2K Games, the publisher of all three previous BioShock games, announced back in 2019 that the next BioShock game was in the works. Around the same time, 2K confirmed that the game would be "in development for the next several years".
It's been a couple of years since then. Outside of confirming that the next BioShock game will be developed by one of its new studios, Cloud Chamber, as its debut title, we know so little about the next BioShock game.
However, thanks to the magic of the internet, leakers, reputable sources, and job listings from Cloud Chamber, we've been able to scrounge up a couple of things about the next BioShock game.
Before anything else though, we'd like to warn you that none of this is confirmed information yet. It might be obvious at this point, but we recommend taking everything we say about the next BioShock game from here on out with a heavy pinch of salt.
It Will Still Be In First-Person
Three games in and you'd think that BioShock would be ready to switch things up. However, while this could still happen in future installments, we can expect the next BioShock game to still make use of a first-person camera.
Back in February 2020, Cloud Chamber put up a new job listing specifically looking for a senior game designer with experience using first-person cameras.
A Brand-New Setting
The setting of every BioShock game is just as memorable as its characters and plot twist. Both Rapture and Columbia will go down in video game history as one of the most iconic locations in all of gaming. Thus, it certainly would make sense for the next BioShock game to go back and revisit Columbia or Rapture, if not both.
Judging by a job listing posted in August 2020 though, it certainly looks like the next BioShock game won't be set up high in the clouds or underwater.
The listing states that the next BioShock game will feature a "new and fantastical world". Now, this doesn't necessarily mean that it's a sure thing that BioShock 4 will have a new setting. Things can always change during development. The developers could double back and use a more familiar place should they feel like their new setting wouldn't be as good.
Still, until we have confirmation, it's safe to assume that BioShock 4 will have a brand new setting.
More RPG-Like Experience
In December 2020, Cloud Chamber put up job listings for three positions: a senior voice designer, a game AI programmer, and a lead systems designer. If you read the description for all three jobs, you'll conclude that the next BioShock game will incorporate more RPG elements and mechanics than previous titles.
A good example of this is the description for the senior voice designer, where Cloud Chamber stated that it is looking for someone who's worked on voiced dialogue systems in the past. Considering that BioShock doesn't traditionally have dialogue trees and only Infinite had a voiced protagonist, it all seems like BioShock 4 will be a stark departure for the series.
Larger Open World
The BioShock series has always given players a huge world to explore. However, one thing that has remained constant is the linear nature of the games. Players might have been able to explore the majority of Rapture and Columbia, but certain areas will be restricted from exploration. It'll be either be separated by way of loading screens and/or until you progress further into the story.
A job listing from Cloud Chamber seems to suggest that this won't be the case for the next BioShock game. In particular, the job listing posted in April 2021 states that Cloud Chamber is looking to hire someone "who can weave impactful, character-driven stories in an open world setting".
Of course, fans have no reason to worry. A job listing from January 2020 for the lead world designer position clearly states that the hired individual will be responsible for creating "memorable experiences that complement the game's main story".
Unreal Engine 5
Another sure-but-confirmed thing about the next BioShock game is that it will use Unreal Engine as opposed to Unreal Engine 2.5 or Unreal Engine 3.
Many games in development right now that are set for release dates in 2021 or 2022 are still using Unreal Engine 4. However, 2K and Cloud Chamber is looking to utilize the newest version of the Unreal Engine for Bioshock 4, as suggested by a job listing posted by the studio on May 2021.
Time Exclusive to PlayStation 5
The first three BioShock games have never been exclusive to a particular platform. All three have been available on multiple platforms at launch. Unfortunately, the next BioShock game might not be - at least for a limited amount of time.
2K Games and Sony have yet to confirm this, but it's a rumor coming from a reliable industry insider. Nick "Shpeshal_Ed" Baker recently mentioned in an Xbox Era podcast episode that he's learned that Sony wants to make the next BioShock game exclusive to the PlayStation 5. However, he did not confirm if this exclusivity was in perpetuity or a timed-exclusive deal like for Deathloop.
Ultimately, a timed-exclusive deal for BioShock 4 makes a lot of sense. In addition to Deathloop, Sony is reportedly planning on doing the same thing for Final Fantasy XVI.
What's Next for the Next BioShock Game?
At this point, we'll have to keep an eye out for the next Cloud Chamber job listing to know more about BioShock 4.
If it's any consolation, Take-Two Interactive is confirmed to be a part of E3 2021. 2K's parent company might announce the trailer for the next BioShock game by then. Just try to not get your hopes too high up.