The first episode of the long-awaited DLC for BioShock Infinite is out today, and already there are some concerns about the length of the first episode – hint: it’s really short. Ken Levine has taken some time to defend the length of the DLC and shed some light on the creation process.
In an interview with Eurogamer, Levine said, “If you zip through it then it’s not a hugely long experience but if you dig deep it’s probably three hours plus, if you really dig deep. But it’s not the longest thing in the world.
“I think there are definitely people who are like ‘Well, I want hours and hours of gamplay’. I think if that is your primary metric, this probably isn’t the thing for you. If you want to feel like ‘Wow, I just got a whole new experience’ – that’s what you get out of this,” he added.
Unable to escape the inevitable comparisons with Minerva’s Den, the highly-regarded DLC for BioShock 2 [Levine did not work on BioShock 2], Levine explains how building a whole new location with the engine of BioShock Infinite is much different than using the same assets to create a new story, as is the case with Minerva’s Den, though Levine toyed with the idea.
“We had a choice. Minerva’s Den is terrific – I love it and it is effectively what we call a ‘kitbash’ of BioShock 2. They take existing assets and modify them to make a new story. They did an amazing job with that. But we wanted to do something completely different. If you look at it, [Burial at Sea] is really the first level and a half of a new game – or maybe not a new game, but of a sequel. And we knew that meant it wouldn’t be the longest gameplay experience.
“[From early on] we knew we wanted to do something with Booker and Elizabeth and we had a sense that Rapture could be the thing. And probably foolishly we thought we’d go back in and ‘kitbash’ a load of BioShock 1 assets. Then we thought no, god, that’s a terrible idea, that’s not fair and it’s not going to look good,” he added.
Levine joked about his ability to choose the most cost-effective solution and how they ended up with three versions of BioShock combat systems, “I never pick the particularly smart approach. ‘Hey, let’s not build Rapture, let’s build Columbia. Hey, now let’s build Rapture but completely afresh with new assets and a new engine. Hey, let’s take all of game systems we designed in Infinite and modify them so they belong in Rapture. So we have basically three versions of BioShock combat now – BioShock 1 combat, BioShock Infinite combat and the hybrid that appears in Burial at Sea.
“We have this new engine so we should take advantage of it. And, hey, let’s make all the shops and build 3D scenes out of the window which we never had in BioShock 1. And let’s put people in the world and make it all huge and shiny and build everything fresh – or almost everything fresh,” he added.
For more on Burial at Sea, check out our review round-up, you can also read Stace’s opinion of it.
Part one of Dave’s interview with Ken Levine is also a must-read for fans of the plot of BioShock Infinite.