Cloud Chamber is currently seeking a lead world designer for BioShock 4. While the job listing comes as no surprise since the game is still in early development, what the lead world designer will be tasked to do is what warrants attention.
According to the job description, the selected candidate will bear responsibility for providing “editorial oversight on world layout, design of world content, and the detailed systems design of world population and event management”. The latter references to population and events are the interesting bits.
The franchise has never catered an open-world setting. All three installments have featured a linear design to drive the narrative home, albeit BioShock Infinite did boast larger areas in comparison and started out with a bustling (but closed off) Columbia. Going by the aforementioned job listing, BioShock 4 may possibly break away from its predecessors by featuring a larger, semi-open-world.
Designing systems for population management definitely points at non-playable characters, a bunch of them in fact, and having world events is just another indicator for a lively city. Also factor in that BioShock 4 will be releasing for next-generation consoles. Cloud Chamber has an excellent opportunity here to utilize all of that extra horsepower to run a larger and complicated in-game world. Resorting to the same linear approach would be counterproductive, so to speak.
However, that is still not enough evidence. Another reason why this job listing just improves the chances of BioShock 4 having a semi-open-world is because of an earlier leak. Last September, an anonymous source claimed to have gotten hold of a company document from inside 2K Games. The leak carried several details about BioShock 4 and asked fans to expect an announcement in the winter. 2K Games finally acknowledged the existence of the game just a few months after. Hence, giving some due credit to the leak.
Among the many details put forward by the source, one was related to the setting. BioShock 4 will take a different approach by supporting a semi-open-world, claimed the leak back then. There will be more freedom to roam and explore without being confined to halls and alleyways. In addition, instead of diving back into the underwater dystopian city of Rapture, the narrative will unfold in the city of London. Should the other claims made by the source be true as well, a setting like London can be easily imagined to be bustling with activity during the day as well as night.
BioShock 4 remains without a release date and for the time being, a release window of somewhere in 2022 sounds optimistic. We’ll have to wait a while before confirming whether Cloud Chamber is indeed gunning for a larger and semi-open-world.