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The ambitious version of BioShock Infinite that was never released

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Things change, things stay the same

Today marks the fifth anniversary of BioShock Infinite’s launch, but rather than revisit the game that was released, I’ve been thinking fondly about the game that never made it to market. In 2010, I had the opportunity to attend the BioShock Infinite reveal in the Plaza Hotel in New York City (better known as the hotel from Home Alone 2). Publisher 2K Games turned a huge meeting space into a pseudo-recreation of the boardwalk from the game’s floating city, Columbia. And director Ken Levine gave an unexpectedly thorough presentation about Infinite’s many big ideas and features. Many of those ideas never came to fruition, or were dramatically changed.

The video above, from YouTuber crowbcat, collects footage from that event, as well as an E3 2011 demo and a handful of other interviews and gameplay videos, to present this alternate version of Infinite, which even in 2010 felt impossibly ambitious. I remember 2K Games presenting this demonstration, below, as actual gameplay.

In 2013, I wrote about Infinite’s rough road to release. That story goes deeper on the initial reveal. And in 2014, I reported on the studio’s semi-closure, interviewing members of the team at Irrational Games about what went wrong. Today, I’m still a little disappointed we’ll never get to play the initial pitch for BioShock Infinite. But if there’s one takeaway from the game’s development, I think it’s this: It’s a miracle games ship at all.