Irrational Games Creative Director Ken Levine is one sadistic man, and it’s fantastic. This morning Irrational Games and 2K announced the upcoming title Bioshock Infinite will feature a form of play called 1999 Mode. Back in December the companies polled their players to determine whether or not this challenging — and rather unforgiving — mode would work, and the results proved that fans want a challenging, sweat-inducing experience.
1999 Mode forces players to scrutinize their decisions as they navigate Columbia with Elizabeth in tow. Every choice will bring about irreversible consequences, and if you find yourself meandering down a path of gameplay you’re not prepared for, you’ll suffer. Bigtime.
1999 Mode will also feature weapon, power, and health management more demanding than that in a standard playthrough of Bioshock Infinite. For example, if the player dies and does not have the proper resources to be brought back to life, there is no respawn but a Game Over screen. Gulp.
Combat specialization will also have to be carefully managed; unless you have a well-developed specialization in them, certain weapons will be useless. Resources must be rationed. Every shot and attack must be meticulously targeted and executed, or your health pool — set to an “entirely different baseline” — will quickly deplete. And as for game saves, in the words of Levine himself: “there are game saves, and you’re gonna f***ing need them.”
“We want to give our oldest and most committed fans an option to go back to our roots,” says Levine. “In 1999 Mode, gamers face more of the permanent consequences of their gameplay decisions. In BioShock Infinite, gamers will have to sweat out the results of their actions. In addition, 1999 Mode will demand that players pick specializations, and focus on them.”
He added, “I’m an old school gamer. We wanted to make sure we were taking into account the play styles of gamers like me. So we went straight to the horse’s mouth by asking them, on our website, a series of questions about how they play our games. 94.6 percent of respondents indicated that upgrade choices enhanced their BioShock gameplay experience; however, 56.8 percent indicated that being required to make permanent decisions about their character would have made the game even better.”