Box art depicts protagonist Booker DeWitt.
Human Head Studios
Darkside Game Studios
|Engine||Modified Unreal Engine 3|
|Media/distribution||Optical disc, download|
BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games, and published by 2K Games. Previously known as "Project Icarus" in development, it was released worldwide on the Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 platforms on March 26, 2013. BioShock Infinite is the third installment in the BioShock series, and though it is not part of the storyline of previous BioShock games, it does feature similar gameplay concepts and themes. The game's concept and setting were developed by Irrational's creative lead, Ken Levine, who took inspiration from both historical events at the turn of the 20th century, as well as more recent ones at the time such as the "Occupy" protests.
Set in 1912 during the growth of American exceptionalism, the game has protagonist, former Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt, sent to the floating air-city of Columbia to find a young woman, Elizabeth, who has been held captive there for most of her life. Though Booker rescues Elizabeth, the two are pursued by the city's warring factions: the nativist and elite Founders that strive to keep the city for pure Americans, and the Vox Populi, a rebel grouping representing the common people. Booker finds Elizabeth to be central to this conflict, and learns that she possesses strange powers to manipulate rifts in the space-time continuum that ravage Columbia.
The player controls Booker throughout the game, eventually working with the AI-controlled Elizabeth. Like previous BioShock games, the player uses a combination of weapons, gears, and psychokinetic powers granted through vigors. Elizabeth's own powers can also be used to help fight hostile forces. In contrast to the limited spaces of the underwater city of Rapture, the open-air city of Columbia provides for more combat challenges, including combat that takes place aboard the city's Skyline rollercoaster-like rail system. The game also features an optional "1999 Mode", harking back to games like System Shock 2 where decisions made by the player will have a more permanent impact on the game.
BioShock Infinite won numerous pre-release awards for its display at E3 2011, including Best of Show from the Game Critics Awards. Upon release, the game received critical acclaim and was favorably compared to, with some even considering it had surpassed, the original BioShock game. The game's plot and visual aesthetics were particularly praised (with its ending sparking debates across internet forums), while the combat received a mixed response with some praising its new additions and others criticizing its simplicity. Its themes of political and religious beliefs, and the use of excessive violent imagery have also raised controversy. Take Two has reported that over 3.7 million retail copies have shipped within the first two months of the game's release.
The primary setting of BioShock Infinite is "Columbia" named in homage to the female personification of the United States. The city is suspended in the air through a combination of "quantum levitation", and giant blimps and balloons. Unlike the secret development of the underwater city of Rapture used as the settings for BioShock and BioShock 2, Columbia was built and launched in 1893 by the American government, to much fanfare and publicity. The city was meant to symbolize the ideas of exceptionalism; the reveal trailer for the game alludes to the 1893 World's Fair which is historically considered to be a growth point of American exceptionalism. On the surface, Columbia appeared to be designed as a floating World's Fair that could travel across the globe; however, some time after its launch but before the game's events, the city was revealed to be a well-armed battleship, and became involved in an "international incident" by firing upon a group of Chinese civilians during the Boxer Rebellion. The city was disavowed by the United States government, and the location of the city was soon lost to everyone else. The city became, as described by Nick Cowen of The Guardian, "a kind of roaming boogieman moving from place to place and imposing its will on people below". Columbia has been compared to a cross between steampunk and the Star Wars planet Bespin's Cloud City, as well as the airships from various Final Fantasy games, though Irrational's Ken Levine considers the weaponized city similar to the Death Star.
As a result of the city's isolation, a civil war eventually broke out on Columbia between different factions of citizens, each trying to seize control of the city from the powers-that-be. At the time of the game's events, only two main factions remain. One group is the Founders, the remnants of those retaining power over the city led by Zachary Hale Comstock. This is the city's ruling class, which seeks to keep Columbia purely for American citizens while denying foreigners the same privileges. The other is a group named Vox Populi (Latin for "voice of the people"), a rag-tag resistance group, led by Daisy Fitzroy, opposed to the ultranationalists. Vox Populi is formed from several factions with similar ideologies that fought to seize control and restore the rights of Columbia citizenship to all. However, years of war and struggle have driven Vox Populi to fight the powers-that-be solely out of blind hatred, resulting in more violent and brutal methods and leading to subfactions in the group.
Like Rapture, Columbia is considered a dystopia, but with signs present suggesting a theocratic government taking control at some point, and similar racial-purification concepts such as racial segregation, Nazism, jingoism, and xenophobia. One of the items in the press packages for the game included a tag that would purportedly be worn by immigrants aboard Columbia, requiring those of non-European descent, which includes Papists, Gypsies, Irish and Greeks, to list out numerous details, including religious affiliation and data relating to eugenics; another item was a Columbia propaganda poster that warned "We must all be vigilant to ensure the purity of our people." At a carnival within the early part of the game, Booker witnesses one game that involves throwing baseballs at a captive Irish man and his wife of African descent.
In addition to the internal strife, Columbia is ravaged by tears in the fabric of space-time. The game begins with a quote from a fictional work entitled Barriers to Trans-dimensional Travel purportedly published in 1889. A strange shimmering effect as seen by Booker causes momentary changes to pictures, banners, and people, representing the nearby presence of a tear; in one example, Booker, while watching a Founder give a speech, experiences a brief shimmer where a patriotic button on the Founder's jacket briefly changes to that of the hammer and sickle associated with communism. The tears have brought anachronistic elements into the Columbia of 1912; for example, gameplay demo footage features a record playing a woman singing Tears for Fears' 1985 song "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"; a later press reveal included similar covers of 1933's "Goodnight, Irene", 1966's "God Only Knows", and 1983's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun". 1UP.com's preview of the 2011 E3 game demonstration denotes that at one point, Booker and Elizabeth find themselves in 1983, evident by a movie marquee showing Revenge of the Jedi (the original working name for Return of the Jedi). The scene was part in a media preview event in December 2012, though in this case, the events occurred within a test laboratory, with Elizabeth expressing an interest in going to Paris and opening a rift to see the marquee for the film in French (La Revanche du Jedi).
As with BioShock and BioShock 2, the player is able to locate audio logs – Voxophones – and film projectors – Kinetoscopes – that will expand on the history of Columbia beyond those events occurring within the game. Additional tie-in media released by Irrational explore the history of Columbia.
Though the game takes place before the events of the previous two BioShock games (occurring in 1960 and 1968, respectively), the question of whether Infinite occurred within this same timeline remains unanswered by Levine.
Booker DeWitt (Troy Baker), the player protagonist, is a disgraced former agent of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. As part of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, he had performed brutal acts against native American Indians at the Battle of Wounded Knee to defend his own honor; these acts left him emotionally scarred, leading to excessive drinking and gambling. He was subsequently dismissed for behavior beyond the acceptable bounds of the Agency, but considers his actions with the Pinkertons in quelling labour strikes to be among his many sins. He continues to work as a private investigator from New York City, referring to himself as an "independent contractor". Outwardly, he cares little for the extraordinary, provided that it does not interfere with his ability to do his job; internally, he is disturbed by both his role in the events at Wounded Knee and recurring visions of New York City under attack from the air. Booker is skeptical of faith, unwilling to accept the idea that he can be absolved of his sins by embracing religion, as he considers his sins to be so extreme as to demand a penance rather than forgiveness.
Elizabeth (Courtnee Draper) is a young woman who has been held captive in Columbia for most of her life. She is shown to be intelligent, having spent most of her life studying a wide variety of subjects from geography to medicine and physics, whilst acquiring more practical skills in the form of cryptography and lock-picking. She also has the ability to perceive and interact with the dimensional tears across Columbia. She wears a thimble in place of the tip of her little finger, which had been cut off, though she does not remember how this happened. Her confinement has been maintained by Songbird, a large, robotic bird-like creature who had been both her friend and her warden. Songbird was designed by its creator to feel betrayal should Elizabeth escape, and Elizabeth notes she "would rather be killed than be recaptured by Songbird."
Father Zachary Hale Comstock (Kiff VandenHeuvel) serves as the main antagonist of the story. Claiming to have received a vision of the future from an archangel, Comstock became a religious fanatic who founded Columbia, where he is revered as "The Prophet". Comstock claims that Elizabeth is his daughter, born miraculously to his late wife, Lady Comstock, after only seven days in the womb, and that she is "The Lamb" that will lead Columbia in the future. He has created a religion that Ken Levine describes as being a hybrid of Christianity and the worship of the Founding Fathers as religious figures. At the same time, he eschews figures like Abraham Lincoln, considering him to be a "devil" that led America astray; in one area of the game, the player encounters a cult-like group that reveres John Wilkes Booth as a hero. To maintain his leadership, Comstock has created a cult of personality within Columbia, which also protects his secrets by weaving them into the mythology he has created. Under his leadership, Columbia has become a breeding ground for racist and sexist attitudes, with minority groups subject to seizure of assets, false imprisonment and penal labor, torture and summary execution without charge. Although Comstock's knowledge of these crimes is never established, he himself is revealed to be responsible for at least three murders and leading a violent purge of over forty dissidents.
Daisy Fitzroy (Kimberly Brooks) is the leader of the Vox Populi. A woman of African-American descent, she originally journeyed to Columbia to find a new life, and took a position as housekeeper in Comstock's mansion. When Comstock murdered his wife to keep Elizabeth's parentage secret, he turned Fitzroy into a scapegoat for the crime and invented the Vox Populi as common enemy of the people in order to further turn Columbia into a police state. This inspired Fitzroy to develop a bitter hatred of the Founders and what they stand for, and assumed control of the Vox Populi to lead the underclass in uprising against Comstock and the Founders. Despite fighting against the injustices perpetrated by the Founders, Daisy and the Vox Populi are presented as being no better than the Founders, given the lengths they are willing to go to in order to overthrow Comstock, their murder of civilians during the uprising, and the use of child soldiers for psychological warfare.
Robert (Oliver Vaquer) and Rosalind Lutece (Jennifer Hale) are two mysterious individuals that direct Booker to Columbia and appear throughout his travels. They appear to be near-identical fraternal twins, but it is later revealed that they are the same person from two different realities, only differing by gender. Rosalind is shown to be the one to have developed the technology that keeps Columbia afloat under Comstock's orders, and through that, made contact with Robert. Together they worked out how to communicate with and subsequently cross between dimensions to the extent where they can now do so at will. Over the course of the story, it is revealed that Comstock attempted to murder the Lutece twins by sabotaging one of their devices to protect his secrets, but instead they ended up in a state of flux, existing along the entire "possibility space". They now act as agents of reality, attempting to correct imbalances without directly manipulating events.
Lady Comstock (Laura Bailey) is the wife of Zachary Hale Comstock and the adoptive mother of Elizabeth. Shortly after meeting Comstock, she became one of his most dedicated followers, but soon became disillusioned when Comstock resorted to increasingly violent tactics to impose his will on the city of Columbia. She grew to resent Elizabeth, and as she grew evermore unstable, she was unable to keep the secret of Elizabeth's parentage and threatened to undermine Comstock's rule over Columbia. Comstock murdered her and blamed Daisy Fitzroy and the Vox Populi for her death, using the act to further establish control over the city. Lady Comstock now exists in a spectral form, fuelled by her own rage and hatred. She attempts to kill Elizabeth several times until Elizabeth convinces her that they are both Comstock's victims.
Jeremiah Fink (Bill Lobley) is an unscrupulous businessman who has a monopoly over manufacturing in Columbia, aided by usurping technology that he has observed through the tears, including that of Songbird. Fink is a key supporter of Comstock as it enables him to exploit cheap labor of the underclass, though he does not share Comstock's religious fervor. He has achieved a celebrity status within Columbia, and produces most of the propaganda throughout the city. He also guided Albert, his brother and a composer, to take music heard through the tears and claim it as his own for profit.
Cornelius Slate (Keith Szarabajka) is a former soldier that fought alongside Booker at the Battle of Wounded Knee before becoming a follower of Comstock and going on to destroy Peking during the Boxer Rebellion. Slate becomes disillusioned with Comstock's rule when he discovers that Comstock has claimed both Slate's and Booker's achievements in battle as his own, and rebels against the city.
In 1912, Booker DeWitt is taken by the Lutece twins to an island lighthouse off the coast of Maine; the structure houses a rocket silo which transports Booker to Columbia, with the mission from Luteces to "bring us the girl and wipe away the debt".
Booker's presence in Columbia goes unnoticed until a citizen identifies the letters "AD" branded on Booker's hand, a sign of the False Shepherd that Comstock prophesised would corrupt Elizabeth and bring about Columbia's downfall. Now a wanted man, Booker fights his way to Monument Island where Elizabeth is held within a tower, discovering along the way a large device at its base called the Siphon. After freeing Elizabeth, Songbird attacks and destroys part of the statue, and Booker and Elizabeth narrowly escape with their lives. The pair work towards the aerodrome, planning on taking an airship to Paris, a city Elizabeth has always wanted to see. When Booker directs the ship to New York City with the intention of delivering Elizabeth, she knocks him out. He awakes to find the airship under the control of Daisy Fitzroy and the Vox Populi. Fitzroy offers to return the ship if Booker recovers a shipment of weapons from the slums of Columbia.
Booker rejoins with Elizabeth and they venture deeper into the city. While Elizabeth uses her ability to manipulate tears to aid their journey, she grows disturbed by the physiological and psychological consequences of manipulating reality on Booker and the other citizens of Columbia. One tear leads them to a world where Booker has become a martyr for the Vox Populi cause, leading to open warfare between the Vox Populi and Columbia's Founders. This universe's Fitzroy believes that this Booker undermines her Booker's sacrifice, threatening to weaken the Vox Populi cause, and so turns her forces against him. Elizabeth is forced to kill Fitzroy when she threatens to execute a Founder boy.
As they prepare to leave Columbia by airship, Songbird attacks and they crash back to Columbia. While continuing their search for escape, they begin to unravel a conspiracy behind the founding of the city. Comstock had taken Elizabeth as his adoptive daughter to groom her as the city's leader. He had the Lutece twins construct the Siphon to subdue her powers before plotting their murder along with that of his wife to conceal the truth, and blamed their deaths on the Vox Populi. Elizabeth is captured by Songbird and taken to Comstock's mansion. Booker follows but is drawn into the future by an elderly Elizabeth who has suffered decades of torture and brainwashing in Booker's absence; she has inherited Comstock's cause and wages war on the world below. She reveals that Songbird would always stop his rescue attempts in the past, and implores Booker to stop this future from coming to pass by offering him the means to control Songbird.
Booker returns to the present and rescues Elizabeth, and the pair pursue Comstock to his airship. Comstock demands that Booker explain Elizabeth's past to her, and why Elizabeth is missing a finger. Booker becomes enraged and drowns Comstock. Booker denies knowledge about Elizabeth's finger but she asserts that he knows, but does not remember. Booker decides to destroy the Siphon so Elizabeth can access her full power and learn the truth. With Songbird under their control, the pair fend off a Vox Populi attack, before ordering Songbird to destroy the Siphon. When the device Booker used to control Songbird is destroyed, it attempts to attack him. Elizabeth opens a tear, transporting the three of them to an underwater city; Booker and Elizabeth remain safe inside, but Songbird appears outside and is crushed by the immense pressure of the ocean.
Elizabeth takes Booker to this reality's surface and lighthouse. They travel through the building's door to a place outside space and time containing countless lighthouses and alternate versions of Booker and Elizabeth. Elizabeth explains that they are within one of an infinite number of possible realities both similar and drastically different due to choices that have been made. She shows that on October 8, 1893, Robert Lutece approached Booker on behalf of Comstock, requesting that he "give us the girl and wipe away the debt," referring to Booker's infant daughter, Anna DeWitt – Booker's "AD" branding. Booker reluctantly agreed to sell Anna but soon changed his mind. He arrived too late to stop Comstock escaping through a tear; the closing of the tear severed the child's finger. Comstock subsequently raised Anna as Elizabeth, his daughter. Due to the severed finger, Elizabeth exists in two realities at once, giving her the ability to open and create tears at will. Later, Robert, angry at Elizabeth's treatment and Comstock's betrayal, convinced Rosalind to help him bring Booker to the reality where Columbia exists to rescue Elizabeth.
Elizabeth explains that whatever actions Booker makes against Comstock, Comstock will still remain alive in at least one of these universes; the Luteces have tried to enlist a Booker from different universes numerous times to end the cycle. The only way to break the circle is to prevent Comstock from being born in the first place. Elizabeth transports Booker to the place he went to be baptized and cleansed of his sins after his actions at the Battle of Wounded Knee. Booker avoided baptism at the last moment, while in another universe he took the baptism, found religion, and became Comstock. Comstock, aware of his identity to Booker, engineered Anna's abduction to provide him with a blood-related heir for Columbia, as he had become sterile from exposure to the Luteces' technology. Booker and Elizabeth are joined by alternate versions of Elizabeth from other universes. Booker allows them to drown him, preventing his choice from ever being made and stopping Comstock from ever existing. One by one, the Elizabeths begin to disappear, the screen cutting to black on the original.
Like BioShock and BioShock 2, BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter with role-playing elements. As Booker, the player moves around Columbia both on foot and by using a grappling hook on a series of railways connecting the buildings called the Skyline. The player will gain weapons which can be used in numerous ways, including on the Skyline, although the player is only able to carry two weapons at once. Booker gains powers and abilities by using vigors, the equivalent of BioShock's plasmids and tonics, and wearing gear, all scattered around Columbia. Vigors grant activated powers such as telekinesis, electricity manipulation, and animal control (as shown by the manipulation of a murder of crows in the gameplay demo); gear grant passive abilities that can improve the player's strength or damage resistance. Vigors require Salt, the equivalent of magic points or BioShock's EVE, for powering their abilities. Vigors have upgrade paths that can be purchased from vending machines, and alternate-fire capabilities. With gear, the player only has four available slots, and has to make decisions on which combination of offensive and defensive capabilities work for them.
Once reunited with Elizabeth, the player must work with her to escape Columbia. Elizabeth stays out of battle, scavenging the area for ammo, health packs, Salt, and other items, and tossing them to Booker as needed. She can also use her tear-opening powers to aid the player, bringing in weapons, health, Salts, environmental features such as cover or a ledge for higher ground, and automated defense units. Only one tear can be opened at a time, making the player decide between the available options to suit the battle. The player will not directly control Elizabeth, but instead she will react to the player and the current situation in a manner similar to the AI Director in Left 4 Dead, according to Levine. The player will need to protect Elizabeth, but will not need "to babysit and hand-hold" her through the game. Levine has stated that "in no way, shape, or form is this an escort mission", noting that players reacted negatively to a late-game stage in the original BioShock in which they were tasked with protecting a Little Sister.
Several different human forces are at work opposed to the player's progress within the city, including forces representing the Founders and the Vox Populi. Furthermore, the player and Elizabeth are chased by Songbird (sometimes simply referred to as "Him"), who attempts to snatch Elizabeth from the player after being her guardian and companion for the last twelve years. Four types of larger mechanical enemies created by the Founders, dubbed "Heavy Hitters," act as mini-bosses throughout the game, demanding new tactics from the player. One type of such enemies is named Handymen, so named for their large porcelain doll-like hands; they are robotic-like monsters housing a human heart and head, with the ability to jump far distances and easily throw player- and non-player characters alike. A second class is the Motorized Patriots, once used as tour guides for the city, decorated in patriotic colors and wearing a wax mask of a Founding Father of the United States; they assault foes with a "peppermill" automatic machine gun. The Boys of Silence are men in foppish outfits locked into a metal helmet with giant ears; the humans inside are blind but, due to their helmet, have super-human hearing and act as Columbia's security system, requiring the player to choose carefully between stealth and a direct assault, whereupon the Boys can scream to call in backup. Finally, the Siren is a mysterious, completely enshrouded female figure, based on the Spiritualism movement near the end of the 19th century, that can revive defeated foes during combat, requiring the player to decide whether to concentrate attacks on the Siren or the newly revived enemies. The player has several options of approaching the Heavy Hitters, such as by using stealth to bypass the encounter, or to hack into the machine and take control of the units.
The Skyline is a rail-based system (originally designed for moving cargo around Columbia but later used for personal transport) similar to the concept found in the Ratchet & Clank games and described by Levine as "a roller coaster, over another roller coaster, over another roller coaster"; players activate a wrist-mounted tool that Booker and enemies wear to jump and hang onto the self-powered tracks. Players can jump onto, off of, and between Skyline tracks at any time, and may face enemies that use the system to attack; the player can use one-handed weapons in Booker's free hand while using the Skyline. Freedom of movement along the Skyline allows for several varieties of combat, including flanking, cover, and area-of-effect attacks through creative uses of the system. Levine considered the Skyline to introduce new options in combat, in the same manner that the use of jetpacks in Tribes or the vehicles in Halo had done, which had helped make those games unique entries in the first-person-shooter genre.
Irrational Games has stated that the game's set pieces are not heavily scripted; they made this statement in response to reaction to a gameplay preview video released during the week of September 21, 2010, which, within ten minutes, demonstrated numerous elements of the game. The development team called the game's pacing "like BioShock 1", and that while there will be some scripted set pieces, the developers want the player to be able to explore Columbia at their own pace. Unlike Jack or Delta, the silent protagonists of BioShock and BioShock 2 respectively, and who are guided by radio commands from a third party, Booker is a vocal character, with dialogue designed to aid the player in leading Booker to complete his mission. Players in Infinite will revisit areas from earlier in the game, in the same manner of BioShock. However, to create a better narrative, the Irrational team borrowed ideas from Batman: Arkham Asylum, a similar open-world game in which players, on return to previous areas, would find new elements that would advance the plot and gameplay.
In addition to the normal game mode, BioShock Infinite includes a "1999 Mode," so named for the release year of System Shock 2, a game worked on by Levine and several other Irrational Games developers. 1999 Mode is a more challenging version of the game, requiring the player to make mutually exclusive specialization choices, such as choosing Booker's proficiency with certain weapon types, which may make later parts of the game difficult to complete and may require the player to reload from earlier saved games to manage his/her resources more efficiently.
Irrational worked in secrecy on Infinite for two-and-a-half years since completing the original BioShock prior to its announcement; with the game announced as going gold on February 19, 2013, about five years of development had been put into the game, with about 200 people involved in the process. 2K Games gave them the freedom to develop their sequel at will. Though The New York Times claimed that the game cost an estimated $100 million to develop with up to an additional $100 million for marketing, Levine countered this assertion though the true cost of development has not been affirmed.
Though BioShock Infinite shares the same name with the other two games, Levine has stated that this is a new direction, and was coy to answer if they shared the same universe. Levine referred to the term BioShock not as a specific location or setting, but a concept conjoined by two ideas: the exploration of a fantastical setting, and the use of a large number of tools and abilities in creative manners to survive. Along with the System Shock games, which Levine and other Irrational developers had worked on, the titles share the same idea of a "component of learning about a new place" and shocking the player into discovering more of the setting, according to Levine. Levine affirmed that with the similarities between the games, "It would be dishonest to say this is not BioShock". Similarly, Timothy Gerritsen, director of product development, stated they wanted to keep the feel of the BioShock experience but still consider Infinite to be a new intellectual property; as a means to sever the implied connection to the previous games, the teaser purposely shows a Big Daddy figurine being crushed at the onset. This was furthered by the selection of the word Infinite as part of the title, to reflect the "many possibilities" they wanted to explore with the BioShock concept. The game does not completely eschew BioShock, as certain elements like the sound effects representing the player's health or for gaining new quests from BioShock are reused without modification in Infinite; Levine stated that they had worked these common elements as former BioShock players would already understand their impact, and that they had spent a great detail of time during BioShock to get these elements right and felt no need to reinvent the sounds again. Further, the introduction of Infinite purposely mimics several elements from BioShock's opening: one example given by writer Drew Holmes is the act of walking through a candle-lined water trough in a Columbia church to be baptized, which visually is similar to swimming through the flaming wreckage of the plane to reach the bathysphere terminus for Rapture.
Story and setting 
For the first six months of development, the team prototyped several possible ideas to brainstorm on what concepts would be effective for the next game. The team had originally considered reusing Rapture from the first two BioShock games, aware that Rapture would be synonymous with the BioShock name, and that players had reacted positively to exploring the underwater city, learning of its history, and having "the sense of the world, and being in that place". As they worked to determine the story and types of quests the player would undertake, they found themselves bored and struggling to come up with new ideas and feared that players would react the same. This prompted the team to consider an alternate setting despite this being a "terrifying" prospect in terms of project scope. Irrational had also considered placing events during the Renaissance, but upon the announcement of Assassin's Creed II in 2009 which took place during the same historical period, they dropped this idea. The idea of the air-city came early in the development. The open-air environment gave them an opportunity to use color schemes that sharply contrasted with the darker palettes that were a staple of their earlier games. Even then, their initial designs of the flying city were darker and closer to Art Nouveau, making the game world too claustrophobic and appearing similar to the city of Rapture. The period of American exceptionalism allowed them to create a brighter, expansive system.
According to Irrational's Ken Levine, the name "Columbia", in reference to the female figure that personifies the United States, and the idea of American exceptionalism did not come about until six to eight months before the game's reveal. An early concept was to depict a group of technology geeks against a band of luddites, but Levine found that such conflict exists "only in shades of reality" and wasn't compelling enough. Instead, the Irrational team recentered on the idea of American exceptionalism, a tangible concept that continues to be repeated throughout history. The idea came to Levine after watching a PBS documentary, America 1900, about the late 19th century, which quickly caught on with the rest of the team. In particular, Levine pointed to one quote of U.S. President William McKinley on the eve of the Philippine–American War, which spoke to the need of America to "uplift and civilize and Christianize" the natives of the Philippines. Though the accuracy of the quote is disputed, Irrational's lead artist Shawn Robinson noted that BioShock Infinite's goal is "not to teach any history", but felt such historical aspects helped to ground the work's fiction. Levine stated that in the same manner that BioShock was not built specifically around objectivism, Infinite is not built around jingoism, but only uses the concepts to help set the stage to tell the story of individuals caught up in the conflicts. Another work that Levine took inspiration from was Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City about Dr. H. H. Holmes, the first recorded serial killer at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago; Levine considered how the work gave "a great optimism and excitement for the future and one of this ominous feeling at the same time". Levine noted that in contrast to the character of Andrew Ryan from the first BioShock, where history had influenced some of his decisions, Booker and other characters have been directly involved with some of the aforementioned history, reflected in how these characters react to certain scenarios.
Levine considered how the founding documents of the United States can be interpreted in several ways, leading to conflict between those that hold various interpretations of those ideals, leading to Infinite's different factions. Figureheads of the powers-that-be like Saltonstall are based on both historical and present-day nationalistic personalities, seeking to put the needs of America before others. One example given by Levine is President Theodore Roosevelt, whose ideals were highly influential during America's transformation in the early 20th century; Levine considered how Roosevelt willingly gave up office to fight during the Spanish–American War. On the other hand, the Vox Populi were based on historical factions that often splintered into small, independent groups that undertook violent actions, such as the Red Army Faction from the 1970s and the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front of present day. During the course of the game's development period, the series of "Occupy" protests occurred across several cities; Levine, comparing these protests to other historical ones already incorporated into Columbia's history, used the real-time events to refine the game's story. Specifically, due to the nature of the various decentralized groups involved with the "Occupy" protests, Levine was able to define how the Vox Populi group would grow from its haphazard beginnings. Levine reflected that despite the game's earlier setting, many of the modern day political turmoil calls back to similar tactics and behavior used in the early days of America's democracy, and thus provided a means to flesh out these aspects within the game.
Irrational Games brought another 2K Games' subsidiary, 2K Marin, aboard to help built out the architecture and details of Columbia. Irrational's director of design Bill Gardner stated that the scope of Columbia was much more expansive than Rapture in terms of virtual space, using an example of the whole of one BioShock level, the "Medical Pavallion", able to easily fit into a beach on Columbia, a fraction of the overall level there, and thus necessitating the additional help. The Irrational team reviewed much of the American culture and propaganda at the turn of the 20th century, using the artwork to create some of the in-game posters. Levine commented that at the time, such imagery was "really subtle", and considered that their re-envisioning of these posters within Columbia was "a great way to communicate ideas visually". Other sources of inspiration for the game's art included photographs from before and after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and from Sears-Roebuck catalogs from the turn of the century. Another source of inspiration for the art style was developed by considering Infinite to represent "The Fourth of July, 1912", just as BioShock resonated with the theme of "New Years Eve 1959". By selecting this hypothetical date, the team quickly identified films to draw imagery from, like The Music Man, Meet Me in St. Louis, and Hello, Dolly which exhibited ideal views of Americana at the turn of the 20th century. The bright, open-air environments of Columbia presented a challenge to the team to keep aspects of the horror genre within the game; Levine stated they took some inspiration from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining and David Lynch's Blue Velvet, transforming an "antiseptic environment" into the "scariest ******* place [one's] ever seen".
The game's music was also heavily influenced by historical trends. Levine commented that with the original BioShock game, set in the mid-20th century, it was easy to acquire musical pieces representative of the era. With Infinite's early 20th century setting, much of the recorded music of that time would not be considered music of today, according to Levine. Instead, they had to explore the changes in music during this period, observing that much of the early forms of music in America derived from gospel, ragtime, blues and jazz, works influenced by African Americans and their heritage. Levine stated that the Founders would consider the co-opting of such works from minorities "quite antithetical", and have placed elements within the game's story to explain how such music would be appreciated aboard Columbia. Garry Schyman, who composed the original scores of both previous BioShock games, returned for the same in BioShock Infinite.
The idea of using tears in the fabric of space-time was influenced by a similar story decision in BioShock. With Rapture set in the 1960, the Irrational team had looked to the scientific progress of James D. Watson and Francis Crick towards understanding DNA in 1953, and built the idea of ADAM and gene modification. For Infinite, the same concept was used with the development of quantum theory by Albert Einstein, Max Planck, and Werner Heisenberg that would later bore out in the Many Worlds Theory. Incorporating the use of tears was a challenge from the story standpoint but one that Levine enjoyed, noting that this leads to the impression of Booker being an unreliable narrator for the events of the game. One of the game demonstrations showed Elizabeth accidentally opening a tear into a 1980's setting after trying to revive a fallen horse. This setting was in contrast to their initial idea, a woodland glade, which Levine felt wasn't "striking or different enough" than the rest of Columbia. Instead, they borrowed assets from a previous project that, according to lead artist Shawn Robertson, Irrational was "literally about to throw away", finding the contrast and abrupt differences from the Columbia setting helped to emphases the use of tears in the game. In regards to the ending, Levine has stated that the ending of Infinite is "like nothing you've experienced in a video game before"; the story purposely avoids a problem that arose from the original BioShock in which, after the death of Andrew Ryan before the last third of the game, "the story loses some of its steam".
Character development 
Booker is voiced by veteran voice actor Troy Baker, while Elizabeth is voiced by actress Courtnee Draper. Baker and Draper's participation in the development process was atypical for most video games; instead of just coming in to record their lines, Levine considered them as collaborators on the story development process. The three spent a significant amount of time in the recording studio, improvising scenes and working on repeated recordings to try to find the right tone to present scripted dialog; such changes were then reflected appropriately in the game's story and dialog. Levine favorably contrasted Baker and Draper as "the genius and the novice" respectively; Baker had several previous roles in video game voice-overs, while Draper had none; the different levels of experience between the two helped to tighten the performances, the combination a "potent mix" according to Levine. Levine explained one case where Draper was struggling to give a convincing tearful performance when Elizabeth is having difficulty using her powers. Both Draper and Levine believed it would be helpful to have Baker provide Booker's loud, berating dialog alongside Draper to help Draper find the right emotional response to deliver for the scene. Levine considered the input of both actors of critical importance to be able to deliver a lot of information, both in words and emotion, in only a few lines of dialog. Levine also worked with the actors directly to script out specific scenes once they had gotten to know their characters before recording their voices. Despite working closely with Baker and Draper on characterization and creating dialog on the fly, Levine did not provide the actors with full knowledge of their characters' backstory or the overarching plot of the game prior to recording; according to Levine, this helped the actors to create the in-game connection between Booker and Elizabeth in a much more natural manner than reading with full knowledge of the script. Similarly, Levine has not told the developers on his team the whole story of BioShock Infinite, using the reveals to gauge their reactions and adjust the story as needed; this had created some strife in the team, as they would prefer working with full knowledge of the script, but Levine noted "that's not the way we present stuff to the gamer".
In the early development of Infinite, Elizabeth was designed to be more of a useful companion than a partner within the game; she would be able to perform tasks like picking locks that the player could not, but otherwise lacked a significant emotional bond. However, after showcasing the game at the 2011 E3 Convention, the Irrational team saw players react favorably to Elizabeth, and started to make her the player's partner for the game, expanding her abilities to accommodate this. This approach to Elizabeth was inspired by the character of Alyx Vance from Half-Life 2, a central element and an "emotional driver" to the game's story. Irrational wanted to expand on that concept, demonstrating how such a character would interact with talkative player-character, compared to the silent Gordon Freeman, and creating further emotional ties between the two characters. Levine also considered the characterization of the player-character Monkey and his non-playable companion Trip in the game, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, as inspiration towards the story of Booker and Elizabeth. The plot revolves around changes that Elizabeth, Booker, and their relationship undergo as the player explores deeper into Columbia. Further, they wanted to avoid giving Elizabeth any of the same abilities that the player has; they rejected letting her use a gun, for example, as this would take away from the player's role in defeating the enemy. They gave Elizabeth additional abilities, such as being able to scrounge and toss supplies of ammunition and Salts to Booker, or to decode ciphers hidden around Columbia with codes found by Booker, that helped to connect her more emotionally to the player.
Elizabeth's character, particularly her relationship to her captor, the Songbird, is based on his experience with a former female companion that Levine had; she had told Levine that her previous relationship was abusive, but she would otherwise "make excuses for him [her former friend], all the time" and ultimately returned to him. Levine had altered this in Infinite, that while creating the abusive relation between Elizabeth and Songbird, Elizabeth desired to escape that, even if death was the only option; at one point in the game's preview material, Elizabeth is shown wrapping Booker's hands around her neck and convincing him to kill her while Songbird attempts to break into the building that they have secured themselves into. In response to discussions on Internet forums regarding the size and exposed nature of Elizabeth's breasts, Levine noted that part of their design for Elizabeth and her costume was to be able to recognize her from a distance given the open-space nature of the game and limited resolution. Levine stated that her costume is inspired by that of superheroes, using a simple color scheme that would help her to stand out in the colorful and complex landscapes.
The programming of the artificial intelligence for Elizabeth was considered a major technical challenge for Irrational, as they desired to give her as much near-human behavior in contrast to most other games where such companions are either highly scripted or given relatively simplistic pragmas to follow, and had little previous examples from other games to build on; Levine cited Half-Life 2's Alyx as the last "great AI companion". Irrational had previously developed AI routines for the Big Daddies and Little Sisters in BioShock that would allow them to roam and interact with the environment if otherwise left alone by the player; these routines were the basis of building out improved behavior for Elizabeth. The developers had spent much time improving these routines to give Elizabeth her own tendencies to look and move around as a real actor instead of a robotic non-player character, as to re-enforce her central role to the player. To this, Levine explained that they looked to the banter between the main characters in the Uncharted series by Naughty Dog. Levine praised the work that Naughty Dog had done, and felt he would be able to create the same with a more somber period piece. Some of Elizabeth's responses will be driven by a player's action (such as the aforementioned horse recovery scene), but other times, Elizabeth's actions will be on her own in response to the environment. Much of Columbia was seeded "room by room" with elements that Elizabeth will be interested in, comment on, and react to. However, as for the player not missing these elements, such actions would only be performed based on a number of factors, including whether the player was near and looking at Elizabeth, and the current tension of the game. This apparent curiosity serendipitously worked with Elizabeth's story, who after having been locked up for twelve years would be eager to see new things. Elizabeth's AI also monitors and tracks the player's behavior over time, such that the AI will attempt to predict when the player is moving and keep Elizabeth out of the line of fire. Programming Elizabeth's AI was a significant challenge to the Irrational team, and at several points during development the suggestion of cutting her from the game was brought up. Levine countered these suggestions, insisting on keeping her in the game. To manage this, a multidisciplinary subgroup called the "Liz Squad" reviewed the levels designed by others to assure that the presence of Elizabeth was accounted for across the game and to avoid situations where the level would delegate the character to simply hiding in a closet. On March 15, 2013, the full voice cast was announced by Irrational Games.
Technical and gameplay development 
According to Levine, the team had to revolutionize their previous work on the BioShock game in order to realize Columbia, including both indoor and outdoor settings that take place thousands of feet above the ground. The original BioShock engine, a modified Unreal Engine 2.x, was inadequate for their vision, and so they chose to work with Unreal Engine 3, modifying it with their own lighting engine and means to simulate the movement and buoyancy of the buildings. The development team found that the implementation of open spaces created new gameplay options for the player, such as deciding between long-ranged attacks or finding a means to move in for short-range or melee combat. While Irrational had followed 2K Marin's work on BioShock 2, Infinite does not include any further improvements that 2K Marin had made on the original engine. According to Levine, all assets of Infinite are created from scratch.
One challenge facing Irrational was identified from BioShock, in which players, once equipped with specific plasmids and weapons, could complete the game without having to alter their weapons; Levine quotes the saying "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" to describe how they found players were able to complete most of BioShock using an Electrocution plasmid and a shotgun. Irrational wanted instead to create situations through Infinite's weapons and powers that allowed the player to progress to some point with certain combinations but then would be forced to learn new possibilities that Irrational had designed within the game. The vertical and open-air spaces of Columbia provide more opportunity to include various types of combat compared to the close-ranged limits of Rapture within the first BioShock. The team developed a variety of enemies that would have certain strengths and weakness that would force the player to experiment and work with all their available tools given to them. This was further enhanced by the inclusion of Elizabeth, who has powers that can be used in conjunction with Booker's to achieve more impressive results but that strain her powers and giving choice to the player as to how and when to use her abilities. Another aspect that Irrational had considered from BioShock was the way players opted in choosing whether to save or harvest the Little Sisters; according to writer Drew Holmes, because this choice simply affected the reward that players would receive, they would not consider the moral consequences of their actions, particularly with subsequent playthroughs of the game. While Infinite will offer such choices to the player, these will be less obvious and with initially ambiguous results, an example being the choice of throwing a baseball at an interracial couple or the barker at the start of the game.
The inclusion of Elizabeth also served to better extend Irrational's vision of storytelling first-person shooters and to avoid other tropes used in similar games that have become "long in the tooth" such as receiving information over a radio or from someone on the opposite side of a window; according to Levine, having Elizabeth as a person working aside the player-characters helps to make the game "feel more grounded in humanity". In contrast to the silent Jack from BioShock, the player character Booker is also given a voice, a decision to avoid complacency with the "silent protagonist" motif as well to have face-to-face interactions with other non-player characters instead of being told what to do over a radio or separated by a barrier.
The team wanted to capture the aspect of BioShock where not every non-player character would immediately be aggressive towards you; Levine discusses a situation in Infinite where the player character walks into a crowded bar and cannot immediately tell the disposition of the non-player characters towards the player. Levine compared this to the introduction of the Big Daddy in BioShock, giving the player several opportunities to view but not engage the characters so they would understand that there are several possible outcomes depending on what approach they used when they did have the ability to engage one. As Infinite contains numerous groups in internal conflict with each other, the player will be given the opportunity to learn how to utilize different non-player character agents to progress in the game. Irrational wanted to make sure consequences of the player's actions were reflected in the game; part of this is through the strain on Elizabeth when using her powers, but through altering the suspended city, they are able to change the environment in response to the player's choice and force the player to consider different tactics.
Earlier versions of the games had included Nostrums as gameplay elements, but these were replaced by equipable gear. Nostrums would have made permanent changes to the character and cannot be removed once used. They would have been available in two types, stable and unstable varieties, the latter referred to as "potlucks". Stable nostrums would have been expensive, but the player would know exactly what effect applying the nostrum would gain them. Unstable nostrums would be cheaper or found lying around the environment, but upon use, would require the player to select one of four random effects to alter their character, an idea inspired by Heroes of Might and Magic according to Levine. The Nostrum system was scrapped in favor of using gear as they found that the system was too similar to other ones that the player would have available in equipping their character, compared to the gear option. Similarly, earlier demonstrations of the game did not use Salt to power vigors, but instead each vigor would have a limited number of uses before it was exhausted. While more can be found around the game's environment, the player would have only been able to carry a limited number of vigors into battle, with more powerful vigors containing fewer charges.
The game's "1999 Mode" was a result of a conversation that Levine had with a college student after speaking at a college during the latter stages of Infinite's development; the student explained his disappointment with BioShock in that none of the choices the player makes in that game has long-lasting impact. Levine agreed with this statement and realized that giving permanence to the player's choices would make the game more interesting. Design director Bill Gardener also acknowledged that their approach within BioShock was part of the general trend in gaming over the last decade due to streamlining of games. Irrational Games validated the inclusion using an informal survey from fans of the studio, with 57% responding positively towards the idea. Levine compared the 1999 Mode similar to the idea of selecting a character class, and specializations would be a mutually exclusive choice; opting to be proficient in pistols would leave the character struggling to use any other weapon type. Elements of resource management were also critical to Levine; while the player can revive Booker upon death within the game, this will cost resources, and potentially lead to a case where the player can no longer afford the revitalization, forcing the player to load a save game. Levine wanted to also capture the flavor of games like Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, where turning a corner carelessly could result in the character's death by a single bullet, creating a certain tension while traversing the level. The addition of the mode was late in the development cycle, requiring the Irrational Team to re-balance parts of the game for it, having to recall the design of "hard-core" games like System Shock 2 where the failure of the player would often lead to the game being over prematurely. The studio recognized that the average gamer would likely quit playing the game in such circumstances, and plan to hide access to the 1999 Mode in the game's menus, such as by using the Konami Code, as to prevent such gamers from accidentally stumbling upon it. The game was ultimately released with a variation on the Konami Code as the means to unlock 1999 Mode from the start, though the mode also becomes available after the player completes the game the first time.
Irrational Games has considered options for a multiplayer element, though Levine has stated that there will be no multiplayer shipped with the game. While the team has experimented with concepts for a multiplayer component, Levine has stated that they would only proceed forward if it had elements not otherwise found in multiplayer games like Halo. At least two multiplayer modes were examined but later scrapped by Irrational. One mode was a co-operative mini-game similar to tower defense having the player characters miniaturized within an old-time arcade machine to defend against waves of enemies. This mode was cancelled early on to focus on a four player co-operative mode tentatively titled "Spec-Ops", similar to the mode of the same name from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The four players would have worked their way through levels from the single player game to complete missions under certain requirements. Further development on "Spec-ops" has since been dropped. Additional material, such as locations, weapons, vigors, and other enemies, were also cut from the game as it neared publication and fine-tuned the experience; Irrational's Bill Gardner claims that enough material for five or six games were scrapped during this process.
After the previous installations of BioShock were found to have some issues with Microsoft Windows computers, Levine stated that they have a "dedicated group" to make sure that Infinite "feels at home on [Windows computers]". The retail Windows version will ship on three DVD discs to accommodate higher-resolution textures beyond the consoles versions, and will support video cards capable of running DirectX 11 in addition to DirectX 10, allowing for further graphical improvements to the game. Levine further stated that the Windows version, enabled by Steamworks, will not use additional digital rights management software such as Games for Windows - Live or SecuRom.
The original BioShock received some criticism from PlayStation 3 owners, who found the port from the native Windows and Xbox 360 developed by a separate studio, Digital Extremes, to be lackluster. To address this, Irrational Games has stated that the PlayStation 3 version of Infinite would not be a port, as that version is being developed in-house simultaneously with the Windows and Xbox 360 versions. In addition, the PlayStation 3 version of the game will support stereoscopic 3D. BioShock Infinite will support the PlayStation Move motion controller. Though some reports believed that a new Move controller would be produced for the game based on information from Sony, 2K Games debunked these stories, stating that no new hardware is being developed for the game. The North American PlayStation 3 version of the game will include a copy of the original BioShock.
Levine has expressed interest in a Wii U version of Infinite in light of what abilities the touchscreen controller can offer, but contends that the decision to develop for that platform is "really a discussion that the business people have and see if it makes sense for Nintendo, if it makes sense for Take Two".
In August 2012, several high-level developers from Irrational that had been working on Infinite announced their departure from the company; these included art director Nate Wells, who began working with Naughty Dog, and director of product development Tim Gerritsen. At the same time, Irrational announced the addition of Rod Fergusson from Epic Games as their product director while Scott Sinclair, art director from the original Bioshock, replaced Wells. Levine stated that he still believes in the Infinite development team's capacity to complete the game as expected. Two further high-level departures occurred in October 2012: Don Norbury and Clint Bundrick, who were producers for the game's artificial intelligence and combat design, respectively; Irrational did not comment on these departures but asserted that the game was still scheduled for its February 2013 release.
Prior to its announcement on August 12, 2010, Irrational Games has used the moniker "Project Icarus" to describe their next game, creating a teaser site in late July 2010. Over the weeks leading to the announcement, the animation on the teaser site slowly built up to an animated infinity symbol on the day prior to the announcement. Initially, the game was announced for an October 2012 worldwide release in March 2012. In May 2012, the game's release was pushed back to February 26, 2013 to give the developers more time to polish the title, and appearances of the game for the 2012 E3 and Gamescon conventions were put on hold. Irrational announced a second delay in December 2012, pushing the title out an additional month to March 26, 2013; Levine stated this was a suggestion from Fergusson after coming onto the project, who believed the few extra weeks would help to assure the quality of the delivered game.
Two special editions were released alongside the game, for each release platform – Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The Special Edition includes an art book, a propaganda poster, a mini-figurine of the Handyman, a keychain, and the game's soundtrack, along with in-game codes for special powers and, for consoles, additional themes. The Ultimate Songbird edition, in addition to the above, includes a 9.5" statue of the Songbird, designed by Irrational's Robb Waters.
Three different covers for Game Informer's first preview of the game for its October 2010 issue were collaborations between Irrational and the magazine, envisioning what a video game magazine would be like in the early 20th century. Each cover, drawn by Irrational's Rob Waters, is inspired by the cover artwork from The Saturday Evening Post and includes fictional advertisements based on early 20th century variants, including one redrawn from a public domain ad. Kevin Gifford of Gamasutra praised these covers, commented that such a diversion for a game magazine cover represents a paradigm change, in that "developers are beginning to appreciate what magazines can do for their media strategy that online can't", and that because Game Informer does need to vie for space at newsstands, is able to take more creative approaches with such covers as opposed to cover layers designed to gain maximum exposure. Similarly, in its reveal of the first images of the player protagonist Booker, Electronic Games Monthly used a cover in homage to the Uncanny X-Men comic, Days of Future Past, another story dealing with alternate realities.
Release trailers 
The game's first trailer was released alongside the game's full announcement, showcasing Columbia, the propaganda around the city, and Elizabeth and her powers. A second trailer for the game premiered at the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards held in December of that year; in it, new scenes from the game are played during the song "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?". This version of the song was sung by Elizabeth's voice actress, Courtnee Draper, while the backing guitar is played by Booker's actor, Troy Baker. While Levine had intended to use Draper for the vocals, Baker's role was happenstance; as Levine was working with Draper in the recording of the song, Baker offered up his abilities on the guitar, and the group spent several hours to exact the appropriate tone of the song. A version of this song, sung by both actors, is part of the game's soundtrack. Given the opportunity for a broadcast trailer, Levine wanted to create a mood piece, and centered the trailer around desolation of the workers in the factories of Columbia in the Finkton district, providing the basis for the creation of the Vox Populi. The trailer had received some criticism from religious groups, believing that its producers had purposely removed the word "Lord" from the song, but Levine pointed out that the original hymn, written in 1908, did not include the word; it was added in the Carter Family recording of "Can the Circle Be Unbroken (By and By)" in 1935.
A third trailer was released in October 2012, entitled "Beast of America". It initially shares similarities with the opening of BioShock, with Booker being taken to a lighthouse with instruction. From there, the trailer's first half shows in-game scenes of settings around Columbia representative of American Exceptionalism such as an amusement park, a public beach, and an ice-cream parlor, prior to demonstration many of the gameplay elements including the Skyhook and the Heavy Hitters. The trailer is set to Nico Vega's "Beast", which, as stated by Time's Matt Peckham notes, "excoriates American apathy, in so many words, '[planting] seeds for the Beast of America'". A fourth trailer, "City in the Sky", was released, showcasing many of the game's elements, including Columbia, Booker, Elizabeth, Songbird, and Comstock. The fifth trailer "The Lamb of Columbia", focuses more on Elizabeth, showing her importance to the war aboard Columbia, her potency of her powers, and how Booker comes to fear her.
A separate set of teaser trailers were released started in January 2013, and presented the history of Columbia in the style of shows like In Search Of..., an approach used by the television show Lost to demonstrate the history of the fictional Dharma Initiative. Within the trailers, presented as a film "Truth in Legend: Columbia – A Modern Day Icarus", the fictional host, Alistair Bloom, briefly narrates the mysteries of Columbia, such as its disappearance or the legend of Songbird.
Other marketing 
The official game cover was revealed by Irrational Games in early December 2012; the art featured DeWitt against a burning flag with some other elements of the game. Several journalists were critical of the art, with the lack of any major elements from the game including Elizabeth, and lacked any of the uniqueness that BioShock Infinite had set itself to be prior to this point, such as through the Game Informer Saturday Evening Post-inspired covers. Erik Kain of Forbes considered the art "generic", while Owen Good of Kotaku considered it both "bland" and "cliché"; Gieson Cacho of the San Jose Mercury News noted that the cover was reminiscent of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, down to the pose of DeWitt matching that of Nathan Drake. Levine responded to these complaints commenting that they had decided to make the cover art something to draw the attention of the more casual player, "the uninformed, the person who doesn't read IGN" that may never have heard of the game, knowing that those players that are already planning to purchase the game do not need to be swayed further. A public poll was opened by Irrational to allow players to decide what the reversible cover art should be, while alternate cover art will be provided as downloadable files that players can print and use. Levine further showed the back cover art, which includes Elizabeth, an element further designed to draw interest in casual players. Levine stated that for the cover and other parts of the game's promotion including live-action commercials, they had hired Anna "Ormeli" Moleva, a Russian cosplayer that had earlier attracted attention for her recreation of Elizabeth back in September 2011.
Tie-in media 
Plaid Hat Games is set to publish a board game based on Infinite, entitled BioShock Infinite: The Siege of Columbia, in which players take on the roles of the Founders or Vox Populi to battle each other for control of the city, while having to deal with the chaos created by Booker and Elizabeth. Irrational had approached Plaid Hat with the idea of the game, while Plaid Hat set out to create the game to avoid simply recreating the story from the video game but instead provide an alternative viewpoint of the events in the game and to allow players to develop their own stories as they play through it.
A prequel novella, Bioshock Infinite: Mind in Revolt, authored by Levine and Joe Fielder, was made available as an e-book via Amazon.com in February 2013; the work is a reproduction of an in-universe research report entitled "The Psychology of Dissent: Interview with the Anarchist". The fictional report presents a series of interviews between its author, Dr. Francis Pinchot, and Daisy Fitzroy, the founder of the Vox Populi, during a period approximately seven years before the game's events where Fitzroy has been captured by the Founders. Dr. Pinchot, in conducting these interviews, seeks to understand the psychological nature of revolt from Fitzroy. The intent of the novella is to provide additional backstory for the player without revealing any of the game's deeper story, and upon completion of the game, "certain implications of the game and Pinchot's research resonate more", according to Levine.
Irrational ran a "Name in the Game" contest where the winning player would have their name included in the game in some manner, such as by a non-playable character, or the name of a shop or building. The winner eventually went to one "Payton Lane Easter" whom the business "Payton Lane Easter & Son" Business was named after.
BioShock Infinite: Industrial Revolution 
Pre-orders of the game granted the purchaser with an accesscode to a browser-based puzzle game, BioShock Infinite: Industrial Revolution, developed in conjunction with Lazy 8 Studios. Irrational had concerns developing a pre-release puzzle game to tie into the retail title. Several of the Irrational team had played and enjoyed Lazy 8's steampunk-like Independent Games Festival-winning title, Cogs, and considered using them to build this pre-release game. Irrational believed the studio would be able to develop a game that would provide "challenging puzzles in a steampunk style", according to Lazy 8's founder, Rob Jagnow. The game's mechanics are a simplified version of the Cogs puzzles, and involve creating devices from basic machines like gears and pulleys to achieve a specific action; the game contains 59 such puzzles culled from more than 70. Lazy 8 focused on the gear puzzles as they were a fan-favorite from Cogs. Jagnow found through happenstance that the game's mechanics led to a "dual-space system" that may be challenging to the player. The game places the player as a mechanic aboard Columbia, who can align with either the Founders or the Vox Populi; decisions during the game's story on which side to support are permanent, even if the player attempts an earlier puzzle. Jagnow, who worked on the story under Irrational's guidance, wanted to have the player "constantly second-guess their decisions" on which side to support. Solving the steampunk-based puzzles grants the player unlockable items within the main BioShock Infinite game once it is released.
Downloadable content 
Three separate pieces of story-driven downloadable content are expected to be made available following BioShock Infinite's release. Additionally, new weapons, gear, costumes, and vigors will also be made available as extra content; for example, part of the reward for completing the Industrial Revolution puzzle game included such weapons and gear. A season pass is available to pre-purchase all planned downloadable content for a reduced price.
In other video games 
Columbia was featured as a stage in fighting game PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale and is seen in the background along with a blimp and a Songbird in another stage. BioShock Infinite outfits for LittleBigPlanet games were released in March 2013.
BioShock Infinite was on display for the general video game audience at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011 (E3 2011), where it won in all four categories it was nominated from the Game Critics Awards, for Best Original Game, Best Action/Adventure Game, Best PC Game, and the overall Best of Show award. The game also received further awards and nominations at the event. It won IGN's Best Overall Game, Best Xbox 360 Game, Best PC Game, and Best Shooter awards; it also received a nomination for Best PS3 Game which it did not win. The game received five nominations from GameSpot for Best Graphics, Best E3 2011 Trailer, Best Shooter, Best PC Game, and the Game of the Show. It also won three game awards from Game Informer for Best Of Show, Best Multiplatform, and Best Action. BioShock Infinite was awarded the Overall (and Multiplatform) Game of Show and Shooter Game of Show by GameSpy; was awarded Best of Show, and a runner up for Best Buzz and Best FPS by Digital Trends; and was among the selections for Best of E3 2011 by Yahoo Games and Game Revolution. It also received an honorable mention for Eurogamer's Game of the Show award. According to the game's official website, BioShock Infinite won over 85 editorial awards from the judges of E3 2011.
Critical reception 
|Electronic Gaming Monthly||10/10|
|Official PlayStation Magazine (UK)||10/10|
|Official Xbox Magazine||9.5/10|
|PC Gamer (UK)||91/100|
BioShock Infinite received critical acclaim upon release, with reviews singling out the game's plot and visual aesthetics as the main standouts. It was also favorably compared to the first BioShock game, with some critics even considering Infinite had surpassed it. Aggregating review website GameRankings gave BioShock Infinite an average rating of 95.94% based on 17 reviews for the PlayStation 3 version, 92.62% based on 39 reviews for the PC version, and 91.65% based on 26 reviews for the Xbox 360 version. Metacritic gave the game a score of 95/100 from 26 critics for the PlayStation 3 version, 94/100 from 67 critics for the PC version, and 93/100 from 32 critics for the Xbox 360 version, with all three platform versions of the game considered to be of "universal acclaim".
Mainstream press reviews have praised the game, giving it positive reviews. The Boston Globe gave the game four stars out of four, claiming it "sets a new standard for video-game storytelling, delivering a complex tale in often surprising ways," and describing the game as a "mind-bending science fiction that isn’t afraid to challenge its audience." Wired magazine's UK review of BioShock Infinite gave it a verdict of "Buy it before someone spoils it," and praised the story "to be one of the best stories ever told through the gaming medium" and added that it "is one you're going to be talking about, and thinking about, well after it's done." The Guardian gave the game five stars out of five, claiming it "exists in a pantheon tagged 'required reading' in the gaming medium" and saying that "BioShock Infinite is a hell of a lot of fun to play. That really should be the only quality it needs to exhibit. The fact that it holds much more feels like an advancement of an art form." In its video game review of BioShock Infinite, The New York Times claimed that while "not everything in the game is perfect", the game itself "is confirmation that in the hands of the right creators, video games are the most sophisticated form of not just interactive entertainment, but of multimedia storytelling as well."
Game Informer's Joe Juba awarded the game a perfect 10 score, remarking that he could not "imagine [a parallel reality] in which BioShock Infinite is not among the best games" he had ever played. Juba said that while "replicating the achievements of the original BioShock is a challenging goal," Infinite is "a fresh vision and redefines what the BioShock name means." He also labelled the fighting, exploring of Columbia, and story "unforgettable" and concluded that Infinite was an "amazing experience from beginning to end." Eurogamer's Tom Bramwell, who rated the game a maximum 10 out of 10, said the story was "more complete and polished" than the original BioShock's, and praised Columbia's visual design, claiming that he "lost [himself] in the first few hours, glorying in every structure, custom and morsel of dialogue." Bramwell also called the skylines "a particularly wry innovation" in combat, and praised Elizabeth, adding that the way "her unlikely existence" is taken for granted "is one of the strangest and most brilliant things about BioShock Infinite." Of the game, he claimed "...as soon as you finish it the first thing you want to do is start again," and concluded that while the player was "just along for the ride," then "still: what a ride."
PlayStation Official Magazine's Joel Gregory, who rated the game 10/10, praised Infinite's narrative and claimed it surpassed the first BioShock's flaw of losing "momentum after the revelatory twist"; he also complimented Elizabeth's character and congratulated Irrational Games for "a remarkable job in creating an independent character with whom you also develop a deep bond." Gregory hailed the Infinite as joining the "hallowed ranks" as an "apotheosis of the narrative-driven shooter," and summarized it as a "masterpiece that will be discussed for years to come," adding that "praise doesn’t come much higher than that." Official Xbox Magazine's Mikel Reparaz rated the game 9.5/10, and praised its "deeply memorable story with great characters [and] bizarre twists". He also complimented the game's visual design, calling Columbia "a beautifully realized world that’s fun to explore"; he did criticize the gameplay, claiming it was "not quite up to BioShock's high standards," and that it felt "less inventive" than those of previous BioShock games. Reparaz concluded that while Infinite may "not always be quite as inventive as the original BioShock," it was still "just as — if not more — unforgettable."
IGN's Ryan McCaffrey rated BioShock Infinite 9.5/10 for the PC version and 9.4/10 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions. He praised the game's "rich, satisfying" story, "luscious" art direction, the "myriad combat options", and Elizabeth's role in the story and gameplay; he did, however, criticize the middle act, saying that it felt padded and the pacing was flattened. Regardless, McCaffrey ultimately concluded the game to be "a brilliant shooter that nudges the entire genre forward with innovations in both storytelling and gameplay," and admitted that he was "forced to seriously question" whether Infinite was the better game compared to the first and original BioShock. PC Gamer's Tom Francis gave the game a rating of 91/100. He described Booker's arrival in Columbia as "one of gaming’s few truly perfect scenes", and believed that while the ending didn't "make a lick of sense", it was "spectacular" regardless. Francis summarized that though the game was "slightly muddled", it was "a muddle of beautiful scenes and spectacular combat set in a breathtaking place," and concluded that "BioShock Infinite is something extraordinary, and no one should miss it."
Not all critics, however, gave the game positive reviews. The A.V. Club's John Teti found the game to be too beholden to the framework of the original BioShock and System Shock games to be as classic a successor. He believed that BioShock Infinite - despite its "flashes of excellence - doesn’t measure up," and compared the game's problem to the film The Godfather Part III, in that Infinite "is a fine work, even extraordinary in some respects" but "it’s primarily a disappointment in light of its pedigree." Quarter to Three's Tom Chick gave the game 3 stars out of 5, criticizing the relationship between Booker and Elizabeth, claiming that "it doesn't work as well as it needs to" due to the first-person nature of the game. He concluded that Infinite lacked "the impact of the original game, because it doesn’t have that game's focus" and that "it doesn’t hit as hard because it’s wider and more dazzling, pulled appropriately into many directions and seen through many lenses."
BioShock Infinite's themes of racism, extreme religion and an ideological society have caused controversy. In the various reveals of the Founders and Vox Populi before release, Levine and Irrational Games were criticized by various groups; upon demonstrating the Founders, people that favored the ideals of the Tea Party including Levine's relatives felt the game was attacking that movement, on the announcement of the Vox Populi, Levine found some websites claiming the game was an attack on the labor movement, and one white supremacist website claimed that "The Jew Ken Levine is making a white-person-killing simulator." Levine considered that Infinite, like BioShock before it, was a Rorschach test for most people, though would be taken negatively in nature and upset them, as his vision in crafting the stories was "about not buying into a single point of view".
Zachary Comstock's portrayal as a zealot has also been deemed to offend "gamers with strong religious backgrounds," as a member of the BioShock Infinite development team even threatened to resign over the game’s ending, believing the game was saying "Being religious causes you to be evil." Comstock was altered after Levine spoke with this developer, who helped Levine to reconsider the notion of forgiveness in the New Testament and set to figure out why people came to follow Comstock and to understand the ecstatic religious experience they would be seeking. Levine did not consider this reinvention of the character to be censorship, instead a means to present the story better to a broad audience. In another case, a player that considered himself a "devout believer" of Christianity was strongly upset with the forced baptism that Booker receives prior to entering Columbia proper, prompting him to request a refund from Valve due to being unaware of this content in the game. Particia Hernadez of Kotaku considered that the baptism scene was "admirable" in the context of video games as an art form, as the scene created numerous responses and controversy on social media.
The game's depiction of graphic violence has also been a cause for concern. Polygon's Chris Plante considered that the degree of violence in the game can make it a detractor for potential players who are more interested in the game's theme and narrative, noting the game's violence distracts from it rather than serving it. He believed that unlike films that are based on violence as part of their themes, Infinite does not attempt to rationalize its violence, claiming the "magnitude of lives taken" and the "cold efficiency in doing so" was "unfamiliar to even the most exploitative films." Kotaku's Kirk Hamilton agreed with these facets, stating that while violence is a common theme across video games, "[the] ridiculous violence stands out in such sharp relief when placed against the game's thoughtful story and lovely world". Hamilton acknowledges that Infinite likely would have been difficult to sell the title at mass market if it lacked the first-person shooter elements, but that the violent kills felt "indulgent and leering" and unnecessary for the game. Cliff Bleszinski, the creative lead of Gears of War series which Bleszinski has acknowledged as being purposely violent, agreed with these sentiments, and that he "felt the violence actually detracted from the experience".
Conversely, Eric Kain of Forbes magazine argued that the scripted moments of high-impact violence worked well from a narrative perspective, standing out in stark contrast to the idyllic setting and reinforcing the idea that there were serious problems within the world of the game, which only served to draw him further into the story. Kain pointed to the conventions of the first-person shooter genre and the way the player must constantly fight wave after wave of enemies as the real problem, suggesting that these constant, lesser acts of violence diluted the narrative, undermining the point that the game was trying to make. Kain further argued that this trend was not exclusive to BioShock Infinite, pointing out that even games that attempted to address the issue of violence in games—citing Spec Ops: The Line and Far Cry 3 as examples—failed because of their rigid adherence to constant violence, concluding that he saw BioShock Infinite as an unintentional commentary on the genre and adding that he hoped other game developers would observe and learn from its shortcomings. Rus McLaughlin of Venture Beat also stated that the sudden onset of violence at the carnival at the start of the game was a necessary element to show that "Columbia is not perfect. It's ugly, xenophobic, and ready to explode." McLaughlin also considered the message carried by Infinite about the extreme nature of the violent acts Booker commits to be tied to his redemption by the end of the game, that "there can be no morality in an extreme".
In its first week of release, BioShock Infinite was the best-selling game on Steam's digital Top 10 PC Charts. In the United States, BioShock Infinite was the top-selling console game for March 2013, with more than 878,000 units sold; these figures do not include digital sales such as through Steam. During the first week of sales in the United Kingdom, BioShock Infinite debuted as the number one selling PC game, and the best-selling game on all available formats, topping the UK PC Retail Sales and the UK All Formats video games charts. In the game's opening week in the UK, its Xbox 360 version ranked #1, PlayStation 3 version ranked #2, and the PC version ranked #9 in the UK Individual Formats video games charts, due to 64 percent of its sales being on the Xbox 360, 31 percent on the PlayStation 3, and 5 percent on PC. As of April 2, 2013, it is currently the second biggest launch of 2013 in the UK after Tomb Raider, and is the biggest UK game launch in the BioShock franchise's history with approximately 9000 more sales than BioShock 2. During the game's second week in the UK, despite a 75 percent drop in sales, BioShock Infinite maintained its lead in the UK All Formats charts. In its third week, Infinite became the first 2013 game to top the UK charts for three weeks in a row. Take Two reported that the game has shipped 3.7 million copies to retail by their May 2013 financial report.
- The game does not clarify if this is the same version of Booker that the player has played as, or a Booker from a different alternate reality.
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- Irrational Games. BioShock Infinite. (2K Games). Level/area: Downtown Emporia. (2013-03-26) "Lady Comstock (via Voxophone) - "Tonight, the Prophet moved against his political enemies. He preaches mercy, but forty souls lie tonight dead, in unmarked graves. If a man was ever unworthy of grace, it would be my husband. But when I was beyond redemption, he offered it anyway. How can I deny forgiveness to one who, with love, granted it to me?""
- Irrational Games. BioShock Infinite. (2K Games). Level/area: Soldier's Field. (2013-03-26) "Daisy Fitzroy (via Voxophone) - "Days at Comstock House was simple. Hard work, sure, but simple. Wringin' the linens, scrubbing the floors... Lady Comstuck, she even had a kind word, now and then. Almost enough to make me think I had a place in their world. God made foolish girls so HE could have something to play with.""
- Irrational Games. BioShock Infinite. (2K Games). Level/area: Bull House Impound. (2013-03-26) "Daisy Fitzroy (via Voxophone) - "They argued somethin' fierce at night-- Lady Comstock and the Prophet. Could never make out what it was about from my bunk, though. After the worst, I see she ain't left for morning prayer...so I crept upstairs to check in on her. And like a fool...I lingered. "Scullery maid" was what they called me when I walked into Comstock House. "Murderer" was what they shouted when I ran out.""
- Irrational Games. BioShock Infinite. (2K Games). Level/area: Shantytown. (2013-03-26) "Preston E. Downs (via Voxophone) - "Well, Fitzroy-- you...you got a low cunning in ya, if nothing else. Dropped a couple grizzly traps 'round the lines up here. Idea was to...to bleed one of your couriers till he gave you up. 'Cept, of course, you're using kids now. Now I got this...tiny Injun boy, eyeballing me. Had to take his leg off. Damn thing's just lying here between us. I sure wish he'd cry or something.""
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- Official website
- BioShock Wiki, an external wiki
- BioShock Infinite at MobyGames
- BioShock Infinite at the Internet Movie Database