That headline used to read "Bioshock Infinite 2" till my brain woke up to the absurdity of (a) adding to or multiplying infinity, and (b) the famously cerebral Irrational Games ever stooping to the level of a numbered follow-up. Gah, Mondays. Level designer Shawn Elliott insists that Infinite's lofty setting and opened-out combat demonstrate that sequels don't have to be superficially overblown, fundamentally reductive experiences - and if the new game's achievements are anything to go by, the Bioshock brand has a very bright future indeed.
"I think if we pull this off and people are satisfied with it we'll have proven that the Bioshock brand - no pun intended - the sky's the limit on it," Elliott told me in a lengthy, fascinating interview, the bulk of which you'll read this week.
"That we can do whatever we want with it, keeping those core tenants in mind, you know, and that there's range for a huge amount of difference between games. But that's just me speculating," he cautioned. "We haven't talked about any specifics, at least to the public about what we're going to do next.
"It's not a lie to say that this is Bioshock, not by any means," Elliott urged elsewhere. "But we all got to the point where we were like "this is Bioshock - but it's a tremendously different game." And so you get a little bit of both worlds there: you get the freedom of a new IP, but you also have the pedigree of the franchise.
"A lot of people clearly are going to be looking to see if we are repeating ourselves, dipping back into the same well to try to shock or amaze people with the same toolset that we used before," he elaborated. "We want to, you know, approach all that in an entirely different way - in some ways defying very specific expectations.
"The introduction is about that: oh, here's what you expect, there's the lighthouse. But instead of arriving in this subterranean city that's very closed-in, thick and heavy, governed by an art deco motif, it's light and it's airy, it's about moving at high speed through this new environment where the buildings themselves are moving around and shifting."
I've written at length about how Bioshock Infinite picks fights with the original Bioshock - suffice to say, this is one of the more self-aware games you'll play, though Irrational is a lot more graceful about the reflexivity than most. In other news, the developer has cut two games worth of content from Infinite, and assures that none of it will show up as Bioshock Infinite DLC.
Ken Levine reckons the ending is the best thing he's ever done. We're looking forward to putting his claim to the test.