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I'm at the beginning of the game on Normal, and am currently finding fighting the Big Daddies to be a bit challenging. As in I wasted half a clip of Machine Gun Ammo and 3 EVE Hypos taking down the ones in the Medical Bay, and I'm now being toasted in Neptune's Bounty.

Should I just wait till later in the game, or are there tips for defeating the Daddies?

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As with any difficult enemies in general, USE YOUR COVER! Also don't just stand around shooting at them thinking they won't notice you, keep moving. – Jeff Mercado Mar 11 '12 at 23:16
Yes, did that, but they do something to the floor to stun me and then charge me in the face. – deworde Mar 12 '12 at 0:01
There is no penalty for dying. Wrench them to death! – user9983 Mar 12 '12 at 15:10
up vote 23 down vote accepted

The most important thing to remember is that as long as the Big Daddy is mobile with a line of sight on you, you are in mortal danger.

The trick to bringing down a Big Daddy is to use whatever means possible to immobilize him. There are various tools you can use to impede his movement, or attacks, and you're going to need to learn to use all of them if you want to bring down Big Daddies repeatedly.

Some of the best ones to use are as follows:

  • Ice Plasmid Freezing a Big Daddy on the spot can give you a chance to get to cover, but also makes it harder to damage them while frozen.

  • Hacked Turrets A friendly turret won't put up a fight for very long against a Big Daddy, but it may give you the time you need to get to cover.

  • Bee Arms The Bee Arms are one of the best weapons to use against a Big Daddy. For periods at a time after being unleashed, your bees will swarm the Big Daddy, causing him to stumble around waving his arms in the air. Higher level Bee Arms will disorient the Big Daddy for longer periods, as well as deal more damage to him over time.

  • Electricity Stun While not as effective (in my opinion) as the bee arms, this plasmid is available fairly early in the game (as @Ender pointed out), and can be very useful for immobilizing Big Daddies when you need to get to cover.

  • Shotgun (Point Blank) A shotgun blast at point blank range will stun the Big Daddy for a short period of time; do this repeatedly to deal a ton of damage quickly, then use one of the above techniques to escape. Using Electric rounds for your Shotgun will extend this stun period substantially.

  • Trap Bolts These are pretty self-explanatory. Just use them in doorways and suchlike before getting on a Big Daddy's bad side, then get him to run through them. These do a ton of damage, though ammo is rare.

  • Another Big Daddy No, you're not crazy. Sometimes, getting two Daddies to fight one another is a viable option for bringing the one you initially attacked down to size, but this isn't always easy to achieve, nor is it usually terribly safe.

Of note is the fact that if you pick up a dead Rosie type Big Daddy using telekinesis, it will slowly rotate to upside-down, and you can then stand it on its head with its legs hanging out to the sides. I went on a Big Daddy killing spree in one section and got a gallery of about six of them posed this way. Then one of the character models 'broke' somehow, and kind of melted into a puddle of boneless Big Daddy. It was great.

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That's great, thanks! Don't have most of those yet, so I guess I'll come back when I'm Bee-tter Armed (heh, sorry!) – deworde Mar 12 '12 at 0:00
Of note is the fact that if you pick up a dead Rosie type Big Daddy using telekinesis, it will slowly rotate to upside-down, and you can then stand it on its head with its legs hanging out to the sides. I went on a Big Daddy killing spree in one section and got a gallery of about six of them posed this way. It was great. - Clearly this is the most important part of this answer. – LessPop_MoreFizz Mar 12 '12 at 0:38
@deworde It's been a while since I've played Bioshock, but if you decide to go the Shotgun route, I highly suggest using it with electricity ammo. Does wonders. – Kotsu Mar 12 '12 at 1:47
The Electricity Stun Plasmid worked good for me. I think this is worth pointing out, since early game players wont have many of these options listed. – Ender Sep 2 '12 at 10:57
Of course, the shotgun-at-point-blank method has something of a drawback -- if you run out of ammo in your clip before the Big Daddy dies, you are now standing at point blank range of an enraged Big Daddy and you're likely going to be dead before you can reload or switch to another weapon... – Shadur Mar 28 '13 at 10:52

In addition to the tactics listed by GnomeSlice, the choice of ammo is instrumental in conserving ammo. Especially with Big Daddies. Before I decide to take on one of those, I

  • equip the Shotgun with electric ammo
  • equip the Tommy gun with armour piercing ammo
  • make sure my pistol is set on either regular or anti-personnel ammo (*)
  • select the electricity or bee plasmid (I usually prefer the electric in most situations, but that's personal preference)

(*) The pistol is helpful if splicers pop up and want to take part in the action. They can be dispatched most easily and without wasting ammo by paralysing and head-shooting them. You don't have much time when a Big Daddy is charging at you so splicers have to be dealt with quickly.

Now, you can paralyse the Big Daddy repeatedly with either the electricity or bee plasmid or the shotgun. Then hit him with either a burst from your Tommy gun or a grenade (sticky grenades work nicely, too). The armour piercing rounds are insanely more effective than the regular rounds, so you won't waste nearly as much ammo.

Alternatively to the Tommy gun you can also use the pistol's armour piercing rounds. They're incredibly effective, too. But I would always keep one weapon ready to take on splicers.

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