2K Games have announced the foundation of a new development studio called Cloud Chamber. While this news on its own might not be too exciting, there was an addition that has me especially excited. A new Bioshock game is on its way!
The last installment to come in the series was Bioshock Infinite in 2013. A remaster of all three games later came to current consoles, but the series has been silent since Ken Levine changed up Irrational Games to be a smaller studio, now named Ghost Story Games. With a completely new team taking the mantle on Bioshock now, what do we want from the series? (SPOILERS AHEAD!)
A New Setting
The Bioshock series is known for making great new settings. The first and second game took place in a city under the sea called Rapture. There was nothing else in games that captured a dark, dystopian city like Rapture. Bioshock Infinite was set in the sky-city of Columbia, at the beginning of a revolution that quickly turns dark itself.
While I love my time spent in Rapture and Columbia, I want somewhere new. A new dystopian city that can fit in with the previous ones, but is different. Maybe potentially a city in space? Underground? In a cave? Jungle? There are plenty of ways the next Bioshock could go.
Tears to Different Realities
Bioshock Infinite opened up the story to include the multiverse. The only rule is, “There is always a lighthouse. There is always a man.” Sticking with the previous entry, this means the next game can go anywhere as long as it includes those two components. That doesn’t mean we have to be stuck to one location though.
While the Elizabeth we know from Bioshock Infinite is dead, another version of her can take her place. If not her, the Lutece twins are still in and out of space and time. We never saw what became of them. We only know they can travel between realities at will, pulling people through with them like they did the many versions of Booker. While I want a new setting that will introduce new bad guys, it is not a Bioshock game if I do not get a glimpse of a Big Daddy and Little Sister in Rapture. Bonus points if I see Songbird flying through the air.
The gameplay in the Bioshock games slowly continues to improve as the games go on. The first game’s combat introduced plasmids, which were essentially superpowers. Bioshock 2 lets you wield plasmids and your guns at the same time. Bioshock Infinite added tears in to give combat more variety and you could combine plasmids for combo effects. What can the next game do?
The latest Bioshock could add more environmental hazards to the formula. Infinite had a few examples of interacting with the environment to dispose of enemies, but it felt like a small addition. I also would enjoy being able to dual-wield guns or plasmids. So far, you have had to have one gun and one plasmid equipped at all times. What if you could run through the city with a pistol in one hand and an SMG in the other? What if you could join your plasmids into one bigger attack that takes advantage of both sides of it? That would open combat up much more, and give players more decisions in how they can progress.
More Diverse Plasmids/Tonics
Plasmids and tonics are one of the iconic mainstays in the Bioshock series. That being said, a bigger range of powers to choose from would be appreciated. All three games include your normal fire and electric powers, but also have some interesting ones thrown in like Bee Swarm or Charm which allows you to brainwash your enemies. I hope the next Bioshock goes further with this. As stated above, combining the blasts into one bigger blast would be awesome, so hopefully, there would be enough there to experiment with.
Plasmids affecting the environment more would be nice to see as well. In the past, it has been largely stuck to putting fire in an oil spill or electrifying a body of water. I think it would be interesting to let the developer get creative and put puzzles throughout the city to pass. No power in an area? Shock it to turn on the machines. Need an item up high? Call in some beast to fetch it for you. Again, the infinite reality setting gives the developers so much freedom to work with.
Anyone who has played the Bioshock games knows about the Big Daddy and Songbird. They are the poster children for their respective games. That being said, the next game will need an example of that: some ending result of gene-splicing a man into a monster that will get the player’s heart running every time they come in contact. Splicers and the Vox Populi are decent fodder for enemies, but what truly makes fights stand out in Bioshock are enemies like Big Sisters or Motorized Patriots. These are enemies that make you earn the right to continue on your journey.
Take More RPG Cues
In the past Bioshock has largely relied on basic first-person shooting mechanics, with a few twists to get it to where it currently is. I would like to see the new game try to incorporate minor RPG elements to change up the formula. In the past, you purchase upgrades for your plasmids/tonics that make them more powerful and potentially add a new feature to them. I want Cloud Chamber to take this a step further: more ways to customize my powers and guns, so it doesn’t feel like I am constantly going to the same moves over and over again.
Putting RPG elements into the character would be interesting, as well. We have always seen plasmids shot out from the hand, but what if there was one that made your skin more durable to attacks? This and other ideas of adding in “passive” powers could make the game more enjoyable. What if you could fly for a short distance to give yourself the height advantage over the enemy? There are so many ways the powers can be changed up to give you more choices. Guns can be changed up as well. Incorporate new attachments to make full auto guns one-shot or burst. Add plasmid powers into the bullets themselves. Just try something different. Do not reinvent the game. Add things to accompany what is already there.
Keep the Focus on Single Player
Finally, Bioshock needs to remain a single-player game all the way through. I am as big of a fan of cooperative games as anyone you will find, but Bioshock’s chilly atmosphere is best when you are alone. Also, no competitive multiplayer. Bioshock 2 tried it, and while it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. I want a full-focus single-player campaign that challenges what I know of that world and draws me in more the further I go. Essentially what I am saying here is, please do NOT Fallout 76 this, Cloud Chamber.