Ranking the best and worst Bioshock games


Occasionally we ask you to rank a series or just reminisce about PC games in a not-very-scientific survey, which we link in our Twitter and Facebook feeds. Previously, we ranked the Mass Effect and Call of Duty series and asked about the hardest PC games you've played.

With the announcement of the remastered Bioshock Collection, it felt like a good time to take another look at the Bioshock series as a whole. The original Bioshock introduced us to Andrew Ryan's hidden underwater city of Rapture and gave us one of the most compelling reveals in gaming history. In the sequel we returned to the same setting, but this time stalked the ruins of Rapture as a powerful Big Daddy. Bioshock Infinite, meanwhile, took us to a new city in the clouds, Columbia, and gave us an ambitious story that still tied into the first two games.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, but which is the best? Which is the worst? And which is... I don't know what you call it. The middle one. Which is the middle one?

A while ago we decided to find out, so we created a survey which was posted on our Twitter and Facebook feeds. It got a fantastic response, with 2,032 people taking the time to give us their thoughts! Here's what you told us about the Bioshock series.

Which Bioshock game is the best?

The Results


Click the icon in the upper right to enlarge. Based on 2,032 responses.

No ambiguity here: 48% of survey-takers felt the original Bioshock was the best. Not far behind were the 40% who chose Bioshock Infinite as their favorite, while only 12% thought Bioshock 2 was the best in the series.

Many of the reasons cited by those who voted for the original Bioshock involve story, setting, gameplay, horror, and above all, the atmosphere. "One of the most atmospheric game environments ever made," said one survey-taker. "The claustrophobic atmosphere and mystery really appealed to me," said another.

I concur. It was my favorite of the series as well, terrifying at times, genuinely intriguing, with enjoyable and flexible combat. "The gorgeous world of Bioshock combined with a great gameplay and one of the best stories told in a video game," someone said. "Oozes atmosphere and style," wrote another.

Other players appreciated the deeper themes of the game. "It was political, it was philosophical, it showed the hubris of man in a way that I've rarely experienced in another game or film," said one. "First modern iteration to make gamers think about the philosophy of what they play and why they play it," said another.

"The claustrophobic and dark atmosphere, the lore surrounding Rapture and the story itself were all great, with complex themes related to power, freedom and human nature and the dangers of what can happen when actions are taken without regard for consequences."

On the other hand, a few voted for it for other reasons. "It is marginally less utter garbage than the other two." Fair enough.

Which Bioshock game is the worst?



Click the icon in the upper right to enlarge. Based on 2,032 responses.

Worst is probably the wrong word, because many survey-takers pointed out that they enjoyed all three games, just to different degrees. Maybe we should call it least-best? Either way, your least favorite game in the series is Bioshock 2, with a full 60% of the votes. It seems the return to Rapture, this time as a Big Daddy, just didn't quite stand up to the experience of the original, nor did it provide enough of a new experience like Bioshock Infinite. "It just didn't capture me like the other two," said one poll-taker. "It was a bit too 'samey'," said another. "Once I got to the second one I was already acclimated to the universe, so there wasn't any awe and wonder."

Other comments: "While it was cool and all playing as a prototype big daddy, not much changed from the original. It ended up feeling like a big goose chase from level to level." "It had a better combat system (more fluid than the first Bioshock) but it was just a continuation."

Most responses can be summed up by this poll-taker's words: "It's not that I didn't like Bioshock 2, it's just that it is the least good."

Personally, Bioshock 2 was my second favorite and Bioshock Infinite my least favorite of the series, but I tend to like things in the order they were released. Like in the original Star Wars Trilogy, I prefer A New Hope to The Empire Strikes Back, and I like the first Tobey MacGuire Spider-Man movie better than the second. I have been told on countless occasions I am wrong about both and it would seem, because of numbers, I am wrong yet again.

For those who felt Bioshock Infinite was the best, we'll get to some of those comments on the next page.

Who was the best villain?

I suppose it's not surprising to see industrialist Andrew Ryan at the top of the pack with 42.2% of the vote. As the founder of Rapture, we quickly got to know him through his speeches (and looming statues), and our confrontation with him midway through Bioshock is one of the most memorable and disturbing scenes in gaming.


Frank Fontaine was also a popular choice, with 21.4% liking him best, followed by Comstock from Bioshock Infinite at 19.6%. I am a little saddened to see Sander Cohen so far down the list with only 10% of the vote. He's my personal favorite due to his showmanship, his disturbing art projects, his terrifying army of ballerina statues, and his love of murder. That guy was a born entertainer. I miss him.

Did you harvest Little Sisters?



Click the icon in the upper right to enlarge. Based on 2,032 responses.

I'm pleased to see so many survey takers are good, kind people who like opening presents. 68% of you didn't harvest (kill) even a single Little Sister, those adorable and yet horrifying children who scamper around extracting magic glop from corpses.

22% dabbled in harvesting, perhaps (as I did) simply trying it to see what happened and quickly deciding it wasn't for them.

Meanwhile, 10% just went hog wild and repeatedly sucked the life out of Rapture's vampiric tots. Hey, I'm not judging. When in Rome, right?

Where should the next Bioshock game take place?

We've seen a city at the bottom of the sea, and one floating in the clouds. In the event of a future Bioshock game, I gave some options for where people thought it should take place.

33.9% said the Moon would be the best setting for another Bioshock game. Other favorites were that it should be on an island (13.3%), inside a volcano (12.7%), in an underground silo (12.3%), while 11.9% think it should take place inside Saturn's rings. Just think of the view!

There was room for people to submit their own choices. Here are a few places people think another Bioshock game should take place:

In a parallel world
Inside a giant cave
In a treehouse
Inside a human body, where you're shrunk down
Miniaturized, and in a sewer
Anywhere is fine
All these options suck
Inside Half-Life 3

Plenty of people also told me they don't think another Bioshock game should be made, full stop.

Other results

When it comes to taking down enemies, most (16.3%) prefer to use bullets. In second place is the Big Daddy drill (14.3%) followed by the Skyhook (12%), and the wrench (10.7%). Under 10% were electricity, hacked security bots, fire, crows, insect swarms, using the enemy's bullets, and traps. Ice was the least favorite with 3.3%. Some write-in favorites: flinging corpses with telekinesis, harpoons, the rivet gun, hypnotizing enemies to kill each other, knocking them off ledges (in Columbia), and a number of weapon and plasmid combos. As one person put it: "Can't decide. All good."

In the Bioshock series, what made the least sense to survey-takers (to the tune of 21.5%) was why superpowers are sold in vending machines but you're the only one who buys them, especially when, as 12.4% of you pointed out, the garbage cans of Columbia are stuffed with money. 13.3% agreed that the ending of Bioshock Infinite was confusing, 12.6% wondered why citizens of Rapture left their diary entries scattered around in dedicated individual tape recorders, and 5.7% didn't think it made sense for anyone to be fighting for control of Rapture since it was essentially a leaking garbage can entirely populated by screeching lunatics.

Most never played Bioshock 2's multiplayer (69.1%), some of you played it a little (24.5%), and only 6.4% played it a lot. Nine people said they were playing it currently, so I'll have to assume they're all in the same session together.

54% felt that Burial at Sea, Part 2 was the best DLC in the series. Minerva's Den was second favorite (23.8%) and Burial at Sea, Part 1 was third (21.9%).

Would you kindly continue to the next page to read some comments from survey takers?

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.