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Subnautica - Ver 1.0 Out Now

Captain Kelsten

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I don't know about you guys, but it always baffles me that deep-sea exploration and adventure is such an under-utilised area for games and films. We know more about our solar system than we do our own oceans and there is some proper freaky stuff down in the depths.


A (not that) new game seeks to address this, however, and provide all the underwater adventure and hijinks you can ask for.


Developed by Unknown Worlds and currently in early access, Subnautica sees you as the lone survivor of a crash that's left you stranded on a bizarre ocean world and you need to swim, scavenge and survive long enough to be rescued. You can build bases, explore the wreckage of your starship, craft gear and you need to eat and drink to survive. 


The game is currently £14.99 on Steam and coming to Xbox One at some point, too.


It's a very colourful game, as shown in the screenshots below and, watching the trailer and some streams of it, it looks remarkably polished and feature complete for an early access game.















Concept art












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It's not that new, I've been playing it for a while now and it's rather nice. Also great in VR :) and is particularly good because it's a full game with some longevity as opposed to many VR games that are a little... light.

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1 minute ago, Yoshimax said:


Has been early access on Xbox for at least a year and I agree is the most ridiculously underexplored "genre" I can think of and this is the best game that ever filled it:






Aah, cool. Didn't realise it was already out. I remember seeing it pop up briefly in Microsoft's E3 reel. 


How is it on console?

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It's been out for XBox early access for about 8 months now and is still very VERY unoptimised, so much so that I cannot recommend it until the planned optimisation takes place. Saying that though, having watched hours of the pc version on Twitch and put a fair bit of time into the XBox version, it is an absorbing survival game as you catch fish for food, materials, and equipment allowing you to build bases and explore deeper and deeper. I'm looking forward to going back to it when the poor framerate has been fixed. 

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I love Subnautica, ever since Archimedean Dynasty I've been clamouring for more underwater games.


Glad you started a thread about this, I've had it for ages, probably seen most of what can be seen, but I've not played for a few months, there's probably been an update since?


Runs like a dog on my laptop, but I still enjoy exploring the deep, can't wait to get my desktop out of storage so I can play it with the graphics whacked up.



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34 minutes ago, Yoshimax said:


Has been early access on Xbox for at least a year and I agree is the most ridiculously underexplored "genre" I can think of and this is the best game that ever filled it:






I reckon it's a tie.





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I tried this for a while and it looked ok, but found the performance very hit and miss at this stage.   They have introduced full controller support since I last had it, and its a game I will keep an eye on.

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It looked silky smooth when I was watching your stream on Steam last night. I really enjoyed all the little touches, like seeing your own feet (especially when swimming backwards), or water running down your mask when you exited the water and so on. I was quite calming to listen to in the background, too, with the sounds of the ocean only occasionally broken by you getting attacked or drowning :lol:


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  • 6 months later...

This is bloody brilliant, isn't it? I just got round to playing it, and it comes out of Early Access very soon. About 8 hours into the game and loving it!


I have never played a game that does underwater exploration so well. Combine that with the alien setting, base building, biomes and wildlife and the great atmosphere and it's a real winner.


I managed to get it running on my shitty old PC, so the framerate is poor and the graphics are at almost the lowest settings. But even then it still looks good enough and the great sound provides all the ambience.


There are so many wow moments, like the phosphorescence at night, leviathans, new biomes, cool new equipment you can make, narrative events. I always have a ton of stuff to try and do, but the survival elements aren't as grindy as games like Minecraft, even so, you still feel under threat and the hostile of the deep the farther underwater you go. I have nearly got my first submarine, I have a few shitty underwater bases (just tubes basically), and I just found an island - which really surprised me because I assumed the whole game was underwater.


Looking forward I have found some really deep cave systems and much deeper sea out farther. I have the wreck of my mothership to explore, multiple underwater habitats to slowly expand, an island to explore and much more. This game is bloody brilliant and I can't wait to one day play it on a PC or console that will do the graphics justice as I've seen how good it looks on Youtube.


If you like survivor games, exploration games, stuff like System Shock etc (the narrative has you chasing down the escape pods from your crashed mothership complete with audio logs, and resource management is kinda similar), then give this a go. 9/10 on Steam and I expect the reviews to be glowing once the full release comes out. I am really looking forward to venturing ever deeper, it is super compelling and the joy of underwater exploration is real. Feels like the Abyss at times!

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9 minutes ago, Alan Stock said:


If you like survivor games, exploration games, stuff like System Shock etc (the narrative has you chasing down the escape pods from your crashed mothership complete with audio logs, and resource management is kinda similar), then give this a go. 


Sounds divine. Can you 'just' explore, or is there lots of shooting, resource gathering and other gameplay loops every 5 mins? Essentially, I'm wondering if you can play it as a chillout game if you so wish. 

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I hesitate to call it a chillout game but the atmosphere is really immersive and you spend most of your time exploring or scavenging. I love the ambiance of it - when you see the game in motion with the shoals of fish, waving fronds, weird wildlife and lovely skyboxes or shimmering water overhead, it really transports you into the world.


Although the survival aspect isn't brutal your food and water runs out over time, and there's plenty of predators who will chase you - or at least you need to avoid. There's no combat as such, yet, anyway. Big fish can bite you or explode on you, whatever, but you can pretty easily swim away from them, and you get free med-packs in your escape pod (they get constructed over time). If you die you respawn at the escape pod again, sometimes losing items from your inventory - but I've mostly died from running out of oxygen from staying too deep and not getting to the surface on time, or by getting lost in cave systems and running out of air.


But as you progress, by a few hours you will understand the basics and then getting food and drink isn't hard if you plan for it. You also slowly upgrade your gear, so now I can breathe for nearly 2 minutes underwater without surfacing for air, and I have one of those handheld propellors which lets me go faster and explore further. My suit now protects from radiation so I can get close to the mothership wreck and scan technology and scavenge metal from the debris on the seabed. 


As for shooting, there's none so far, but I know there's scarier beasts out there, and you can get some guns eventually from the sounds of the blueprints I've found. The focus is more on devices to lure predators, scare them and so on, at the moment.


In my current situation I could easily spend hours just exploring without too much risk, I think once you get a submarine you can breath underwater for ages. Of course, exploring new biomes will bring new threats, but hey ho.


Also I think there is like a casual mode you can play where survival elements are turned off? There's definitely more than one mode. I'll check.

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51 minutes ago, Rob Rule said:

Sounds divine. Can you 'just' explore, or is there lots of shooting, resource gathering and other gameplay loops every 5 mins? Essentially, I'm wondering if you can play it as a chillout game if you so wish. 


I felt the developers reached a nice balance with Survival Mode, I never found the survival aspects too taxing on my enjoyment. The game begins in a relatively safe area, and the creation of food and water is quickly learnt and easily done. The rate at which your hunger and thirst increases meant having to stop to catch fish and purify water never felt too frequent, it just meant that planning a long expedition into unknown waters required a little extra thought and preparation, and getting lost was a little more exciting because of the increased threat.


Freedom Mode is there for those who still want the challenges of having to manage your oxygen, and for the enemies and environment to still pose a threat, without having to manage sustenance on top.

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Rob might prefer Freedom mode but I agree with Revlob. I haven't found Survival too hard, once you are established you can set your own pace and its challenging mainly when I make it challenging, by going to dangerous places and stretching resources thinly. It's really satisfying.


Here's some screenshots I just took around my game, bear in mind that this is at 2nd lowest resolution with all visual effects on low. and shitty jpg capture quality.


Here's me just by the starting area, that's some big herbivore beasty.




The crashed mothership and my escape pod. That's a little habitat on stilts that I recently built for storage. They don't work so well above water, it's a bit fiddly to construct:


Here's my first attempt at an underwater base (laughably just one tube!), about half a klick from my escape pod, at the edge of a hostile kelp forest. I hadn't realised  the building units needed power, so then I had to build a massive tube up to near the surface, where I mounted a solar panel. Now it works but the structural integrity is so low I can't expand it any more . I need to save up some resources and build it some foundations, then I can make it into a proper base:



Nighttime on the surface is lovely:



Exploring a red sea grass area, with my propellor thing which also neatly has a sonar map inbuilt:



And here is my latest attempt at a base, way out by the island I found. I got it right this time, foundations first and its built close enough to the surface that I could put a solar panel on there. Once I save up some resources, I can build some rooms I've found the blueprints for. Though I still haven't found the bloody basic room blueprint, so everything is tubes at the moment!


These screenshots are all far back for scale, but you spend plenty of time zooming along the seabed, navigating through tight caves, inside your escape pod/habitat crafting things and so on.


You might get the sense from screenshots of this game that's its kinda empty and soulless, but that couldn't be further from the truth. There's always fish going about, big variation in the corals/plants, movement everywhere, bubbles rising, water effects, rippling surface overhead and so on.  There's always stuff going on. You have to see it in motion to do it justice really.

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Got further and the game has blown me away again. I hadn't really appreciated the scale of it at all. I built a wee submarine and the game really opens up. You can go further distances and down to 200m to deep caves and seabed, plus it removes the worry of oxygen.


My new sub charging up in the Moonpool bay:



I also explored two islands which had some really cool stuff to find (I won't spoil it) and continued the narrative nicely. They gave me some new long term objectives which blew my mind, stuff at insane depths like 1000m and 2000m, to put that into perspective my sub can only go to 200m before cracking!


I have also found some cool new biomes, like underwater mushroom forests with glowing jellyfish, a vast dark crater, cave systems full of stalactites. And I met my first aggressive leviathans, scary as hell. Huge beasts which can actually grab your tinny submarine and crush it. You often hear them before you see them, and its often in the pitch black so the paranoia is real.


Underwater wonders:



On the base building side of things I expanded my main base just off the first island with a scanner room. It's really cool, a 3D hologram map appears in its centre and then you can set it to scan for specific resources which show up as dots on the map. You can upgrade it with things like items showing on your HUD or increased range. It also has 2 drone cameras you can fly around via a terminal in the room, but brilliantly mine got mistaken for food. Two pesky pikelike predators each picked up a camera in their jaws, and buffered off around the area. But I can still watch them remotely from the camera feeds as they go about their business swimming around!


(Here is my new and improved crater rim outpost, the scanner room is the round radar building and the Moonpool the big rectangular one. The void beyond is a dark, scary place with some huge weird alien electric beast, I think I have to stay away!)



I guess I built my scanner room in a silly place and its main purpose is to build it on deep underwater bases and use it to scout hostile cave systems. The good thing about the building is, you can quickly dismantle any building and reclaim all the resources used, and just build it somewhere else. I also found blueprints for spotlights, growbeds and finally proper rooms instead of tubes so I can get a real home base going. I just found the Moonpool blueprints too, so now I have two expensive but very sci fi underwater docking bays at my two main bases, where I can dock my submarine to recharge its energy.


My last adventure was venturing into the wrecked mother ship, which is gigantic. Around the smouldering hull it groans, rumbles and the screen shakes, and there's lots of nasty creatures to contend with. It's epic in scale. I found a doorway in but I need a special tool I don't have yet, but maybe there is a sunken entrance somewhere. Meanwhile I have been investigating distress calls from doomed lifepods in the area, which are usually sunk and have blueprints or supplies inside.


Outside the wrecked capital ship, the Aurora:



The best thing is I'm literally only scratching the surface of what the game has to offer, who knows what cool stuff lies in the deep? I can see giant chasms and caves vanishing into the darkness, scary but I know one day I will be able to get there. Next goal is to find a way in the mother ship, expand my bases, maybe get some farming going, and scour debris fields for blueprints to help me build the big submarine so I can go deeper! I'll add some screenshots to this post later once I'm back in the game.

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For sure its not going to be for everyone. It's a slow (ish) paced survival/exploration game. If you don't like the large scale exploration type games like Minecraft then this probably won't be for you. These kind of games require a bit of time investment, as at first you usually have to focus on gathering and making limited forays into environment. For me they really get fun after the first few hours, when you have mastered the basics of staying alive and can concentrate more on expanding and exploring. Then you get a lot more options in where you want to go and what longer goals you want to focus on.


For me the biggest strengths of this game are the exploration,  atmospherics and environments. I really feel like I'm in this alien underwater world, and I'll say it again, it's kinda like Abyss the game, I even just found a mechanized walker suit, whoop!


Just finished exploring the mother ship, the bits I can get to anyway. It's straight out of the sci fi horror playbook with burning shit everywhere, lost pda's, environmental hazards and door codes to find. Though no major enemies, yet anyway! I love this kinda abandoned ship crap,and its just a side story to the underwater adventuring.

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