Would You Kindly Be Skeptical of BioShock 4?

Back in 2007, game developer/writer Ken Levine transported gamers to the underwater city of Rapture where we were won over by its brutal yet beautiful art direction, plot twists, American exceptionalism themes and rock solid gameplay. Naturally, it was met with critical acclaim, won several awards and followed it up with the well received sequels BioShock 2 in 2010 and BioShock Infinite in 2013.

This week, Take Two Interactive’s CEO Strauss Zelnick has confirmed that a new BioShock game is in development by 2K Marin in California. Strauss didn’t say what kind of BioShock game 2K Marin is developing. We can only assume that it is a fully-fledged PS4, Xbox One and PC game on the same scale as the ones that have come before it and not a mobile one-off that’s main objective is to bleed you dry. We won’t be playing a new BioShock game until the 2016 holiday at the earliest, but would you kindly be skeptical of BioShock 4 now?

Why should you be skeptical of BioShock 4? Well because the BioShock series is at an important turning point. For one, BioShock 4 will be helmed by its creator Ken Levine. Instead of developing the upcoming BioShock 4, Levine is hard at work developing “a different kind of game” than he’s done before. Normally, losing the original writer is not such a bad thing (see the Star Wars movies), but if we’re being honest with ourselves, BioShock 2–the only other BioShock game without Levine’s involvement–felt rushed and hollow. It rested on its laurels, shamelessly repackaging the inventiveness of the first game and grabbing the cash of gamers still enamoured with Rapture.

BioShock 2 was developed by 2K Marin and 2K Australia. Entrusting the future of the series to 2K Marin, the studio that submitted the weakest entry in the series thus far, doesn’t bode well…

The other thing that should raise eyebrows is these comments by Zelnick: “…[BioShock has] been a profitable piece of business.” 

Oh no. No, no, no, no. Have art and commerce ever coexisted? Now, I can’t blame them for looking at BioShock 4 as a business investment, because it is, but this mentality is troubling because it could signify prioritizing marketability over a complete product. Could this be Zelnick laying the groundwork for future plans to churn out new BioShock games annually until they cease to be profitable like Assassin’s Creed? Let’s hope not…

Furthermore, where does the series go from here? We’ve been underwater, we’ve been up in the air. What’s next? Land? What’s cool and exciting about that? Just kidding. Of course it won’t be on land. But still, the conclusion of Burial at Sea felt like a natural conclusion to the series, as far fetched as it was. Another entry could stretch the mythos too thin.

All this to say, I know we’re all going to play BioShock 4 the minute it drops. All I’m trying to do is measure your expectations because BioShock 4 might be the turning point of this beloved series. It may not be but would you kindly be skeptical of it until further notice for your own good?


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