A BioShock MMO: How it could work

So you might have heard the rumour that 2K is working on a BioShock MMO. And if you did, you might have responded with something along the lines of ‘WTF’. And by ‘might have’, we probably mean ‘definitely’. If fact we do.

But is it that weird an idea? And could it actually hold together? First answer: Yes it is. But second answer: Yes it could. Read on and we’ll go through the options

The nuts and bolts

Above: It'd all be yours for the taking

First up, when you break it down BioShock’s is already set up for an MMO structure, despite being a linear FPS/RPG from the start. Rapture’s society is massively divided, with numerous opposing factions vying for dominance since way before Jack ever discovered the city. All the factions have leadership from ideological figureheads and each amounts to essentially a rabidly loyal army.

With different levels of authority and plasmid enhancement, degradation and specialisation, you’ve basically got a class system, and with a whole socio-economic backdrop to play with, you’ve hot everything you need for jobs, shops, crafting, and everything else that goes with the archetypal MMO.

The setting

Above: What if this was the endgame rather than the start?

We see three main options here. Firstly, it could be set during BioShock as we see it in the existing games. Things have gone to shit, meaning that violence (and thus PvE and PvP potential) would be rife, the world would be split between allegiance to Atlas and Ryan, and there would be plenty of story-development to be getting on with as player progression revealed more of the truth about both sides. The only problem is that there’s a very short window of chronology to fit all that into. Rapture fell on New Year’s Eve 1959, and Jack arrived some time in 1960. The game could be set beteen BioShock 1 and 2, but we find the earlier period more interesting.

So to that end, we reckon setting it before the fall is the way to go. All the key elements are still there; Plasmids, Adam, Ryan, Fontaine and the socio-political tensions are present and correct. But there’s a longer, and crucially fairly unexplored period of time to play with in terms of story, and setting the MMO before the city went completely feral would be much better suited to the slower pace and more structured progression of an MMO.

Or you could just make a World of BioShock set in the outside world after Rapture’s influence has taken hold, but we want that for BioShock 3 instead.

The trappings

Above: Make gene banks really expensive and you've got a solid re-spec system

It would actually be pretty to adapt BioShock’s set-up to MMO gameplay. The games are, after all, just as much RPG as they are FPS. The aforementioned factions already have their own territory and centres of industrial, economic and political importance, so that’s your standard raids sorted out right there. You’ve got an in-built XP system with Adam and if Plasmids were made more complex and varied, that’s character customisation completely covered.

Bosses? Easy. Heavily-spliced up faction figureheads (such as lower-level Fontaine equivalents) would be no problem to fit into the storyline, and there’s always the mammoth potential of turning Big Daddy fights into group boss instances. Think BioShock 2’s Little Sister sieges played from the opposite direction. They could be integral to story missions, or there could even be certain epic Big Daddies roaming around just waiting for a well-organised group to hit them for massive Adam pay-outs and valuable, high level kit.

But while it’s feasible, would you want it? Is a BioShock MMO an exciting idea, or is it just a brand extension too far, and something that would dilute a once-loved world pointlessly? Let us know in the comments, or via our Facebook and Twitter.


  • Zeb364 - April 20, 2010 10:20 p.m.

    I don't think they should do this. I'm one of the biggest Bioshock fans out around but an MMO just wouldn't be able to convey the story, subtext, and nuances required for a real Bioshock title. So as much as I'd love to live in Rapture I'm going with no on this one, I'll settle for slice of Rapture life delivered in Bioshock 2's multiplayer. @n00b: You are complaining that the multiplayer in Bioshock 2 robbed the single player yet you want to let any random joe go into the game and fuck with the artfully crafted world of Rapture? How does that make sense? Now I'm not hating on mods or PC gaming, it worked great in Half-Life 2 and has produced some awesome (and some terrible) things. But Rapture is such a finely tuned universe that no good could come from letting random schmuks monkey with it.
  • kor2disturbed - April 18, 2010 1:50 p.m.

    Personally I'm against a Bioshock MMO as iKOemos said I do like the feeling of being trapped and a free roam MMO would lose that touch of dread, and for some reason I feel it would get boring pretty fast. But if they do decide to make one I think it would be a smart idea to wait a little while finish up bioshock 2 and any other bioshocks you may be planning, then make the MMO that way you make it at the right time and nobody's got anything to look forward anymore. Because I'd be a hell of alot more excited for Bioshock 3 than a Bioshock MMO.
  • R_U_Guys_From_British - April 17, 2010 12:01 p.m.

    Its a perfect forumla for a MMO but I wouldn't want it, it would just dillute the whole of what Bioshock means. Bioshock games should be solitary experiences. Multiplayer in Bioshock 2 was wrong if you ask me, let alone an MMO.
  • AElli - April 16, 2010 8:44 p.m.

    I would love to see an MMO. The world of Rapture is very much exploitable for such a game. After all, we're all gamers.
  • g4m3rk1dd - April 16, 2010 3:50 p.m.

    every game has the potential to be treated as an MMO (GOGO GADGET FABLE/POKEMANZ NAOW?!?) its just a matter of will they do the game justice :|. more than likely i don't see this turning out too well becuase, i for one, would like to keep playing as a big daddy or even (as mentioned in an article discussing a possible sequel to the game) a big sister rather than fight another as some weak ass spliced up lame who almost literaly cant see straight due to some massive tumor/bister on my face :|. i probably wouldnt get it anyway seeing how WoW had previously claimed my soul so easily but as i said if done any justice this could be a good thing...or it could be a repeat of the sonic franchise.
  • philipshaw - April 16, 2010 1:28 p.m.

    I'm not a big fan of MMO games, so would rather see Bioshock 3 be a prequel
  • camelfro - April 16, 2010 8:21 a.m.

    youve convinced me if this is true i dont know if it could be on xbox but i doubt the would do it exclusively on the PC
  • Azated - April 16, 2010 2:30 a.m.

    It cant be too far. Ever heard of WoW? 3 games and an mmo and they're still going strong. I think a rapture MMO would be pretty cool. We'd need to have a hell of a lot of changes to the system though, but i think it could work.
  • CH3BURASHKA - April 16, 2010 2:20 a.m.

    You guys have got to stop writing "This is the thing that will suck could, like, not suck". Either kill them or exaggerate them beyond belief: tell us, the reader, how the Bioshock MMO won't suck because everyone will have a funny accent.
  • Cyberninja - April 16, 2010 1 a.m.

    it just wouldnt work at all and to defend oufour they may be having problems with the new comment system also like i was the other day
  • JohnnyMaverik - April 15, 2010 10:49 p.m.

    NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO... I think you can see where I'm going with this.
  • n00b - April 15, 2010 9:29 p.m.

    i agree with this list but still bioshock should have been kept a single player game, by putting multiplayer in bioshock 2 they robbed the single player. plus hardly anyone's gonna play it for long if they wanted re playability they should have enabled mods like half life.
  • TheHolyHandGrenade - April 15, 2010 8:30 p.m.

    @oufour actually you are first, second, and third. when triple posting at least get your numbers right.
  • Spybreak8 - April 15, 2010 7:49 p.m.

    I love the original and the sequel. I love Mass Effect the original and the sequel BUT for both games I feel they don't need multiplayer. They're better experiences going at it solo. That's the whole main point for both games! The ideas here do sound good though and you're right they do have the structure for an MMO in the game already. Lol, it was like they were building a PC, leaving space to upgrade.
  • oryandymackie - April 15, 2010 7:27 p.m.

    I always wanted to live in Rapture - have my own apartment in the city. This could be feasible. And, oufour, Borderlands is not an MMO. It is a co-op game. I wouldn't have said anything if you hadn't said 'first!' Three times.
  • Embolado - April 15, 2010 7:23 p.m.

    Please no MMO in my Bioshock. Its a fact that every MMO has garbage graphics due to the the open world enviroment, it seems like it would be a step backwords.
  • bigmonsterguy - April 15, 2010 2:37 p.m.

    I think that a bouncer big daddy (nerfed as a tank, no plasmids etc, pillar drill only for the reason that then noone would be the "ranged" class) would work in a gameplay situation for player characters. Different splicers etc could be "mages". Or they could do a system like WOW, that is to say horde vs alliance, or Fontaine vs Ryan.
  • Modroneman - April 15, 2010 1:10 p.m.

    It would be interesting how they would pull this off. I have a strict No MMO rule under my roof. So even if it is a great game, which it could be, I wont get it. MMO's just require time I'm just not willing to give.
  • Spydie4x4 - April 15, 2010 11:56 a.m.

    IDK, i think it would be at LEAST intresting to muck around in for a bit. But I honestly dont think it would hold my attention for very long... @ oufour, Your a CUNT. Tis all.
  • Spydie4x4 - April 15, 2010 11:53 a.m.

    @ oufour... your a cunt.

Showing 1-20 of 24 comments

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