The BioShock franchise is memorable for many reasons, and fans will definitely be looking at how the upcoming BioShock 4 will carve its own unique niche within the series. There are a number of different ways that BioShock 4 will be able to do this, but details about Cloud Chamber's exciting future release have been firmly kept under wraps ever since it was confirmed to be in development in 2019. Of course, this hasn't stopped players from speculating and or from rumors emerging, with some of the most spirited discussions centered around where BioShock 4 will be set and how this could affect the game's aesthetic.

While fans might most closely associate the previous BioShock games with the complex philosophical, political, and sociological issues at the heart of each narrative, these are undeniably strongly intertwined with the unique aesthetic that each title explores as well. In every entry, style and substance are combined to create a distinctive and impressive experience, and BioShock 4 could present players with both a stylistically unique and narratively original game if it opts for a different aesthetic from the previous installments.

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BioShock's Previous Influences

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When BioShock first came out in 2007, it wowed players with its spectacular opening as they survive a plane crash and descend in a bathysphere to the submerged metropolis of Rapture. The whole design of this setting was one of the key features of the first game, and the themes of utopian ideals transforming into dystopian nightmares and the potential corruption of uncontrolled progress were perfectly reflected in Rapture's crumbling, leaking architecture. BioShock 2 returned to the fan-favorite setting but explored new depths of the doomed society and its commitment to human advancement no matter the cost, showing the darkness under Rapture's shiny Art Deco shell in more focus.

In contrast to BioShock and BioShock 2's more indulgent mid-century underwater aesthetic, BioShock: Infinite chose a completely different inspiration entirely. Instead of taking place below the waves, the third BioShock game took to the skies and presented players with the unforgettable floating steampunk city-state of Columbia. With its turn-of-the-century society and focus on the idea of American exceptionalism in both its narrative and its overall aesthetic, BioShock: Infinite was another version of the idealized world that becomes corrupted that the previous two games showed. While there are comparisons that can be made across all three titles, it's clear the shift in visual style between the second and third entries allowed for a natural shift in the narrative as well.

How BioShock 4's New Style Could Work

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With BioShock 4's development being taken over by a new team, it seems more than likely that it will already look and feel like a different beast from the previous BioShock games. Some fans might be anxious about what direction the developer will take the BioShock franchise in and will hope that it doesn't lose too much of what made the initial games so unique in the first place. But change can be a good thing, especially for a series that's looking to adapt to the current gaming market and hoping to attract new fans as well as old ones, and Cloud Chamber will be more than aware of the legacy it has undertaken as well.

BioShock and BioShock 2 already feel distinct and yet similar to BioShock: Infinite, despite the difference in settings, protagonists, and even aesthetic styles. BioShock 4 can continue to push the boat out when it comes to things like stylistic inspirations while still remaining true to the BioShock formula and appeasing fans of the previous entries. Adopting a new aesthetic will automatically help shape BioShock 4's story and give the next installment a fresh focus, like an injection of modernity with a 1960s arctic setting or even a glimpse of space, as has been previously rumored. Although it's not clear yet when or where BioShock 4 will take place, a new style for the sequel would definitely give the title a new narrative focus and help set it apart from its predecessors.

BioShock 4 is in development.

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