It may be due to the graphical quality of Infinite, but Columbia is very beautiful. In contrast to the dark, ruinous Rapture, when you get to Columbia, you see how bright and glorious it is. It's a moment to savor, especially when you know, being in the Bioshock universe or rather, multiverse, it is not going to last.
Upon arriving at the Church of Comstock, the first playable area in Columbia, the first thing you hear is a choir chanting a very meaningful song: "Will The Circle Be Unbroken". The song speaks of Columbia as the better home awaiting for those who wish to escape America. It also hints at the never-ending cycle of Booker being sent here only to fail and die. And yet, the score is so moving that when you hear it, it is enough to make you weep.
An underscored one for Elizabeth in the 2011 E3 gameplay demo: at the beginning of the demo, after Booker and Elizabeth manage to hide from Songbird, she asks Booker to kill her if there is a minimal chance that Songbird might take her, pretty much implying that being with Songbird is a Fate Worse Than Death for her. When Songbird nearly kills Booker, she decides to let Songbird take her to save Booker. And the last thing Booker sees of her is her crying face while she tries to reach for Booker.
Elizabeth dancing to live music for the first time. She just looks so happy.
In the Battleship Bay section when you see Duke and Dimwit for the first time, Elizabeth will sometimes wander around holding Cotton Candy. She doesn't comment, but it's adorable.
Actually, at least on the Boardwalk, she can get cotton candy again and comment on how much she's missed out on. Which is a bit of Tear Jerker.
The couple from the "marriage" raffle in the beginning of the game thank you later on in Battleship Bay if you choose not to "cast the first stone" at them.
And in a meta heartwarming moment, judging from most Youtube playthroughs, the vast majority of players, for obvious and understandable reasons, chose to try to throw the baseball at the announcer instead.
On a meta level, its been said that none of the play testers chose that option either.
Elizabeth singing to a scared kid while Booker plays a guitar.
Take a look the second time Booker sets coordinates in the First Lady airship. After trying to trick Elizabeth the first time, the next he sets it to go to Paris like he promised her.
Towards the end of the game, all he wants to do is take her to Paris and forget about Columbia.
Preston E. Downs is an amoral bounty hunter hired to kill Daisy and in an alternate universe Booker. After he sets some bear traps for Vox messengers, he learns that Daisy is using kids as messengers in the worst possible way. After having to amputate a Native Americans boy's leg and effectively adopting him, he runs into that universe's Booker. And finds that he speaks Sioux. And learns how Columbia treats Injuns and crippled kids. And resolves to scalp Comstock. With the kid's help. This is soured by the fact that he takes over the Vox after Daisy dies.
Elizabeth finally burying the hatchet between her and Lady Comstock. Although Elizabeth was fully willing to defile Mrs. Comstock's grave and body just an hour earlier, she learns enough about her in the interim to develop genuine sympathy for the woman. Given the prevalence of hatred between characters and factions, it was poignant to see two people resolve their grudges with mutual respect.
Lady Comstock's story herself. In her youth, she was known to be a cruel woman, who would manipulate others to do her bidding. In her own words, "there was no pain that she would deny them." When she had burned all of her bridges, Comstock offered her forgiveness, and she became devoted to him. She was devastated when she discovered the truth behind Elizabeth, and decided that truth came with forgiveness. Later in the game, she overjoyed at the prospect of other worlds, because there could be one in which she redeems her husband.
During the first odd desaturated segment were you're at Booker's office, you hear Robert slamming on the door, yelling that "they had a deal". Booker's responds that he's not going to go through with it. It's nice to know that he didn't want/wasn't going to go through with selling Anna. Unfortunately, this is not particularly meaningful until a second play through.
In the second such segment, Booker demands they promise not to hurt the girl if he brings her to them. Comstock may have smashed that promise to shreds, but it is nice to see Booker try.
At one point, the player is given prompts to "Help Elizabeth" and "Tie Corset". Becomes Heartwarming in Hindsight when you realize that Booker is helping his daughter get up and get dressed, something he never had a chance to do.
The game's stinger. Booker comes to in his office, back in 1893 and hears Anna crying in the next room. You take control of him and get to open the door, while he calls her name, and then the screen fades to black. The obvious implication being that, in one reality at least, Booker got to be with his daughter and will be able to raise her in a happy and loving way
And, presuming that Booker has residual memories of the events of the game, when she's older he'll be able to take his daughter to Paris just like he promised.
How easily Booker switches to Papa Wolf mode when he realizes who Elizabeth is. He's truly an opposite of Comstock in every way, ability to care for the daughter he never realized he had included.
The insert during the credits of live-action Courtnee Draper and Troy Baker working on "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" is quite touching and shows how much love was put into this game.
While very emotionally restrained (to the point of snarky), deep down Rosalind seems really happy to have her "brother" Robert along.
Her Voxophone entries make it very clear that she cares deeply for Robert; hell, the entire reason that she's even doing any of this to begin with is because Robert insisted on it, and because she'll lose him if she doesn't.
Rosalind: (after their "deaths") But my brother and I are together, and so, I am content.
Rosalind: My brother has presented me with an ultimatum: if we do not send the girl back from where we brought her, he and I must part. Where he sees an empty page, I see "King Lear". But he is my brother—so I shall play my part, knowing it shall all end in tears.
A Voxophone available in the Clash in the Clouds DLC reveals Rosalind transfused her own blood into Robert while he was still hemorrhaging and out-of-sorts, and rehabilitated him using music. There's just something... sweet about that.
Then again, considering what we found out about Daisy's true motives in Burial at Sea, and how she purposely played up her nastier moments, hopefully she left enough notes behind that, once all's said and done, he would have led fit to make her proud.
As bittersweet as the ending was for Booker and Elizabeth, it was truly uplifting for everyone else you saw, met, and fought throughout the game. The child Elizabeth sang to, the soldiers suffering "tear sickness," The Handymen, Mr. and Mrs. Lin, Slate, Daisy Fitzroy, Lady Comstock, every innocent victim of Founder oppression or Vox violence, and everyone you killed throughout the game will now receive a second chance in a world without Columbia.
True, but “no Columbia” also grants life to those who were never born because of its existance. Also, Since Comstock was prevented from existing in 1890, and the game starts in 1912, anyone more than 20 years old should be fine.
And even then, everyone has an alternate reality counterpart in this universe, so, yeah, EVERYONE gets a second chance.
When the player possesses a Motorized Patriot, they will occasionally shout "For family!" This is given extra weight when one has experienced the ending of the game.
Booker's Heroic Sacrifice. Booker is unquestionably a badass One-Man Army. He shouldn't have any trouble wrestling 3 girls as small as Elizabeth/Anna from holding him down and drowning him but he doesn't even fight it. He lets himself die to ensure that Comstock never exists to threaten his daughter.
After a recap of both the first Bioshock and Episode 1 of Burial at Sea, Episode 2 seems to start off in Paris. And graphically, even for Bioshock Infinite, it is breathtaking. Knowing Bioshock, I had known something horrible will happen quickly, but at least it gave me something peaceful to behold, if only for seven minutes. And it doesn't hurt that the beautiful "La Vie En Rose" playing in the background, with a cute, crowning moment of heartwarming going to a bird briefly joining in.
A very small detail, but the inclusion of this gay couple◊ among the myriad NPC's in Rapture. They're just so sweetly posed. You'll also see high-society NPC's of all races socializing as equals- a big difference from Columbia's pervasive, enforced racism.
While not calling him by name, for obvious reasons, Elizabeth refers to the Booker from the game proper as her father. It shows that she still loves and appreciates the man, which highlights the emotional disconnect between her and the player character, and it's an early sign that there's something off about your Booker.
It's a small thing but in Episode 2, Elizabeth refers to her and Booker as "us Dewitts". Just the fact that she recognizes herself as a Dewitt as opposed to a Comstock.
The very existence of imaginary Booker. Elizabeth sectioned off a small part of herself for when she loses all of her knowledge and is left a mortal, to guide her and provide her comfort so she won't be completely lost. How does this piece of her represent itself? As the man she herself says she considers to be her only true friend. Even if it's not the real Booker, the way he comforts her and takes care of her in her darkest moments reflects on how high an opinion she has of the real one.
The Proudest Moments video for Burial at Sea: Part 2, which is going to be the last BioShock game Irrational will make, is a big, beautiful, tearjerking farewall to some of Irrational's staff, and it warms the heart to see all the work put in to the game, even if it is only a DLC.
The ending of Burial at Sea. Elizabeth dies, but she gives the command phrase to Atlas in order for him to activate Jack-so Jack can take up her sword and destroy Atlas, setting in motion the events of the first game. Oh yes, and the good ending appears to be canon. Meaning many Little Sisters got to live out the full wholesome lives that Elizabeth never got
Similarly, after Atlas leaves her, Elizabeth sees Sally holding her hand smiling. Elizabeth dies with a smile on her face, happy, knowing that she's succeeded at the cost of her life.
Sally singing to Elizabeth as she lay dying. Doubles as a tearjerker.
Fridge Horror does set in a bit there when you remember what Little Sisters do to the 'angels' that litter the floors of Rapture.
In Burial at Sea, you encounter Daisy Fitzroy arguing with the Luteces about goading Elizabeth to kill her and therefore make her more mature. It's happy to know that, even though her troops can perform brutal atrocities to the Founders, she won't stoop that low to hurt a child.
Towards the end of Episode 2, Elizabeth encounters a pair of Little Sisters, one of whom is Masha Lutz; a minor character from the original BioShock whose parents committed suicide after learning she had been turned into a Little Sister. The final scene strongly implies that she was amongst the Little Sisters rescued by Jack and brought back to the surface.
The two Little Sisters bonding with a Big Daddy.
Even better when you've played the first game - one of those Little Sisters is Masha Lutz, one of many girls who had been abducted for the Little Sister Program. Thankfully, in this ending, she manages to find a happy end with Jack's arrival to the city.
How Elizabeth met and bonded with Songbird.
Rosalind's "The Lazarus Project" voxophone reveals that Robert wants them to become mortal again like Elizabeth did... so they can start a family together. With every other character from the main game dead by the end of Burial at Sea, its nice to know at least the Luteces got a happy ending.