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5 Tips For Playing Bioshock: Infinite

BioShock Infinite cover

So like a lot of people I have been getting stuck in to Bioshock: Infinite lately. Suffice to say, I’m pretty impressed. As a sequel it has a lot going for it, and in true Bioshock style it’s also quite difficult – especially since I started playing it on Hard so I can play it in the 1999 mode (Irrationals extra mode with limited resources) on my second play through.

Anyway, my play schedule aside, I thought I’d jot down a few notes that might be good to know at the beginning of a playthrough or before you start your experience (or even if you have already started and don’t do any of these, what do I care).

1. Take Your Time

First and most obviously, Bioshock: Infinite is a deep and distinctly well designed game which has secrets and propaganda around every corner. From the voxaphones (or diary records to anyone who hasn’t started yet), optional quests, spare weapons and much more which are scattered around the world – you are really missing out if you speed through from level to level as you might on your average shooter. There really is an amazing amount of work that's gone into the level design of this game, especially inside houses and around the stores of Columbia. It really should go without saying, but taking your time adds a lot of worth to your average playthrough.

2. Choose Wisely

Much as this is just good advice for life in general, in Bioshock: Infinite it is particularly important to choose wisely when you are picking weapons and upgrades or enhancements on top of your weapons and upgrades. This is particularly important for weapons since you can only have two on you at a time in Bioshock: Infinite, unlike in the original Bioshock where you could access them all at once. This means if you spread your upgrades across your weapons too evenly, or in the wrong places, you could end up stuck late game with a weapon you haven’t powered up or with weapons which aren’t powered up enough in general. It’s usually smart to drop your upgrades into one of the starting weapons (pistol, repeater, shotgun) and then into another of the later game weapons for flavour. If it's a weapon your enemies commonly use, there will be plenty of ammo available. Similarly with vigors, although you can access them all at once, put your upgrades into a couple favourites for the most reward from your combat situations.

3. Skylines

Skylines are one of the new features in Bioshock: Infinite, and they can really make a difference depending on the area you are in. For anyone who hasn’t played, they are like roller coaster lines which you can ride along using a skyhook you get towards the beginning of the game. When on the skylines you can shoot, accelerate, reverse, jump from line to line and even melee attack enemies riding along the lines. Learning how to balance combat on and off the skylines, transitioning from line to line and using the skylines to escape enemies when you have taken damage and to move onto the offensive when there are enemies which are isolated and prime for attack. My advice would be to take a few minutes when you first encounter the skylines to learn the controls and memories them, getting the balance for these when you have a quiet moment is a lot easier than trying to learn everything while you are under fire – and could save your life.

4. In and Out

Like many games, Bioshock: Infinites combat moves from large outdoor areas to inside corridor area quite often. Learning the balance for these areas is important, as is mastering which weapons and vigors are good in which kind of area and against which kind of opponent. It’s has a distinct in and out feel to it, and knowing which weapons and vigors you should be swapping to in order to combat these areas is the key to success. For example, whenever I am in an outdoor area I generally use Murder of Crows to find out where my opponents are and to stun large groups, while inside I’m much more likely to use powers like Bucking Bronco or Devil’s Kiss for high damage to each target. With weapons it’s a bit simpler to figure out, a Sniper Rifle will clean up outside whereas a Shotgun maybe not so much. Work out a combination that works for you, and then get ready to swap your abilities and weapons around as the area you fight in changes. This might sound simple but it can be easy to get in the habit of using a couple weapons or powers, particularly if you are coming off a longstreak of inside fights for example. Then you suddenly find yourself outside and against a tough opponent or a lot of enemies and everything you have been using so far is ineffective. Mastering the in and out playstyle of Bioshock: Infinite is one of the keys to success.

  • 5. Work Together

Elizabeth is much more than just a plothook who travels with you, she is your partner in your battles through Columbia and mastering the ways she helps you will make a noticeable difference in the way you play the game. First off, she throws you ammo, health, salts (mana) and money throughout the game based on what you need. Generally she will always throw ammo/health/salts while you are in combat, and money when you are outside of combat. Money will be thrown to you whenever you loot money, so that one is easy and doesn’t really need to be thought about. Health, ammo or salts is based on what you currently need – and this can be tricky. If you are on low health and quickly use up all your salts, she might throw you some salts when you are desperate for health. Similarly if she throws you ammo and you swap weapons before accepting it, you might end up with ammo for a weapon you are fine on – and still be empty on the weapon you need. The trick is to watch what you are low on and make sure you don’t become low on anything else if that is what you want replenished. For health and salts, simply don't lose health if you want salts and don't use up all your salts if you want health. For weapons, always swap to the weapon you want ammo for before you accept the ammo – even if it means picking it up. The other way Elizabeth helps you is using her tears (not like crying, like tearing a piece of paper, jeez). By opening one tear at a time you can gain access to new weapons, hooks to navigate areas, weapons turrets or even creating cover for yourself. Now it feels easy just to put up a tear at a time and utilize that, but for longer fights swapping between tears can make your success. They are often hidden around larger areas and can reward you with high powered weapons or med kits when you really need them. Find all the tears in your area and swap to them as needed – you can even drop your current weapons to pick up things like RPGs and then use the location of the tear as a landmark for getting your weapon back when the fight is done.

And there you go. Five things which might seem obvious, but mastering all of them will help you be successful in the long run playing Bioshock: Infinite, especially on the harder difficulties. I’ll put a review up on the game within a couple weeks (I want to savour it first) but until then, keeping these tips in mind will help you get through the length of the game without getting too stuck.

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