Quick view of part 1 of the 1999 Mode guide:
- Why 1999 Mode?
- What is 1999 Mode? - the known and unknown
- Tips and tricks, both known and unknown in one package
In part 1, I’ll talk about basic guidelines on how to beat 1999 Mode, as well as my thoughts, comments and special tips on each issue. I wrote the guide because 1. I love Bioshock Infinite and 2. The online guides and wikias aren’t doing 1999 mode justice. Some of the things I mentioned here are clear guides from other sites, mostly IGN’s wiki and bioshock.wikia.com, but most of the guide is information and experience I’ve gained myself and have not seen anywhere else.
Please leave the link to this page should you want to quote it!
Why 1999 Mode?
The sad truth is, most games nowadays focus on ease of play and graphics more than content. Some games are too friendly to the point of outright unrealistic, with the main character being a bullet sponge a-la-Wolverine – getting the splash damage from a grenade or an RPG can make your screen shakes, but a few seconds behind an invulnerable tree brings you back to speed immediately. Some games will have flashy characters with simple rules and pay-to-win schemes. Yes, it is the age of technology and graphics is the thing that all games should try to improve, but to have your game remembered by some sweet rendering is rather insulting to yourself. I’m not going to get money out of this post, so I don’t need to worry about offending anyone – Call of Duty(s), Battlefield, League of Legends, Final Fantasy X-2 and up… These games are not horrible games, in fact I own Black Ops 2 and bought the Xbox Gold just for it. But it’s not worth the selling price and the hype, and the changes in content are so trivial it doesn’t really matter. A game should be remembered for exceptional gameplay and storyline, the areas in which Bioshock 1, 2 and recently Infinite have excelled so well. Bioshock is a game meant to be played with a challenge, and even on the highest difficulty, the storyline leaves you to ponder. Some people disagree on this, and complain about the view of Irrational Games on racism, nationalism, xenophobia, socialism and capitalism. But does a match of League of Legends or the campaign of Call Of Duty leave you thinking about the world and its rules? If you finished Bioshock Infinite and wished for an even better experience, you should opt for 1999 Mode.
Not a gameplay for the average gamer, however.
What is 1999 Mode?
Since this is on my lowly blog, if you are interested in 1999 Mode, chances are you have read most of the tips and tricks on many websites, like IGN or Bioshock-communities. However, I’ll still give an outline of the Mode for those a bit less in-the-know (and more information for those already are):
- Every death you lose 100 Silver Eagles (Infinite’s currency)
- Too low on coins (around 50 or less) will mean that you can’t be resurrected and have to revert to the last checkpoint
- No Navigation Arrow, and no option to change difficulty mid-game
- Extremely low on lootable items, and lower in amount (a trash can that might yield cereal will now be more likely to yield bananas instead, and suspiciously fewer wallets lying around)
- Smarter enemies that run into cover all the time, and run sideways should you pause and aim at them by zooming. Enemies are also noticeably stronger armour wise and health wise
- Lower beginning health, and health goes down easier (weaker armour, I suppose, if DeWitt ever has any)
- Elizabeth’s cooldown on coin-findings is noticeably smaller, and even on the last chapters Elizabeth rarely find any amount greater than 40
- With the exception of the ever-pesky Motorised Patriot, Heavy Hitters now move into cover more often, and love jump attacks from cover (Handymen) and blind grenade lobbing (still nastily accurate, those Firemen)
- Handymen will camp around Sky-lines if there are Sky-lines, and zap things more often. This can be turned to your advantage or can be your bane.
- Lady Comstock’s (Siren boss) AOE attack will CRUSH your shield, even when you maxed it out. If you didn’t, her attack will kindly take away your health, depending on your shield level.
Basic Tips that you’ll find almost anywhere (and my own comments and twists on it):
Go to every corner, flip open every trunk, slide every barrel, rustle every bag, and scour every room. I can’t stress this enough – after your first death and your first checkpoint restart in 1999 Mode, you’ll understand. You need money so much that you’ll need every single coin. In 1999 Mode, at best, you can fully upgrade 2-3 weapons (depends on what you upgrade) and 2 Vigors – so you best find all you can. Scavenging gives you food so you can cut down on the Dollar Bill, and if you want the no-Dollar-Bill achievement, you’ll survive easier. Scavenging also yield lock picks, which means more money and Gears. Infusions are vital, and even more so in 1999 Mode, as you start with less health and smarter, nastier baddies. IGN has a list on where to find Infusion bottles, and don’t hesitate to consult them should you decide to leave an area before getting at least one, because there are 24 Infusions to be found (25 if we count the Shield given by Rosalind Lutece in the Blue Ribbon Restaurant.) Picking up everything can be time-consuming, but I assume you still have a few achievements to roll anyway, and you never know when you need something desperately. It also helps in the long run to accumulate goodies.
Although it’s nice to assess whether it’s worth it to revive yourself, it usually isn’t worth it, whatever IGN says. Do you really want to fight your enemies at full health (usually) when you’re half dead, while losing 100 or your hard-scavenged Silver Eagles? Restarting checkpoints give you a chance to review your strategies, your weapons, your Gear-sequences (more info on this later), covers and strafes and more. It also gives you a chance to pick up things that you missed – more than once have I picked up something I missed. A few coins, but sometimes even a lock pick or a wallet was left behind. Yes, they are that rare.
One more important thing is the randomising of Gears. Gears are randomized, and though in 1999 Mode it’s important to have as large a variety of Gears as possible and be flexible, having a core set of good Gears that fits your combat style early in the game is even more important. Restarting checkpoints means re-randomising Gears, and it usually means you can choose what you want, and it helps greatly, especially early on. One of the best places to do so is right at Battleship Bay, before you go in the turnstile and got stabbed (or shot, depending on your choice) at the ticket booth. You will get one Gear in the room right in front of you when you restart the checkpoint, and either one more on the table to the left (if you spared the couple in the messy raffle) or in the arcade room (if you didn’t spare them). That’s 2 easy Gears, to your choosing, as they are very quick to get to from the checkpoint, a 10 seconds run at most. Ignore the scavenging work until you think you get the Gears you want.
Possession is the key:
Possession doesn’t work with Handymen, Siren and is only half as long as usual with Firemen, and doesn’t make Firemen kill themselves. It is also the most expensive Vigor Salt-wise and upgrade-cost-wise. However, these things don’t come up that much anyway, so like a clever investment, upgrading Possession fully will yield cash and more in the long run, as you earn more and die less (or not at all!). In 1999 Mode, compare to even Hard mode, money is nowhere to be seen. Even a single coin brightens your day, and you can’t afford to fully upgrade more than 2 weapons and Vigors in a whole game without this (except the case that you use the infinite money and coin trick, which I will detail below).
Purchase the first Possession upgrade. Yes, even Hard mode players will complain “I should have at least 300 coins by now!”, but 50 Eagles early on is worth it. The guy/gal you possess will not only be the scapegoat but also a suicide case – one less baddie, and a fun thing to watch for those who are into that sort of thing.
Possess any vending machine you see, the moment the coast is clear (because possessing things when there are people around will summon the coppers). Possession yields 10-40 Silver Eagles every machine, and the game is set so that the further in the more your chances is to get amounts closer to 40. Which means before you get Elizabeth to don her controversial (albeit incredibly attractive), you’ll get at most 20 out of a machine. Even then, the money stacks up quickly if you are diligent, and diligence is a trait needed in such a time of scarcity. If you opt to ignore all the Dollar Bills to get that achievement, the effect will even be noticeable every checkpoint.
Possess the first enemy you see in a seemingly large fight (usually a large fight is one that you see combat-related Tears). The possessed guy will shoot his comrades if there are any, and if they are nowhere to be seen, the guy will draw them out, and possibly draw the fire away from you as you sprint to a closer cover as well.
In fights with Patriots, possess the Patriot when most of the enemies are already out, usually by hearing your gunshots. Not only does this reduce a lot of hail from you but it gives a perfect opportunity for you to kill the Patriot as well. As the Patriot has no sense of self-preservation, waiting behind a good cover while shooting a few bullets at it will draw it to you, as well as the other enemies to your position. By the time the ghastly green spirit beguiles the Patriot, the robot would be between you and the other shooters, and he will turn to the shooters and help you kill them off, facing his back to you. Use this window to shoot him in the back, and ignore the game’s guide of “don’t shoot your allies”, because after a while, he’ll be back to his evil ways and the sooner he is down the better. A shot in front will deal a third of the damage of a shot at the gears, so this is a good way to chop him down like a cherry tree and throw him over the Delaware unaware, even when the damage to your allies are a third to a fourth of what you would deal to your enemies, EXCEPT when you critical hit. You save some bullets, bad guys die, Patriot dies. Everyone is happy.
Use all lock picks and Gears you can find! Lock picks unlock safes, which give money by the hundreds, as well as rooms with Infusions and Gears, usually packed with ammo or Salt. In Hard mode or lower, a player can walk the game with relative ease using only one Gear set. In harder battles of 1999 Mode, and even in the normal battles with 2 or 3 guards later on, it is usually more benefitting to switch Gears to suit enemies, even mid combat. Pressing game menu mid-panic seems counter-intuitive at first, but eventually you’ll see its effectiveness once you get used to it. For example, in the Interview battle at Finkton, when you’re taking potshots, switch to Tunnel Vision to boost damage while aiming, but when you’re fighting the machines, put on Gear Head to buy some time for Patriot to appear for you to Possess!
Conserve items and spend wisely:
Playing 1999 Mode means that you have to be wise in spending. Since you probably played through the game once, you should know the weapons that you think you will have most ease in using. Upgrade only these weapons, and shoot with care. Make sure that every shot hits home, and take your time behind covers to get critical hits. Know the affinity of enemies to Vigors (shown later) and use your Salt accordingly, and never step into a battle without a game plan, even when there are only a few shooters.
Always have a mid-ranged and long-ranged weapon on hand:
I had a Carbine and a Sniper with me all the time in 1999 Mode, although in the Hard game I relied on the Pistol to the last minute. I prefer to take potshots from afar – so far, in fact, that Turrets rarely hit me, and they can’t see me even when I nicked their armours with bullets. I try to be flexible, but once you have a game plan set, the changes in strategy will usually through mid-combat Gear changes and Vigor uses, since upgraded weapons are noticeably more powerful.
However, depending on your style, you can opt for a Shotgun-Carbine, Machine Gun-Sniper, with suitable Vigors and Gears – like Undertow to pull things up close, and Deadly Lungers Gear to extend your melee attacks…
IGN is quite right on the Shield upgrade focus, but from the beginning to the part that Elisabeth gave up her hair and don that smashing outfit, if you don’t have the DLC, put at most 3 Infusions on Salt, and all the rest on Shield. Shield is more important early on. Cover the rest with Salts after the dress donning moment until you can start leveling Shield and Salt at the rate of 2:1, up until you have 7 or 8 on Salt if you rely on Bucking Bronco/Shock Jockey, and more should you need Salt for the others. The reason for this is though all enemies are ten times nastier in 1999 Mode, they are usually either Columbian coppers, Vox Populi folks or citizens with pistols during this part of the game– ones that can be affected by any Vigor, and are not too Salt consuming. Furthermore, though money is in shorter supply, in my opinion Salt refills are slightly more abundant. Upgrade Shield first, then Shield/Salt or Salt/Shield.
Be an assassin, not a Rambo
You can’t Rambo. Not even with Return to Sender, especially in big fights – since you will be so low on Salt you’ll grudgingly restart checkpoint. Take potshots, aim for crits, set up traps, lure enemies into traps, peeking from a corner and shoot to lure enemies. Aim for gears in the back, hearts behind glass porthole, heads and balloons – you know what I mean (more on enemies techniques later). No shame in hiding, like IGN says.