Bioshock is evergreen. Those of us who’ve already played the Bioshock games know that. But if you’re new to the series, you’re in luck! All three Bioshock games are coming back, remastered and better than ever. Each game in the series is full of commentary, satire, and design that will always be relevant. Imitators pale in comparison to the sunken Art Deco dystopia of the first two games. And the rose-colored patriotism of Bioshock Infinite will make you think twice about walking into that creepy Hall of Presidents at Disney World.
Though they may be frightening and weird, these games are absolute must-plays. Those of you who will be experiencing them for the first time are in for one hell of a surprise, so be wary of spoilers below as we list the moments we’re most excited to see in Bioshock: The Collection, available on PS4 and Xbox One starting Sept. 13.
Welcome to Rapture (and Columbia)
There’s always a city. And the first time we saw the cities of Bioshock, we were stunned. The first game delivered players to the depths of Rapture via bathysphere, inviting them to look out the porthole onto a looming cityscape on the ocean floor. The place is teeming with wildlife: schools of fish, sharks and even a giant squid swim past your view. The reveal of Columbia in Bioshock Infinite is a near-perfect inversion of this moment. Instead of plunging into the North Atlantic, you rocket up into the clouds, eventually drifting down between sunlit buildings. I’m getting chills just writing about it!
Welcome to Dandy Dental, where every root canal will get you a free Plasmid! Bioshock antagonist and master of accents Frank Fontaine built this dental practice as a way to distribute his Telekinesis and Slim-Down Plasmids. To clear away the wreckage that protects crazed cosmetic surgeon Dr. Steinman, you must first meet one of his colleagues in Dandy Dental. The Dentist provides one of the most startling scares in modern gaming, sneaking up behind players while hidden in a cloud of mist.
Sander Cohen is one of Bioshock’s best secondary antagonists: a mad artist whose demand for perfection and beauty claimed the lives of Rapture citizens like Kyle Fitzpatrick, whom Sander killed with an exploding piano. Fitzpatrick died playing Sander Cohen’s Scherzo #7, a devilishly difficult piece by series composer Garry Schyman. Schyman wrote Scherzo #7 to sound as if the player was always struggling to play it. But when poor Kyle Fitzpatrick struggled to play the piece to Cohen’s impossible standards, we witnessed Kyle’s explosive finale.
The Fate of Gil Alexander
The twisted faces and limbs of Rapture’s Splicers are the evidence of ADAM abuse. But what happens when ADAM abuse goes way, way further? Bioshock 2 answers that question with Gilbert Alexander. Once a great scientist who aided in the Big Daddy program and the creation of Subject Delta, Alexander later joined the ranks of Bioshock 2 antagonist Sophia Lamb’s cult. An attempt to turn him into a supergenius with a huge dose of ADAM failed catastrophically, turning Gil into a massive fetus-like creature. But before his mutation, Gil was smart enough to leave audio diaries begging anyone to end his life, should he end up horribly disfigured. Whether Gil lives or dies is up to the player, but either way, his presence in Bioshock 2 makes the game weirder than the first. Weird is good.
How She Sees the World
Bioshock 2, for all its familiarity, had a few innovative moments that left players pleasantly blindsided. The best of those moments is the brief sequence seen through the eyes of a Little Sister. Experiencing Rapture through her is a total shock — the world as she knows it is radiant and gold. Pools of blood become trails of rose petals. The Lancer Big Daddy from Minerva’s Den came from a piece of concept art for this sequence, in which a Big Daddy appears in golden, knightly armor. It’s a beautiful idea.
Pearl and Milton
In a moment that would later get a nod in Portal 2, we find out that computer genius Charles Milton Porter once used Rapture’s Thinker mainframe to replicate the personality of his late wife, Pearl. The audio diaries he used to document the process are heartbreaking to hear. But they’re beyond heartbreaking when you figure out that Subject Sigma, the Big Daddy protagonist of the Minerva’s Den DLC, is Porter himself. The even bigger mindf*** is learning that the Charles Porter that has been guiding Subject Sigma is also The Thinker, replicating Porter’s personality. Mind blown yet?
La Revanche du Jedi
Seeing Elizabeth open a tear for the first time is impressive. But it’s that little time-bending touch that makes the moment unforgettable. Stuck in her tower in 1912, Elizabeth tears a rift in her painting of the Eiffel Tower to reveal: a Paris street. She’s standing in front of a movie theater advertising “La Revanche du Jedi.” An ambulance barrels down the street, threatening to run her over. Elizabeth closes the portal just in time, and protagonist Booker DeWitt is flabbergasted. So are we, four years after seeing this moment in one of the Bioshock Infinite‘s trailers!
New York Under Fire
Here’s one that had many of us scratching our heads — a glimpse into a possible future. Elizabeth, gray-haired and wizened, still lives in Columbia. After Comstock‘s death, she is now a figurehead for the city. She helps Booker up onto a ledge to overlook the New York skyline. A billboard reads “New for 1984.” Mortar fire and artillery shells rain down upon the city from zeppelins and Columbia’s battlements. “The seed of the prophet shall sit the throne and drown in flame the mountains of man,” Elizabeth says. “Say what you will about Comstock, he was a hell of a fortune-teller.”
Back to Rapture
I don’t know about you, but many of us genuinely didn’t expect to wind up back in Rapture. Elizabeth’s powers always made it a possibility, but Bioshock Infinite‘s commitment to making Columbia so unique sold me on the idea that the game didn’t need Rapture. But when Elizabeth transports Booker, Songbird, and herself through the tear and back into Rapture, jaws hit the floor. Songbird drowns, thrashing in the frigid North Atlantic. And it’s here that Bioshock‘s use of infinite realities solidifies. Going back to Rapture isn’t just a cheap moment of nostalgia — the game earns the power of this scene through simple, robust storytelling.
There’s always a lighthouse, a man, and a city. Bioshock Infinite‘s ending is so huge that it truly inspires a sense of the infinite — something beautiful and deeply unsettling. It’s moments like this that make the Bioshock series so replayable.