Unlocking Auld Lang Syne & Scavenger Hunt – Surviving Bioshock:Infinite’s 1999 Mode

Another day, another FPS on super-insane-difficulty. It’s like riding a bike at this point. Used to be, I’d do this once a year, for Halo and CoD games. However, Bioshock: Infinite was just so good that I thought it deserved a second playthrough, and why not go for the crazy achievements while I’m at it?

I’m assuming for the sake of this guide that you’re going for both Auld Lang Syne and Scavenger Hunt. So, we won’t be doing any Dollar Bill shopping.

Combat Strategy

There’s a wide assortment of weapons in the game, and there’s a few types of weapon that come in both a “Founder” and “Vox” variant. Since we can’t buy ammo, the best weapons are the ones that are common, but powerful. My suggestion to you is to always carry a pair of complimentary weapons when you can.

In most combat situations, the first thing that is going to happen is you’re going to get rushed by guys with shotguns and melee weapons. Therefore, one of your two weapons should be for short-range engagements. The best weapon for this is a shotgun, but failing that, a machine gun, pistol, or hand cannon will also suffice.

Ah, the shotgun.  This weapon was almost constantly in my inventory.  It's common, but very powerful.
Ah, the shotgun. This weapon was almost constantly in my inventory. It’s common, but very powerful.

You want to back up and take cover someplace where they have to bunch up in order to fight you. The longer range guys are going to get into cover and be reluctant to give chase, so if you can separate yourself from them, you’ll be able to kite the close range guys around a bit and deal with them better.

Once you have Bucking Bronco, you can use it to stun then en-masse, and then fire your close range weapon into the group, taking out as many as you can before the effect wears off. Lather, rinse, repeat until nobody is coming into your safe zone.

From here, you’ve got a couple of options. If there are any heavy enemies in the area (Firemen, Zealot (“Crow guy”), or Patriots), and they’re rushing you, deal with them next. The Patriot, Fireman, and Zealot are all vulnerable to Shock Jockey, and the Firemen and Crows can be hit with Bronco as well. Stun lock them as best you can while you unload a close range weapon or power weapon at them.

For Patriots, I prefer a RPG as a power weapon, but the volley gun also works well in a pinch. Don’t neglect the crank gun, either! It’s relatively rare, but extremely powerful. If you’re really low on ammo, a hand cannon might suffice. You can use some of the other weapons, like the carbine or the machine gun, but you’re not going to get much value per shot out of these or other weapons.

If you can, save as much power weapon ammo as you can for bosses, as the “human” enemies tend to go down pretty easily with the close range weapons. Handymen and the other bosses are special cases I’ll cover later on – I’ve got special strategies for them.

Aiming down sights and taking cover partially behind objects, especially fences and other objects you can fire through, is a good strategy against gun-toting enemies.
Aiming down sights and taking cover partially behind objects, especially fences and other objects you can fire through, is a good strategy against gun-toting enemies.

If the heavy enemies are staying at range, or you’ve cleared them out, now it’s time for the cover-loving long range enemies. These guys tend to be terrible shots at range, so find some low cover you can crouch and see over, and then hit them with the carbine/burstgun. A sniper rifle works fine, but it’s not as effective as some other weapons due to its low reserve ammo size. In a pinch, you can reach for the machine gun/repeater, a hand cannon, or pistol. Honestly though, past the first part of the game I really never used a pistol.

Floating Combat Text can be very helpful, especially at long range when you're not sure if you're getting critical hits or not.
Floating Combat Text can be very helpful, especially at long range when you’re not sure if you’re getting critical hits or not.

I’d suggest also turning the Gameplay Option “Floating Combat Text” on, since this will tell you when you’re hitting an enemy, and whether or not you scored a critical hit.

Resource Allocation

Since we’re not spending money on consumables, that leaves weapon and vigor upgrades. Vigor upgrades are kind of crazy expensive, so I can’t really recommend much in the way of investment here. There are a few good ones, however:

  • Murder of Crows upgrade for increased duration
  • Shock Jockey upgrade for increased duration
  • Charge upgrade for invulnerability/shield recharge
  • Possession upgrade for humans

The duration bonuses are good for dealing with tough enemies that don’t go down quickly. This can effectively double your salts in tough fights, so it’s probably worth the investment. I highly suggest the Charge upgrade prior to the Memorial Gardens, but more on that strategy later. The Possession upgrade is dirt cheap, so you might as well pick it up for the early game when your options are limited.

Most of your money is therefore going to be spent on weapon upgrades. I tend to prioritize the following weapons:

  • Shotgun
  • Carbine
  • RPG
  • Machine Gun
  • Repeater
  • Sniper Rifle

Damage upgrades always come first, as bullets and time to fire them are generally at a premium. For the shotgun, also prioritize the reload speed upgrade, since this is extremely useful for your primary close quarters “crowd control” weapon.

I wouldn’t bother with clip size increases, or accuracy/recoil boosts on most weapons. With the long range weapons, you’re going to be going for headshots, which means short bursts, careful aim, and copious amounts of cover time while your shield recharges.

Upgrades are unlocked as the game progresses, so don’t buy up the early upgrades thinking they’re required for the later ones.

Infusions for Fun and Profit

Infusions will let you upgrade your health, salts, or shield. There aren’t enough infusions in the game to max out all three, though. Without the 5 you can get as preorder bonuses, there are only 24, and it would take 30 to get all the upgrades.

Shields are definitely a priority here. While health kits aren’t rare, some of the combat sequences are very long. It pays to have regenerating shields that can absorb hits well enough that you won’t take health damage often.

Secondary to shields is salts. Salts can help you take down groups of enemies, and are key to the strategies for taking down stronger enemies. Finally, there’s health. It’s not as key as the other two, but having a bit more health can mean the difference between living long enough to get to cover (and hopefully a health kit from Elizabeth) and having to pay 100 coins for a revive.

My strategy was to focus on shields until they were at 5 or 6, then alternate between salts and health until they’re both at 3, and then max out shields. From there, I put more points into salts, with the occasional point into health. I ended with 10 points in shields, 8 in salts, and 6 in health. I find this balance to work pretty well with my strategies.

I do highly suggest that you consult a guide if you don’t have the infusion locations memorized. Some of them are tricky to find, and you’re going to want every advantage you can get as the game wears on.

Gear & Gear Scumming

Gear boxes have fixed spawn locations, but the gear inside is somewhat randomized. There are a few fixed spawn gear items, but for the rest the box might contain any of the valid gear upgrades.

There are a few bits of gear that are borderline essential for survival:

Winter Shield is situational, but skylines are present in many of the major encounters.
Winter Shield is situational, but skylines are present in many of the major encounters.
  • Winter Shield – This makes you invulnerable when jumping to or from a hook or skyline. Sometimes it doesn’t work when jumping on, but it seems to always work when jumping off. There are several boss sequences that take place where hooks or skylines are present. Being able to shrug off damage for 10 seconds or so at a time, for an infinite number of times is a real game-changer.
  • Brittle Skinned – You’ll deal double damage to any enemy for 5 seconds after you melee them. This one is essential for dealing with some of the harder enemies in the game. If you stack this with Charge’s invulnerability upgrade, you can do massive damage with little to no risk to yourself.
  • Overkill – If you kill with excessive damage, an area of effect shock attack is fired, which stuns any nearby enemies. This is helpful at short range to give you a bit more time for dealing with a group of enemies, and at long range for making several headshots in a row.
  • Urgent Care – Urgent Care improves your shield regen by cutting down the regen delay and doubling your regen rate. When you’re not up close and personal with your foe, being able to regenerate shields quickly is a plus. Shield regeneration is so slow in 1999 Mode that without this, you can waste a considerable amount of the game cowering while your shields recover.

There are plenty of other really good pieces of gear, and what you end up using depends heavily on your overall strategy. However, I probably could not have finished the game had I not found these pieces and abused them liberally.

Gear Scumming

Since gear spawns are random, there’s a chance that you will end up with a truly useless set of gear by the tough battles at the end of the game. You can stack this in your favor, though, by repeatedly reloading a checkpoint near an easy piece of gear to get. There are a few spots early on where you can focus on acquiring a couple of the essentials:

  • Battleship Bay – After the first time Elizabeth throws you money, near a Dollar Bill vending machine, there’s a door at the end of the hall that has a piece of gear behind it. You can rapidly reload your checkpoint here until you end up with something good.
  • Hall of Heroes – Upon entering the hall, there is a locked door on your left hand side where a piece of gear is guarded by a sentry gun. If you run fast enough, you can get to the gear without having to take the gun down. This is another good area to grab a piece of choice gear.

Do note that not only do you need a piece of gear near a checkpoint, you need to survive to the next checkpoint in order to keep it – if you die and opt to reload your checkpoint, you’ll have to run through the process again.

Trouble Spots

Most of the time you can follow the combat strategies above and get through just fine. However, there are a few spots that are particularly tricky that I’ll cover specific strategies for in detail.

Handymen

They may look big, but with the right strategy, they go down just like the rest.
They may look big, but with the right strategy, they go down just like the rest.

There are several Handymen you will have to deal with:

  • After leaving the gun shop for the first time in Finkton
  • At Fink’s Private Dock (outside, after a conversation about how you “complicate the narrative”)
  • After descending in an elevator where you needed to locate a nearby code
  • The Engineering Deck of the airship

These guys can cause issues, but I was honestly expecting them to be harder. Murder of Crows is your go-to Vigor here. It stuns them and makes them expose their vulnerable heart, but it only lasts for a few seconds. It’s enough time to get off a couple of shotgun blasts or RPG shots, though. In these areas, there’s always some power weapons you can pick up, so it pays to explore a bit.

The crank gun, volley gun, and hail fire can also be useful. I normally despise the hail fire, but its fast fire rate and the size of the target you’re trying to hit means that you’re going to be doing a lot of damage very quickly.

When you’re low on shields or need to find a new weapon, these guys can be kited pretty easily. If you run at top speed, you can generally get away from them. Take corners often, as well. The skylines can help, but the Handmen can also electrify the skylines to try and keep you from using them temporarily.

During all fights but the first, skylines will be present, so if you have Winter Shield, you can use it to become temporarily invulnerable, unload on them, then jump to the skyline to get away while you reload.

Snipers

There are several situations where you will be confronted with snipers. These guys are tough on 1999 Mode, since they can knock down even fully upgraded shields with one hit, and take a good chunk of your health in the process. They aim and fire so fast there’s very little time to react.

These guys are the only reason why I use Return to Sender. It can provide a short duration shield that will absorb their shots. You’re still going to have to be quick on the draw, but for a low salt cost you can have a fighting chance of taking these guys down without losing all your health.

The Lady

Beyond the Handymen, the only other boss is the “Lady.” The Lady attacks 3 times:

  • In the Memorial Garden
  • In the Bank, after you’ve found the tear
  • Outside Comstock House

She takes critical hit damage from being hit almost anywhere, so gear that boosts critical hit damage (e.g., Head Master) can be useful. Personally, I found the Charge upgrade that provides invulnerability to be the most useful. Use Charge to close to melee distance, then unload your shotgun or other power weapon into her.

Brittle Skinned is also useful with this strategy – Charge will count as a melee hit, and then you’ve got a few seconds of double damage plus invulnerability at close range to her.

She will continuously summon allies to fight for her, so if you can’t take her out quickly, you’re likely to succumb to a slow and painful death as they deplete your ammo and health.

Generator Defense

There’s also a “defend this vulnerable object” sequence in the late stages of the game. In addition to managing your ammo, shields, life, and salt, you’re going to have to dispatch enemies quickly lest they do damage to the generator and end the mission.

In the crate are Salt and Health bonuses, with a rack of RPGs on the wall.  Nearby is a rift you can open for even more health kits.
In the crate are Salt and Health bonuses, with a rack of RPGs on the wall. Nearby is a rift you can open for even more health kits.

There are a lot of supplies near where you first enter this area – health kits, salts, and some weapons are available. Mostly there are sniper rifles, carbines, and RPGs, which I did not find to be that useful.

There is a skyline that runs all the way around the arena, and it can be useful to get to trouble locations quickly. If you have the Winter Shield gear, now is a perfect time to equip it. The invulnerability can be a life saver, although you should plan on leaving yourself enough life/shields to take a couple of hits while you jump to the line. I’ve also found it doesn’t always trigger when I attach to a skyline. You may want to jump on and quickly back off to ensure it is fully working.

You’ve got an ally you can call in to help from time to time, although there are long cooldowns depending on what you call him to do. There are barges that have rockets mounted on them which should be a priority. Following that, you can clear the deck if you’re in dire need.

Try to focus on taking down the zeppelins though, as this is what triggers the end of the sequence. Harder and harder waves will continue to drop until you complete the objective. Unfortunately, taking down a zeppelin causes the longest cooldown on your ally. If you think you just can’t defeat the enemies on the deck before they destroy the generator, try to take them out first and then quickly switch to the zeppelin.

My strategy for this was to grab a repeater early. The human enemies that drop onto the ship are almost all carrying these. This means that when you get kills, you’ll be well stocked in ammo. Kill any normal humans with headshots quickly, and then focus on the motorized patriots.

The motorized patriots soak up a lot of bullets, but they move slowly towards the generator, and don’t do a lot of damage at range. They also ignore you, unless you possess them. If they recover from possession, they will attack you instead of the core. I used a combination of the Brittle Skinned gear along with the repeater to take them down.

If RPG enemies drop, use Undertow to push them off the barge quickly. Trying to kill these guys is a real pain, and is a real drain on your ammo. They will also target you and do damage to you if you get in their way. If left alone long enough, they will run up to the generator and attempt to beat on it. This is a particularly damaging attack. Undertow them away from the generator, and then Undertow again to push them off the barge.

  • Greel97

    Handymen are actually more vunerable to Murder of Crows than Shock Jockey. It stuns them for a longer duration (even without the upgrade) and although a Shock Jockey trap would imply that he could get stunned repeatedly he usually jumps over these stationary traps to get to you.

    • https://plus.google.com/u/1/106821154503898033506/ agent86

      Absolutely. My section on Trouble Spots details my handyman strategy, and I mentioned that there. I’ve got another section on “heavy” guys that mentions shock jockey, which may have been confusing if you associated handyman with heavy guys. I revised a bit to try and clear this up, hopefully it makes more sense now :)

  • TheOrrery

    Hey, cheers for this man! Played it through on hard and by god did I have issues with certain parts, but 1999 mode is proving alright so far, only up to The Hall Of Heroes admittedly, but even so, have had comparatively less deaths! :D

    Cheers!