Where is this franchise going to take us next? Before I begin to divulge on the possibilities, let's take a brief look at the settings we've visited so far. For those off you who haven't yet played a Bioshock game, I highly recommend you go pick up yourself a copy of the first game and give it a play because you're missing out on what could be a vital part of your life.
The second game in the franchise came long in 2010 and was developed by a different developer this time round, 2k Marin. The game was set once more in Rapture but eight years after the events of the first game. This time, you control a Big Daddy prototype, commonly known throughout the city as Subject Delta. You were given different locations in Rapture to explore which never appeared in the first game, as well as a new array of plasmids to use. The main plot differed from that of Jack's story, with focus instead put on you trying to find your long lost Little Sister which you were supposed to protect during the initial fall of Rapture, nine years prior. The game's story lacked the depth and political intrigue of the previous installment, but still had much in the way of imagination and even presented us with deadlier enemy types as well as new characters to interact with. Although sharing the same setting, Bioshock 2 had little to nothing to do with the events of the previous game.
A multiplayer component was also added to the game and was set before the first Bioshock, during the actual fall of the city itself, where you take on the role of a splicer battling for control of the city's various districts. Bioshock 2 received much less acclaim than the original Bioshock, but is still considered a decent first-person adventure and a fun return to the original's gritty setting.
So now it brings me back to the question of whats next?
I speculate they could take the series into space, like with the earlier System Shock games (to which Bioshock became the spiritual sequel) having a city situated on the moon's surface. You could play as one of the first astronauts to land on the moon, but of course there is a twist. You're not the first astronaut to land on the moon and for years the government have kept in secret the existence of this city (or base) to the public eye. As an astronaut, you discover the city on the dark side of the moon and go to investigate, only to be pulled in with a conflict between scientists and the general population. This would give the new developers creative freedom to craft a unique title, and also differs so much from the original three games. However it does fall into the bracket of being compared to games such as Dead Space or even Wolfenstein: The New Order (as is pictured). A 'cold war' theme could fit the setting, focused a little on the space race between Russia and America during the years before the initial moon landing. It would certainly be an interesting setting to explore, and would be distant enough to keep it separate from the earlier titles.
After the events of Bioshock Infinite, it has been clarified that any setting is possible within this multiverse.
With every developer now jumping ship to next-gen consoles, the setting of the next Bioshock can be massively expanded on without compromising the gameplay in order to make full use of the new hardware. Instead of featuring just one city, why not feature an abundance of them that can be visited across the multiverse (as introduced in Bioshock Infinite)?
We've seen expansive cities presented on next-gen consoles such as in the trailers for Batman : Arkham Knight and, whilst a single map in a Bioshock would never have to be this huge - it still illustrates the capabilities of the PS4/Xbox One hardware. It also suggests to me that both devices are so much more powerful and that their potential is only just being tapped on. With that in mind, I think they could start work on the biggest Bioshock yet. I would have Elizabeth play a vital role, although much more battle-hardened than in Bioshock Infinite, with her playing the part of pilot to the various cities across the various universe. We know from her travels to Rapture in Burial at Sea that she has journeyed far and wide across space/time, but maybe she stumbles across a universe so vastly different from the one she left behind in Columbia that it makes her start to discover new things for the first time in a long while, having recently achieved an 'all-knowing' form. These new cities, which are neither Rapture or Columbia (although both could still make an appearance in some form), might feature characters she has encountered previously too. I would touch upon the religious themes as introduced in the previous game, but with much more suggestion than - just maybe - throughout Elizabeth's travels to various cities across the multiverse, she may well have stumbled across a very real interpretation of Heaven and Hell, with both cities virtually polarised in terms of setting and population (much like the contrast of Rapture and Columbia now that I think about it).
Perhaps Elizabeth would be the playable protagonist, as with Burial at Sea. This would give us the opportunity to have her face and battle her own personal demons but in a very literal form, during her exploration of both worlds. I think that, instead of merely changing up the setting, they need to expand on what was introduced at the end of Bioshock Infinite by developing fresh ideas from the multiverse concept.
I like to think that both of the cities which feature would be the absolutely extreme, but at opposite ends of the multiverse spectrum (if that makes any sense at all), which is why I compare them to Heaven and Hell, respectively.
'There's always a man. There's always a city.'
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