Veterans of Bioshock will feel like very little has changed at the outset of Bioshock: Infinite. As the game progresses, however, there’s quite a bit of divergence in balancing and mechanics. While many players will wish to experiment on their own, there are still some nice tips we can offer new players to avoid time wasted with inferior character builds.
Note: the last tip could be considered a minor spoiler.
Stop and Smell the Roses
At least on PC, Bioshock: Infinite is a gorgeous game, and arguably the best implementation of Unreal Engine 3 I’ve personally seen. Moreover, while the game is fairly linear in level progression, nearly all of the levels have neat side corridors or hidden scenes to uncover which help build the world of Columbia. Rushing from objective to objective preserves the core story, but ruins much of the flavor to be had. Take your time and poke around.
The Carbine is Your Friend
One of the things I look for in a good single-player FPS is an understanding of close, mid, and long-range combat. Infinite does an exceptional job at mid-range combat, and encounters are far more about movement and cover than prior entries in the series. To that end, the semi-automatic Carbine is fast enough for close range, but is absolutely devastating at mid and mid-long range. Once you get accustomed to the game’s odd iron-sight button, you’ll never put it down unless you just have to try something else.
Vigors Aren’t Your Daddy’s Plasmids
The core mechanic in Bioshock was the “shock and rock”, where you’d stun an enemy with lightning and close in for the kill. Electric powers show up rather late in Infinite and, quite frankly, aren’t terribly useful. The two most useful Vigors are Devil’s Kiss (a fire-grenade) and Murder of Crows (a flock of crows the stuns and deals damage over time). I upgraded these two as early as I could and found them incredibly vital in large shootouts and boss encounters.
Possession Isn’t Nine-Tenths of Your Safety
Instead of a hacking mini-game to turn defense turrets friendly, Infinite adds the Possession Vigor, which turns an enemy machine to your side. A couple of the early encounters stress the importance of this Vigor, but beware the fleetingness of the transformation. I found it much more valuable to destroy enemy turrets than spend precious Salts to power the ability, especially as the game’s armory opens up.
Mess Around with the Difficulty Settings
Especially on your first playthrough, you want to hit the sweet spot between boredom and frustration, which will be different for every player. Fine-tuning this is especially interesting if, like me, you resist having to lean on the game’s Vitachamber-esque respawn mechanic. In my experience, the game’s opening fights are among its hardest, but don’t get too discouraged if you’re chasing an achievement on the first go. While the game has appropriate difficulty spikes during boss encounters, it’s almost never harder than those first areas.
Don’t Bother Backtracking
Okay, it’s neat that the game rewards exploration. It’s also interesting they give locked chests at times where you couldn’t possibly have the keys to open them, encouraging you to backtrack later on. It’s rarely worth it. Unless you’re absolutely hard-pressed for a resource, don’t bother going back for a chest or locked door unless you’re doing it for exploration’s sake.
Elizabeth’s primary role in combat is to make “tears” in reality that pull objects into the world, typically supplies, turrets, or friendly AI machines. While supplies can come in handy in a pinch, you can only have one torn object present at a time, so prioritize damage dealers whenever possible. I’ve had my bacon saved more than once by a turret I’d torn in a few minutes back that chewed up new enemies as I backtracked through the corridor on my way to a new objective.
Above all else, of course, enjoy the game how you want to enjoy it. I love exploring nooks and crannies, searching for Kinetoscopes or cool scenes for screenshots, but I’m not obsessive-compulsive about finding every last bullet on a level, either.
How’ve you been finding the game? Have any tips or tricks to share? (No spoilers, please!)