Publisher 2K Interactive has officially announced that a new BioShock game is currently in development by Cloud Chamber, a recently-founded studio comprised of two teams based in San Francisco, CA and Montreal, Canada, respectively. Led by Kelley Gilmore, an industry veteran whose work includes franchises such as Civilization and XCOM, the new studio is described as “a collective of storytellers eager to push the frontlines of interactive entertainment by making unique, entertaining and thoughtful experiences that engage the world.”
Rumors that a new BioShock game was being developed first emerged back in 2015 when 2K stealthily contracted Texas-based developer Certain Affinity to begin work on a project codenamed “Parkside”. The project would be canceled by the end of 2016 for reasons that are unclear and then rebooted several times over the next few years.
It’s been more than half a decade since the last entry in the franchise, BioShock Infinite, released for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. Here, we’ll be discussing any and all news concerning BioShock 4’s development including potential release dates as well as rumors regarding story and gameplay. Make sure to check back as we’ll be updating this story following any new announcements from 2K or Cloud Chamber.
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BioShock 4 Release Date and Platforms
Aside from announcing a new studio, 2K’s official press release briefly mentions that the next BioShock iteration “will be in development for the next several years.” Considering that both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are releasing holiday 2020, it’s safe to assume BioShock 4 will be coming to both platforms.
Although it’s still far too early to predict when the game will be released, our best guess would be the year 2022 at the earliest, more realistically sometime in 2024. Given development has been scrapped and restarted multiple times since 2015, it’s possible some concepts have carried over and been retained. If this is the case, it would mean a shorter pre-production window for BioShock 4. Of course, you should take all of this with a heavy grain of salt.
BioShock 4 Story and Setting
As fans will already know, BioShock takes place in a multiverse with alternate timelines and events that play out differently depending on the actions of the player. This can make gauging the series’ chronology quite difficult, especially when you factor in how much time has passed since Infinite was released and how little the average player is likely to remember. Therefore, we expect BioShock 4 to be somewhat a soft reboot, similar to Sony Santa Monica’s approach with 2018’s God of War.
Additionally, it’s likely to be set further in the future than previous entries and feature a completely new setting. The latest entry in terms of the series’ timeline is BioShock 2, set during the late 1960s whereas the earliest game, BioShock: Infinite, takes place during the year 1912. However, every iteration up until now has maintained a consistent style and look which blends elements of classic science fiction, Americana imagery, and a steampunk aesthetic reminiscent of the Fallout games.
In order to maintain the series’ overall tone, we imagine it won’t stray too far from the original trilogy and likely be set sometime during the 1970s-1980s. This seems like the most obvious direction to take given that players have already explored every nook and cranny in Rapture multiple times and have seen just about everything the airborne city of Columbia has to offer. Besides, introducing a new setting and a different time period will allow Cloud Chamber to incorporate new ideas and provide players with a fresh experience, rather than rehashing concepts from previous entries or revisiting old haunts.
BioShock 4 Gameplay – What to Expect
“BioShock is one of the most beloved, critically praised and highest-rated franchises of the last console generation*. We can’t wait to see where its powerful narrative and iconic, first-person shooter gameplay head in the future with our new studio team at Cloud Chamber leading the charge.”
This quote from David Ismailer, President of 2K, confirms that BioShock 4 will remain a first-person shooter despite whatever changes may take shape regarding its story. By utilizing the advanced hardware capabilities of next-gen consoles, it’s possible we’ll see Cloud Chamber introduce new gameplay mechanics and systems to make BioShock 4 truly stand out from earlier iterations. At the very least, the game will have reduced loading screen times, if any at all.
While series’ staples such as role-playing elements, special “Vigor” abilities, and Gears (the equivalent of Tonics in the first BioShock) are sure to return in some form or another, we don’t anticipate Infinite’s grappling mechanic to make a comeback given it felt very specific to the game’s setting. We’re eager to learn what ideas Cloud Chamber has in store for BioShock 4 and will be sure to share any details once they’ve been revealed.
The Final Word on BioShock 4
BioShock games have always pushed the envelope for first-person shooters while offering a compelling narrative and enough lore to keep players immersed across three games and two significantly large expansions. However, the series has a history of being plagued by development hell, likely the source of BioShock 4’s extensive cancellations and delays.
The first and third entries took a major toll on developer Irrational Games, causing the studio to momentarily shut down only to later be reborn as Ghost Story Games. Crunch for BioShock 2 was so intense that after the game was released, studio 2K Marin found it difficult to keep up with publisher 2K’s expectations and was eventually silently closed down. We’re hoping the future has a better fate in store for Cloud Chamber and BioShock 4 manages to delight fans who have been craving a new adventure for quite some time.
While we wait for more information about BioShock 4 to be revealed, consider checking out our list highlighting the Best First-Person Shooters in 2019.