Now that the announcement for the continuation of the BioShock franchise has been made, it’s up to us as baseless speculators to decide what would work best. BioShock Infinite abandoned Rapture after the previous two games thoroughly explored the underwater utopia turned deep-sea nightmare. A return to the clouds of Columbia doesn’t seem like it would be reasonable either given the culmination of the story for the third game. So given those roadblocks, I think it’s time to head into orbit.
The idea of a space city using the aesthetic of the 1960s with the space race in full swing seems has a great deal of potential. If anything, the concept might be seen as too ‘on the nose’ for fans to accept. However, the idea of exploring a gigantic orbiting space city could be a wonderful environment for exciting gameplay.
Much like the original BioShock, a space station city could have numerous technical and functional problems. Problems that an astronaut version of a Big Daddy could address. I can just imagine the huge bulky body filling a massive 1960s space suit wielding some kind of huge wrench or a rocket engine-shaped flamethrower. Issues like limited or no gravity and a lack of breathable atmosphere could also exacerbate the threats these monstrosities would pose.
The difficulties of navigating a space station in the form of an elaborate city could be used in so many ways. Much like the rail system of BioShock Infinite, the use of trams, rocket-propelled backpacks, and general low gravity maneuvering would provide exciting moments inside and outside of combat. Even being relegated to areas that still have proper atmosphere and gravity could provide great instances of sudden transition or other perils of keeping such a grand technical design functional.
While it may be some time before the actual reveal of BioShock 4, there can be little certainty whether this next iteration will live up to the franchise’s history. Without Ken Levine at the helm and his previous involvement going back to System Shock 2, it’s hard to say how good the final product may or may not be.
However, BioShock 2 was developed by 2K Marin, a subsidiary of the IP owner and publisher 2K. Cloud Connection, a brand new studio that is using the same space that 2K Marin used in San Francisco, is currently developing BioShock 4. While that doesn’t necessarily imply any rollover between those teams, there is a chance that some portion of the team experienced in making a quality BioShock game is working on this project.
When the time comes and BioShock 4 bursts from its cocoon of secrecy, it just may be set in space. If it’s not, I hope that it is, at the very least, not back in the depths of Rapture. 2K took a chance with BioShock Infinite and the resulting game was arguably one of the best among the great releases of 2013. I hope, for everyone’s sake, that it’s not the case that Ken Levine was the singular force that made this franchise so great.