Ken Levine: BioShock Infinite team repeatedly wanted to cut Elizabeth
The saga of BioShock Infinite's development is almost as nuanced as the history of the floating city of Columbia itself, and that facet certainly extends to the impending FPS' cast of characters. Booker DeWitt's constant companion is Elizabeth, a wide-eyed Columbian with her own story to tell and mysteries to unravel, but she almost never existed at all. Speaking to Polygon, Creative Director Ken Levine goes over the challenges Irrational faced when working with Elizabeth's increasingly complex character, revealing the team requested more than once to eliminate her entirely.
"Do you know how many times people wanted to just cut her?" Levine says. "Over and over again, because we didn't know what to do with her at first."
Levine explains Elizabeth's troubles arose from figuring out how to instill her childlike curiosity of the outside world after you free her from Songbird's clutches with a believable sense of astonishment and horror in reaction to DeWitt's often violent protection over her. She also couldn't get in the player's way. All that presented a monumental test for the development group, eventually reaching a point where it would seem easier to scrap everything.
"I would be in reviews and ask, ‘Where is Elizabeth?' and [team members] would say, 'Oh, she's in a closet,'" Levine says. "It was the same with the Big Daddy in BioShock. I actually had to insist that there were three Big Daddies in every level. Nobody knew how they worked or what to do with them."
Thankfully, we all know Irrational figured out Big Daddies in the end, and they created some of BioShock's most memorable encounters whenever they stomped around a corner. Perhaps Infinite's Elizabeth will achieve that same staying power when the game releases on March 26.