Ken Levine, the director of BioShock, announced that BioShock Infinite would be the final entry into the series from Irrational Games in 2014. Citing the pressure and stress of looking after a large team for the game, he explained that this had adversely affected his health and personal relationships, and he stepped down from his role. The rights to BioShock remained with 2K Games, and the future of the franchise seemed shrouded in shadow following the loss of a major member of the games' creative ambitions and realisations.
And then, after 2K Games shuttered 2K Marin and punted the project from team to team, speculation swirled that BioShock 4 would eventually be binned and that would be that. However, there was word late last year that the game was in active development under a brand new internal company, Cloud Chamber. Kelley Gilmore helms the studio, with BioShock alumni Hoagy de la Plante, Scott Sinclair and Jonathan Pelling also on board. Though it weathered some years of strife, it's affirming to know that the game does exist, and we've gotten details on the shape it will take.
Recent job opportunities at Cloud Chamber shed a little light on the project, and they've got our attention. A listing for a systems designer says that BioShock 4 may be an "emergent sandbox world" featuring "interactive world systems and non-AI systemic ecology, player growth systems and progression and game balance and economy." Now, the "interactive world systems" sounds BioShock-y, but the "emergent sandbox world" is a turn up for the books. Both BioShock and BioShock 2 let the player explore to a degree, but with the power of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, perhaps these environments may be seamlessly woven together for one larger and more cohesive space.
Colour us intrigued. Furthermore, the opening for a senior voice designer states that the applicant would be working on an "ambitious, narratively-driven project full of character and personality." It also mentions that experience with RPG is a must, as they will be designing the game's "dialogue systems," which could point towards a more reactive narrative. The series, though praised for their storytelling capacities, involved a lot of NPCs telling you "go here, pick this up, come back, thanks, oops, I was the baddie all along."
Dialogue systems that allow the characters to judge you for your actions are compatible to the themes that the games centre around, so something like the Fallout games where people will even shun you if you wind them up sounds like just the ticket. Of course, BioShock 4 is still in development and these tidbits are subject to change. Nevertheless, it is exciting to learn how the game is progressing.
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