A recent job posting has hinted that BioShock 4, whatever it ends up being called, could have an open-world instead of the segmented areas we know and love from the franchise’s history. Rapture and Colombia have given the impression of being large open worlds, but they’ve been sectioned off into areas that players need to explore individually. You can pass between each area without a loading screen coming between you and the other side of a door. It’s never been an issue, but imagine if those loading screens didn’t exist at all.
Rapture is the first city in BioShock history. It was built for minds to be free from the shackles of society at the bottom of the ocean, and it worked for a time. However, it soon fell into chaos when people started inflicting their own ideals on others. It’s always the way, and there’s never been a world in the series that hasn’t fallen into disarray. Being able to explore it in a fashion similar to massive open-world games would be amazing. It might not be what we want from a BioShock game, but I think it would work well with the series’ formula.
The game already has areas that are blocked off by powers or tasks that you need to complete, and that would translate well into an open-world game. The only thing that wouldn’t work that well is the enclosed space. It’s a claustrophobic city out of necessity. An open-world game would benefit more from a huge world that players can explore freely at their own pace. Picking up new powers as you go could open up new paths, but also new abilities to explore parts of the world that aren’t essential.
That’s the thing about Rapture. Every single area is essential, required for others to exist. In an open-world game, you can have areas that exist for no reason. They’re just a pretty place to sit down and chill out. I think that having more of that in a BioShock game would make it truly unique, and mix things up so much that fans wouldn’t even realize what they were playing.