Subnautica: Below Zero’s launch out of early access is May 14th. I’ve been eagerly waiting for it since I finished the original Subnautica game. It satisfies my urges to compulsively sort minerals into storage lockers and craft a glass-walled undersea base in which I can hatch creature eggs, grow plants for my bioreactor to power my base, and build seatrucks to explore deep, DEEP crevices on an alien planet. (Someone release a creature egg/horse hatching and breeding game other than Zoo Tycoon, please).
I wanted as much final content to be in the game as possible when I finally played it, but yesterday, less than a week until official release, I finally broke down and played. After a full day at the day job I badly needed a break from my second full time job, indie authordom and book releasing, so I gave myself a night to veg on video games. Prior to buckling down and getting serious about putting my book out, I gamed all the time, but it’s been months since I last gave myself permission to do so.
The game has a nifty scanning mechanic that encourages you to explore and interact with every aspect of the environment. It also greatly livens up the videogame style world-building “codex” by giving you an entry for every animal and plant after you scan it that’s a hotkey away. (Have fun dancing with sharks in order to scan them and fill out your codex!)
One of my favorite features of Subnautica: Below Zero is that you can pick up a voice log from a character in the world and play it while you continue to craft and sort and dive, you don’t have to sit there on the voicelog screen and wait until it’s done to continue playing.
One tip I’d give for new players is to turn up the horizontal field of view to at least 100.
I was not disappointed with my return to the Subnautica-verse. It’s familiar of Subnautica with a new planet, player character, and storyline, plus new above-ground exploration and a hypothermia mechanic. I stayed up till 4am playing, which is a big compliment to a game these days. If you like relaxing exploration games that still have some elements of danger (i.e. running out of oxygen or getting eaten by leviathan-class sea monsters), give it a try. Though there are also creative/no pressure modes where you can turn off survival mechanics. At this point you might as well wait till May 14th to experience the full content. I think I’m going to reluctantly put it aside for now until full release to ensure I don’t miss any narrative elements.
Now when do I get this cool water speeder thing?