It was definitely one of those public secrets, but it was still kind of exciting nonetheless. I knew that a lot of games journalists were in Boston for something, and putting together certain facts, the logical guess that it was for something Irrational Games-related. And given that not much beyond it existing, little else was known about BioShock Infinite‘s DLC plans, so it made sense that we would be expecting something soon in the way of finding out what they’ll be doing with Booker and Elizabeth.
This morning, the dam broke as the embargo went up and we got two trailers for two of the three DLCs headed our way. The first is a combat-oriented one where you play a non-canonical Booker (with Elizabeth in tow) and clear out four maps chock-full of enemies. It’s an odd twist in regards to developer response seeing as how many players found the combat to be the worst part of BioShock Infinite. Or rather, worse in the sense that some of it failed to make sense in terms of the narrative and it often felt unevenly paced, though the core mechanics of it were all right.
Lead level designer Forrest Dowling paints Clash in the Clouds as an expansion of the draw people saw in the main game’s 1999 mode. In an interview with Polygon, Dowling says, “I thought, maybe we can do something where we give the player the opportunity to just play with the full toolset, and all of the powers and upgrades and everything, and create far more challenging gameplay for them. So with that in mind, we gathered up the people really specialized in combat on Infinite and essentially told them the gloves were off, you guys can make whatever you want.”
In it, you’ll have access to 15 total encounters across four different maps: Raven’s Dome, The Ops Zeal, Duke and Dimwit Theater, and Emporia Arcade. You earn cash based on kills, combos, and challenges you manage to complete as you play, like killing a Handyman with a pistol. Those Blue Ribbon Challenges will be very difficult; Dowling says some will require a “level of perfection.”
Next is Burial at Sea, a two-part DLC pack that sees you back in Rapture. The first half will have you play as Booker and the second half will have you play as Elizabeth, both of which will explore the underground utopia at the height of its existence. You know, when no one wore masks in the dark and clubbed you with crowbars for no god damn reason. Even the Little Sisters look amiable (or something close to it).
They’ve been working on this bit since the end of development on BioShock Infinite proper, but the tie-in back to Rapture was never a part of the overarching goal. “A love letter to the fans,” as lead designer Ken Levine puts it, Burial at Sea tells the story of one of those mirrored worlds laid out at the end of BioShock Infinite‘s main narrative. It’s a bit more noir-ish than any other BioShock you’ll see (as evidenced by the pretty spectacular poster), but Levine says “you’ll see how all the stories come together.”
So, who’s excited? I know I am.