Burial at Sea: Ken Levine on BioShock Infinite’s Return to Rapture

BioShock Infinite garnered wide acclaim this spring for its mindbending story and fantastic environments. But the announcement of Burial at Sea — a two-part adventure that sets Infinite protagonists Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth in the underwater city of Rapture — might just be Irrational’s most ambitious and exciting project yet. Creative Director Ken Levine kindly took a few minutes from his schedule to answer our pesky questions about the upcoming downloadable episodes.

PlayStation.Blog: What compelled Irrational to return to Rapture for BioShock Infinite’s Burial at Sea DLC episodes?

Ken Levine, Creative Director, Irrational Games: We never wanted to return to Rapture unless there was something new to say; a new story to tell that wasn’t just bringing to life the story that we already told. We found that there was a Booker and Elizabeth story to tell in Rapture that we got very excited about. A fresh new story focused on the main characters of Infinite and the only place it could be was in Rapture.

Burial at Sea, 01Burial at Sea, 02

PSB: What opportunities does Burial at Sea provide in building Rapture that weren’t available in the original BioShock? Has time changed Irrational’s approach to designing the city?

Ken Levine: There were a few changes. First of all, we have the ability to populate the city – from Elizabeth to all the people going about their business. Which we couldn’t before. We could only have a few AI’s in the scene in BioShock 1. We also built a much larger scale of space and we put a lot more detail in the world. For instance, in BioShock 1, every scene at the window was basically just 2D art and 2D backdrops that look like 3D. They were cycloramas basically. Whereas now the city outside is actually 3D assets.

PSB: How will the Burial at Sea episodes fit into the larger narrative of the BioShock universe? Will the two Burial at Sea episodes be chronological in structure? How much time will have passed between them?

Ken Levine: That’s for me to know and you to find out.

Burial at Sea, 03

PSB: How have the Vigors/Plasmids and weapons changed in Burial at Sea? Have they been balanced to reflect the new play environment, or will they work largely as they did in Infinite?

Ken Levine: The combat is quite different in Burial At Sea than it was in Infinite. There are smaller scale combats that give the player much greater opportunity to observe the space ahead of time and set up the combat situation to his or her taste. Therefore traps become much more meaningful than they were in Infinite. So stealth becomes a larger component. We generally think combat is a little more deadly but a little less frenetic.

PSB: Elizabeth is playable in the second chapter – to what extent? In Infinite, Elizabeth provided a lot of active support but rarely attacked — have you had any difficulty transforming a loveable NPC into an FPS protagonist?

Ken Levine: It’s very important to us that playing as Elizabeth feels very different from playing as Booker. She’s a different person, and having gone through the experiences of Burial At Sea: Episode One has a substantial effect on her too. So we’re spending a lot of time working on how she feels and how she plays. To some degree Infinite, Burial At Sea: Episode One and Burial At Sea: Episode Two both feel a little different from a gameplay standpoint.

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ShadowFlex 23 August, 2013 @ 8:19 pm   1

You spend two whole games under the sea.. Then you’re glad to see a refreshing and unique change to the IP.

Only to return to the same ol’ same ol’.

It’s like having a job, You love it at first it’s exciting but slowly it becomes mundane and repetitive. Infinite was like a two week holiday,the weather was perfect, and the wee shop down the road had those little ice creams you like. Then this DLC would have to be the feeling of returning back to the once fun but now mundane daily grind.

Why Digress? Such a shame…

MASPALOMAZ 23 August, 2013 @ 8:34 pm   2

Can you give me a refund for the season pass? 😀 I know its my own mistake I bought it. You promised three different story dlc tho. And now its just one in two episodes. And some arcade stuff with the lame combat mechanics that if you look at reviews or forums most people dont like a lot. Can I get a refund for the season pass? I am probably also deleting the game from my HD (I bought on PSN, as I played it obviously I dont ask for a refund for that).

Under EU Law you have to refund customers btw.


I never really buy into the DLC thing, generally when a games done it’s done!

I’ll definitely be picking this up though, original Bioshock is in my top two games of all time!

Ignoring the first two negative comments, I cannot wait at all for this DLC. Rapture is just an amazing location, one of my favourites from any game ever. This is going to be epic.

toxic-inferno 24 August, 2013 @ 9:22 am   5

Really looking forward to this! Can’t wait to return to Rapture!

When did Irrational say that it would include three different story DLC? The only thing I can find says that it would include “the first three major pieces of downloadable content for BioShock Infinite”, which it certainly does.

But this is why I don’t buy a season pass for a game until the downloadable content has actually been announced.


Instead of DLC they could make that Vita Bioshock they promised us…

SilentShadowX2 25 August, 2013 @ 3:02 am   7

I need to pick this game up

Tonito2102 25 August, 2013 @ 1:08 pm   8

I don’t understand the negativity of the first 2 comments. The 2 most amazing gaming worlds of this generation (arguably) and we get to explore one of them more. I love Rapture, and seeing Rapture more fully fleshed out now the tech is more advanced will be fantastic. Columbia is beautiful but i loved the brief visit back to Rapture in Infinite. Whatever comes out of these games is all win-win for me.
Vita Bioshock does need to happen though and i’d love to hear Levines plans for Ps4..

bestheelever 27 August, 2013 @ 9:10 am   9

Part of me is really excited about this and another part thinks oh no not more Rapture.

It stems from the over saturation of Assassin’s Creed where you played what was a Trilogy with Ezio which was part of a Trilogy in itself.
I hope this isn’t the case and we aren’t just going back through every level over and over again.

I bought the Season Pass for DLC I was hoping would be more of Columbia not back to where I’d been before but not to worry if we see brand new areas and new enemies not just Splicers and Big daddies I’ve defeated countless times over.

One of the things I’m excited about is playing as Elizabeth. Having her as a rather useful (for once) NPC was great and being able to (hopefully) use the Tear system in Rapture could turn out to be fantastic. Especially when controlling her rather than just just looking at tears she could open.

The Vigors combined with Plasmids could be really useful. I’d love to see a mixture of both but all new ones rather than ones we’ve already had if that’s going to happen. Some of them I’d love to see include Wild Horses which speaks for itself and Killer sharks being under water 🙂