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BioShock upgrade guide

Take control and evolve yourself.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

If you were one of the thousands who heeded Kristan's wise words and bought a copy of BioShock on release, rocketing the game to the top of the all-format charts in the process, then you've probably already experienced the wonders of Rapture and are currently playing through again on a higher difficulty. If so then this guide to every Plasmids and Gene Tonic in the game - where to find them and what they do - was written with your good self in mind. If not, be warned - there be big spoilers ahead.

Note: For Plasmids and Gene Tonics available from Gatherer's Garden machines, only the location where you can first buy them is listed, yet they'll be available from every machine from that point on. In addition, some Tonics hidden in the wild can later be purchased from Gatherer's Garden machines for a small amount of Adam, so don't worry if you miss them first time round.


Electro Bolt

Easily the most useful Plasmid power in the game. Use it to stun Splicers, stopping them in their tracks so you can attack them with a good old fashioned weapon. And it's a nice surprise for enemies stupid enough to stand in water. Electro Bolt is also vital for frazzling security devices and opening dodgy doors. Dedicate a slot to this Plasmid and upgrade as and when you can. You'll grab the standard Electro Bolt right at the beginning of the game, by the Gatherer's Garden machine at the top of the stairs. For longer lasting shock treatment you should definitely purchase Electro Blot 2 (120 Adam) from Gatherer's Garden machines in Arcadia, and Electro Bolt 3 (150 Adam) from machines in Olympus Heights.


Like Electro Bolt, this Plasmid is essential for progressing through the game as it lets you melt frozen doors. Of course you can also use it to torch enemies, either directly or by igniting pools of oil or explosive canisters. Some enemies will battle on even when blazing so be ready to follow up with an alternative attack. Incinerate is located in the Medical Pavilion area, inside the Eternal Flame crematorium - crawl through the small hole in the wall on the upper floor to find it. Incinerate 2 offers increased heat and can be vended from the machines in Fort Frolic for 80 Adam. Later, when you reach Point Prometheus, you can upgrade to the toastiest temperature, Incinerate 3, for 150 Adam.


Great for grabbing items just out of reach, and ideal for those Carrie White moments when you just want to hurl stuff at those who hassle you. Also useful for plucking missiles and grenades out of the air and returning them to sender (hello Nitro Splicers!). Telekinesis is located in the Medical Pavilion area, inside the Dandy Dental clinic. It's not possible to upgrade this Plasmid.

It's like a scene from Big Trouble in Little China, only with decidedly less Kurt Russell.


Hit an enemy with Enrage and they'll fight the good fight for you. Great if there are groups of enemies and you want to encourage a little infighting, even better if you're taking on a Big Daddy as you can enlist the help of Splicers. Enrage is not found in the wild, but you can buy it from a Gatherer's Garden machine in the Medical Pavilion for 60 Adam. It can't be upgraded.

Security Bullseye

Whack this on the back of an enemy and if they're in range of a sentry system it will target them instead of you. Neat but not essential as you can always hack security devices. It's located in Neptune's Bounty, inside the Wharfmaster's Office. No upgrades are available.

Target Dummy

If you like to play a more measured game than an all-out assault, you can use Target Dummy to fool enemies and draw their fire. This handy decoy lasts for around 10 seconds, enough time to flank your enemy or simply flee the scene. Very useful for stealing a march on a Big Daddy. Target Dummy is available from Gatherer's Garden machines in Neptune's Bounty for 60 Adam.

Winter Blast

This three-tiered Plasmid will freeze common enemies for a few seconds, letting you shatter them dead. However, while it's a nice quick kill method, the enemy won't leave behind any goodies so it should be used sparingly. You can also use it on devices to increase the time available for hacking. The standard Winter Blast can be vended from machines in Neptune's Bounty for 60 Adam, while the two upgrades are available later in the game - Winter Blast 2 in Fort Frolic for 100 Adam, Winter Blast 3 from Olympus Heights for 150. Each successive upgrade simply increases the time that enemies stay iced up.

Cyclone Trap

Invoke mini tornadoes that lift enemies clean off their feet and bring them crashing to the ground with a pleasing crack. This sits alongside Target Dummy as a Plasmid for those who like to play with guile and lay traps. Don't miss the opportunity to shoot enemies when they're flapping around in the air. Both varieties of Cyclone Trap are available from machines in Arcadia - the first for 60 Adam and the second more turbulent version for 100.

Please extinguish all hands before entering the building.

Insect Swarm

Splicers don't carry around rolled-up newspapers so a swarm of stinging bees will certainly inconvenience them. It's a good laugh for sure, and useful against groups as the bees will swarm around several enemies, but it's no substitute for the trusty Electro Bolt. If you do want it, pick up the standard Plasmid from machines in the Farmer's Market for 60 Adam. Insect Swarm 2 and 3, which breed successively angrier insects who swarm harder and longer, are available from Hephaestus (80 Adam) and Olympus Heights (120 Adam) respectively.

Hypnotize Big Daddy

Why should only Little Sisters get an armed escort? This Plasmid will enlist a Big Daddy as your personal bodyguard for a short period of time, which obviously is a very good thing (and as an added bonus, great for Big Daddy research purposes). This is the only Plasmid that can't be found in the wild or purchased with cold hard Adam. To get the standard Plasmid, where a Big Daddy will guard you for a minute and a half, you must rescue three Little Sisters rather than harvest them. You'll receive the upgrade, which affords a full three minutes of Big Daddy protection, if you rescue nine of the poor dots.