Explaining BioShock Infinite

Shamus Young

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Explaining BioShock Infinite

Dissecting BioShock Infinite's remarkably complex storyline. Warning: Spoilers!

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SlightlyEvil

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Thanks for this. I feel like I got all of this on the first try, but good to get everyone else up to speed. Definitely a game I want to replay later for all the foreshadowing.
 

teebeeohh

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thanks, i was missing one minor thing you mentioned (why comstock is so much older) but i got everything else and even explained it to my sister because that makes it way easier to figure out.
funnily enough i called booker and comstock being the same in the hall of heroes but forgot about it because i didn't play the game over Easter.
 

Waaghpowa

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You've pretty much summed up exactly what I've been explaining to friends of mine about the ending of the game.

As far as the other political themes go, I get this sense that there's this message about patriotism, or at least evangelical behaviour of what people think to be patriotism.

Everyone there believes that they are patriots and worship the founding fathers as deities. I've seen "patriotic" Americans do something similar where they see the American government as being able to do no wrong and belittle people as being "Unpatriotic" or "Hating America" when they criticize. I may be wrong, but that's how I felt part of the message was.
 

gphjr14

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Thanks for explaining this because I was somewhat confused. Based on my original understanding I thought it was like the movie Looper and
in the end the only way to save the day is to sacrifice yourself.

I'd implore anyone who likes a game that plays with your mind to try this.
 

Vkmies

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If people here wish to hear more about what Mr. Young has to say about Infinite, I highly -HIGHLY- recommend his podcast on the subject. Be sure to check out his other podcasts, articles, blogs and analytic let's plays while you're at it. They tend to be fantastic.
 

NinjaDeathSlap

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Feb 20, 2011
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Yeah, I don't want to sound like I'm bragging (especially considering whenever something delves in to heavily theoretical and complex science stuff like this I tend to just switch off), but I never had any trouble figuring out what was was happening in Bioshock Infinite. By that I don't mean that I guessed the ending, just that when it came to all the reveals, everything made sense and I didn't have any trouble understanding it.

The only part where I couldn't figure out what had just happened was...

The part where Songbird kidnaps Elizabeth (or she goes with him willingly so he won't kill you, same difference). When you go after her, you somehow manage to get transported decades into the future seemingly without going through a tear, and the game never really explains how you got there. Also, I get that they used early 20th Century style 'behaviour modification' (read: Torture) to brainwash Elizabeth into being the figurehead that sends Columbia to war with the 'Sodom Below' as Comstock wanted, but how when you meet up with her again is she able to fight it in her old age?
 

NinjaDeathSlap

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Waaghpowa said:
You've pretty much summed up exactly what I've been explaining to friends of mine about the ending of the game.

As far as the other political themes go, I get this sense that there's this message about patriotism, or at least evangelical behaviour of what people think to be patriotism.

Everyone there believes that they are patriots and worship the founding fathers as deities. I've seen "patriotic" Americans do something similar where they see the American government as being able to do no wrong and belittle people as being "Unpatriotic" or "Hating America" when they criticize. I may be wrong, but that's how I felt part of the message was.
Patriotism (or more topically American Exceptionalism) is only one facet of it, but Columbia is basically an extreme representation of the attitudes and beliefs that made up late 19th and early 20th century America (much like Rapture was an extreme representation of 40's/50's America in the dawn of the nuclear age). You've also got radical splinters of Christianity (particularly Baptism), Rampant Capitalism (and conversely Anarchism), as well as generous helpings of Racism and Xenophobia.
 

Tombsite

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My biggest problem with the ending is kind of simple, why do we need to stop Comstock in all the universes?

Our Dewitt and Elizabeth/Anna are safe and together. Dewitt is (IMO) redeemed by fighting for, and getting back his daughter. So why do we need to do more?

And if you have a good answer please tell me :)
 

PunkRex

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I actually guessed the whole 'he is you' thing but I still liked the ending, thanks for explaining the whole 'its young Booker before Comstock' thing though, its makes sense now... God damn it, then that post credits reveal makes no sense!... I give up, fuck time travel, Timesplitters was the only series that I enjoyed it in because it kept things so simple.

Still, I do love the new Bioshock even if I agree with what Campster said about it but as i've already posted one of his vids today I won't do it again.

Best part about Infinate, this cover, it fits Booker so well its genius.
 

Monshroud

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I have spoken to some friends about this who have had troubles with the ending. The best things I could come up with was a Doctor Who sort of explanation.

One of the things in Doctor Who is that certain fixed events in time always and "have to" happen. Well, what if you stopped one of these events before it happened? By becoming the younger Booker and allowing yourself to be drowned, you are stopping all of the future decision tree branches from ever being allowed to occur. You cause a paradox in essence, and cancel out your future existence.

Now my question and where I hope some of the DLC will lead to is, which Booker is there after the credits? I may have part of the timeline wrong, but my understanding is that Booker knocked up a girl after he rejected Baptism. So if he died, how is it that we see him in his office in the end? Is this maybe a version of Booker where he didn't go to Battle but still had a child? That is a possibility since the paradox of him at Baptism would have never occurred, but the ability for Booker to exist is still out there.

I guess that's why it's called Infinite. . . Infinite possibilities.
 

romxxii

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Shamus Young said:
Explaining BioShock Infinite

Dissecting BioShock Infinite's remarkably complex storyline. Warning: Spoilers!

Read Full Article
You have the some of the chronology mixed up. Robert Lutece arrives at Comstock's universe at roughly the same time, having been present when Booker tried to stop his evil self from bringing his daughter into Comstock's timeline.
 

Marik Bentusi

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The ending was really weird in that it kept a lot of stuff ambiguous for some reason. Is the after-credits scene really a new wish-fulfillment route? Does Elizabeth from the game really vanish? Or does grandfather paradox ruin her plans?

What's kinda pissing me off about is that nothing was really gained tho. Everything you've fought for was invalidated, literally blasted into retcon oblivion, and every world ever connected to a Comstock route (because someone peeked into it or a random tear opened) will be obliterated for the same reason as the "heroic" Booker route. And for what? A new route that will still have a man, a city and a girl, complete with its own apocalyptic bad ending possibilities.

So really we just burnt infinite worlds with infinitely little significance in a multiverse purged of anyone that could care.
Also a child commits double-suicide with her father who tried everything to save her.

Ain't that just fucking depressing.

(Tho personally I'm a fan of the theory that Booker just respawned like when that assassinating priest and the Songbird tried to drown him).
 

Imp_Emissary

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Funny thing about Comstock's voice. When I was on my way to the top of "The Hand of the Profit" ship, he was talking his talk to me, and I swear he sounded just like Booker. I think it had something to do with his voice being messed up by his broadcast system thing, but I think it may have been on purpose. One last clue before you get to him, ya know.

:/ I wonder what kind of DLC Infinite will have, or rather what it will mean for the story?

Anyway, I could only find about 71 or 72 of the 80 voxophones too. I may go back for the others later.
 

Korten12

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I wonder if maybe, after Elizabeth is free of the Siphon is that she is no longer effected by Tears so to speak. So there is no paradox because she wouldn't vanish because even though the events were stopped, she is no longer tied down to that. Essentially free of any changes that occur.

Just a theory.
 

aeric90

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About Booker's age... didn't the Lutece twins grab Booker from a time shortly after he gave up Anna and pull him forward so that they'd still be able to take advantage of the "deliver the girl, erase the debt" memory? I seem to remember the flashback has Robert mentioning that he's filling in the memories when he appears in the boat.

If that's the case Booker's age wouldn't be 38. He was 18 when Anna was born and 19 when he sold Elizabeth to Comstock.

Even after I wrote that and thinking about it they'd probably have to grab him at that time. After 20 years he may have moved on or self destructed (given the state of his home when he's recruited).
 

iamscottevil

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romxxii said:
Shamus Young said:
Explaining BioShock Infinite

Dissecting BioShock Infinite's remarkably complex storyline. Warning: Spoilers!

Read Full Article
You have the some of the chronology mixed up. Robert Lutece arrives at Comstock's universe at roughly the same time, having been present when Booker tried to stop his evil self from bringing his daughter into Comstock's timeline.
I agree, I think the article misses the reason Robert Lutece is demanding Rosalind fix the problem (in the audiolog about her brother's demands) is they are guilty of aiding Comstock to thieve Ana, and they have to atone for it and they set up 'the experiment' to do so (although I dont remember in the beginning rowboat who doubts it will work, so I may be a bit off there). Robert is the one banging on the door and then standing in the door demanding Ana in the flashback timeline. Then shown at the tear where comstock is taking the girl through. Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt is finally revealed to be the causing act, not the redemption.

Otherwise a great spoiler summary.
 

1337mokro

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Like I am always apt to point out.

The game's ending really has little do to with why it fails.

Bioshock Infinite fails because it creates an entire world, then puts you on a linear path through it. Not really so much exploring it as stopping at certain attractions to ride them. There was an amazing amount of potential story here and it just was not told.

It is to busy trying to be Bioshock that it forgets that it should be it's own game in the first place.

We had a whole fucking narrative about Plasmids and how they are made. Vigours? They just fucking exist. Now shut up and gulp down this bottle that makes crows shoot out of your arms. There was so much wonder and possible exploration and it was ignored for an attempt to wax philosophically and the opportunity to attempt to pull a Shyamalan.

The biggest most glaring fucking problem should be Comstock and Fitzroy vs Ryan and Atlas.

Ryan and Atlas EMBODY their very ideology. Ryan is a man who builds what he wants. Who will not let anyone stop him from achieving his dreams. Atlas is a man who takes what he wants. Who will not let anyone stop him from achieving his goals. They are basically the two epitomes of objectivism.

The man who makes.
The man who takes.

Both at odds with each other and both held in the highest regard by the same philosophy because they follow the ultimate pursuit of happiness. Both are explored and you understand why they are who they are.

In Bioshock Infinite you have the Charlatan Prophet and Robespierre. What links these two other than their conflict? There is nothing besides the fact that Comstock sees no problem with smocking a cigar whilst sitting on the porch of his cotton plantation and Fitzroy would rather switch up the roles.

Nothing. They bring up racism then drop it. They bring up the socio-econimic class struggle then drop it. They bring up religion multiple times and do nothing with it. The only thing they do with it is imply that religion is really nothing more than a get out of jail free card delusion which I find the utter height of insult. I hold no religion myself but even I find it ridiculous to reduce someone's religion to nothing more than that.

Each of these could have been the dynamic between these two but there is just nothing.

Do I really need to point out to anyone that finished the game that the Songbird was wasted to such a degree that it should be a crime? That could have been the biggest Boogeyman ever to haunt your entire playthrough, but it just disappears for long periods of time and we never even get close to figuring out what it is.
 

Rad Party God

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Phew, that surely explains a lot. I kinda, sorta catched up most of that in my first playthrough like Comstock = Booker, but you definitely lessened the time fuckery of the story.

The thing I like about this game, is that even having full knowdeledge of the ending, it doesn't nullify the consequent playthroughs afterwards, heck, it even completely validates BioShock 1 itself!, making it more relevant than ever, even after finishing Infinite.

I love this game and I thank you for clearing up some stuff.