The BioShock series has been dormant since 2014, but all of that could change soon. Publisher 2K Games released a remastered version of the entire franchise titled BioShock: The Collection back in 2016 and brought it to Nintendo Switch in 2020. Now, a new chapter of the retro-futuristic franchise is currently in development.
While 2K has said much about the game officially, job postings and some alleged leaks do suggest what direction BioShock 4 could be heading in. One shady batch of leaks emerged on 4chan from user Zhykionn in September 2019 claiming to have inside information for a slew of crucial details about the game. Job listings also gave away a major detail about BioShock 4's setting, putting that 4chan leak into question.
The purported leaks bolster an April 2018 Kotaku report that former employees of game studio Hanger 13 had joined another company to work on the next game in the BioShock series, codenamed “Parkside.” Since that leak, 2K has confirmed that a new BioShock game is in development, unveiled its developer, and let investors know to not expect it soon.
Here’s everything we know about BioShock 4:
When is the BioShock 4 release date?
The original leaks stated that 2K has the “strong will” to announce the project “between December 2019 and March 2020.” That timeframe has come and gone, but 2K confirmed in December 2019 that a new BioShock was in development.
The leaks also state that production for the game started sometime in 2016 and that the game is at a “solid and advanced state of development.” This timeline lines up with BioShock Infinite’s creation process, though the game does appear to be earlier in development than the leak claimed.
Ken Levine, the founder of Irrational Game and creator of the BioShock series, told VG247 in 2010 that Infinite was worked on in secrecy for two-and-a-half years prior to its 2010 announcement. The final product took a total of five years to make and was released in early 2013.
Irrational relinquished the BioShock franchise after Infinite's release and left it in the hands of 2K. If the publisher follows Irrational’s development process in any way, a 2021 or 2022 release might still be possible. A recent comment from 2K's parent company Take-Two suggests that it could be even further out though. In its February 2020 financial report, Take-Two claims that "will be in development for the next several years." Depending on the company's interpretation of "several years," we may not get the game until 2023 or later.
Furthermore, an August 2020 batch of leaks clarifies that the game is being developed specifically for next-gen systems so that probably means it won't be out until at least 2022.
What consoles will BioShock 4 be available on?
Zhykionn's leak claimed that this would be a cross-generation title. But if BioShock 4 is releasing in 2022 or later, it might only be available on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X. There’s no mention of a PC version for the game, but seeing as every game in the series has been available on Windows, the fourth installment probably will be too. There has been no word on Nintendo Switch or Google Stadia versions of the game.
Job listings noticed in August 2020 do make it clear that the game is being developed for next-gen systems, further casting a PS4 and Xbox One release in doubt.
Who is developing BioShock 4?
2K revealed that a brand new developer called Cloud Chamber would be taking the reigns of the BioShock franchise in December 2019. The studio was teased in the aforementioned Kotaku report but wasn't publicly unveiled until then. The studio is made up of two teams in San Francisco and Montreal, and 2K describes them as "a collective of storytellers eager to push the frontlines of interactive entertainment by making unique, entertaining, and thoughtful experiences that engage the world."
The studio is led by Kelley Gilmore, who worked with fellow 2K studio Firaxis for almost two decades. In regards to her new studio, Gilmore boasted that "our team believes in the beauty and strength of diversity, in both the makeup of the studio and the nature of its thinking. We are a deeply experienced group of game makers, including many responsible for BioShock’s principal creation, advancement and longstanding notoriety, and honored to be part of the 2K family as stewards of this iconic franchise."
Interestingly, Cloud Chamber was not the first developer on BioShock 4. A December 2019 Kotaku report claimed that support studio Certain Affinity was developing BioShock 4 back in 2015, but development was rebooted and moved in-house by 2K.
When does BioShock 4 take place?
BioShock Infinite was not immediately part of the BioShock and BioShock 2 storylines, but that changed when its two-episode expansion Burial at Sea was released. The story reveals that the interdimensional events of Infinite wound up leading to the start of the original BioShock game, meaning that the original trilogy essentially creates a time loop. However, BioShock 4 is expected to continue right where the first two installments left off while also nodding to BioShock Infinite.
The Zhykionn leak writes that the game will take place in 1971, roughly 10 years after the original BioShock, but little else is known about the game's scope. None of this has been officially confirmed though, and a job listing may prove it inaccurate. However, job listings noticed in August 2020 mention a "new and fantastical world," so it may ignore the original trilogy's timeline altogether.
Where does BioShock 4 take place?
Leaks and job postings indicate that BioShock 4 will not be set in Rapture or Columbia; Instead, it will take the series to someplace new. Zhykionn's leak claims that ADAM, the same gene-altering organism fueling the Tonics and Plasmids that led to Rapture’s downfall is also wreaking havoc in London. The post describes a world that wants to ascend into a golden age with this newfound technology, but is instead faced with “innumerable crises.”
Players will no longer be confined to the dark and damp halls of Rapture and be able to explore London as an open world. “The game’s maps will be larger and richer than the previous chapters,” wrote Zhykionn. “Especially enhancing environmental destructibility and further expanding the effects of plasmids on enemies, in-game maps and on environmental enigmas.”
Officially, a job listing for a "Lead Environment Modeler" may have disproven that leak and given a hint towards the game's setting. The post mentions that whoever is hired will be "leading efforts to help us breathe life into a new and fantastical world." This listing suggests that BioShock 4 will be totally disconnected from the rest of the series and have more fantastical elements than previous entires.
Similar to newer titles like Doom Eternal and Halo Infinite, BioShock 4 may be a spiritual reboot for the franchise.
Who is the BioShock 4 protagonist?
Zhykionn's unproven leaks claims that the protagonist of BioShock 4 is an American orphan named Lucas. The leak explains that Lucas has called London home for years and has survived as a thief. That all goes south when a series of unfortunate events unravel and Lucas is accused of being involved in the downfall of Rapture.
It’s unclear who his adversaries are or what his main objective will be during the game, but there might be some familiar faces to help him along the way. If the game does take place in a "new and fantastical world" though, this leaked character wouldn't make much sense, putting Zhykionn's leak even into further doubt. But London would look very different in the world of BioShock, infused with modern steampunk and dystopian elements.
Which characters might return in BioShock 4?
Zhykionn stated that Eleanor Lamb, Dr. Brigid Tenenbaum, and the Lutece twins will make a return in BioShock 4 as pivotal characters. The leaks didn’t specify where they’ll fit in the story, but fans of the franchise will apparently get to play alongside popular characters from past installments.
As we've mentioned, being in a "new world" would probably make the reappearance of these characters impossible. Even if it is separated from the previous games, don't be surprised to see Easter eggs and other fanservice in BioShock 4.
What will BioShock 4's gameplay be like?
Finally, Zhykionn claims that the game will make use of both open-world and linear maps to give players freedom while also driving home the game’s narrative.
BioShock and BioShock 2 made use of many linear, claustrophobic maps inside of Rapture, while Infinite provided more dynamic combat in the airborne city of Columbia. BioShock 4 seems to be a middle ground between the two while also embracing the open-world trend that’s becoming increasingly popular in the years since the franchise’s last entry.
Plus, seeing how ADAM and plasmids are still a big part of the series, it’s likely that players will be able to inject Lucas with plasmids to give him superhuman abilities. Some iconic ones from the previous games let players shoots fire, electricity, and even crows from their fingertips, and you can be sure that Bioshock 4 will introduce even more plasmid abilities when it finally arrives.
Official job listings also give small hints. All of Cloud Chamber's job listings describe BioShock 4 as a "systems-driven experience," suggesting that it could incorporate some immersive sim elements.
BioShock 4 is currently in development at Cloud Chamber Games.