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It is no secret that the Bioshock franchise is one of the best and most consistently pitched pieces of gaming in the history of modern gaming. The storyline and setting of each title draw the player in instantly; this leaves the player no choice but to complete each game with vigor.
For me, the first and second games were both brilliant in their own way, especially when experienced in the remastered version of the series. However, it was Bioshock Infinite that stole my heart. By the time the developers got around to this third title in the series, you could tell everything was a well-oiled machine, allowing the creatives over at Irrational Games and 2K to really let their hair down and think outside the box once again. In many ways, this third title recaptured the magic of Bioshock.
One of the things fans love the most about the Bioshock franchise is the combat and the unique mechanics that come with it. In Bioshock 1 and 2, the most popular combat mechanic came in the form of Plasmids. These serums allowed the player to generate new powers that could be welded in your characters offhand, giving you new and unique abilities as you progressed through the game.
When Bioshock Infinite was released and I started playing, I was shocked to find that Plasmids had been replaced with these things called Vigors. While they work the same way, the change was slightly unsettling. However, as I got used to it, I realized just how fun some of these Vigors were. To this end, let’s take a look at all of the Vigors available to us Infinite players to see if we can find a definitive King or Queen. Let’s get ranking.
What Is a Vigor?
As previously mentioned, Vigors in Bioshock Infinite has come in to replace Plasmids from the previous games. The lore behind these tonics is quite deep and well-fleshed out, as you would expect from anything that plays a major role in the Bioshock world. After all, great writing is not something this game struggles with.
Simply put, Vigors in the world of Bioshock Infinite are tonics produced and sold by the state of Columbia. These tonics grant the player unique and interesting abilities that can come in handy when faced with many difficult enemies during your rampage through the streets of Columbia.
Vigors are most easily identified by the unique bottles that they come in and their bright colors. When a user consumes one of these bottles, there will be a couple of side effects. First and most notably, the user will have a temporary hallucination associated with the chosen Vigor. Next, upon first use and all subsequent uses (but not as severe), the user’s arm will mutate and contort in distinct patterns or colors. Once again, these patterns are unique to the Vigor consumed. A Vigor has a base ability that you can use most of the time; however, a charged ability allows the player to do something a little extra with their Vigor once filled.
There are a total of 11 vigors in the entire game when DLCs are included. Therefore, in this list, we will be ranking every single one. However, before we get into this ranking, I must state that this is my personal opinion and is suited to my own playstyle; you may find a different set of Vigors works best for you.
When putting together a list like this, there are a couple of things that made me stop and think. First of all, not all the Vigors in this game function the same way or are supposed to serve the same purpose; therefore, how could I rank them against one another? Next, there is the Burial at Sea DLC and the Plasmids that you can get throughout. Myriad other concerns also popped up along the way in formulating this one. So, to help myself out and to ensure you got the best and most accurate list possible, I constructed selection criteria to help keep everything above board.
- All Vigors on this list will be ranked in terms of in-game effectiveness. Therefore, Vigors that merely look cool but have no bark behind their bite will be placed lower on the list, despite fan appreciation for them. After all, when you kick up the difficulty level of this game, you won’t care which Vigor is the prettiest.
- I have ranked each Vigor based on its effectiveness throughout the entire game. Of course, some of the more unique upgrades came in handy at specific points during my playthroughs, but this does not translate across the entire experience, thus resulting in a lower place on this list.
- While the upgrades found during the Burial at Sea DLC are technically not considered Vigors and are actually Plasmids, I have decided to cheat slightly and include them in this list as they function essentially the same way as Vigors. Also, this gives a more rounded feel to the list, encapsulating all possible upgrades.
So, with the admin out of the way, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of this list!
All Vigors Ranked
#11 – Peeping Tom
- Location: Cupid’s Arrow in the Housewares Department
- Use: Allows the player to turn invisible and see enemies through walls.
- Upgrades: Remove the EVE cost of using the X-ray function and invisibility when standing still.
The least helpful item on this list is the Peeping Tom Vigor from the Burial at Sea – Episode 2 DLC. While this Vigor is technically a plasmid, since it is part of Bioshock Infinite, we will count it in our list.
I have put Peeping Tom so far down this list because of Bioshock Infinite’s pacing. When running and gunning through the streets of Columbia or Rapture, the last thing I am thinking about is stopping and checking the surrounding area for enemies; this is a Bioshock game where the action comes thick and fast, where the player is actively encouraged to move quickly through enemies. Due to the pacing of this game, I simply did not find the Peeping Tom plasmid to be of much use, finding only one real situation wherein it would have come in handy throughout my entire playthrough.
#10 – Charge
- Location: Through a gate in Finkton Proper which is unlocked after aiding the Vox Populi.
- Use: Allows the player to charge through an enemy(s) literally.
- Upgrade: Recharges shield and adds an invisibility effect to the player on the attack. This upgrade will cost the player $1614.
Exactly as it says on the tin, the Charge Vigor supercharges a player’s speed, allowing them to speed through a bunch of enemies while emitting a damage rating in a set radius around their movements. This allows players to quickly rack up a load of damage points on large groups of enemies while being virtually untouchable and capable of getting to a place of relative safety.
However, as this is the second last place on this list, there are a couple of drawbacks. First of all, this Vigor is only really useful or worthwhile when fully charged as the amount of charge determines the amount of time the player can maintain their speed and damage radius. This leaves the Vigor essentially useless for the majority of the gameplay.
Secondly, as the player is moving so fast during the use of Charge, it is very likely that you will manage to run Booker into some sort of dangerous situation by the time your Vigor charge runs out, leaving you completely at the mercy of your enemies. Lastly, just as you can wind up stalling out in the middle of some nasty and violent enemies, you also run the risk of literally running off the edge of the map.
With all this being said, I can see how some players could get some use out of this Vigor, but I honestly didn’t find it suitable for my play style, and I also found it very difficult to use smoothly in the flow of combat.
#9 – Ironsides
- Location: Onboard the First Lady Airship.
- Use: Creates a temporary forcefield around the player, blocking all gunfire and allowing the player to collect the shells as ammo.
- Upgrade: Adds an ability to recover EVE and health based on absorbed damage
This Vigor is yet another new piece of content added with the Burial at Sea – Episode 2 DLC. It allows the player to hold up their hand and cast something akin to a Matrix-style bullet forcefield, stopping all incoming projectiles in their tracks and adding the ammo into their own pockets.
While this Vigor can come in pretty useful when confronted with a decent number of enemies, I think this one is a tad bit boring. There is no fun using this Vigor, thus removing any real desire to carry this one with me. Essentially, you should only use this Vigor if you are a big fan of the Matrix or eternally find yourself running out of ammo.
While this Plasmid may look pretty cool once casted, it has very limited uses and thus must be placed this far down the list.
#8 – Undertow
- Location: Jeremiah Fink’s office.
- Use: Throws nearby enemies to the ground, causing them to take a small amount of damage.
- Upgrade: Increase the number of enemies you can affect at one time for $306. Increase the range of your Vigor for $1143.
I see Undertow as a direct sibling of the Ironsides Vigor. Undertow uses a blast of energy to either deflect oncoming bullets or knock enemies over in the midst of combat. While this Vigor may deflect bullets like the Ironside Vigor, the protection blast does not last nearly as long.
However, to make up for this, the Undertow Vigor does have a pretty good Charged ability, allowing players to pull enemy combatants towards them, allowing you to hit a quick melee finisher when ready. With all this being said, I still don’t think that this Vigor is in any way powerful enough to warrant carrying it around or using it instead of some of the higher-placed Vigors on this list.
#7 – Return to Sender
- Location: The secret room in the Salty Oyster Bar.
- Use: Deploys another shield in front of Booker to protect him from all incoming attacks. It can turn these bullets into a molten blob that can be fired back at enemies.
- Upgrades: Gain the ability to gain ammunition from the bullets caught in the shield for $1287. You can also increase the duration of the shield for $898.
It seems like Bioshock Infinite’s developers ran out of ideas for Vigors fairly early in the brainstorming session. Yet again, we have a Vigor that’s core purpose is to block oncoming bullet fire in a castable forcefield. However, as you can see, this version is ranked higher than the other bullet-stopping Vigors; this is for one simple reason – you can throw the bullets back at your enemy this time. These bullets fire back toward the enemy in an arc pattern, allowing the player to hit several enemies at once, not just the main shooter.
Despite this, the Vigor is very similar to other entries on this list and is only really useful against enemies that come at you in large groups but aren’t too hard to deal with. In this sense, you can only really use this Vigor well later in the game.
#6 – Old Man Winter
- Location: After making it to Jack Frost’s Village and opening the Vigor cabinet, Elizabeth will get Booker the plasmid using her new ability called ‘Tear.’
- Use: Throws a ball of ice toward the enemies; when hit, it freezes them. It can also create water bridges for the player.
- Upgrade: Increase the frozen state duration of enemies for $125. Freeze multiple enemies at once within a given area for $225.
The only reason this one sits as high on this list as it does is that you simply cannot progress through the Burial at Sea – Episode 1 DLC without it. That and the fact that your Vigor hand looks pretty cool when casting it.
The Old Man Winter Vigor is pretty much a plot device used to help progress the main quest. Throughout this DLC, the player will need to cast this Vigor to construct bridges of ice, allowing you to traverse the difficult environment. However, as you move forward and get into more action, you can use this Vigor offensively when enemies are standing in some form of water. This will freeze your enemies in place, allowing you to take them out with very little effort or stress.
#5 – Shock Jockey
- Location: The Plasmids department of Fontaine’s Department Store.
- Use: Casts a bolt of electricity at an enemy, shocking them and stunning them at once. Especially useful against enemies in the water.
- Upgrade: Adds the shock chain ability, which allows one strike to link together multiple targets for $1265. Increases the duration of target stun for $575.
Finally, we move on to some of the actually good and enjoyable Vigors in this amazing game. The Shock Jockey allows the player to shoot barbs of electricity toward their enemies in controlled bursts. When you first get this Vigor, you will only be able to strike one enemy at a time with this Vigor, but when you upgrade this, you will be able to strike many enemies at once. When charged, you will also get to throw purple crystals on the ground that act almost like explosive traps on the ground.
The drawback with this Vigor is that you can only really use it against human enemies. Anything that does not have blood running through its veins is pretty much immune to the Shock Jockey, making it pretty useless in certain situations.
For me, Shock Jockey is easily one of the coolest-looking Vigors on this list. However, due to its in-game effectiveness, I cannot rank it any higher than 5th.
#4 – Devil’s Kiss
- Location: The game gives the player this Vigor in the opening tutorial of the game.
- Use: Trows balls of flame towards enemies which can detonate after some time has passed.
- Upgrade: Allows the player to throw balls that explode in mini clusters, helping to hit a wider range of enemies for $1241. You can also increase the base damage of this Vigor for $666.
I see this Vigor as the cousin to Shock Jockey, where one fires lightning bolts, and this one fires literal fire while also giving you the ability to plant firebomb traps on the ground for oncoming enemies.
This Vigor and the trap aspect take a little time to get working well with your gameplay and use it well, as the traps only explode when they come in contact with an enemy or after a couple of seconds. This Vigor could only rank at number 4 on this list simply because the competition is so stiff, but for others, this may be the perfect Vigor for you.
#3 – Bucking Bronco
- Location: Found at the bottom of the corridor just before you enter the Hall of Heroes.
- Use: Throws and hold enemies in the air, allowing the player to dispatch them without the worry of reprisal temporarily.
- Upgrade: Chain the floating of one enemy to another for an extra $777. Also, increase the enemy’s float time for $421.
Something that I found weird when playing Bioshock Infinite for the first time is that you get your hands on some of the best powers very early on in the game. Bucking Bronco is one of those powers or Vigors that every other game would hold and keep away from you for the majority of the game.
I enjoy this Vigor as it changes up the flow of combat very well, allowing you to suspend your enemies in the air, leaving them as sitting ducks for your small arms fire. When you charge up this Vigor, you will be able to set traps for your enemies, launching them in the air when they stumble across it.
What I love about this Vigor is that it works against all types of enemies, whether they be humanoid or robotic inhabitants of Columbia.
#2 – Possession
- Location: Given to the player after entering the Fairgrounds.
- Use: Takes control of the targeted machine, turning it into your defense.
- Upgrades: You can upgrade this Vigor and take control of human enemies also for $50. Also, decrease the Salts cost of the Vigor for $1653.
To follow up on my previous point that Bioshock Infinite gives you some of the best Vigors early in the game, this Vigor is the first power you will be given in the game, allowing players to get money from the many vending machines dotted around Columbia and use the automated turrets and machines to help you in your fights, turning the enemies strength into their weakness.
Outside of these pieces of tech, the player will also be able to possess electronic enemies, such as Motorized Patriots. Hot-blooded enemies that feel your possessive touch will also end up taking their own lives once the Vigor’s effects have worn off.
#1 – Murder of Crows
- Location: On the body of a slain Zealot of the Lady when you enter the Fraternal Order of the Raven’s headquarters.
- Use: Throws a number of bloodthirsty crows at the selected enemies. This causes them confusion and damage.
- Upgrades: Turn the dead bodies of Murder of Crows victims to become traps for $1485. Increase the length of time enemies are stunned by the crows for $545.
This one is by far and away the fan favorite of the bunch, even though its powers are pretty simple and self-explanatory. The Murder of Crows sends a literal murder of crows toward an enemy or a bunch of enemies when the Vigor is used.
The only drawback of this Vigor is that it cannot be used against Zealots or Automatons. However, when you manage to charge this Vigor fully, you will be able to plant a trap that any enemy can spring, releasing a murder of crows on the spot.
Personally, I do not like the look of this Vigor at all; however, based on sheer effectiveness, I cannot pass this one or put it anywhere other than first place.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How many different Vigors are there in Bioshock Infinite?
Answer: The base game comes with eight default Vigors. However, when you install the DLCs, you will get access to 3 other Vigors.
Question: Are Bioshock 1 and Infinite connected?
Answer: The two games are connected in the fact that they are set in the same universe. Also, through the Bioshock Infinite DLC, you can visit Rapture, the setting of the first game.
Question: Is BIoshock Infinite better than the first game?
Answer: While this question is really up for debate, I would say that Infinite is the best game in the series by a lengthy margin. I enjoy the setting and gameplay of this title far more.
Many great Vigors are available to the player in Bioshock Infinite, each giving their own unique twist on the game and making replays all the better. Through this list, I hope you got to learn about some of the Vigors you may not have got to use yet in this fantastic game.
With all this being said, I really hope you enjoyed this list and learned something. I wish you good luck in Columbia and hope to see you again soon.
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