Bioshock, the action-horror staple that blended RPG elements, solid gunplay, and Randian-inspired horror, is an undisputed gaming classic. Bioshock Infinite took it one step further, adding amazing swashbuckling movement mechanics, incredible supporting characters, and a reality-warping story that pulled no narrative punches. Also, Bioshock 2 was a video game. Following up its impressive Borderlands 3 freebie, the Epic Games Store is giving away the PC version of all three Bioshock games this week.
PC gamers can grab Bioshock: The Collection, a bundle of 2007’s Bioshock, 2010’s Bioshock 2, and 2013’s Bioshock Infinite, on the Epic Games Store. Like other Epic freebies, you can keep the games forever once they’re claimed with your Epic account. While this giveaway isn’t as timely or generous as other Epic weekly free games — the most recent title is almost a decade old — it’s definitely worth grabbing if you’ve somehow missed some of the best-regarded shooters of the last twenty years.
The original Bioshock sees the protagonist descend into the underwater art deco city of Rapture, a would-be utopia based on extreme objectivist philosophy of the game’s mid-1900s setting. (The city’s founder, Andrew Ryan, is a not-so-subtle stand-in for Ayn Rand.) Rapture isn’t the paradise it once was: shambling, barely-human “splicers” roam the halls, water seeps in through decaying bulkheads, and massive monsters in antique diving suits protect disturbing little girls. It’s up to you to use your wits, gunslinging, and the powers of the otherworldly substance ADAM to discover the mysteries of Rapture and escape this fallen promised land.
Bioshock 2 is the black sheep of the series, as its return to the Rapture setting and lack of innovation failed to distinguish it from its progenitor. While Bioshock 2 improves in several gameplay areas and keeps the tight production of the original, its story — focused on the iconic Big Daddy and Little Sister enemies of the first game — isn’t anywhere near as compelling. Re-using some of the same interactive story mechanics means that as a gaming experience, Bioshock 2 feels a lot like deja vu.
Bioshock Infinite picks up on the themes of the original, but sets them in the sky. Technically a prequel to the original game, the player finds their way into the idyllic flying city of Columbia, where the enigmatic leader Comstock has used steampunk technology to secede from the United States and create his own society based on the worship of himself and the Founding Fathers. It’s there you’ll find Elizabeth, a young woman with a mysterious past who can open tears in the fabric of space and time. (And incidentally, one of the best non-player characters in video game history.) Navigate floating islands with incredible rail-grinding combat, make your way through an incipient revolution, and find out how Elizabeth — and you — fit into the fabric of Columbia’s creation and literal downfall.
Bioshock: The Collection is a free download from now until June 2nd at 11 a.m. US Eastern time. In addition to the main games, it includes all of the games’ single-player DLC, some of which was extremely well-received. Don’t forget, Epic’s “Mega” game sale is still going on as well.