Bioshock is one of those game series that are hard to forget. The immersive shooter debuted in 2007 with a new formula for the genre. There’re several studios behind the games, perhaps the reason why there’re no new entries. Overall, though, 2K games are the publisher, and the original creator is 2K’s, Kevin Levine.
In 1999, Levine co-developed System Shock 2 while working at Irrational Games. Years later, he imagined Bioshock as the spiritual successor of one of the first immersive FPS in the industry.
Since then, a different set of studios have created 16 Bioshock entries. These are three core games, six DLCs / expansions, one spin.-off, three bundles, and three remasters.
The BioShock Series
Bioshock is a retro-futuristic game. They blind first-person shooting, role-playing mechanics, and immersive environments. In practice, the original game brought forward the formula of using a weapon on one hand and a magical power on the off-hand. The formula stays similar for the subsequent titles. Characters unlock weapons, weapon upgrades, ammo types, skills, skill upgrades, and other perks along the way.
That means players manage weapons, ammo types, and powers for each enemy and situation. Moreover, players can also use the environment for their benefit. For example, throw an electric bolt into a water pool and electrocute the foes.
Additionally, the series is notable for its themes. Through an antagonist and via fictional places, they explore political, philosophical, and moral concepts. They use strong in-game narratives to display concepts like totalitarian, objectivism, American capitalism, individualism, free will, and slavery.
On the same note, these games excel at environmental storytelling. The settings are unique, full of sound, detail, and stories. If that’s not enough, though, the players can also find recordings of some sort to learn more about each area.Lastly, Bioshock games are episodic. You play the game through chapters, and each one functions like a maze where you have to complete a series of objectives to move forward.
All BioShock Games in Order
Bioshock – 2007
Bioshock debuted in 2007 for Windows and Xbox 360. A PlayStation 3 port premiered in 2008.
After a plane crash accident in 1960, Jack finds a Lighthouse sitting in the middle of the ocean. He swims, as it’s the only way he could survive, and finds an elevator taking him down to an underwater city.
Welcome to Rapture, a city that promises you’re going to see the fruit of your labor and your effort. There’re no powers above the average person, no religious or political overlord dictating how you should live. Rapture promises personal freedom and success.
The underwater leader Andrew Ryan wanted that to be the case. Many years have passed since he founded the city, you discover. Rapture is in ruins. A dangerous genetic power (ADAM) made its residents crazy.
ADAM comes from sea slugs, and Rapture scientists learned how to transform it into Plasmids, special abilities. You find yourself in the middle of a conflict between the former leaders of Rapture for control of the city and ADAM.
An unknown voice is guiding you “back to the surface.” However, he takes you further below, harvesting ADAM for yourself. Soon, you discover the voice belongs to Atlas, who led a revolt against Andrew Ryan to control the city. He mutated a number of his followers with Adam and turned them into “Splicers,” your recurrent enemies. Now, he’s controlling you to finish his work.
“Would you kindly?” Atlas often says. It’s a special keyword he can use to control you, as your character is nothing more than a Rapture experiment. Can you break free from both Atlas and Andrew Ryan?
The crazy setting comes through even crazier gameplay. It’s a first-person shooter with eight weapons. Some of these weapons have ammo types, and there’s a limited number of upgrade stations throughout the game to improve your guns.
You also get Plasmids, but there’s a limited amount of ADAM to buy and improve powers, as well as other perks (Tonics). They also have hacking abilities to deal with cameras, drones, and other security systems. Lastly, you use EVE as “mana” for your Plasmids.
With these elements, you travel further down Rapture. The setting gets increasingly insane, dangerous, and brutal. You fight against Splicers who have powers, guns, and erratic behaviors. Additionally, you get a camera you can use to take pictures of your enemies and gain bonus damage for the knowledge you get back.
Let’s not forget the Big Daddies. These are hulking enemies, wearing a large diving suit, rivet guns, and a drill. They are dangerous, and you need to defend them to capture Little Sisters and get extra ADAM. Likewise, the Little Sisters are enhanced and modified little girls. Their task is harvesting ADAM from dead bodies all over Rapture.
Overall, it’s an outstanding experience. Fans and critics praised the game for its storytelling, moral themes, and immersive environment. Moreover, Andrew Ryan became one of the most memorable villains in the gaming industry.
Challenge Rooms – 2008 (BioShock DLC)
Challenge Rooms is the only DLC for the original game. It brought new Rapture areas to test the player in a series of combat and puzzle scenarios. it debuted for PlayStation 3 only.
BioShock 2 – 2010
After the commercial and critical success of Bioshock, 2K formed a new studio for the sequel. So, 2K Marin premiered Bioshock 2 in 2010 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows. In 2012, Feral Interactive released a port for macOSX as well.
The sequel continues the story in Rapture, eight years after the original game. Kevin Levine was no longer part of the title, but Bioshjock’s level designer Jordan Tomas took over the direction. Also, the original composer comes back. Lastly, the developers got help from Arkane Studios and Digital Extremes.
You now control Subject Delta, a Big Daddy. The underwater city is in a worse state than it was before. There’re no leaders, no rules, and everything left is the Splicers and the ADAM. The protagonist has to fight through the psychotic humans using old and new mechanics. You get weapons, weapon upgrades, ammo types, and Plasmids. Also, because you’re a Big Daddy, you also get a hulking drill you can use, although its fuel is scarce.
Sofia Lamb is trying to rise as the new leader to fill the power vacuum of the city. The splicers have gathered around her as she’s created a cult of personality to increase her political influence.
Subject Delta must rescue Eleanor, the Little Sisters. It’s time to get them out of the city, though, before Sofia Lamb gets her hands on the girls. Depending on how many Little Sisters you can save, the game leads to various different endings. Other factors determining the ending are your interactions with Elanor and other Rapture NPCs. In essence, you may absorb the Little Sisters to get extra ADAM or set them free when you meet them.
Gameplay-wise, the game is similar to the previous entry. There’s ADAM, Plasmids, Tonics, and EVE. You can also carry a Drill and Rivet Gun, Big Daddy-only weapons. Also, unlike the previous game, you can equip both a weapon and a Plasmid at the same time.
Also, the game presents a new recurrent enemy, the Big Sisters, Little Sisters protectors. They wear a diving suit, resist a great amount of damage, and can use a wide array of Plasmid powers.
Lastly, the game features a story-driven multiplayer mode, Fall of Rapture. It makes players control Rapture’s citizens through the 1959 – 1960 civil war. Players can choose customizable avatars, Plasmids, and weapons.
The Protector Trials – 2010 (BioShock 2 DLC)
The first single-player DLC for Bioshock 2 debuted in 2010 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It became free for PC users in 2011.
The DLC introduces a new Big Daddy as the protagonist. Before the Bioshock 2 events, the Alpha Series has to take ADAM away from Sofia Lamb to foil her plans.
The content asks players to protect a little Sister while she drains Plasmids. The gameplay comes with different stages or trials with increasing difficulty. Each trail has a different loadout of weapons, Plasmids, and enemies.
BioShock 2: Minerva’s Den – 2010 (BioShock 2 DLC)
Minerva’s Den is a campaign DLC for Bioshock 2. It debuted in 2010 and continues the story with Subject Sigma, another Big Daddy.
Sigma travels to Minerva’s Den, Rapture’s technological hub. There, he must download a schematic from a supercomputer.
The gameplay is similar to Bioshock 2, but it has new enemies and weapons. The theme focuses on free will and identity while exploring new lore and areas.
BioShock Infinite: Industrial Revolution – 2012 (Spin-Off)
Industrial Revolution was a flash puzzle game that debuted in 2013. It was part of the marketing campaign for the upcoming title, Bioshock Infinite.
Players control a worker from Columbia (the upcoming fictional city). He must repair Columbia’s machines through a series of puzzles.
BioShock: Ultimate Rapture Edition – 2013 (BioShock Bundle)
The first collection debuted in 2013 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It bundles Bioshock, Bioshock 2, and the DLCs for both titles.
Also, it brings exclusive content. Particularly, it adds the Museum of Orphaned Concepts, an exclusive Bioshock 1 level.
BioShock: Infinite – 2013
Irrational Games created the third main series game. It debuted for Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in 2013. There’re also ports for macOSX and Linux. Infinite is not part of the previous storyline, although the further DLCs added a connection between the two “timelines.”
But when it came out, Irrational Games’ creative director Kevin Levine imagined a new setting. It’s 1912, and the city is Columbia, a flying city that promises a paradise for the privileged and exceptional people.
The protagonist is Booker DeWitt, a disgraced detective. He goes to the airborne city to find Elizabeth, a captive young woman. Booker rescues Elizabeth, but they find themselves in the middle of a civil war. Soon, the game presents the ongoing conflict between the elite Founders and the nativist. The VIPs are looking to keep the privileges for White Americans. Meanwhile, the Vox Populi, a group of the underclass and underground revels, is looking to take over.
During the conflict, Booker learns Elizabeth possesses “Tears.” This is a strange power that can manipulate space and time, and it’s ravaging the floating city., Ultimately, the conflict decides the future of the city and revolves around Elizabeth’s power.
The setting opens an FPS with role-playing elements, as before. Players can use weapons, weapon upgrading, gear (clothing with unique attributes), and psychokinetic powers (Vigor). Elizabeth can also use her powers to fight and move around the city.
Columba is far more open and maze-like compared to the previous underwater city. It allows more dynamic gameplay, fast-paced shooting, and a skyline to move across areas.
Lastly, the game added enemy types. There’re Standard, Heavy Hitters, and Basic Security Automata enemies. Heavy Hitters act as mini-bosses. Moreover, there’re various factions in Columbia, and each faction has its enemy versions within the three categories.
BioShock Infinite: Clash in the Clouds – 2013 (BioShock Infinite DLC)
Clash in the Clouds is the first DLC for Infinite. It debuted for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows in 2013.
The DLC has sixty challenges on four maps. Each challenge has fifteen enemy waves. These waves pack increasingly difficult enemies of all types.
BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 1 – 2013 (BioShock Infinite DLC)
Burial at the Sea is the opening of a two-part single-player expansion. It debuted in 2013 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows, and macOS.
At the end of Infinite, players understand the game has several alternate realities. Burial at the Sea continues the story in Rapture, in another reality, before the events of the original game.
Players control Booker DeWitt, working under Elizabeth for a mission that explores Rapture during its glory days. The detective is exploring the doissapéarence of Sally, a little girl. The events lead to the start of the conflict between Frank Fontaine and Andrew Ryan.
The gameplay is similar to Infinite but in another scenario. However, Vigor is reclassified as “Plasmids.” That said, there’re new Plasmids, new weapons, and new enemies.
BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 2 – 2014 (BioShock Infinite DLC)
The second episode debuted in 2014 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows, and macOS.
The story continues with the events of Episode 1. Atlas and his men are still holding Sally captive. Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth are focused on rescuing her.
The gameplay promotes stealth gameplay with survival horror elements. Compared to the action-driven Episode 1, Episode 2 is slower and more narrative. So, for example, Sally is one of the first Little Sisters.
Also, you control Elizabeth instead of Booker. She’s weaker, she can’t carry as much ammo, and she can’t deal any damage to Big Daddies. Nonetheless, she is also lighter and smaller, so she can easily sneak or hide in tight places like air vents.
The Complete Edition pácks the base game plus all of its DLCs. It debuted in 2016 for PS4, Xbox One, and Windows.
The Collection compiles Bioshock, Bioshock 2, and Bioshock Infinite. The trilogy was re-released with a 1080p remaster, better textures, and improved frame rates.
The bundle debuted in 2016 for Windows, PS4, and Xbox One. Later on, it became available for Nintendo Switch and macOS. Also, the Collection packs all of the available DLCs for the three games.
- BioShock Remastered – 2016
You could also buy the enhanced versions separately. For example, the 2016 Bioshock Remastered has Full HD textures, 4K resolution support, up to 60 fps, and the Challenge Rooms DLC.
- BioShock 2 Remastered – 2016
Bioshock 2 Remastered brings 4K support, 1080p textures, 1080p character models, and new interface art. Also, it includes the Protector Trials DLC.
- BioShock 2: Minerva’s Den Remastered – 2016
Lastly, you could buy the remastered version of Bioshock’s 2 DLC. It brings the same updates as seen above.
Every BioShock Game in Chronological Order
- Bioshock – 2007
- Challenge Rooms – 2008
- Bioshock 2 – 2010
- The Protector Trials – 2010
- BioShock 2: Minerva’s Den – 2010
- Bioshock Infinite: Industrial Revolution – 2012
- BioShock: Ultimate Rapture Edition – 2013
- Bioshock: Infinite – 2013
- BioShock Infinite: Clash in the Clouds – 2013
- BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 1 – 2013
- BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 2 – 2014
- BioShock Infinite: The Complete Edition – 2016
- Bioshock: The Collection – 2016
- Bioshock Remastered – 2016
- Bioshock 2 Remastered – 2016
- Bioshock 2: Minerva’s Den Remastered – 2016
Who is Kevin Levine?
Kevin Levine founded Irrational games in 1997. He gathered former Looking Glass Studios members for the new studio. Their first game was a sequel to Looking Glass’s System Shock.
Kevin Levine was a Liberal Arts bachelor. He used George Orwell and Ayn Rand’s literature for Bioshock’s storytelling. Thus, their stories represent societies with interesting ideas ultimately corrupted by the people in charge.
Is Kevin Levine Still Working on 2k?
After Burial at Sea Episode 2, Kevin Levine moved on and created a new studio. He’s now the leader of Ghost Story Games, an Irrational Games rebrand.
While they are still a Take-Two Interactive subsidiary, they are working on an original IP -not on Bioshock.
Is 2k Working on a New Bioshock Game?
A new, smaller 2K-owned studio, Cloud Chamber, is working on Bioshock 4. However, we’re still waiting for official news about it.