Officially announced back in December 2019, it appears the ball is finally rolling on the next BioShock entry, with developer Cloud Chamber posting several job listings which offer some idea of what we can expect from the game's direction, as reported by PCGamesN (opens in new tab).
Apparently, one thing we can expect is a less linear design, with the company's Senior Writer listing (opens in new tab) calling for "someone who can weave impactful, character-driven stories in an open world setting."
Additionally, the person filling that position will be asked to "Brainstorm primary and secondary mission content", suggesting the player will be able to take on side quests alongside the game's main story.
Perhaps even more indicative of the next BioShock's direction is Cloud Chamber's Videogame AI Programmer listing (opens in new tab), which asks for someone to help implement an "urban crowd system and the systemic tribal ecology of a sometimes hostile AI" and "push the envelope of what is possible with interactive crowd systems".
Some other listings (Senior Technical Designer (opens in new tab), UI/UX Designer (opens in new tab), and Senior World Designer (opens in new tab)) lend further credence to the likelihood of an open-world BioShock title.
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What an open-world could mean for BioShock
BioShock's main strength has always been in its deep and layered storytelling – an aspect which tends to fade into the background when you're distracted by non-essential side quests in open-world games.
That said, BioShock feels like that rare instance in which an open-world setting could enhance its main storyline. As a franchise, BioShock has always dealt in anti-establishment themes, and it seems as though "urban crowd systems" and a "systemic tribal ecology" could play directly into that.
Imagine, for a moment, a BioShock game set in a well-populated city, where your decisions as a player actually affect the city's AI inhabitants in real-time. In other words, a game in which your actions could inspire an uprising...
Of course, it's far too early to speculate on what the finished game might actually be like, though we do hope that Cloud Chamber is able to offer something more special than the usual "drive from point A to point B, clear area and move on" cycle that most open-world games tend to fall into.