Before you read this, you really need to have played Irrational and 2K’s BioShock games. If you haven’t, I completely understand if you skip this. There’s gonna be spoilers. You’ve been warned. When I say BioShock, I’m including all of it from Bioshock One and Two and Infinte as well as the Burial At Sea DLCs both parts one and two. This blog post of mine isn’t going to make any sense to you if you haven’t played The BioShock franchise of games. Or you can watch videos about Bioshock at YouTube or elsewhere on the Web. There’s some great walkthroughs and analysis. Playing the game isn’t for everybody. Some of us prefer being perched on the proverbial shoulder of people who actually know how to play games like this.
I started this as a response to a Reddit thread but decided it better to put it over here cuz once again I got long winded and wasn’t so much answering the question posed at Reddit as I was trying to piece together remnants inside my head of where I’d want this story to go.
The story of Booker and Elizabeth has been told I think.
I’d rather no one mess with them much without at least some “creative consulting” involvement from Ken Levine and whatever he’s calling his new game company after having shut Irrational’s doors. Perhaps 2K could bring Booker and Elizabeth in as cameo characters now and then for grins, but the real story that has yet to be told is why the Luteces are tinkering with multiple worlds. Levine intentionally left that question totally up in the air, which is the thread any serious continuation of the BioShock franchise needs to follow if they seek to be taken remotely seriously.
Well okay. It’s not totally up in the air. Based on the vox tapes in the game and the scenes involving Rosalind and Robert, it’s essentially a disturbing kinda love story. Rosalind Lutece was a bright young mind who grew up in a world where women were subjected to persecution by men. She needed money to fund her experiments in physics, but had to find a man to fund them since it was too difficult given 19th century culture to do it herself. So she latched on to Jeremiah Fink who was no forward thinking liberal but he had lots of money and could see how her research might be worth the investment. It’s doubtful Rosalind knew Jeremiah would befriend the drunkard veteran Zachary Comstock and turn him into an evangelist to help him drum up cheap labor to build Columbia. Most of that seemed perhaps influenced by Rosalind but back then she was focusing more on a single atom that she found was communicating with her. She didn’t know it at first, but she learned she could send morse code messages by tapping on a single atom and someone else was responding. After awhile Rosalind learned this atom was being tinkered by another person very much like her in an alternate universe. His name was Robert Lutece and he just happened to be working on the same exact thing she was working on, which is why they were poking at the same atom at the same time, through a quantum tear in SpaceTime. They fell in love and she wanted to meet him in the flesh, but he cautioned no good could come of it. They were meant to be apart. That’s why universes are separate, but together they hammered out what they must do in order to be together, not fully realizing the consequences of their actions. Robert crossed over into her reality. This affected his psyche, causing him to fabricate memories to fill in the gaps caused by the journey between universes. He took ill, and Rosalind nursed him back to health. What their actual relationship turned out to be is left completely unexplored, but she referred to him as “brother” and the people of Columbia just assumed they were twin siblings. The details are sketchy, but the majority of BioShock Infinite seems to be an attempt by the Luteces to either undo the damage done by their scientifically blasphemous union, or perhaps it’s an attempt to tie up the loose ends caused by their merger, without having to actually undo what has been done. Perhaps they realized they can’t undo it. It’s already happened. So at some point they are killed in one reality, but still exist in another, and it’s this version of the Luteces that we experience communicating with Booker and Elizabeth throughout the BioShock Infinite game as well as the sequel Burial At Sea.
I wager the Lutece story is not over yet though. Either the deaths of Elizabeth and Booker are a sacrifice that keeps the Luteces alive and allows them to continue to coexist in the same reality, or it’s a wager between the two of them involving whether or not its safe to muck about with alternate realities like this at all. In either case, I doubt Elizabeth’s end in BioShock Burial At Sea erases Rosalind and Robert. I think they still exist somewhen, and would in some significant way haunt over the ruins of Rapture after the indirectly related events of BioShock Two.
I’d like to see a story about Rapture that takes place in the present day, somewhere around a century after Andrew Ryan first built the city under the sea, and almost half a century after the events of BioShock 2. In my imagining of what I tentatively would call BioShock Eternal you play a member of an expedition that explores what it’d be like today. Would it be completely uninhabitable and is the ocean reclaiming the territory? Perhaps everything’s covered in coral now and barely recognizable from its former glory at the hand of Ryan The Lion. Perhaps Rapture never fell, or after the events of BioShock 2 it was fixed up by interested parties and around the 1970s it held a hippie commune that evolved over time into a dystopian group of fanatics who went off the deep end and killed each other, or were taken over by yet another group, but whatever happened among the denizens of Rapture, no one dared bother to damage the engineering that went into making the place, because no one ever got that suicidal or genocidal. In fact perhaps after the fall of the Big Daddies, some other “failsafes” were put into place to insure the mechanical side of Rapture would never fail. Maybe these FailSafes were based off some artificial intelligence that went a little mad itself, realizing the greatest threat to the protection of Rapture’s brilliance was the people in it digging around like termites and rats. Maybe these FailSafes now see Rapture as infested with humanoid vermin.
Or maybe there’s a host of multiple possibilities for what happens to Rapture and how it survives and since the Luteces introduce temporal physics into the whole shindig, we can just say they all coexist in this SpaceTime simultaneously. This allows us to explore multiple Raptures in multiple TimeSpaces. Of course this can’t possibly be stable, so the expedition that went down to pillage Rapture for their own selfish purposes discovers that its in a state of temporal flux, where sometimes it’s completely submerged in the ocean and time has been very unkind to it, but sometimes its a fully realized dystopian society populated with descendants of the remnants of BioShock 2, and from an engineering standpoint it’s very safe, but whatever it is that’s keeping it safe finds the expedition a threat and therefore attacks the expedition. You’d have to remain in a pressurized suit the entire time cuz even when dealing with a dry Rapture, from your superposition everything’s still under water.
You are Valerie Bell, a young 21st century college student who is supposed to be on holiday. The other members of your expedition call you “a specialist” but what you’re a specialist of is anyone’s guess. The other three members of the expedition don’t trust you. You get the indication they each know more than they’re letting on, and they each don’t know as much about various things as the others do. Communicating with them is like playing a game of poker with very high stakes. Everyone’s friendly, at least to each others’s faces, but they’re keeping their cards close to their chest, and you instinctively don’t trust any of them, but also hold no ill malice. You were promised a great deal of money to get in a protective armored diving suit and help them find Rapture. You’re above average in everything you’ve ever tried, but not excellent at anything and haven’t really applied yourself. You’ve heard about Rapture but don’t believe it’s real. You’re just going along with this to pay for college, since your scholarship and grants have fun out. You have heard of Columbia. Your mother’s maiden name is Field, and she tells stories of a great aunt she never met named Constance who died while her family lived in The Sky In The Clouds that fell in the mid 20th century. Well. Some say it fell. It doesn’t show on any satellite images today. You don’t believe that ever happened either. Just World War Two propaganda or something.
Everything that happened in BioShock 2 would be kept canon (along with of course all the rest of the franchise), but after Delta saves the Little Sisters and leaves Rapture behind, another group of people (somehow connected to the Luteces) took control of what was left and tried to rebuild it to its former glory for reasons that become clear as the story progresses. The real reasons behind the Luteces tinkering with the past to make Rapture a place for their questionable agenda is revealed. In one reality they succeeded but in the other they failed miserably, and somehow your expedition’s actions in your present are the ultimate reason why both alternate realities still coexist, but you haven’t done what needs to be done to cause the temporal flux yet.
Soon after your expedition arrives on Rapture you’re under attack, and get separated from your team. Then you learn by their behavior, that each member of your team had ulterior motives for coming here and are essentially of no help to you. Fortunately they’re too busy fighting each other to care much about you. Early on you realize stealth, theft, and the kindness of strangers are your only real weapons. Then you meet someone also in a scuba suit who recognizes you and introduces him/herself as LUTECE but gamers would know this is neither Robert nor Rosalind. You have reason to question its humanity. Acts a bit too stiff to be entirely human, but it also has a sick sense of humor. This person gets you up to speed on what’s happening. There’s a civil war here. Multiple factions have coexisted under the sea for decades in relative peace but your arrival has instigated some long laid plans of one group to take over Rapture from the other two. This LUTECE claims to be a descendant of someone from Columbia who knew Constance Field, and the only way to save everyone in Rapture is to bring The Songbird back to life. As you progress you learn this isn’t entirely true, but its the only card you really have to play.
Maybe one of the Luteces wants you to succeed and the other wants you to fail, and it’s up to you which one you want to follow, or say heck with them both and you do your own thing. This would mean there’s at least three main outcomes. If you obey Robert that’s one outcome, if you obey Rosalind something else happens, and you can also forget them both and try something neither counted on, but this decision has to factor in early on. Each choice means you experience Rapture more in one reality than another, meaning you have to play the same game three different ways to get the full experience.
Maybe it’s all just a harmless bet the two have, and maybe something far more sinister is going on. Maybe harmless bets that involve mucking about with infinite possibilities can have consequences even the Lutesces hadn’t counted on. Perhaps Rosalind tried too hard to keep them together. Perhaps the idea of essentially loving oneself was too much for Robert to bare. I sense their romance was short-lived, their friendship prospered, but ultimately though they are very much alike in some ways, they’d be tremendously different in others. As Rosalind once described it, the only thing that sets them apart is a single chromosome, but they both grew up in entirely different alternate realities. Alike in many ways but on a cultural or even political level, they were perhaps polar opposites. Somewhere between the 1960s where BioShock 1 and 2 took place and the present day some fifty years later, the Luteces realized that in this reality, inside this Rapture, they are immortal. They can’t die. Perhaps they’ve both attempted suicide, or maybe they tried to kill each other. At any rate, they are outside time and space because of what they’ve done. They can’t rest until they leave this place, but neither of them want to go. Maybe that’s where Valerie Bell comes into play. She has to help them finish what they started so long ago.
Regardless of the future for BioShock, I’d like to see a game that revisits what’s left of Rapture in the present day. Perhaps multiple versions of it. A reality in which it thrived and one in which its been depressurized and taken over by the sea. Or maybe there’s some unhappy medium between the two. The story would have to be paramount of course, but an environment based off the architecture of Rapture with modern influences fighting the inevitability of nature can’t help not being marvelous eye candy.