BioShock Infinite 6: Martyr DeWitt

In which we finally find the gunsmith’s tools, change worlds again and stand among a crowd too small.

We’re still at the Bull House Impound and on our way down to the cellar, following another staircase of questionable practicality.
At its bottom, we find the equipment of our gunsmith – and realise that there’s no way to get it back to the shop. DeWitt even says that they obviously didn’t think this through. But do not despair, plot magic comes to the rescue: Elisabeth can open another tear to a Columbia where there are no tools down here. Which obviously means that they HAVE to be at the gunshop. I mean, obviously. There is literally no other place where they could be.

The new other Columbia greets us with lots and lots of noise. Increasing escalation seems to be the theme of these jumps. On the outside we hear a thousand voices shouting “VOX!” as well as fighting. Maybe we should go outside. On the way back to entrance we meet one of Comstock’s man we shot on our way in. Disoriented, bleeding and not quite here. At least the designers are consistent with this.
We open the door standĀ amidst chaos. The now here armed Vox Populi staged an uprising and we’re in the middle of a warzone. Pushing back towards the gunshop we come across this poster:DeWitt - investigator, thug, martyr.

DeWitt – investigator, thug, martyr.

My thoughts at this point: “So DeWitt got himself killed in this version of Columbia while aiding the Vox and now is the designated martyr. Okay.”
Two steps further Elisabeth steers my attention towards the poster.
Brooker gets a nosebleed and tells Elisabeth that he has two conflicting memories about what happened at the Hall of Heroes: What we did there, and what happened here. He and Slate burned down the hall and DeWitt led the Vox’ uprising.
We pass the execution of some of Comtock’s men and a group of Vox celebrating the liberation of Finkton Housing while Fitzroy utilizes the PA of an airship (our airship) for her own propaganda: she reminds the workers that this is day DeWitt dies for and that it is now time for Fink to fall. Brooker is sceptical about the whole thing: “the only difference between a tyrant like Comstock and one like Fitzroy is the spelling”. We’ll see how this plays out.

There’s more fighting in Finkton, and as we enter the gunshop we find two corpses. Lin and his wife are dead. Elisabeth is terrified, this is obviously not what she intended to do. It is implied that she has some control over the destination of her tears but it’s always some kind of wish-fulfilling – and she didn’t wish for this. Up to now, there’s never an explanation of the mechanics governing the rifts, and according to my roommate we never get one. Good idea design-wise: when there are no clearly-stated rules we cannot point out inconsistencies. The question arising from this is: did Elisabeth open a way to a Columbia where the Vox are armed, or did she create it? If she did the latter, the possibilities are both endless and disturbing.
A great thing to find in the entrance of the gunshop was a voicelog by this Columbia’s DeWitt. It helps the feeling that this is not the world where we set off, and it gives us some foresight about the things to come: here, Brooker agreed to held the Vox, fight in the uprising and finally storm the Comstock residence in exchange for Elisabeth. I’m pretty sure Fitzroy wont give us the airship so we can get out of here. There will be complication. Of course there will. It would have been nice to hear a comment from Elisabeth at this point.

The airship with Fitzroy aboard headed for Fink’s factory, so we better go there. We fight our way over a large flying bridge towards the doors, but are ultimately surprised by an airship with a rocket launcher. The several-tubes-welded-together-type. During the following skyline-section to storm it and bring it down I couldn’t find any reload mechanism. Even a short animation between to barrages would have done: point the whole thing downwards and pretend to shove a new salvo in there.
We do some neck-breaking skyline-stunts, sabotage the engine (which brings the whole thing down (shooting the hull doesn’t)) and do some more neck-breaking skyline-stunts.
While we do our show around the airship, all Vox-fighters are… gone? I didn’t see them while I ran around trying to figure out how to get aboard. Things changed after getting out of the crashing ship.

Back on the ground we run into another common problem in video games: crowds. There are several Vox standing in front of the factory doors, shouting. It looks weird. It feels weird.
It’s easier in combat, where everything is chaotic, people are running around, sprinting from cover to cover… if you need to give player more or new allies, you just point the magic spawn gun somewhere out of sight and get some more in there. This doesn’t work so well in quiet time.
Forced cheering doesn’t help. In my opinion, it would have been better to get the present Vox up to the factory doors and have them wait. Catching breath, checking equipment. Seeing like 10 of them standing before the doors, doing the weird uncanny valley-cheer… it’s strange.
I understand that crowds are hard to do in a close-up game (as opposed to games with more distance between crowd and camera like the Total War-series). I also understand the intention behind these small, cheering crowds. But I think that it would be better to let go of the whole celebration-thing out of cutscenes until we find a less unsettling way to do it.
And while I’m at crowds: there were situations in the game where you could listen in on a pep talk of a commander to his troops. At one occasion, the “troops” were TWO others. And I wonder: why?

That’s it for today – in the next episode we’ll storm a factory and maybe an airship…

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