Bioshock Infinite: Creative director on ‘Clash in the Clouds,’ ‘Burial at Sea’


Irrational Games creative director Ken Levine said Monday, July 29, 2013, that upcoming downloadable content for "BioShock Infinite" would be set in the underwater city of Rapture. (AP Photo/2K Games/Irrational Games) (AP/AP)
July 31, 2013

“Bioshock Infinite” may be the best-selling multiplatform game of the year so far, according to software publisher Take Two, but fans of the game may not have revisited the game much since the weeks that followed its March release.

Stepping in to fill the void, game studio Irrational Games announced Tuesday that it’s releasing three new pieces of downloadable content for “Bioshock Infinite” to bring players back to the latest game’s setting, the floating island of Columbia, and eventually back to the setting of the series’ very first game.

One of the new episodes, called “Clash in the Clouds,” is available for download on PC, Xbox and PlayStation, while a two-part addition, “Burial at Sea,” is currently in development, said Irrational Games creative director Ken Levine in an interview with The Washington Post.

Those craving more time with Bioshock Infinite’s complex and twisting story got just a tease of “Burial at Sea,” which places Bioshock Infinite protagonist Booker DeWitt and his sidekick Elizabeth in the world of earlier games in the series. There’s no set release date for the extra content yet, but the new additions will give players an opportunity to see the underwater dystopia from the first game, Rapture, at the height of its glory for the first time.

With “Burial at Sea,” players will have someone new to play with — Elizabeth. That will mark the first time that a Bioshock game will have a playable female protagonist.

Levine said it wasn’t always in his plans to make Elizabeth a playable character, but after hearing feedback about Bioshock Infinite and working on the expansions, he said that something clicked for the team.

“In many ways, Bioshock Infinite is the story of Elizabeth,” Levine said. “We saw with the way this story is written that it was such the right thing to do.”

Putting players in Elizabeth’s head, he said, will actually do a lot for changing the mood of the game, given the character’s tendency to rely more on her wits than on her fighting ability.

“She’s physically vulnerable, but with a great suite of abilities to deceive and evade her enemies,” Levine said. “It’s a good opportunity to give all of [the DLC] a different feel.”

Levine said that seeing Rapture through the Infinite protagonists’ eyes gave the developer team a fresh way to revisit the series’ history.

“ A lot of people said after the first game, are you going to go back and tell the fall of Rapture? But just telling that story on its own didn’t seem that interesting to me,” said Levine, who noted that there’s a lot of history revealed throughout the game.

But new advances in gaming technology, Levine said, has made it more possible to show Rapture as a living world — one that’s particularly interesting through the lens of these new characters.

And how does the story of “Burial at Sea,” which starts with the two protagonists apparently meeting for the first time, fit in with Infinite’s intricate, twisting plot?

Levine, unsurprisingly, isn’t telling, apart from saying that they are connected in some way.

“I always want to start with a question mark,” he said.

For those who don’t want to wait to get back into the Bioshock universe, “Clash in the Clouds” is there to show off a side of the series that doesn’t usually get a lot of attention — its combat. The fighting add-on pits players against opponents arena-style on Bioshock Infinite’s floating island setting of Columbia.

Levine said that Bioshock games tend to be so focused on their complex storylines that the combat in the games often gets less time in the spotlight. The new DLC, “Clash in the Clouds,” kicks Bioshock Infinite’s complex fighting system — which makes use of weapons as well as potion-like “vigors” that grant players special powers – to a whole new level.

“We wanted to give the combat team a chance to let them completely go to town with all the big guns unlocked,” Levine said. “It’s specifically designed just for combat.”

The add-on may not seem like something that fans of the Bioshock games are craving, but at $5, it’s a nice way to add something to your game without having to spend much.

Related stories:

BioShock’ diving back to underwater city of Rapture in upcoming downloadable chapter

The tea party, Occupy Wall Street and ‘BioShock Infinite’: How a video game is reflecting life

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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