Thoughts from Beyond the Sea: BioShock 2

Thoughts from Beyond the Sea: BioShock 2


With BioShock 2’s release imminent, we sit down with Jordan Thomas, Zak McClendon, and Hogarth De La Plante. The devs discus the challenges of making a sequel to 2007’s most beloved game.

All Grown Up

Big Sisters are physically unstable grown-up Little Sisters – manifestations of a father’s influence on his daughter, given their appearance and desire to protect other Little Sisters. “The ADAM they’ve been ingesting for years and years and years has begun to manifest,” Jordan Thomas explained.

Zak McClendon discussed the design philosophy behind these Big Daddy-Little Sister hybrids – a philosophy that greatly contrasts their lethal nature. “Whereas the Big Daddies have this kindly old man, weary, lumbering appeal to them, the Big Sisters were meant to embody an awkward adolescent phase… They’re a little awkward in their posing and they have leg braces.”

Despite their awkwardness, Big Sisters still maintain a grace and soft edge, further accentuating the idea that they are Little Sisters who have grown up too fast. “Some of the smaller details that you may not notice during gameplay are things like little ribbons on the basket that she uses to carry Little Sisters or small childlike drawings on her tank.”

Taking a break

While maintaining the visceral combat of BioShock was important to 2K Marin, continuing the isolation and perpetual tension was not. As Hogarth De La Plante stated, “We had a lot people who said, ‘It’s sort of weird that I walk around in the city and all I see are these murdering splicers all the time. Aren’t there any other normal people like me who live down here?’”

Subject Delta has the opportunity to meet “normal human inhabitants who aren’t spliced up murderous lunatics.” As De La Plante explained, these sane inhabitants provide a much-needed respite from the hectic and tense combat, while also being important to the narrative. “I think they really do help make [Rapture] feel a little bit less lonely.”

McClendon also weighed in on why 2K Marin wanted to create a more varied pace in BioShock 2. “Rapture from the inside is such a dangerous, tense place and so many people who played the first game, when we talked to them, talked about how they never felt safe and never [enjoyed] the beauty of the environment.”

McClendon cited such fan feedback as motivation for the game’s outdoor levels. Going outside affords players a lull from splicers and Big Daddies and Big Sisters while providing a view of “this gorgeous amazing city from a different perspective.”

Maximizing a Sequel

While BioShock was a story complete in and of itself, 2K Marin tried to make the sequel both familiar and original by allowing players to explore Rapture from a different perspective and different philosophical viewpoint. This strategy allows players unfamiliar with BioShock to enjoy its sequel by itself, while also allowing veteran players to gain a new appreciation for an existing world.

A sequel to BioShock may never have been necessary, but 2K Marin certainly attempted to make it welcome.