The bathyspheres of Rapture are very small, comfortable submersibles, allowing travel between the city's different areas. They are part of the city's transportation network, the Rapture Metro, created by Anton Kinkaide. The submersibles, or at least their control system, were built by Fontaine Futuristics. An article seen in an old copy of the Rapture Tribune reveals that a new line of bathyspheres was set to launch in 1960, however production of this new model was halted once Rapture's economy fell.
After Rapture society fell into civil war, Andrew Ryan prohibited the use of bathyspheres to anyone outside of his inner circle and supporters. Citizens started protests at the Bathysphere Station that linked Rapture to the surface, and demanded to be allowed out, though their demands were never met.
Throughout BioShock, the bathyspheres are used by Jack as a mode of transportation around Rapture. It is revealed that Jack can use the bathyspheres only because his genetic signature is close enough to Ryan's that the security system doesn't deny him access. Security Chief Sullivan clearly states in one of his audio diaries that, because of the unreliability of the bathysphere locks, "Sisters, cousins -- anyone in the ballpark, genetically, will be able to come and go as they see fit." Sander Cohen can also make use of the bathyspheres, being part of Andrew Ryan's inner circle, which explains how he reached his apartment at the Mercury Suites in Olympus Heights later on in the game if he was left alive in Fort Frolic.
In BioShock 2, bathysphere travels from one location to another have been replaced by the use of the older and derelict Atlantic Express transport system. A cut public address announcement directs citizens to this system as a remaining way of travel around the city. Although the genetic lockdown has been lifted after Andrew Ryan's death, Sofia Lamb kept torpedoes targeting any unauthorized bathysphere travel in order to maintain Rapture's secrecy.
In BioShock 2's downloadable content, Minerva's Den, Brigid Tenenbaum and Subject Sigma use Charles Milton Porter's private bathysphere docked in his office at The Thinker's core to escape from Minerva's Den and Rapture. They are able to bypass Lamb's torpedoes grid with a signal beacon recovered from a sunken bathysphere that had been reprogrammed at the Operations wing of Rapture Central Computing.
BioShock 2 MultiplayerEdit
In BioShock 2's multiplayer game set during the civil war, participants of the Sinclair Solutions Home Consumer Reward Program are provided with access to their own private bathysphere at their apartment to travel freely around Rapture. In terms of gameplay, the bathysphere provides players game matches and their settings.
In BioShock Infinite, after going through a Tear to escape the Songbird and finding themselves in Rapture, Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth use a bathysphere at the Welcome Center to reach the surface and access the Lighthouse.
Burial at Sea - Episode 1Edit
In BioShock Infinite's downloadable content, Burial at Sea - Episode 1, set on the eve of the civil war, Booker and Elizabeth are both sent by Sander Cohen via bathysphere to Fontaine's Department Store, sunken to imprison Fontaine's followers. While heading towards the isolated department store, a number of other bathyspheres can be seen traveling throughout the city.
Behind the ScenesEdit
- The concept of Rapture's bathyspheres was inspired by the historical, unpowered submersibles of the same name. The real-world bathysphere was invented by Otis Barton and John H. J. Butler in 1928. Instead of free/tracked travel, it worked by use of a crane lowering it from the surface.
- The design of the bathyspheres we are shown somewhat limit the depth which Rapture existed at. The mentioned "6 miles deep" and "5000 fathoms" are far too deep, and would require vehicles which (as they appeared) would not float with neutral buoyancy. Witness real bathyscaphes which went to such depths with the passenger compartment being built like 'safes' with extremely thick metal hulls and windows. The approximate size of the Rapture bathyspheres (of about 12 foot diameter) means they displaced about 28 tons of water and had to weight that much inside to 'hover' as they do. The upper air compartment for the passengers meant that the lower half was far heavier (likely batteries and ballast weights) to keep the vehicles upright orientation.