Yesterday afternoon, I had the privilege of listening in on a conference call with members of the development teams behind BioShock 2 and its multiplayer mode: 2K Marin and Digital Extremes, respectively. It was a session that went on for nearly two hours, twice as long as anticipated. Due to the extended length, there unfortunately wasn’t enough time for an open Q&A session between the developers and the press, but many of our pre-submitted questions were covered and we were given a lot of interesting information, some of which was already known and some that was completely new.
Because of the length of this call, rather than attempting to transcribe it and quote every little bit, I will share several key points that I feel are of particular interest. The spokespeople who participate in this BioShock 2 Q&A session are as follows:
Jordan Thomas – Creative Director, 2K Marin
Zak McClendon – Lead Designer, 2K Marin
Hogarth De La Plante – Lead Environment Artist, 2K Marin
Mat Tremblay – Multiplayer Art Director, Digital Extremes
Jesse Attard – Multiplayer Lead Programmer, Digital Extremes
All of our questions were moderated and asked by Chase from Access Communications.
To get things in motion, Jordan starts us off with his summary of the game:
BioShock 2 takes place ten years after the events of the first game. The player takes control of a prototype Big Daddy called Subject Delta. He is separated from the bonded Little Sister that he went to protect, wakes up ten years later to find the city a much more dangerous place, crossing it to find his former Little Sister. Along the way, he comes into conflict with Dr. Sofia Lamb, an altruist and former political rival of Andrew Ryan, who has united the city into a kind of unity cult called The Rapture Family and sees the player as sort of the ultimate individual and thus a very big direct threat to her plan.
The multiplayer component is actually a prequel, taking place in the year between 1959 and 1960. You take the role of one of the average citizens of Rapture who was drawn into that conflict, and as the city fell from grace, so did they. And you sort of grow your character and participate in that sort of classic commendatory BioShock play, but in a much more sort of beautiful utopian take on the city before the war tore it apart.
As Jordan mentions, we take on the role of a fourth-model prototype Big Daddy known simply as Subject Delta. All we really know about him is that after being in a sleep state for ten years, he goes off in search of his long-lost Little Sister. Through the conference call, we have been told that the game will start us off in a theme park created by Andrew Ryan. Newcomers will be introduced to the ideals behind the city of Rapture while old fans will be given sort of a refresher course. Because they can’t recreate that feeling of first stepping into Rapture in the previous game, the developers hope to give us a child’s-eye view of the city so we can see things from a new perspective.
Fans will either be disappointed or excited to know that all of the areas in BioShock 2 are completely new. The developers had toyed with the idea of taking us back to a flooded Fort Frolic, but ultimately decided to keep everything fresh. Also new are some of the splicer types—such as the powerful Brute—and at least one new type of Big Daddy, known as the Rumbler. Additionally, there will be human characters in the game who have not been affected by Adam. The role they will play was not fully discussed.
Moral choices affect how the story folds rather than only affecting the ending, and Little Sisters still play a large role in the game, although interaction with them is mostly optional. Should you choose to adopt Little Sisters, you will literally be starved for Adam and may find yourself struggling to survive against tougher enemies. To remedy this, Little Sisters can help you find bodies that are full of Adam and they will extract it for you while you defend them, much like near the end of the first BioShock. Choosing to harvest the Little Sisters will make you more powerful, but there are likely to be consequences, which wasn’t fully elaborated. Either way, Adam can also be retrieved from slugs that can be found out in the water.
Despite being a Big Daddy yourself, the development team assures us that Big Daddy battles will still be just as difficult, if not moreso. However, if you fall in battle, an adopted Little Sister can heal and revive you. Splicers are promised to be significantly more difficult and more intelligent, often ambushing you, using grenades, taking evasive actions, and even running for cover when they are low on health. Thankfully, you are also equipped with an arsenal of new weapons and plasmids—such as the Scout plasmid that lets you safely leave your body and scout the area—that can be used in a nearly-unlimited number of combinations.
Another change that will either disappoint or excite, depending on who you are, is the alteration of hacking and researching. Hacking wasn’t explained in detail, but it was said that it will now be done in comment rather than through a mini-game (a small reprieve that I actually quite enjoyed). Instead of using the camera as before, it will now be more of a video camera. Upon activating it, you will be given 30 seconds to do something “unique” to your foe before killing it. You will then be graded on your creativity in disposing of your enemies.
Because of complaints from fans over the final boss battle in the first game, 2K Marin promises that BioShock 2 does something “completely different”. What exactly that entails is yet to be known, whether it is an epic battle or if perhaps there is no battle at all. They were also rather quiet about which characters will return in this second installment, but they did say that there will indeed be some familiar faces. More was discussed, these details were what I felt are the most interesting about the singleplayer experience. Surprisingly, there were also a few interesting tidbits about the new multiplayer mode.
As we have all known, the multiplayer mode is a prequel of sorts, taking place during the civil war between 1959 and 1960. Many singleplayer elements are retained, but there are also some multiplayer-exclusive features. Most notably, you will be taking on the role of a splicer and as you play through various matches, you will unlock diary entries in which your character’s story unfolds. There are six different playable characters and each one has their own story for you to play through and unlock. Interestingly, there will be several plasmids available that are not in the singleplayer game. One of these is the Houdini plasmid, which grants you the ability to teleport, just like the Houdini splicers in the first game.
There will be seven different game modes and each match will have up to ten people playing at a time. The previously-announced game modes are as follows (from Wikipedia):
* Survival of the Fittest: A ‘free-for-all’ mode where each player gets points for killing each of the other players. Whichever player has the most kills at the end of the match wins.
* Civil War: Similar to ‘Survival of the Fittest,’ but in this mode players are divided into two teams and the team with the most collective kills at the end of the match wins.
* Last Splicer Standing: A variation of ‘Survival of the Fittest’ where the player does not respawn after being killed. The last player alive at the end of the match is the winner.
* Capture the Sister: A ‘Capture the Flag’ style mode where players are divided into two teams. One team has to protect a Little Sister while the other team tries to steal her and place her in a vent on the other side of the map. After a pre-determined amount of time, the teams switch roles. Whichever team has the most captures at the end of the match wins. Watch Gameplay Footage of this mode
* ADAM Grab: In this mode there is one Little Sister on the map and the player must seek her out and maintain possession of her as long as possible. Whoever has held onto the Sister longest at the end of the match wins.
* Team ADAM Grab: A variant of ‘ADAM Grab’ where players are divided into two teams. The objective is the same, but victory is determined by a collective score rather than individual scores.
* Turf War: Players are split into two teams and each team must reach pre-determined points on the map to capture that point. The team with the most control points over the longest time wins.
As you can see, there are a lot of new additions to look forward to next week in BioShock 2, and there are still many things currently unknown. Of course, it is a game meant to be shrouded in mystery, so it only makes sense. BioShock 2 is set to release Wednesday on February 9, 2010 in North America for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. There will be no exclusive comment for any console because they want everyone to enjoy the game equally, as it should be for all games. I would like to thank everyone at 2K Marin and Digital Extremes for answering our questions and filling us in on some great information about this exciting release. I would also like to thank Chase from Access Communications for acting as the Q&A moderator, as well as for his helpfulness whenever I have spoken to him.
So, any parting words of wisdom from the developers?
No. Have fun!