BioShock: All Engineering Tonics, Ranked

BioShock: All Engineering Tonics, Ranked

One of the often underrated parts of BioShock’s gameplay is Gene Tonics; serum that gives Jack, the player character, various upgrades throughout the game. There are a total of 53 Gene Tonics available to collect in BioShock, divided into three different categories: Combat Tonics, Engineering Tonics, and Physical Tonics.


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Engineering Tonics are tonics that improve a player’s hacking ability and their interactions with machines. These are the best Engineering Tonics to equip throughout the first BioShock game.

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10/10 Sales expert

BioShock Gene Tonic Sales Expert

Vending Expert is the first Engineering Tonic on this list. These two tonics were introduced in Patch 1.1 of BioShock and can first be purchased in the Gatherer’s Gardens in Arcadia and Hephaestus respectively. Each level reduces the prices of consumables in vending machines.

This seems like a useful perk, but there are much better tonics available in the Engineering slots than these two. Also, hacking vending machines, despite being a pain, lowers item prices quite a bit, and money and consumables themselves aren’t too hard to come by in Rapture.

9/10 Safe Cracker

BioShock Safe Cracker

Safe Cracker is an Engineering Tonic that can be obtained from the second gift for rescuing six Little Sisters and in the autopsy lab of the Little Wonders Educational Facility in Point Prometheus, respectively. This perk allows for two fewer alarm and overload tiles, one fewer acceleration tile, and three additional resistance tiles, while also reducing the flow rate by half a second per tile for hacking safes and combination locks. The upgraded level doubles these effects.

These extra perks certainly make hacking easier, but this only applies to combination locks and safes, the two least rich types of hackable objects in the game. There are better Engineering Tonics with perks that affect all hackable objects to devote a slot to in your loadout.

8/10 Abbreviate alarms

BioShock Short Alarms 2

Shorten Alarms Engineering Tonic is a tonic that does exactly what it says: it reduces the length of enemy security alarms by 20 seconds for 1st tier and 40 seconds for 2nd tier. Shorten Alarms can be found in Fighting McDonagh’s Tavern, Room #7 in Neptune’s Bounty. The second iteration of Shorten Alarms can be found in the Hephaestus Core.

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If you’re not running Natural Camouflage, this can be a decent perk. Other than that, there really isn’t much reason to use these two benefits since Natural Camouflage eliminates the need for this tonic. The other Engineering Tonics (depending on what you equip) will eventually remove a few alarm tiles on their own, further reducing the possibility of triggering an alarm while hacking and negating this tonic.

7/10 Focused hacker

Bioshock hack

Focused Hacker is an Engineering Tonic that allows two fewer Overload tiles while hacking in the first tier, and four fewer Overload tiles for the second tier. The first tonic is located in the entrance to Fontaine Fisheries in Neptune’s Bounty, frozen in the ice near the pneumo tube before entering to fight Peach Wilkins; it can also be purchased for 20 ADAM in Gatherer’s Gardens from Arcadia onwards. The second tonic location can be found in Apollo Square on the fourth floor of the Hestia Chambers, located on a desk in the corner of the room near the safe. It can also be bought in Point Prometheus if you miss it.

While Focused Hacker is a respectable tonic, (anything to help with the very repetitive hacking minigame), it only gets rid of one type of tile. Not to mention that even if you’re down to the minimum health, you can’t die from hacking a machine and directing the liquid into an Overload Tile. This is another Engineering Tonic that can be equipped, but other Tonics in this category should take precedence.

6/10 Hacking expert

Hacking Expert Gene Tonic in research labs

Hacking Expert is an Engineering Gene Tonic similar to Focused Hacker and Safe Cracker, but it removes each hacking minigame by one overload tile and one alarm tile for the first tonic, and doubles those effects for the second tonic. The first tonic can be found in Arcadia at the entrance to the Research Laboratories, while the second becomes available at the Gatherer’s Garden Vending Machines in Fort Frolic for 50 ADAM.

While not as powerful as either of the two aforementioned tonics, it gets a slight boost in rank because its effects apply to all types of hackable machines and helps remove two alarm tiles as well, unlike Focused Hacker. An ok tonic to run until you get better later in the game.

5/10 Alarm expert

Alarm expert Gene Tonic

Another Engineering Tonic, Alarm Expert removes two or four alarm tiles, according to level, while hacking. These tonics can be found in the Fleet Hall Theater in Fort Frolic and in the Live Subject Testing Area of ​​Point Prometheus.

While it’s certainly a solid choice early on, once you reach Point Prometheus and recover the second tonic, the effect of the Natural Camouflage Tonic is reduced in case you trigger an alarm. However, Alarm Expert certainly makes hacking, vending machines and especially safes much easier.

4/10 Fast Hacker

Fast Hacker

These two gen tonics lower the flow rate of the liquid when hacking by one and a half tiles and three tiles respectively. Speedy Hacker is an incredible tonic to help make what can be an annoying aspect of BioShock a little more tolerable. The first tonic can be found in Painless Dental in the Medical Pavilion, while the upgraded version is available for purchase from a Gatherer’s Garden in Olympus Heights.

Both versions of this tonic greatly help in planning your next moves while hacking. If any players struggle to hack a unit or machine in time, this is a must-equip tonic.

3/10 Prolific inventor

Crafted ammo in front of a U-Invent machine

Prolific Inventor is one of the best engineering tonics available and doubles the number of items produced from U-Invent machines. This tonic is another reward for saving all the Little Sisters, and it becomes available after saving 18 of the 21 Little Sisters.

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Considering this tonic doubles the amount of auto hack tools and special ammo produced with a player’s components, this is a great tonic to have to stock up on tougher enemies.

2/10 Clever inventor

BioShock Clever Inventor

Another great Engineering Tonic, Clever Inventor reduces the amount of each component needed to invent an item by one. This tonic can be found later in the game in Yi Suchong’s apartment in Olympus Heights.

When used in conjunction with the aforementioned tonic, players can invent all the special items to their heart’s content. This tonic is also great for getting ready for tougher enemies like scripted boss fights or battling Big Daddies.

1/10 Security expert

BioShock security expert

One of the best Engineering Tonics in the game, Security Expert combines the best of all the previously mentioned Engineering Tonics into one. This tonic removes up to two alarm and overload tiles, an acceleration tile, adds a resistance tile, and reduces flow rate by half a second per tile, while Security Expert 2 doubles these effects. Of course, these can be stacked to get the effect of both tonics together.

The first Security Expert is available early in the game, in the Twilight Fields Funeral Homes in the Medical Pavilion, which is blocked by ice, and the Combustion Plasmid is needed to clear the path. The upgraded version is available after completing the second level of security bot research, making it another possible early addition to your arsenal. These are must-haves for hacking in BioShock.

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