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.
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.
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.