It took more than a year for Irrational Games to finally confirm an official (and firm) release date for BioShock Infinite, but it won’t take that long for them to announce a date for the game’s highly anticipated Burial at Sea expansion. The first episode of Burial at Sea will hit the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 on November 12, 2013.

Burial at Sea is the second DLC for BioShock Infinite and the first in a planned two-part standalone story. That story will see two completely different incarnations of Booker and Elizabeth solving a noir-style mystery.

For BioShock fans, Burial at Sea is a dream come true, a chance to experience Rapture before the fall. Yes, Andrew Ryan’s underwater utopia was seen briefly in Infinite‘s final moments, but players were given little room to explore. Next month they will have that chance.

Although BioShock Infinite borrowed heavily from the first game’s lead, it still featured its own set of mechanics. Burial at Sea, on the other hand, will revert back to the old guard. That means plasmids instead of vigors, splicers instead of Vox Populi/Founders, and Circus of Value machines for purchases.

Irrational has also significantly retooled combat in Burial at Sea to turn the focus to resource management, making sure players are always conscious of their health, ammo, and Eve counts. However, Irrational is still trying to keep enemy encounters fresh and exciting, and so they have added a few new weapons and an ice-based plasmid called Old Man Winter to the mix. Gamers who purchased the BioShock Infinite Season Pass for $19.99 are all set to download the DLC when it goes live next month, but those who want to pick it up a la carte can do so for $14.99. We weren’t too keen on the first DLC expansion for BioShock Infinite, Clash in the Clouds, but the discount offered by the Season Pass is hard to overlook regardless. And, those gamers who were fans of Infinite‘s combat can still find something to enjoy in Clash in the Clouds‘ wave-based, survival experience.

While gamers eagerly anticipate the launch of Burial at Sea: Episode 1, Irrational is hard at work on Part 2, which will give gamers the chance to play as Elizabeth for the first time. Although players had some control over Elizabeth’s actions with the ‘Tears’ mechanic in Infinite, Burial at Sea: Episode 2 promises to be a completely different experience. As Ken Levine puts it, she’s not just Booker in a dress.

Obviously, the noir overtones will be a big draw for Burial at Sea, but the true appeal of the DLC, in our opinion, is the opportunity to see what Rapture looked like before it fell into ruin. Whether that also means Irrational will further flesh out Rapture’s legacy, or if they will stay focused on Booker and Elizabeth’s story is unclear, but it’s hard to believe the developer doesn’t have a few tricks up its sleeve.

Are you ready to return to Rapture in Burial at Sea: Part 1? Will you buy the BioShock Infinite Season Pass or pick up the DLC by itself?

Burial at Sea: Episode 1 will be available November 12, 2013 for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.

Any of you bioshock fans excited for Episode 1?!