I have heard that Bioshock Infinite has a difficulty setting called "1999" mode which is supposed to make the game more difficult as somewhat of a throwback to first person shooters from the late 90's.

What changes does enabling "1999" mode make to the game and what do you to do in order to enable "1999" mode?

2 Answers 2


Despite promises to the contrary, "1999 mode" is more like one difficulty notch above Hard.

The things that are the same:

  • The plot/story/dialog is identical.
  • Fixed spawns are identical, you'll find the same weapons, ammo, gear boxes (although the gear is randomized in every difficulty), infusions, etc.
  • Enemies spawn in the same locations, in roughly the same quantity as before. The harder enemies are definitely the same, although the weaker ones are a bit too numerous to be compared easily.
  • The weapon and Vigor upgrades are identical and cost the same amount of money. I haven't noticed a large difference in my money supply. Any suggestion of "combat specializations" that must be tuned is puzzling.

The things that are different:

  • Checkpoints are similarly spaced, although I've been told there are extra ones before the Handymen (the really hard "boss" level enemies in the game).
  • You still get a shield, but it takes fewer hits and recharges much, much slower.
  • It takes more shots to down an enemy, but bullets are somewhat more scarce. This makes weapon upgrades slightly more important, but I honestly have had very few situations where I ran low on ammo, and with your "companion" handing you weapons, it doesn't seem like a big deal, honestly.
  • In lower difficulty levels, you can get a "hint" in the form of an arrow pointing towards your objective by pressing a button. This "navigational aid" is disabled in 1999 Mode
  • If you die and don't have enough money, you will not be revived. You'll have to restart from a checkpoint. (Although, given the high demands on your funds, I'd suggest restarting from checkpoint if you die regardless)
  • You can't adjust the difficulty from the menu. This isn't that much of a problem unless you plan to go after some achievements after beating 1999 mode that would have been trivial on lower difficulties - you'll either have to endure 1999 mode for them, or start over from the beginning on another difficulty.

Overall, it's very similar to other FPS games on their hardest difficulty. I'm doing pretty much the same things here that I would in a Legendary run of a Halo game, or a Veteran run of a CoD game.

You can unlock it with the Konami code at the title screen, or by finishing the game on any other difficulty level. Many games have this feature of locking out the hardest difficulty until you've finished the game, and I would highly suggest you take this route. There are times when you will want to know the lay of the land in a situation where you can screw up and still survive. Knowing what weapons to upgrade is harder without knowing what weapons you'll encounter, for instance.

  • So there aren't actually those irreversible "load a past save" possibilities (outside of "oh I'm out of ammo") that were hinted at?
    – Zelda
    Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 19:01
  • @BenBrocka, If you die and die and die again, you might not have enough cash to afford to continue to upgrade yourself, and I guess if you were just terrible at ammo or health management you could paint yourself into a corner that way. Elizabeth seems to give you a lot of second chances, though.
    – agent86
    Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 19:18
  • @BenBrocka You can't go back and forwards between saves. For instance if you are 2/3 through a chapter, You only have the choice of the start of that chapter or the Autosave. The chapter start then becomes your "active" point for continues until you reach a new autosave. Picking an earlier chapter resets progress to that chapter
    – Dan Kelly
    Commented Apr 11, 2013 at 10:27

Consider the following quotation:

BioShock Infinite’s 1999 Mode will feature an especially demanding gaming experience, forcing you to examine your decisions while going through your adventure in Columbia. With every choice you make, there are irreversible implications, and if your choices guide you down a path not suited to your play style, you will suffer for it.

It’s not simply a matter of adjusting the difficulty sliders in the game – the team went much further than that. Resource planning? If you’re to survive this mode, proper planning will be crucial. Combat specializations? You’ll need to develop them efficiently and effectively throughout the story; any weapon will be useless to you unless you have that specialization. Combat? You will need to carefully target every shot, and your health will be set to an entirely different baseline. Game saves? Well, yes, there will be those, but according to Irrational Games Creative Director Ken Levine “there are game saves, and you’re gonna f***ing need them.”

“We want to give our oldest and most committed fans an option to go back to our roots,” said Levine. “In 1999 Mode, gamers face more of the permanent consequences of their gameplay decisions. In BioShock Infinite, gamers will have to sweat out the results of their actions. In addition, 1999 Mode will demand that players pick specializations, and focus on them.”

Pretty self explanatory. In short, choose your decisions wisely and play tactically.

As for how to unlock it, there are two ways.

  1. Finish the game on any difficulty.

  2. If you want an immediate challenge, use the konami code:

using the Konami code will allow them to unlock it at any point.

  • On PC (with keyboardmouse): Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, (Cancel key), (Confirm key)

  • On Xbox: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A

  • On PS3: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, O, X

  • Are these actually plot decisions or just purely gameplay ones?
    – Shinrai
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 2:57
  • I believe plot decisions only. Gameplay decisions only matter when you choose the strategy you wish to adopt. The strategy you choose just determines how easily you progress.
    – Outlier
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 23:19
  • 3
    Can you give any more quantification what exactly changes? I'm not sure that pre-release quote is accurate. For instance, I heard there are still no saves in 1999 mode. The quote really just amounts to Levine saying, "It's harder."
    – Sterno
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 23:48
  • This is from irrational games website: "Will it have a limited number saves, or designated save points, or anything that interferes with saving your game? -Facebook User Sam Gross Bill Gardner: We have no plans to change the save system. We felt that this would not enhance the experience we’re going for with 1999 Mode." Source: irrationalgames.com/insider/your-answers-for-1999-mode
    – Outlier
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 23:50

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