Bioshock Infinite is potentially one of the best games ever made. And that is not an exaggeration. The fact that it’s such a great game has little to do with the mechanics of the game itself so much as the sheer amount of attention and detail that the designers put into it. That, and a brilliantly misleading ad campaign. From the very first Bioshock game I was introduced to the possibility that games could be actually intellectually stimulating. There is genuine philosophy in these games, philosophy that you could include in real academic journals. I could quite happily devote my career to writing articles about Bioshock for academic journals and those articles and the journals they would appear in would be credible. Which is awesome!
This latest instalment takes that to a whole new level. A level I will divest to you, my adoring reader (fucking adore me!), in 8 unbite sized chunks.
1. As a shooter it’s pretty crap
This is perhaps the most negative thing I will say about Bioshock Infinite. The actual gameplay itself is not all that great. Most commentators have pointed out that its just the same as the previous two Bioshock games, but I would go further and say actually it’s a step backward.
Let’s start with the guns. Bioshock 1 and 2 had an impressive arsenal and some of the guns you could get ahold of were pretty quirky. In Infinite a lot of that is lost in a number of ways. First is your limitations as a player. In the first two games when you discovered a weapon that weapon was then yours and you carried it with you for the rest of the game. By the end of the game you were carrying around something like ten guns with which to murder your way through the deep sea city of Rapture. It’s pretty standard for a lot of the older FPS. Infinite bends to the public trend and brings us closer to the COD style of FPS. Which isn’t bad in a COD style game, it’s just not what I’m looking for in Bioshock. You are only allowed two guns at any one time, but every enemy drops a gun that you can switch for. Most of the time you won’t because ammo is in abundance until very late in the game when for a while there is no ammo in the world. It’s a minor nuisance, but it also loses something from the previous games. In the previous games when you upgraded a weapon, turning your six shooter into a twelve shooter, it physically changed the weapon. You actually saw your gun meld together two sets of barrels and it looked awesome. But in Infinite because you’re constantly switching out guns the upgrades don’t actually show up on the guns even though they carry over.
While there are more guns than in the previous Bioshocks there are in fact less guns. In Columbia, where Infinite is set, there are two factions each with their own range of guns but you quickly realise that the factions basically have the same set of guns with slightly different variations on them. So really that number of guns is cut in half. You will then discover as you play the game that there are only four guns you will ever use: the shotgun, the carbine, the sniper rifle, and the HANDCANNON. Every other gun in the game is crap.
Unless your enemy has the grenade launcher thingy in which case they become the most infuriating opponent ever! Which is also a sign that Infinite is a bit of COD clone, the enemies are all the same. Because of its setting you are only ever fighting people with guns, they’re soldiers, and they lack the distinctiveness of the crazy splicers from the previous games. Oh, there are Big Daddy equivalents too, sort of, and they spice things up. But what you really notice is how very few enemies use the magic powers that are available. When you fight a splicer you have no idea if he’s going to shoot you, bludgeon you, or throw a fire ball at you. You’re average enemy in Columbia is going to shoot you. That is all.
It is a gun game. Which is shame because they give you a pretty awesome melee weapon with some brutal death sequences and then makes you wait ages before you can effectively fight melee style. Bioshock 2 also had a great melee weapon and gave you the abilities to actually use it as your standard playstyle. Infinite treats it like a knife, good for those moments where you find yourself face to face with a big bushy mustache but not how you’d consistently play the game. And the main problem is that it just doesn’t give you the ability to get up close and personal until about two thirds of the way through the game. Because…
2. Vigors are underwhelming
Continuing the theme of how Infinite isn’t as good as it predecessors are the Vigors which replace the plasmids from the previous game. In the first two games there are roughly 12 different abilities. In Infinite there are 8. And of those 8 I only wanted to use two of those, I used two more out of necessity and ignored the rest shortly after I got them. Admittedly that’s a matter of playstyle, but I’m fairly certain if I played the game again I wouldn’t bother experimenting with new vigors like I would with plasmids in the previous games.
The vigors just aren’t as fun to use and part of the problem is that the COD style of shooter that’s infected the game like a venereal disease. You get so caught up in a gun battle that for the most part you forget that you even have magic powers at your fingertips. The only reminders come with those few enemies that also have abilities themselves. Of which there are only two. You would expect that as the games improve, the range of enemies would too.
Having said that, Bucking Bronco is an awesome ability that gives you a decidedly unfair advantage when used with a shotgun or HANDCANNON. Just Bronco your enemies into the air where they hang helpless as a baby yet to discover its multidimensional powers and then run up and CANNON them in the face!
Of the vigors there is only one that I would say is original to the game rather than just being a variation upon the previous plasmids. Which is really irritating. Having only 8 abilities wouldn’t have bothered me so much if they were very different to the ones I’d used previously. And what’s more I’m fairly certain the game forgets to give you a vigor. Early on you’re introduced to automated stallions that do not feature at all after that brief introduction. Yet you’re bombarded with advertisements for them and the vigor that allows you to control them. The game heavily hints that you’re going to get to use one of them, which you don’t.
But what is most irritating about the vigors in a game that is so detailed and so careful to fully immerse you into its world is that at no point throughout the entire fucking story does it explain where they even come from! Compare the Bioshock wiki explanations for plasmids and vigors. Plasmids are created by refining ADAM which are raw unstable stem cells harvested from a deep sea slug. Alright when you put it like that it does sound kind of silly, but it makes sense in the universe of Bioshock. Vigors on the other hand receive no such explanation as to where they come from. EVE the energy that allows you to use plasmids is also refined from ADAM and Salts… um, how exactly do salts fuel magic powers? If I knew I’d get magic powers out of eating salt, my diet would be very different indeed.
3. You will fall in love with Elizabeth…
…and as I’ve just discovered that’s ok. She’s twenty. TWENTY! Originally I thought she was seventeen and felt a little awkward about that. But’s she’s twenty so it’s all good! Except that she’s a character in a videogame… But that’s ok too because they based Elizabeth on Anna Ormeli.
Who is a totally real woman and it is therefore totally ok to have a crush on her (the only snag being she lives in Moscow). And believe me, even if you don’t know about Elizabeth’s real life counterpart you will nevertheless fall in love with her. It’s impossible not to. And I can tell you the exact moment it will happen. It will happen right here:
Everything Elizabeth does right up until this point is designed to make you fall in love with her. It’s all been carefully scripted from the moment you first lay eyes on her right up until the moment you see her dancing. And you know you’re in love with her by that point because as you approach you must press a button to interrupt her and continue with the story. And you will not want to do it. It’s a testament to brilliant story telling and the level of graphical detail available that she is so life-like that you just feel too guilty about getting her to stop dancing. And let me make something clear, the time it takes from your first sight of Elizabeth to that moment is roughly 20 minutes. Oblivion failed to develop that level of attachment in two hours. I must have watched her dance for about four minutes before I finally relented. The person who presses that button the moment it appears has no soul.
But there are other ways in which not just as a person but as a gamer you will also fall in love with Elizabeth. Hey, I am not against subhuman love. You see one of the biggest concerns that you might have coming into this game is that it is going to be one giant escort mission and every gamer hates those. Because they are always like this. Resident Evil 4 was one of the best games I have ever played right up until the moment you actually rescue the president’s daughter who is the whole reason you’re there in the first place. Seriously the fact that the game crashed and I couldn’t physically complete it was less annoying than having to deal with that blonde.
Resident Evil 5 kind of made things better by giving you a co-op character rather than an escort. Bioshock Infinite just decided that even though you’re escorting this girl is integral to the plot you shouldn’t actually have to escort her at all. I happened to know in advance that you wouldn’t actually have to spend any of your time defending Elizabeth at all and I thought it would have something to do with her powers. I figured she would be so jacked up on defensive vigors that a nuclear strike on her perfectly legal bosom would be as successful as my dating life. And considering I just admitted to falling in love with a videogame character you can tell just how well that’s going…
That is not what happens though. Elizabeth is not invincible, your entire attachment to her would be ruined if she were. Instead the game simply just puts a message up on screen telling you that you don’t have to look after her. It’s not even a plot point. There’s no story element to explain why you don’t need to look after her in combat. And the only reason I was ok with that was because I found it pretty funny. But even if you don’t like that, the game goes one step further by taking the escort trope and doing this to it…
THEY MAKE HER USEFUL. Throughout the game she will throw you ammo, salts, and money just because you need it. The moment you’re low on ammo or salts in the middle of a firefight she says she’ll look for some. And she does! Every so often she will toss you exactly what you need, right when you need it and save your ass. At one point she even throws you a sniper rifle. A SNIPER RIFLE! How could you possibly not love a woman who does that?
4. Beauty and the Beasts
When I saw that the third Bioshock game was going to be set in a floating city I was very dubious about the whole affair. One of the great things about Bioshock 1 and 2was the atmosphere which was compelling and scary as hell at times. You’re in a confined space well aware that at any moment that space could become even more confined by judicious use of the entire ocean. And it sucks you into it, everything about Rapture is failing apart. There wasn’t a part of that city that wasn’t leaking and you always felt like the whole thing could come crushing down on you. They took some of that fear from the second when you play a character who could survive in the water, but still. It was a brilliantly oppressive atmosphere. But a city in the clouds? That’s hardly oppressive. There’s daylight everywhere! The main worry is that you’re going to fall off, but then the thing about that is it’s no different from any other platform game ever. Another game in which I have to run to safety before the floor falls away just isn’t that exciting or scary.
But then I got to playing Infinite and I had revelation very quickly. This is not a horror game anymore. Don’t play it expecting to be scared. There is only one moment throughout the entire game that will make you shit yourself in fear. Oh, there are all the usual shocks and surprises, but Infinite is sensible enough not to try and be a horror game. It’s a different sort of creature to its predecessors in that respect. And once you accept that, once you embrace it, you realise just how stunning Columbia is. It’s an incredibly beautiful city and it’s very well designed. There was only one moment where I found myself frustrated by the level design, which had more to do with the enemy with a grenade launcher than anything. And unlike Rapture which comes pre-wrecked, you get to watch Columbia turn from Eden to Hell. You will literally watch the city burn over the course of the game and it is amazing to watch. Seriously take the time to stop and admire the view.
And that attention isn’t just given to the city itself. There’s beauty in the beasts of the city too. And I don’t mean the enemies. As good as they look they can’t top the splicers from the first games. Generic soldier lines are never going to top a lunatic singing “Jesus loves me” before he merrily tries to bash your brains in. There are other characters beyond Elizabeth and there’s not a one I didn’t like as a character even when I wanted to kill them.
Take Fink for example. Fink is a relatively minor villain who you get introduced to very early on in the game when he invites you to throw a baseball at a couple of Irish people. He disappears soon after without you really paying much attention to him until you need guns and he’s the foremost supplier. Most of what you get of Fink is from his company Finkton Industries. And there is one truly brilliant moment that tells you everything you need to know about him. Aside from all his slogans about how poor people shouldn’t want to be rich or smart. At one point you come across a square where there’s some sort of auction going on, only the people bidding are getting lower and lower. A quick look behind the auctioneer reveals a long list of the most demeaning sounding jobs available to man and you quickly realise that these people are bidding with their wages to get those jobs. The person willing to earn the least to do a job gets it*. You could have missed everything else about the man, but in that one moment you learn everything you need to.
* I have been informed they’re actually bidding for how quickly they can perform the job. Either way, Fink’s a dick.
And if you’ve played the previous games your first thought is whether you should kill him or not. In both the previous Bioshocks whenever you have been presented with a villain you are always presented with the choice of whether to spare them or kill them. Those decisions affect the outcomes of the game. Bioshock is always good at presenting you with bastards that you want to kill and then making you wonder if you should actually kill them.
5. I got religion, I got it bad.
The decision to let someone live or day in Infinite takes on a whole new tone to the previous games. Unlike the other two where you were just a pair of hands, in Infinite you are Booker DeWitt and this is a story of redemption. As a result a lot of those decisions over whether you kill a villain or not are largely taken out of your hands. It’s not for you to make the character as you go along like you would in Fallout. There’s a hugely metaphysical reason for this but we’ll get to that. One of the major questions of the game is whether a man can wash his sins away. In a certain sense literally.
The game becomes very centred on the theme of baptism and how that can change a man. And here we delve into the real spoilers of the game. The reason Infinite is called Infinite is because over the course of the game you realise there isn’t just one universe, there’s a multiverse.
Booker and Comstock, the lead villain, are really the same man who made a different choice in the wake of their actions at the battle of Wounded Knee. Booker refused a baptism because he didn’t think it could absolve him of his sins, Comstock accepted it. Booker spends the rest of his life constantly haunted whereas Comstock goes on an ego trip and builds Columbia. All to prove white supremacy. He even has his own branch of the KKK which ironically dress in black. Thanks to a machine built by Rosiland Lutece, Comstock is able to see, and eventually get into, alternative universes which prompts them to take Booker’s baby which kicks off the events of the game.
Baptism becomes the key difference between the two men. In order to enter Columbia you must accept a baptism from a random priest. It sets the tone of the city itself quite nicely, only the pure are allowed entry. Booker had already been presented with a basin in which to wash his sins away which he openly refuses to do. So you know he doesn’t believe in it. Yet the only way to get into the city and wipe away his debt is to accept a baptism that he doesn’t believe in. It’s a scene so well done that one guy got Steam to give him a refund because he refused to go through with it and you can’t continue the game if you don’t. Just to reiterate, it’s right at the beginning of the game.
Religion plays its role in other ways too. The previous Bioshock games were commentaries on capitalism and utilitarianism respectively. This is a commentary on Nationalism. So I really wish I had played this game before I finished teaching my Religion, Nationalism, and Colonialism course. That would have been a lot more interesting that talking about Ireland. Columbia is what would happen if the Teaparty won the election in the USA, the Founders of America are worshiped as deities and racial purity is now religious purity (check out this ad). And Elizabeth IS the second coming. Everyone in Columbia is waiting for her to rain down fire on America all because it was a pussy about shooting some Chinese folk. That’s a brilliant image by the way. It is literally the Old Testament kind of divine wrath that some of America wants to bring down on certain parts of the world, including other parts of America, and in a neat twist it’s going to be perpetrated by a girl.
Oh, and it is no coincide that when you do see America get lambasted by Columbia the city that gets it is New York.
So you have a highly devoted religious group, nigh on fanatical you might say, making an attack on an American city. A group with which the distinction between political and religious doesn’t really apply. You put a beard on her and Elizabeth would look exactly like Osama Bin Laden. Which puts my above comments in a disturbing new light…
No wait, Comstock’s the beard so he’s Bin Laden. Elizabeth is just a hijacked plane. It’s safe to fantasize again. She literally stands for the terrified America people cowering in the face of a dangerous man who’s willing to sacrifice anything to achieve his goals. Elizabeth even lives in a tower of isolation because no one is willing to help the poor girl. And Booker? Booker’s the American response to that threat. He is the MAN. Ironically he is going in to remove a threat of his own creation. The day Seal Team 6 got Bin Laden was the day America redeemed itself for allowing the creation the man in the first place. The day Booker does this…
is the day he redeems himself. And it is no way symbolic that Comstock is being drowned in a baptismal font, that is just a total coincidence.
6. There is fucking time travel (Craig)!
Wait, so Comstock is Booker? Yes, yes he is. You know that machine that Lutece made so that he could see into other universes? A side effect of him using it was that it made him age rapidly. I do owe Craig an apology on that point. Originally I thought Booker was brought forward in time to Comstock’s universe which explained the age difference. It’s why Slate doesn’t think Comstock was at the Boxer Rebellion. But other than that there is fucking time travel Craig! And I invite you the reader to find Craig Clowsby on facebook and send him a message to tell him as such.
How do we know there’s time travel in the game? Because it fucking tells you!
Here’s the thing. This is a game about the multiverse and you shift from one universe to another over the course of the game. You, Booker, come from one universe into the main universe thanks to the Luteces. Then later on Elizabeth shunts your through a couple more. But a lot of what Columbia is, is based on other tears created by Lutece’s machines that allow the people in Columbia to see into other universes. Fink in particular uses the tears to develop a lot of the technology found in Columbia. And some of those tears look into the future.
Noticed a certain similarity between the songbird and the Handymen with a certain Big Daddy? That’s because Fink looked through a tear into Rapture and saw them. And just to clarify, this has to have happened before the game which happens in 1912. Rapture wasn’t built until 1946. His brother saw a tear that gave him the idea for the voxophones as well as a lot of cheeky music references. Oh and you actually see those tears during the game. They’re red and neither Booker or Elizabeth recognise the kind of music that they play. I only found one but there are more, and one of them is playing “girls just want to have fun”. Then there’s the fact that Comstock looked through the tears to see the future. It’s how he knows he has to let Elizabeth be the one to fire bomb New York and that Booker is going to try and stop him. He even calls Booker the false shepherd and warns his followers that he will ruin everything. Commentary on the American way of life anyone? It’s a big point of the game, Lutece warned Comstock that he was only seeing possible futures and there was no guarantee it would turn out that way. Incidentally, for every prediction she warned him about there is one Lutece who was kind of wrong. You see, the universe Comstock sees is a universe that happens.
This is gets us to why Craig is wrong. At the end of the game Elizabeth and Booker go back in time to the moment of the baptism. She’s omnipotent and has infinitely more control over her ability to create tears. By inhabiting that moment and killing Booker then and there stops the creation of Columbia because Booker never becomes Comstock. Craig’s issue is that because there are an infinite number of universes there are other universes in which Columbia still gets created. He also takes that to be that there’s no time travel. According to Craig all those alternate universe that Comstock were just universes in which things like Rapture happened in 1912 and not 1946. Wrong.
Let’s be clear about the rules of the multiverse in Infinite. For any given event A there are two possible outcomes (minimum) B or not-B. So let’s start with A, this leads to B1 and B2. Now we have a second level of choices in which we have B1 resulting in C or not-C and B2 resulting in C or not-C. Still following? We now have C1 to C4. Each C is followed by D and so on and so on.
This is otherwise known as the trousers of time. What Elizabeth does by drowning Booker at the baptism is close down that cluster of universes in which Comstock is created and seeks out Lutece. Because Lutece is the real problem because Lutece creates a device that cuts across universes. WHICH IS THE MAIN PROBLEM THAT THE GAME IS ABOUT RESOLVING. It’s Comstock who funds her research, and he only funds it because he had a vision from an angel called Columbia. Without that funding from Comstock, Lutece never builds the machine, never hops universes, and never creates Elizabeth. Let’s say that moment when Booker comes to the baptism is B2 which leads to C3 and C4. A universe stemming from B1 can only lead to C1 and C2, it cannot lead to C3 or C4. Even though the number of universes is infinite, where infinite only really means incalculable, for any given moment there is only a limited number of outcomes. Build that at each stage and that does in fact place limitations on what can and can’t happen.
Aside: Continuing the religious imagery in Bioshock it may have missed people’s attention that Robert and Rosiland are Adam and Eve. God created Eve from Adam, Robert and Rosiland are the same person from different universes. Eve eats the forbidden fruit, Rosiland creates a machine that breaks the universe. Eve tempts Adam to taste the forbidden fruit, Rosiland tempts Robert to use the machine. Adam and Eve are cast out of Eden into the wastes, Rosiland and Robert are cast out of Columbia into the possibility universe. I could go on.
Now, Elizabeth only closes down a small cluster of universes. The ones that lead to Comstock creating Columbia. There will be other universes in which someone else decides to fund Lutece. Or even further universes where someone else completely different discovers the Lutece Field. So the problem itself isn’t solved, that problem being people who collapse universes that aren’t supposed to touch. The multiverse has a schoolyard six inch rule between universes, break and Jason Statham will come for you. So the problem of breaking the multiverse has been solved in that cluster of universes. And a city very much like Columbia might come into existence but it won’t be the Columbia stemming out of that baptism.
7. The Awesome consequences.
The whole multiverse nature of Bioshock is something that is only just being realised. Most people just focus on the fact that Booker and Elizabeth end up in Rapture and that they can use a bathysphere to leave. That’s significant because only Andrew Ryan, the man who created Rapture or anyone genetically linked to him, can operate them. Ergo some theories as to how Booker is related to Ryan none of which work because the timelines don’t coincide properly. Booker would have to be 14 in order to be Ryan’s dad. That and Ryan is originally Russian. So there’s going to be a lot of questions on that one before anyone figures it out.
There’s also the moment when this happens…
The Songbird is what 166 would have been like in Oblivion if they had done Oblivion right. The Songbird also gets much less screen time. It’s Elizabeth’s only friend and her prison guard. And she very unfairly kills him all because Booker dropped a musical instrument. You do really feel sorry for the bird as it drowns and Elizabeth coaxes it towards its own demise. And it screams in quite a gut wrenching fashion. That bird really didn’t deserve to die. If it had been a songdog instead of a songbird then Infinite w0uld have been the worst game ever.
Now supposedly, this event happens during the original Bioshock games. And supposedly if you play Bioshock 1 right at the moment where you meet a dude being forced to play a piano or else get crotchedly dynamited you hear the songbird die. Now I don’t think that’s right. But even if it is I don’t reckon it was in the game when it was originally made. More likely they just added a patch to include the sound which is great attention to detail nonetheless.
But what I really want to talk about is the consequences of the metaphysics for the previous two Bioshock games. Let’s start with the multiverse aspect. There is only one ending to Infinite but the first two games have multiple endings. The problem with multiple endings and sequels is always going to be which ending do you take as canon? Games that sit in the same universe but don’t relate to the events of their prequels get around this problem by not answering the question. Which is lame. So it was no surprise that Infinite left rapture in order to avoid answering that question. Only it turns out it did. All the endings in the Bioshock games are canon. For every choice that is made there is another universe in which an alternate choice was made instead. So each time you play through the Bioshock games and go for a different ending you’re effectively just going down the path of a different universe. So all the endings happened.
But even cooler than that is something that the game does tell you but doesn’t link to the first two games. Right at the beginning of Infinite you get a quote for Lutece saying that the mind of the subject will always try to create memories where there are none. In Infinite this is how Booker creates the whole story about finding a girl to wipe away his debt. None of that was true, it was the only way to make sense of how he was in an alternate universe. During the game whenever Booker dies you awake in your office and stepping out through the door you find yourself back in Columbia a little before you died. Otherwise Elizabeth “revives” you with a Little Sister’s needle that comes out her perfectly formed ass. The point of these scenes is that it’s the next Booker to attempt to rescue Elizabeth remembering how the previous attempt died. Robert’s been bring Booker in after Booker to rescue Elizabeth. You get to play Booker 122 onwards. Booker “remembers” Elizabeth saving him because that’s the only way of making sense of having the memories of a Booker that did die.
In the first two games there were vita-chambers which would revive you every time you died. Now in the first game it’s explained that only someone with Ryan’s genetic code can use them. Which then leaves a huge question mark over how Subject Delta who is in no way related to Ryan can use them too. It’s not just because he’s a Big Daddy, because none of the others can use it either. And the reason is simple. THERE ARE NO VITA-CHAMBERS. They’re the games’ equivalent of Booker of “remembering” being saved by Elizabeth. Each time you die, the “vita-chamber” you wake up in is really just another version of you that didn’t die at that moment. And just like Booker because you remember the other you dying you need to create memories in order to make sense of it. In a world full of genetic manipulation and a whole load of other science stuff the vita-chamber is the logical explanation. There is only one audio in both games that even comes close to explaining how the vita-chambers work. And by close I mean the guy just admits that it’s quantum and leaves it that. Quantum mechanics which was exactly how Lutece was able to suspend the atom and create the tear into other universes…
Wait let me revise that. Shit. Maybe the vita-chambers are real after all. But they don’t revive you in the traditional sense. They’re tear machines that pull an alternate you into this universe, one that’s still alive/survives the fight that originally killed you. That might work…
(Random aside: Google image vita-chambers)
8. There’s always a man…
So Infinite has some interesting consequences for the games that have already gone. But what about the games to come? There is already a season pass available for the DLC of Infinite that promises lucratively to give us more insight into the city. Just so long as they don’t do what they did with the AC3 DLC and decide to throw the original story out the window and go completely off track. Although ironically they could in this game thanks to the multiverse. So, yeah a game in which Comstock is the good guy might not be too off base.
No, what really interested me was what Elizabeth had to say about the whole multiverse: “There’s always a man, always a lighthouse, always a city”. The implication is that Rapture and Columbia were only two of those cities and future Bioshock games are going to give us more cities. And there are some attempts to suggest that over games are in the Bioshock multiverse (the connections are tenuous at best). But what I really want to know, what I really want to know is why in every version of the universe that that statement must come true. That’s the big METAPHYSICAL question of the Bioshock games. Why must those three points constantly play out in various different ways each time?
It’s a question I can’t give an answer to straight away. But I do think I know where the answer lies.
Most of the discussions about the multiverse and time travel focus on Lutece. What everyone seems to be forgetting is that the only reason Comstock found Lutece in the first place is because he received a vision from the angel Columbia telling him to go and find her. She’s the namesake of the city. And no one’s realised she’s a character! Check the wiki, the font of all veridical knowledge of the Bioshock universe. It doesn’t even realise that Columbia is a person in the game. We just never meet him/her. But Columbia is a person, Comstock mentions her here and here, and she’s definitely not Rosiland either. Yet if Columbia hadn’t given Comstock the vision he would never have sought out Lutece and the city, the lighthouse, the man never would have happened. Columbia set everything into motion.
Why? What does Columbia achieve by doing this? Is she steering all the universes towards a man, a lighthouse, and a city? Who is Columbia?
My guess, she’s another Elizabeth. Just because Elizabeth closed off all the timelines involving Comstock doesn’t mean that somewhere out there in the infinite number of universes there isn’t someone else who has the ability to create tears. So I reckon Columbia is another person capable of creating tears who for some reason is going about ensuring that there is always a man, always a lighthouse, always a city. Of course, we’ll have to wait for the next Bioshock game to see if they do answer that question. And I’ve asked it now. SO THEY BETTER ANSWER IT.