sit well with everyone). The “sky-hook” serves as both the primary melee weapon and a means of increased mobility, allowing the player to ride Columbia’s many “sky-lines” and drop in and out of combat as they please.
In addition, “vigors” reappear, playing a role similar to that of plasmids. Their effects have been modified to fit the new combat system and are better suited to fast-paced shootouts than in the previous games, where more strategic planning was required. There is a wide variety of headgear, clothing, and footwear with passive bonuses that can be equipped in BioShock Infinite.
In addition, there are many novel foes to face in this game. While the police and military of Columbia take the place of splicers as the game’s primary foes, several heavy enemies such as the enormous Handymen and the slow but powerful Motorized Patriots take the place of Big Daddies as the game’s minibosses.
BioShock Infinite is the most played game in the series, but whether or not it’s the best is up to the player. The game’s downloadable content (DLC) Burial at Sea featured a two-part story that brought players back to Rapture for the final time in a nostalgic Noir-style sendoff.
The game was initially released for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, personal computer (PC), and Mac OS X, and was later ported to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and re-released on PC in 2016. Prior to that, in 2015, a Linux port was made available.
BioShock: How Long Is Each Game & DLC?
BioShock – 12 Hours
BioShock, the first in the series, has a staggering 96 Metacritic score, putting it in the company of such classics as Half-Life 2 and Resident Evil 4.
The action in BioShock begins right away, with the player being on the receiving end of a plane crash. They will be taken to the fantastic, all-encompassing setting that is the city of Rapture after swimming to a nearby lighthouse. But after seeing a brutal assault, they realize that the city is no paradise after all. Players will spend the next 12 hours exploring the underwater city and listening to the incredible tales it has to tell.
BioShock: Challenge Rooms – 1.5 Hours
Playable downloadable content (DLC) for the original BioShock was BioShock: Challenge Rooms. The new Challenge Rooms feature a variety of challenging environments, as the name suggests, with a focus on combat and puzzle solving. The locations are based on BioShock’s Rapture but don’t provide any new story content.
Players should expect to spend no more than two to four hours on the Challenge Rooms downloadable content. They’re a fun diversion for those who can’t tear themselves away from the main event.
BioShock 2 – 11 Hours
It should come as no surprise that a sequel to BioShock was released only a few years later, given the game’s massive commercial and critical success. Many players were hoping for the ability to play as Big Daddy, and it was finally available in BioShock 2.
Fans loved the concept, but the final product was met with criticism. Many players felt it was inferior to the original. A lot of BioShock 2’s problems can be traced back to the success of its predecessor. If the original hadn’t set such a high bar, the game might have been more well received. It’s still a compelling experience that can be completed in under 12 hours.
BioShock 2: Protector Trials – 1 Hour
BioShock 2: Protector Trials, developed and published by 2K Games, is very similar to the aforementioned BioShock: Challenge Rooms. Players will assume the role of a new Big Daddy in the downloadable content, and their mission will be to shield the Little Sisters while they extract ADAM from the bodies of their enemies.
All six of the DLC’s maps are based on locations from the game’s single-player mode. The average player will spend about an hour on it, while completionists will have about three and a half hours of content at their disposal.
BioShock 2: Minerva’s Den – 4 Hours
The length of BioShock 2: Minerva’s Den exceeds that of its two preceding DLC installments. According to its Main Story length on howlongtobeat.com, it’s also the longest DLC on this list.
The longer playtime of Minerva’s Den suggests a more story-focused experience than that of the aforementioned add-ons. Players will assume control of a new Big Daddy as they investigate Minerva’s Den, a technologically advanced district of Rapture. In addition to exploring the underwater city, players will spend time learning about The Thinker, a supercomputer responsible for operating many of the city’s devices.
BioShock Infinite – 11.5 Hours
Without a doubt, BioShock Infinite has been the most divisive game in the series, if not the most divisive game of the 2010s. While some have called it one of the best FPS games ever made, others have said it was just okay.
The vast majority of reviewers sided with the proponents. The game has won numerous awards, including the Best Shooter award at Spike VGX 201, and has a stellar Metascore of 94.3. BioShock Infinite, like its predecessors, will take the average player a little over 10 hours to finish.
BioShock Infinite: Clash in the Clouds – 3 Hours
After the events of BioShock Infinite, players were left wanting more from the BioShock series. But exploring the world more deeply would have to wait for a while. The initial downloadable content added a Horde-style mode where players had to survive waves of enemies.
Players who liked the game’s combat system will enjoy the challenging DLC. With arcade-style bonuses for things like headshots and multi-kills, it allows them to take on hordes of enemies in each stage.
BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode 1 – 2 Hours
The first of two story-focused DLC packs for BioShock Infinite, Burial at Sea – Episode 1 is available now. Booker DeWitt, the game’s protagonist, returns in this downloadable content that is set before the fall of Rapture.
New weapons and Gears are just a few of the many changes brought to the game by Episode 1 of Burial at Sea. The DLC’s two-hour runtime is disappointing given its $14.99 price tag. However, fans who want to re-immerse themselves in this series’ special universe will find the price justified.
BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode 2 – 3.5 Hours
The events of Episode 1 continue in Episode 2 of BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea. You get to play as Elizabeth as the city of Rapture falls apart around her. The episode is distinct from the rest of the BioShock series due to its focus on survival horror elements and its emphasis on stealth gameplay.
The length of Episode 2 of “Burial at Sea” nearly doubles that of Episode 1. After the narrative-focused Minerva’s Den, this is the longest piece of downloadable content for BioShock.
Despite the franchise’s massive success and cultural impact, Irrational Games (now Ghost Story Games) decided to move on after the release of the BioShock Infinite downloadable content. However, 2K Games still owns the rights to the BioShock IP. Although it was announced in 2014 that a new BioShock would be developed, we have heard nothing further on the subject since then.
Whatever the case may be, BioShock is far from over. New developers have taken over the franchise, and it remains to be seen whether the next game, whenever it may be released, will live up to the standards set by the franchise’s pioneers.