“1999 mode” will emphasize decision making and a greater difficulty compared to the normal game. “We want to give our oldest and most committed fans an option to go back to our roots,” Levine said.
Unlike Bioshock: Infinite’s standard gameplay experience, 1999 Mode will force you to make permanent choices, use tactical resource management during combat, and upon death a “Game Over” screen will be displayed if you lack the resources to revive yourself.
Levine describes how the mode came about: “I’m an old school gamer. We wanted to make sure we were taking into account the play styles of gamers like me. So we went straight to the horse’s mouth by asking them, on our website, a series of questions about how they play our games. 94.6 percent of respondents indicated that upgrade choices enhanced their BioShock gameplay experience; however, 56.8 percent indicated that being required to make permanent decisions about their character would have made the game even better.”
“I think the plan right now – my thinking, anyway – is we’re going to hide this mode behind an old-school up, down, left, right, left, right, start button combination on the console to unlock it,” Levine told Rock Paper Shotgun. “You’re not going to have to finish the game to unlock it, but we’re going to hide it because the last thing I want is some guy who’s not an old-school gamer stumbling into this thing, because he’s going to think ‘alright, this game sucks, I’m never getting into this because it’s so brutal and so punishing – forget it!’”