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I’m going to say something that will shock practically no one. Bioshock is a video game series that genuinely changed my engagement with video game narratives. Due to the incredible plot twist weaved into the fabric of this underwater epic, I was taught to question everything, and expect more from video game stories than simply asking me to choose between the morally good and morally bad option.
There’s a reason why Hollywood has been in talks to make a movie based on this title for well over a decade now, but thank goodness they haven’t, because we all know how that goes. If you don’t, just go watch the recent Uncharted movie, and you’ll immediately understand.
Many remember Bioshock for its narrative excellence. However, from a gameplay perspective, the game was also a lot of fun to play around with, offering tactical combat, which allowed players to combine weapon load-outs, traps, and Plasmids to great effect.
For those unaware, in Andrew Ryan’s Rapture, through the power of Sea Slugs, people were able to splice their DNA, giving them access to superhuman powers we could only dream of. Players could shoot lightning from their fingertips like a Sith Lord, they could summon a swarm of bees to do their bidding, and they could even hypnotize Big Daddies.
These all sound great, but even after all this time, the jury is out on which of these Plasmids was the best of the best. Well, I aim to put this debate to bed once and for all as I rank each and every Plasmid in the original Bioshock from worst to best. Allowing you to keep all those pesky Splicers at bay and become a force to be reckoned with when exploring Rapture. Here is RPG Informer’s Bioshock All Plasmids Ranked Guide!
- Selection Criteria
- #12 - Little Sister Antidote
- #11 - Sonic Boom
- #10 - Target Dummy
- #9 - Cyclone Trap
- #8 - Security Bullseye
- #7 - Winter Blast
- #6 - Enrage
- #5 - Insect Swarm
- #4 - Hypnotize Big Daddy
- #3 - Incinerate
- #2 - Telekinesis
- #1 - Electro Bolt
- Top Ten Gene Tonics
- Splice Up Your Life
- FAQ Section
This is a pretty easy pool of Plasmids to gather, as there are only 12 Plasmids in the entire game. Meaning that we will be including all plasmids in this list. However, you may be wondering what criteria will determine how these Plasmids rank on this list. Well, I won’t keep you in the dark. Here are what factors we have taken into account:
- We will be considering the Plasmid’s availability. For example, Electro Bolt being available pretty much immediately is a plus.
- We will be considering how useful the Plasmid is, and how many clear opportunities to use the Plasmid arise.
- Damage and combat viability will be considered.
- If you need to buy the Plasmid from the Gatherer’s Garden, the price will be considered.
- Upgrades available for each Plasmid will be considered
- How cool the power is, and how satisfying it is to use will also be considered.
I must also mention that we won’t be considering Gene Tonics, but we will include a bonus top ten tonics section for your viewing pleasure, because Plasmids are only as useful as the Tonics you pair them with. Okay, would you kindly enjoy the following list of Plasmids? Here we go!
#12 – Little Sister Antidote
- Unlocked by: Encountering first Little Sister
- Power: Allows players to save Little Sisters
- Best Tonic Pairing: N/A
We begin with a Plasmid that isn’t really a Plasmid by definition. You can’t use this power at will, so it’s more of a formality that allows you to contextually save Little Sisters if you so choose. To offer some context of our own, when you encounter Little Sisters without their Big Daddy companion, you can choose to harvest them for a big payout of ADAM, or save the Little Sisters for a smaller payout of ADAM, but the prospect of gifts in later levels.
You’ll get handed this Plasmid from Tennenbaum early in the game, and from there, the choice of how to handle each Little Sister encounter is yours to make. However, as a Plasmid, it has no other purpose and therefore takes the wooden spoon.
#11 – Sonic Boom
- Unlocked by: Purchasing via Gatherer’s Garden
- Power: Produces a gust of wind to knock back enemies
- Best Tonic Pairing: N/A
Again, we have another Plasmid that could have potentially missed out on being included on this list, as Sonic Boom was only added to Bioshock in the 1.1 Update on Xbox 360 and PC. However, even though it’s a pretty situational power, it deserves a quick mention. This Plasmid is one of the first that players can purchase at the Gatherer’s Garden and allows the player to create a powerful gust that will knock enemies back.
The drawbacks of this power are that it doesn’t deal any damage to enemies, and there are no areas where we can use this power to launch enemies off ledges either. The only use for this one is to create a means of escape when cornered by enemies, and to be honest, that doesn’t happen all that often. Making this Plasmid the worst functional Plasmid in the game.
#10 – Target Dummy
- Unlocked by: Purchasing in Gatherer’s Garden (Neptune’s Bounty)
- Power: Creates decoy to fool enemies
- Best Tonic Pairing: Sportsboost 2
I mentioned that Sonic Boom was good for escaping when overwhelmed by a group of enemies. Well, Target Dummy is a massive upgrade to Sonic Boom that allows you to create a hologram replica of yourself, drawing the attention of all enemies, and allowing you to reposition and turn defense into attack.
Target Dummy may still be a pretty situational Plasmid, hence the low ranking, but if used correctly, this will allow you to duck out of firefights you would rather avoid, or even flank an enemy to tactically outmaneuver them.
The only issue is that because this is a Plasmid you must purchase, and because Bioshock is a game where combat is best approached offensively, this is one you shouldn’t prioritize unless you are very flush with ADAM. However, you’d be surprised just how handy this Plasmid can be when the chips are down.
#9 – Cyclone Trap
- Unlocked by: Purchasing in Gatherer’s Garden (Arcadia)
- Power: Launches Enemies into the air
- Best Tonic Pairing: Wrench Jockey 2
I have to say; I personally have no love for the Cyclone Trap Plasmid. I feel like the main appeal of this power is the humor that comes with launching Splicers into the air. However, as a tactical resource, it’s pretty terrible. The only reason it ranks this high is that it does at least deal a little bit of damage. This can be used to send Splicers into the air, and players can then rush in with a wrench and finish them off while they are stunned.
The main issues with this one are that it can be tricky to get Splicers to trigger the traps, and also, this power only works on Splicers. So if you are being hunted by security bots or a Big Daddy, this Plasmid is downright useless. For comedic value, it’s right up there, but other than that, Cyclone Trap sucks.
#8 – Security Bullseye
- Unlocked by: Found In the Wharf Master area of Neptune’s Bounty
- Power: Makes security devices hostile to affected enemies
- Best Tonic Pairing: Natural Camoflague
Bioshock is not a game that really allows for the stealthy approach, but what you will be able to do on more than one occasion is use the environment to your advantage, and that includes your enemies. Security Bullseye is a free Plasmid that can be found in Neptune’s Bounty that allows you to highlight enemies, making them a target for Security Bots.
So if you find a Splicer hanging out in a Security Camera spotlight, simply toss this at him, and watch as they are swarmed by Security Bots. Plus, if they are hunting other enemies, then Security can’t come after you, which is an added bonus.
The main issue I have with this one is that it’s far too situational to be relied on. Meaning that aside from a few clearly scripted opportunities, it’s very tricky to make this Plasmid work consistently. It’s a great Plasmid on paper, but it isn’t great in practice.
#7 – Winter Blast
- Unlocked by: Purchasing at Gatherer’s Garden (Neptune’s Bounty)
- Power: Freezes enemies
- Best Tonic Pairing: Wrench Jockey 2
Now we have one of the first elemental Plasmids on the list, Winter Blast. This is a Plasmid that players can use to produce a constant stream of ice which will eventually freeze your enemies in place. Allowing you to get up close and personal and shatter them into one million tiny little pieces. This is best paired with a powered-up Wrench, as you can freeze them, and then wail on them until they smash.
This is an effective Plasmid to deal with singular enemies, and also makes smashing security Cameras and Turrets much more manageable. However, my main issue with this one is that you need to be accurate with your icy blast for a few seconds to freeze an enemy, and the range isn’t fantastic, either. Meaning that if you want to stun an enemy, then you’ll probably just opt for Electro Bolt instead.
#6 – Enrage
- Unlocked by: Purchasing via Gatherer’s Garden (Medical Pavilion)
- Power: Causes enemies to frenzy
- Best Tonic Pairing: Natural Camouflage
The problem with Security Bullseye was that it was far too situational to ever be useful. Well, Enrage is a Plasmid that allows you to consistently turn the odds in your favor and let enemies do your dirty work for you. Enrage employs a classic RPG power that allows you to cause enemies to frenzy and attack anyone in their vicinity. This means that you can make Splicers fight for your viewing pleasure, or perhaps you’d rather use them to chip away at a Big Daddy’s huge health bar.
I would still say that this Plasmid goes against the way combat flows in Bioshock, because going in guns blazing will always get the job done faster. However, if your ammo is low, or you are running low on health kits, this can be a great way to give yourself a fighting chance.
#5 – Insect Swarm
- Unlocked by: Purchasing in Gatherer’s Garden (Silverwing Apiary)
- Power: Summons a swarm of bees
- Best Tonic Pairing: N/A
Now, this may come as a shock to some players, as for many, Insect Swarm will have felt like a bit of a gimmick. However, to those people, I say, did you upgrade to Insect Swarm 3? Because if you did, you would know that this power is an absolute lifesaver.
When fully upgraded, Insect Swarm allows you to summon a swarm of bees that can attack up to three targets at one time, and deal 24 damage per second. Not too shabby. Plus, in terms of the concept of this power, I would say that it is hands down the coolest and most unique.
However, I can’t in good conscience place this one any higher on the list because it’s really pricy to upgrade this Plasmid, and if you don’t, the standard version of Insect Swarm is pretty pathetic because of its low damage output, and the fact that it can only target one enemy. If you’re willing to invest in this one, get it. Otherwise, you might want to avoid it.
#4 – Hypnotize Big Daddy
- Unlocked by: Rescuing 3x Little Sisters (gift from Tenenbaum)
- Power: Recruits a Big Daddy to protect you
- Best Tonic Pairing: N/A
No matter how tough you get, and how many upgrades you receive throughout Bioshock, you’ll always feel inferior compared to a Big Daddy. However, the good news is that if you decide to save the Little Sisters instead of harvesting for maximum ADAM, you’ll get a Plasmid that allows you to fool them into thinking you are a Little Sister.
Which they will protect as if their life depends on it. This allows you to clear out large areas of the map, hiding behind your Big Daddy companion, who will make short work of all the Splicers lurking in the shadows.
Plus, if you do this, the Big Daddy’s health will gradually drop, meaning that when they have served their purpose, you can kill them with ease and gain access to their Little Sister. The only drawback is that this will only really be useful 2-3 times per level. However, even with its limited functionality, it deserves a high spot on this list.
#3 – Incinerate
- Unlocked by: Found in Eternal Flame Crematorium (Medical Pavilion)
- Power: Shoot Fireballs from fingertips
- Best Tonic Pairing: Human Inferno 2
We’ve cracked the top three, and number three is Incinerate, a Plasmid that allows you to shoot fire from your hands. That’s about as metal as it gets. This is a really useful Plasmid for a number of reasons. Firstly, this Plasmid, when fully upgraded, has the power to deal 48 damage per second, making it twice as effective as Insect Swarm. However, this Plasmid can also be used as a means of igniting puddles of fuel around the map for instakills, and can also melt ice to allow access to secret areas.
The only downside to this Plasmid is that the damage output is a slow burn, if you’ll pardon the pun. Plus, it doesn’t stun enemies at all, and enemies can extinguish themselves in bodies of water. This means you can only really utilize this Plasmid as a strike-and-run sort of attack. However, if you have low resources and you can find a safe hiding spot to retreat to, this can work wonders.
#2 – Telekinesis
- Unlocked by: Found in Dandy Dental (Medical Pavilion)
- Power: Allows players to pick up and throw objects with their mind
- Best Tonic Pairing: EVE Saver
Our runner-up is Telekinesis, which is by far the most versatile Plasmid on the roster. This is a power that allows you to pick up and hurl objects at enemies. Sounds pretty rudimentary compared to summoning a swarm of bees, but considering that there are Splicers and Turrets that like to hurl explosives at you, the ability to return to sender is very welcome.
There are lots of items you can pick up in the environment to repurpose as makeshift weapons. Plus, this skill can be used to solve puzzles, and recover Crossbow Bolts with ease.
The only drawback is that when using this ability to hurl explosives, if you find yourself fighting at close quarters, you may blow yourself up. However, provided you can avoid friendly fire, this is a nailed-on Plasmid for your loadout.
#1 – Electro Bolt
- Unlocked by: Collecting from Gatherer’s Garden in the opening sequence
- Power: Lighting from fingertips
- Best Tonic Pairing: Wrench Jockey 2
There could only be one winner, and it’s the Plasmid that you get mere moments into the start of your adventure through Rapture. Electro Bolt is just like Incinerate, but just a little bit better. This Plasmid isn’t a particularly effective damage dealer, but what it does do is stun enemies for an extended period of time.
Then if you couple this with an attack with a Wrench, this deals a 400% damage boost to your attack. Then if you couple this with Wrench Jockey, you have a Wrench that deals 950% more damage than it should, which is crazy.
This Plasmid can also instantly kill all enemies that are standing in pools of water, and considering Rapture is always leaking, there is a tonne of water on the ground. Not to mention it can temporarily disable Security devices, allowing you to hack them. All in all, there is no real contest. Electro Bolt is the Plasmid champ.
Top Ten Gene Tonics
As promised, we will also be listing the top ten Gene Tonics that players can acquire in the game. Some of these pair amazingly well with the Plasmids listed above. Whereas others make your handy-dandy Wrench as effective as a machete. It’s a matter of preference, but these are the Gene Tonics that we have deemed the best in class:
- #10 – Vending Expert 2
- #9 – Security Expert 2
- #8 – Medical Expert 3
- #7 – Human Inferno 2
- #6 – Machine Buster 2
- #5 – EVE Saver
- #4 – Electric Flesh 2
- #3 – EVE Link 2
- #2 – Damage Research 2
- #1 – Wrench Jockey 2
Splice Up Your Life
As you can see, Bioshock has more to offer than ‘that plot twist.’ It’s a game that offers fun FPS gameplay, and I firmly believe that Bioshock’s two-handed weapon approach played a role in influencing Skyrim’s combat system. I have no concrete proof, but call it a hunch.
These Plasmids, if used correctly, can be the difference between harvesting some precious ADAM, or getting pummelled by a Big Daddy. So use this guide as a resource and make sure next time you visit Rapture, you’re stacked with elemental powers. As always, thanks for reading RPG Informer.
Question: How Many Tonics Are There in Bioshock?
Answer: There are a grand total of 58 Gene Tonics in Bioshock. There would have been a cool sixty, but there were two potential Tonics that were removed from the game before release. These were called Organic Pockets, and Shutdown Expert.
Question: Are Plasmids and Vigors The Same?
Answer: In principle, these are the same aside from the aesthetic, and the means of delivery. They are both serums made with ADAM that alter the consumer’s genetic code to give them superhuman powers.
Question: What is The Gatherer’s Garden?
Answer: This is a type of Vending Machine found in Rapture that will sell the player Tonics. Plasmids and Plasmid Upgrades if they have enough ADAM. ADAM is acquired from Harvesting or Saving Little Sisters.
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