The events of the game take place in 1912. The player assumes the identity of Booker DeWitt, a disgraced former agent of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. He had witnessed events at the Battle of Wounded Knee that changed him, leading to excessive drinking and gambling; he was subsequently dismissed for behavior beyond the acceptable bounds of the Agency. He is hired by mysterious individuals, aware of Columbia’s location, and tasked to infiltrate the air-city and rescue a young woman named Elizabeth, who has been held aboard the air-city for the last twelve years. Completing the task and returning Elizabeth to New York City would clear Booker of “old debts”, but this would be his last chance to clear them.