Subnautica is an open world survival game where you spend the majority of your time in the ocean on another planet.
As someone who is a bit fearful of something swimming down in the depths of the waters this game sure had me on the edge of my seat a few times. There is also an interesting story that slowly unfolds as you work your way into getting off the planet. Along the way, you gather resources, build a base, craft vehicles, and exploring while trying to survive what is lurking in the waters.
Fear Factor And Survival
I’ll admit it I’m a bit of a scary cat when it comes to water worlds and thing swimming in them. I’ve faced far scarier things in other game and horror is just not what this game is about. For the most part, it was really just in my head doing more of the fear then the game itself.
The area where you crash land in your life pod is quite a safe area and remands that way. While there might be some bigger creatures lurking around outside such as Gasopod outside of its defensive mechanize of releasing gas clouds that as dangers as it gets.
As you start exploring further on and getting into deeper water things slowly escalate. With your first real encounter in the Kelp Forest just being Stalkers who are more interested in collecting metal scrap then they are in killing you. They are also quite easy to just outswim. They are such a pushover though you learn how to farm their teeth without even needing to kill them later on for some recipes that require them.
Eventually, you run into the biggest fear of them all Leviathans in far deeper waters. There are only a set number of them in the game and they are also quite large creatures themselves to spot. You will surely notice a sound difference and they like to circle their pray at first anyway. Giving you some time to notice them and hopefully get out before it’s too late. For the most part, I avoided one every time I have seen it and only died once. They were quite easy to avoid for a large part of the game.
This game also has many options and I personally went with no requirement of food or water this time around since I had played full on survival mode before. I enjoyed going without having to catch fish, cook them, and then sterilize my water. While you could go full-on creative mode I still like there to be dangers to deal with, air limitations, and just the all-around fun this game has to offer from needing to go out and gather.
While the game does have other aggressive creatures the majority of creatures are passive, defensive, or easy to deal with. I somehow almost dealt with more things on land doing small amounts of damage attacking me than I ever did in the ocean. Overall my imagination of murky waters, low light, and sounds played the biggest role. After a while, I even became quite confident with my surrounding that this was no longer a huge deal even when adventuring down to quite some deep depths.
While this game is open world and you can go and do whatever you want as long as you could reach those depths. From time to time things started to unfold from radio signals you would pick up or finding PDA’s. The game gave you quite some time before the next one would happen to give you the option of going out and exploring if you wish.
It was like the game was trying to guide me to different parts of the map as I slowly progressed on my own. Sometimes you would get a waypoint to head out to that had another crash pod with some goodies around it or other areas. If you did not want to go out to them you never could just ignore it.
After a while curiosity does get the better of you. So I would often time find myself wondering out in the direction I got. Other times I would just find an arena way before the game would give me another radio transmission and have me go on my way.
It’s been more like following bread crumbs for clues about what happens to your ship, the crew, and the ship itself. It’s there if you want to progress in that fashion and finds out what happens. If not you can still enjoy the game and exploring the oh so many different regions, caves, and lands on the planet itself.
Outside of the very small amount of stuff you crash land within your survival pod. The majority of everything else needs to be crafting. Some of the stuff will also require you to go out and search for blueprint fragments to make them. I found myself exploring quite a few biodomes collecting as much as the unique resources it had. This with the purpose of crafting new tools, upgrades, vehicles, and even base habitats to live in.
The resources you acquired could be everything from ores you got out of rocks such as copper to collecting coral or other organics. Some of these you could further be refined down to say copper wire before combing with other items to make a computer chip. This then was used in quite a few crafting recipes.
I often found just because I had gathered a lot of basic element at the start of the game like titanium I always had a need for it. In fact, at one point I laughed I had so many containers of it I would never need it again. Then I built a base and ended up going around collecting more of it. The same thing happened with things like lead and crystals as well. This in return made me want to collect everything I came across. Thankfully these lower tier resources are in such abundances in the safer areas that it was never a big deal to go collect another inventory full of them.
While you could spend a very long time just living out of the survival pod as I did. Sooner or later you just get tired of having a seafloor covered in floating containers to hold all the loot you acquired. You also lack the facilities to craft upgrades and have more advanced options available to you.
Habitats are quite cheap to craft and I had wished I did it sooner. It is all based on a structured system of building platforms and reinforcing when the base gets too big to keep the water from leaking in. While also connecting a bunch of rooms together to form your underwater base to live in. You also need things like power and air.
These give you space to craft a bunch of storage containers and crafting stations for making needed upgrades. You could even make yourself a little bedroom, put poster you have collected up and added some personal touches throughout your base. I was always more into purpose focused instead of it looking great so I did not spend time doing that. There is some element of that there for those who enjoy decorating and making a place a home.
While the game starts you off with a few options once you craft a habitat builder. There are also quite a number of different rooms and items you find and scan to add to your collection. Some require finding all the fragments such as the multipurpose room, moonpool, and scanner room.
One of the more time-saving rooms I ended up building was a scanner room. With some upgrade modules crafted you can even extend its range and how quick it scans. Most importantly of all I discovered was the HUD chip to see these locations while out and about. You could scan for different resources, wrecks and even leviathans which gave me quite the peace of mind! I ended up building a couple of bases with just this single room just for its scanning ability throughout the map.
In a lot of survival games, I always felt like having more than one base was never really needed. While I did, in fact, have the main base somewhere in the middle for my storage and crafting stations. I did, in fact, find a purpose for building other much smaller ones all over the map. From scanning as mentioned above to just having a safe place to store, recharge, or take a short break in.
This game has a couple of different vehicles to get around in and they have an interesting interaction with each other for the most part. One of them was quite massive while another could get you almost into any tiny space there was.
What I really loved early on was building a handheld one called a Seaglide. It moved you around and really increases the range you could go in a single day. It was also something I carried in my inventory for the entire game. Even after I had other options I still always kept using it since I could just take it with me.
After some time you find yourself upgrading to a Seamoth. This really became my go-to the vehicle just due to how small it was in size. You could further upgrade it to withstand going to deeper depths and even recharge its own batteries from the sunlight. It was also cheap to build so I never felt like it is a big loss if something went wrong. As you progress in the game its health sure starts feeling limited. It could also be hauled in the bigger submarine so it still had utility later on for use.
You could also craft this massive beast of a submarine called a Cyclopes. This thing had a huge amount of space indoors to the point I almost wanted to live in one. It also had storage space and could go quite the depth underwater with a whole host of upgrades. The only downside is with how huge it is its not going fit everywhere.
There are also other vehicles and I felt the developers did really well job at making them have a unique enough purpose to have in certain situations. I won’t spoil the rest as they offer a bit more different use cases.
One of the more fun interactions was bringing out the Cyclopes to an area for resource gathering. Then while inside deploying in Seamoth to go around to different parts of an area. Then exiting the Seamoth and using the Seaglide to go out and gather different resources. Before filling up the inventory and heading back to the Cyclopes to fill up the container inside before heading out again. I was able to deplete resources out of entire areas before hauling them back and storing it in my base. These were quite fun and remained to have used long after you had crafted other options.
This to me was the best part of the game itself. There were just so many areas, caves, little formations to find, and other stuff to check out. You could tell a lot of attention to detail and just time was put into creating this amazing experience for the player to see with their eyes. There are even some places I’ve yet to stumble upon.
The game itself is more than just an ocean world to explore. There was a couple of island and bases on those islands to check out. Along with the wreckage of the Aurora that provides a day trip out to with lots of loot to plunder.
The lighting, field of depth when you got really deep, and just the darkness seemed to have played an amazing role in the scenes you came across. It felt alien enough to keep you wondering what was next but not too far gone that it did not make any sense. This for me just left me with some jaw-dropping moments while being on the lookout from becoming lunch!
Once I got over the fear I have when dealing with ocean parts of a game it was an amazing time. I really loved the progression of trying to go deeper and deeper for new resources. The building of bases and all the time I spent utilizing a Seamoth to get around. Then all the day trips I had when leaving my base to just go out and explore. Sometimes I would camp out in my Seamonth waiting for daylight to illuminate the area better to fully take in the view.