2K announced that it had a new Bioshock game in the works a couple of years ago, but quelled excitement when it said we wouldn't see it release for a few years. While we've not heard much about the title since, a series of job listings have hinted that the franchise is headed in a new direction, with an open-world setting.
The previous instalments of Bioshock games have taken place in the enclosed confines of the submarine city of Rapture, or the lofty heights of the floating Columbia. The concept of an open-world Bioshock 4 is quite the treat, and the listings provide a few clues as to what we're in for.
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Spotted by PCGamesN (opens in new tab), the ads have been posted by Cloud Chamber, which is the brand new studio team tasked with continuing Ken Levine's legacy. In an interview with GamesRadar+ back in 2019, studio head Kelley Gilmore confirmed that an "immersive world" is part of Bioshock 4's "core design vision," adding:
"Environments have played a critical role throughout BioShock history and are incredibly important to the gameplay experience. There are many creative directions to explore, but you'll have to wait a bit longer to see where we go next."
That direction has been revealed in the job posts, particularly the one for a senior writer (opens in new tab). The ad is looking for a candidate "who can weave impactful, character-driven stories in an open world setting." It looks like things will be opening up with gameplay a bit too, with side-quests running alongside the main story. The job details stipulate that the successful applicant will "brainstorm primary and secondary mission content with design," which sounds a lot like side-quests to us.
The senior world designer listing (opens in new tab) sprinkles in a few more hints, citing a game world that will "feel alive, encouraging players to stay and explore." They will need to "design and create systemic world moments, as well as bespoke quests, that breathe life into the game."
Finally, the AI programmer (opens in new tab) will be required to "create a vision for a meaningful AI urban crowd system" that will "push the envelope of what is possible with interactive crowd systems."
It sounds like Bioshock 4 could shape up to be quite the departure from the series so far. Bear in mind that development could take a few twists and turns along the way and that these visions might change, but it's enough to get us excited for what Cloud Chamber has in store.