The great Bioshock Infinite has yet another mystery still to reveal. Three in fact, as we headed into the clouds (and back out of them to land in Boston) to talk to the creators about what the game's Season Pass would be getting fans of the title, and discovered the first add-on will be released today, with two more DLC packs due later.
First is Clash in the Clouds. An arena-based mode against waves of enemies is certainly a little hard to swallow, hardly doing justice to the masterpiece that focused as much on story as it did on combat. But then, Infinite's interplay with sky-hooks, Vigors and guns made for unique gameplay opportunities, and a chance to dabble purely in it shouldn't be sniffed at.
The relatively low level of difficulty was one of the few weak points of Bioshock Infinite (for those side-stepping the 1999 mode), and Clash in the Clouds finally provides a challenge. You need to be well versed in juggling bullets and abilities, and well-worn in tackling enemies like Handymen.
On each of the four new maps, learning terrain is of major advantage. Skylines and Tears must be used if you're to survive the fifteen waves of enemy attackers. But also between attacks, the map will gradually change; floating buildings shift, Skylines appear and disappear, Tears alter. As always, Elizabeth is by your side.
Level designer Forrest Dowling explains the new points system, with which we exchange money for better equipment or skills. The Blue Ribbon challenges demand a different use of attacks, changing up Vigors or scoring kill streaks, not to mention altering the rulebook: see trying to down three Handymen at the same time when no head or heart shots are allowed.
Earned dollars can also be cashed in at the Archaeological Society - Infinite's own showroom - to unlock Kinetoscope film clips, paintings and models, or Voxophone clips. It's worth the entry for the Columbia version of Tainted Love alone.
There's four difficulty settings, but thanks to the generous amount of money rolling in it's easy to keep Booker well equipped. Between waves we can help yourself to Infinite's gigantic arsenal.
Clash in the Clouds isn't innovative, but clocking Achievements and Trophies, jostling for Leaderboard position and winning those Blue Ribbon challenges sells it better than most seemingly cash-in DLC packs. It looks promising. But it's not the most alluring thing we see today.
Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea is split into two episodes, and puts Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth under the sea and into Rapture circa 1958, when the underwater city's lifestyle is at its peak.
There's suggestion here that this is another reality's version of Booker and Elizabeth, rather than Infinite's. Certainly the short trailer we see syncs up with that idea, as it shows us Pinkerton agent Booker in the role of the classic hardboiled detective who encounters Elizabeth, a mysterious foreign beauty with big problems.
Ken Levine only gives us hints as to what the story and reasoning behind this first episode is. He tells us this still-intact world of Rapture was created from scratch, and we'll meet faces both old and new as the best of Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite connect. In addition to all the action, Rapture will be able to be explored in peace, and we'll find out exactly why Booker and Elizabeth are here, and exploring an unspoilt underwater world.
That's Episode 1. Episode 2 we'll see the gameplay change greatly as we control Elizabeth. Although not helpless, you'll need brains (and the strategic use of Tears) rather than brute force to engage with enemies.
The episodes of Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea will cost around fifteen pounds each. A specific release date for Episode 1 is not fixed yet, but the beta is already underway.
This two-parter definitely tantalises and makes up for the somewhat disappointing first reveal of Clash in the Clouds. Infinite's reveal of multiple realities can play dividends here, as story-driven DLC doesn't have to impact on Infinite's ending, yet allow us to see more of Booker and Elizabeth (and have fun altering the location and roles).
That's not to say arena fights are not fun. However, the presentation simply does not match the quality that you are used to from Irrational Games. Yet with the Season Pass offering Burial at Sea at a cheaper bundle price (and tossing in Clash in the Clouds along with it for the same one cost) it'll be almost impossible not to at least dabble in some action-focused DLC. But Burial At Sea is definitely the biggest bang in Irrational's announcement.