When will BioShock 4 be released?
Those excited by confirmation of the existence of the game may want to hold off on the party streamers and balloons, as when publisher 2K Games announced the game it also confirmed that it’ll be in development “for the next several years.”
This all but confirms the game won’t appear in 2020, and by the sounds of things, it doesn’t look like 2K Games is aiming for a 2021 release either. Essentially, we may not see BioShock 4 until 2022 – or even later.
Which platforms will BioShock 4 be available on?
By the time BioShock 4 arrives the PS5 and Xbox Series X will likely have been out for years, so it’s possible that BioShock 4 may only be available via next-gen consoles and PC, leaving PS4 and Xbox One owners in the lurch. It all depends on how much power the final game demands.
What can I expect from BioShock 4 gameplay?
One interesting omission from 2K’s new studio, Cloud Chamber, is Ken Levine – the man who led the creation of the series – with fans now worried that the upcoming title won’t do the franchise justice. After all, many hold BioShock’s gripping single-player storyline in very high regard.
This suggests, to us at least, a change in creative vision for the upcoming BioShock title. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be a flop, but with such a high bar set by the original games, it’ll be a tough act to follow.
So far most of what we know about what to expect comes from job listings that hint at the game's development needs.
One listing, now removed, was for an End Game Design Lead, and although it didn’t mention BioShock specifically, the job is based in the same area as Cloud Chamber. The job listing explicitly mentioned that the game in question will be heavily focused on “live-services” like those offered by the likes of Fallout 76 and Borderlands 3, featuring recurring DLC drops (paid and free) along with microtransactions, cosmetics, expanded multiplayer features and more.
“The world, by contrast, is something we are designing to be alive and engaging past the main narrative arc,” the job listing explained. “To leverage this, we want to build a post-narrative set of systems, quests and other player progression that gives our fanatic fangirls and fanboys more content to experience on an ongoing, live-services basis.”
That’s essentially the total opposite to what the original story-focused BioShock trilogy, but it is in-line with the design of many AAA games that have been released since the introduction of BioShock Infinite way back in 2013.
More recent listings, spotted by Twitter user MauroNL, are slightly more encouraging. Some all-but-confirm that the game will run on Unreal Engine 4, while others hint that we'll be seeing a new setting for the game - distinct from Rapture and Columbia.
Several job listings ask: "we want you to help us breathe life into a new and fantastical world.", which suggests the game having a new setting and not a return to Rapture or Columbia. "Together, we will set the stage for a stunning narrative and systems-driven experience."— MauroNL (@MauroNL3) August 11, 2020
Others confirm that the game is an FPS (no surprise there) and that it "allows for a high degree of player expression and experimentation within a highly reactive world." So the core gameplay at least still sounds like classic BioShock.
Who is making BioShock 4?
iBioShock 4 is currently being developed by Cloud Chamber - but that wasn't always the case.
In fact, development allegedly kicked off way back in 2015, and a Kotaku report claims that it was being developed by Certain Affinity, a relatively small studio that up until then had been best known for helping out big publishers on AAA shooters like Halo and Call of Duty.
But it seems it wasn’t to be, as by the end of 2016, 2K decided to pull the project and take on the next BioShock game in-house, scrapping the work Certain Affinity had completed up until that point.
Over the next couple of years 2K quietly hired staff to work on the project, and then in September 2019 the company revealed that a brand new studio was working on the next iteration of the BioShock series; Cloud Chamber.
Cloud Chamber is “a collective of storytellers eager to push the frontlines of interactive entertainment by making unique, entertaining and thoughtful experiences that engage the world” according to 2K Games.
It’s headed up by Kelley Gilmore, who previously worked on the likes of the Civilization and XCOM series’, along with BioShock alums Hoagy de la Plante (Art Director on BioShock 1 and Infinite) and Jonathan Pelling (Art Team Creative Director on Infinite).