Last week, after inviting speculation to a voicemail inbox and teasing us with a mysterious webpage, Irrational Games unveiled its next project: BioShock Infinite. Given the seemingly unanimous love for Irrational's original BioShock — whose Metacritic average sits at an incredible 96 — I fully expected an overwhelmingly positive reaction from my online social circles.
Comments about BioShock Infinite flooded my Facebook and Twitter feeds, and the majority of my friends and followers shared my excitement. But the numerous negative reactions to the announcement caught me off guard.
"We need more System Shock, not more BioShock," GameShark.com Staff Writer Brandon Cackowski-Schnell declared on Twitter. Evan Minto, editor-in-chief of AniGamers.com, echoes this disappointment, explaining that more BioShock "wasn't really on my gaming wishlist."
Matt Caulder asks, "Am I the only one concerned that they're running the BioShock name into the ground?" KalidusX's suspicions confirm this could be an issue: "calling it BioShock could well do it more harm than good, I imagine."
Based on its name alone, some of my friends, colleagues, and followers are condemning BioShock Infinite's existence. They don't acknowledge it as a sequel to a fantastic game. They don't delve into why the concept is doomed. They just don't want it.
I completely understand that some people simply aren't into the series. Naturally, a sequel doesn't offer anything for them. But the people saying they don't want another BioShock are the same folks who enjoyed it in the first place. Because their reaction confused me, I asked them to explain their apprehension.
"I thought [the first BioShock] was a really well-designed — if not super-innovative — FPS/adventure game with a fascinating setting and great writing," Minto says. "Maybe it's because I didn't enjoy the end of the first game, so I wasn't excited for a sequel."
My pal Matt continues the trend of damning the game's name on Facebook: "Look, I love the plot ideas in BioShock Infinite, but why keep the BioShock title?" He says, "They will have to work very hard to convince me that the BioShock name still makes sense…. Titles should not be arbitrary or arise from purely marketing-based decisions."
Some gamers go beyond the title, wondering whether they want another game like BioShock at all. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's Jem Alexander says, "Am I the only one not sold on BioShock Infinite? I don't get it. It's BioShock in the sky."
indirectly responds, "Even if you say 'It's just BioShock in the sky,' you're still saying BIOSHOCK IN THE SKY, which sounds magnificent."
Other people want something new altogether. Bill Mudron echoes responses he's seen, summing up, "Like most everyone else, I'm disappointed that it's not a whole new IP, but whatever." Elliot Page says bluntly, "BioShock Infinite? Stop making BioShock games. Ugh." He elaborates: "BioShock Infinite smacks of more of the same…the bizarre but plausible setting, the propaganda…the same kind of tilt to the art style. I would like something refreshingly new out of [Irrational] instead of a game I feel I have already played and gotten sick of."
Given how little we really know about BioShock Infinite and how different it looks from the first game, some speculate that Irrational's sequel serves as a new intellectual property within an established universe.
"I see some people saying they wished Irrational introduced a new IP," says Dan Ryckert, associate editor at Game Informer, "but BioShock Infinite looks so different that it might as well be one." Sony's Social Media Specialist Sid Shuman shares this train of thought, stating, "Infinite is [a] new IP. Aside from the name, it's as different as can be."
This "new IP" idea is seemingly how Ken Levine, Irrational Games' creative director, approached Infinite's creation. In the announcement post on IrrationalGames.com, Levine shares the philosophy behind BioShock: "At Irrational Games, we believe that in order to fulfill expectations, you have to defy expectations…. So when we started the sequel, we said to ourselves: 'We want to expand on those core principles, but beyond that, there are no sacred cows. Everything else that people know or think they know about BioShock is open for negotiation.'”
BioShock wowed me so thoroughly that I have no reason to doubt Levine. I'm not sure why so many of my friends are so quick to write it off, but I'm anxious to see what the world of Infinite is really like.
What's your take on the BioShock Infinite announcement? Are you eager for new characters in a world you loved? Or are you ready to leave the world of BioShock behind forever?