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Burial at Sea: Ken Levine on BioShock Infinite’s Return to Rapture

Sid Shuman's Avatar + Posted by Sid Shuman on Aug 23, 2013 // Social Media Manager

BioShock Infinite garnered wide acclaim this spring for its mind-bending story and fantastic environments. But the announcement of Burial at Sea — a two-part adventure that sets Infinite protagonists Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth in the underwater city of Rapture — might just be Irrational’s most ambitious and exciting project yet. Creative Director Ken Levine kindly took a few minutes from his schedule to answer our pesky questions about the upcoming downloadable episodes.



PlayStation.Blog: What compelled Irrational to return to Rapture for BioShock Infinite’s Burial at Sea DLC episodes?

Ken Levine, Creative Director, Irrational Games: We never wanted to return to Rapture unless there was something new to say; a new story to tell that wasn’t just bringing to life the story that we already told. We found that there was a Booker and Elizabeth story to tell in Rapture that we got very excited about. A fresh new story focused on the main characters of Infinite and the only place it could be was in Rapture.

PSB: What opportunities does Burial at Sea provide in building Rapture that weren’t available in the original BioShock? Has time changed Irrational’s approach to designing the city?

Ken Levine: There were a few changes. First of all, we have the ability to populate the city — from Elizabeth to all the people going about their business. Which we couldn’t before. We could only have a few AI’s in the scene in BioShock 1. We also built a much larger scale of space and we put a lot more detail in the world. For instance, in BioShock 1, every scene at the window was basically just 2D art and 2D backdrops that look like 3D. They were cycloramas basically. Whereas now the city outside is actually 3D assets.

Burial at Sea, 01Burial at Sea, 02

PSB: How will the Burial at Sea episodes fit into the larger narrative of the BioShock universe? Will the two Burial at Sea episodes be chronological in structure? How much time will have passed between them?

Ken Levine: That’s for me to know and you to find out.

PSB: How have the Vigors/Plasmids and weapons changed in Burial at Sea? Have they been balanced to reflect the new play environment, or will they work largely as they did in Infinite?

Ken Levine: The combat is quite different in Burial At Sea than it was in Infinite. There are smaller scale combats that give the player much greater opportunity to observe the space ahead of time and set up the combat situation to his or her taste. Therefore traps become much more meaningful than they were in Infinite. So stealth becomes a larger component. We generally think combat is a little more deadly but a little less frenetic.

Burial at Sea, 03

PSB: Elizabeth is playable in the second chapter — to what extent? In Infinite, Elizabeth provided a lot of active support but rarely attacked — have you had any difficulty transforming a loveable NPC into an FPS protagonist?

Ken Levine: It’s very important to us that playing as Elizabeth feels very different from playing as Booker. She’s a different person, and having gone through the experiences of Burial At Sea: Episode One has a substantial effect on her too. So we’re spending a lot of time working on how she feels and how she plays.

//Add Your Own

36 Comments

1

+ Sonicfan11589 on August 23rd, 2013 at 12:03 pm said:

Bioshock Infinite had such an interesting story, especially the ending, but SPOILERS!!!! (How does Booker fit into this since what (seemed to) happen to him in the end) END SPOILERS!!!


2

+ Sonicfan11589 on August 23rd, 2013 at 12:05 pm said:

OH Nevermind i am watching the video, and it is a different story.


3

+ OctoWhopper on August 23rd, 2013 at 12:07 pm said:

Is their a release date?


4

+ Sonicfan11589 on August 23rd, 2013 at 12:09 pm said:

Also I’m still hoping for a Bioshock Vita game, I heard it is not cancelled. Hope that version has multiplayer like Bioshock 2.


5

+ Zionine on August 23rd, 2013 at 12:13 pm said:

Still lookin’ forward to a Vita Bioshock game as well… The colors.. the frights.. :)


6

+ xClayMeow on August 23rd, 2013 at 12:17 pm said:

So now that BL2 is coming to Vita, Levine better be badgering 2K to bring a Bioshock game to Vita! But it has to be a spin-off. A port is great for BL2, but not for Bioshock – that needs a new experience.


7

+ Kodax_ShC on August 23rd, 2013 at 12:18 pm said:

Just finished Infinite last night so this is a welcome surprise for me! I can’t wait.


8

+ el_casual on August 23rd, 2013 at 12:18 pm said:

Sony, please the Vita NEEDS Bioshock.


9

+ whatisdelicious on August 23rd, 2013 at 12:20 pm said:

I feel like I’ve heard these exact same answers phrased in the exact same ways from Ken before because people always ask him the exact same questions. Must be pretty boring for him.

Really excited to play this though.


10

+ subsamuel01 on August 23rd, 2013 at 12:22 pm said:

Still need to play bioshock infinite


11

+ wally_mammoth on August 23rd, 2013 at 12:23 pm said:

I would happily take any Bioshock game on the vita…port or new story. As for the teaser video, I’m definitely liking the noir style Irrational is going for. I’m curious to see how different the Booker and Elizabeth characters will be in this world compared to Infinite.


12

+ KazeEternal on August 23rd, 2013 at 12:25 pm said:

I really enjoyed this game, but I don’t know if I can justify buying the game given the sour taste the ending left me with. It was such a cop out. Lucky I don’t judge the journey for the ending and this is still a fantastic game. As I said a return may not be in the cards for me.


13

+ martinirage1 on August 23rd, 2013 at 12:30 pm said:

Please bring Bioshock to Vita! I bet if the Borderlands 2 vita game sells well than they might be convinced to bring Bioshock to vita. Hopefully not a port but a side story based in the Bioshock infiinite world.


14

+ spikeking365 on August 23rd, 2013 at 12:56 pm said:

Bioshock on vita pls been waiting forever pls sony pls 2k


15

+ Welmosca on August 23rd, 2013 at 1:07 pm said:

I really really cant wait for this DLC…this is how you do things….a SP only game and side-story DLCs…I’ll gladly support Levine and all Bioshock DLCs…..way to go…actually I bought the season pass now that I know its content…….I’m so glad there are still people like Levine who trusts into SP,we really need more devs like that.I almost cried tears of joy when I got word of this DLC….BTW I’m having an immense fun with Clash in the Clouds.


16

+ Ryumoau on August 23rd, 2013 at 1:15 pm said:

Ken Levine comes across as such a condescending jerk in most interviews i see of him. I’m not giving him my money thats for sure.


17

+ Elvick_ on August 23rd, 2013 at 1:15 pm said:

Bioshock Vita, come on Sony. Make it happen.


18

+ stlthriot on August 23rd, 2013 at 1:47 pm said:

So excited to dive deeper into the story! Amazing game!


19

+ YorlecmNwahs on August 23rd, 2013 at 1:52 pm said:

Go to Google

Search “Let’s Get FlatOut Head On PS Vita Compatible”

Click on the first result.

Sign the petition please.

Thank you


20

+ rattthedog on August 23rd, 2013 at 3:02 pm said:

ok so for the future i can look forward to playing this dlc and the new borderlands 2 dlc. plus on the vita i can look forward to playing borderlands 2 and bioshock… my life is complete!


21

+ stekimafijas on August 23rd, 2013 at 3:19 pm said:

I don’t wanna repeat myself or repeat what anyone else said.

But yeah, a Vita game is what we need.
An Infinite spinoff, perhaps?


22

+ yazter on August 23rd, 2013 at 3:31 pm said:

Hate to repeat what has been said but..

Seriously, a BioShock game is needed on Vita just like a Vita is needed in BioShock. (Get it? If not: Vita chambers..)

I know this is in the hand of the “business people” but hopefully all these comments will show a strong support and demand for this game to warrant financing.

Vita is a relatively small pool (although increasing a lot) so it’s VERY easy to dominate in this field.


23

+ IXxHIJACKERxXI on August 23rd, 2013 at 3:38 pm said:

@2k The Bureau: XCOM Declassified have a bug Fix it plz


24

+ IzoGray on August 23rd, 2013 at 3:44 pm said:

PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU HAVE CANCELED BIOSHOCK VITA.

The last news we had was before Infinite released and we got word that the entire team was focusing on completing Infinite. Are you guys still going to work on Bioshock Vita? Have you canceled it completely? What’s going on?


25

+ tusunami on August 23rd, 2013 at 4:27 pm said:

This is cool haven’t even played the game yet but the dlc is interesting!!!!!!!!!!


26

+ BlazinHammerPaws on August 23rd, 2013 at 5:00 pm said:

Not sure how to feel about this. I loved Infinite, but the ending was too confusing and not enough emotional impact for me to really care about waiting for the DLC, so I sold my hard copy. Depending on how well it’s received, I may pick up the ultimate edition if one is ever released with all the DLC. Till then, I’m happy with just Bioshock 2, which I have as a digital download from the PSN. If I want to get back to rapture, I might re-play Minerva’s Den or the main campaign.


27

+ Ouren on August 23rd, 2013 at 5:15 pm said:

Burial at Sea has me really interested, especially the episode where you play as Elizabeth.

A Vita game would be marvelous.


28

+ nolo451 on August 23rd, 2013 at 5:46 pm said:

Really liking that its visiting Rapture right before all hell breaks lose.

and Ryumoau, yeah that will show him, I am sure that by you not buying the game it will open his eyes and he will quit being a “jerk”

/s

Going to throw a hissy fit each time someone acts a certain way that isn’t to your liking?

Piss off.


29

+ nolo451 on August 23rd, 2013 at 5:48 pm said:

Also forgot to add:

I agree, I’d buy a Bioshock Vita title.

Make it happen!


30

+ paul_id on August 23rd, 2013 at 6:12 pm said:

This looks fantastic! On a side note, where’s Bioshock on Vita? Been waiting for that game since it was announced back in E3 of 2011


31

+ Benzitor on August 23rd, 2013 at 7:05 pm said:

Where is Bioshock Vita !!! You better work on it, because a lot of people bought the Vita hoping for it….


32

+ ilovemountains on August 23rd, 2013 at 7:15 pm said:

Looks great! Do you guys know if Bioshock Infinite is coming to Playstation Plus?


33

+ ThreeLeggedFreak on August 24th, 2013 at 11:56 am said:

Bioshock Vita ain’t happening unless it’s a port. A new game like what Levine has in mind won’t ever happen. Borderlands 2 is happening because it’s just a port.


34

+ Biiodoll on August 25th, 2013 at 5:21 am said:

Still gotta beat infinites ending x’D


35

+ vladiator011 on August 25th, 2013 at 9:24 am said:

so when does burial at sea come out? i can’t wait to play it


36

+ Alecj22 on August 25th, 2013 at 3:54 pm said:

Ken Levine is fascinating. He has done a ton of interviews for this Bioshock and really seemed less stand offish and much more accommodating during them. I know he has a bad rap for being a bit condescending due to his slightly odd intellectual manner but the more you read about him, the more it seems like that is a misjudgment.

He is a true lover of the gaming genre and doesnt just make games to make money, he does it because he has a passion for it. It is rare for a guy like him to have a AAA budget and make the most of it, so i appreciate what he does.

Also, he is an honest guy. Sometimes to a fault. He will tell you what he thinks, but he doesnt mind when others tell him the same. Some of the stories about the development of Bioshock Infinite provided good insight to the creative atmosphere Levine provides for his employees.

I dont know. I just saw some hate on these boards for Levine, and i thought they had it wrong.


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