Developer: Unknown Worlds
Type: Open World / Survival
Platform(s): Windows & Mac (via Steam)
# of Players: 1 (Multiplayer Coming)
Subnautica is an underwater open-world survival sandbox game by Unknown Worlds. The game is still in development and is available for Windows and Mac systems through the early access program on Steam. Subnautica is currently a single player adventure but the development team has expressed the intent to add multiplayer functionality in the future. The game also features support for VR (Virtual Reality) headsets and devices.
In Subnautica you play as the lone survivor of a crashed star ship that was on a mission to colonize an ocean planet. You begin the game in your escape pod with a few randomly generated supplies, a device capable of fabricating items and tools from raw materials and a small storage bin. The first thing you do is look around through the fabricator's menus for available tools and see what you need to gather to craft them, then you dive into the exotic oceans of this alien world and begin scavenging for supplies and crafting materials. Initially, you wont be able to stay under for long before coming back up for air, so some of the first items you craft are diving tanks. I survival knife is also a good item to craft early, as some resources you will find beneath the waves require cutting to be harvested, and the knife can also be used to fend off small predators. As the game progresses the player recovers items from the crashed colony ship that upgrade the available technologies and add new craft-able items to the fabricator, as well as discovering new materials with which to craft them. Improvements in equipment lead to the ability to stay under water longer, cover longer distances and reach increasing depths. Over time the player will be able to build an underwater base which vastly increases the storage capacity for scavenged resources and leads to the ability to craft more equipment, eventually leading to sea-glides and mini submarines that again increase the players range and reachable depths in the underwater world.
Subnautica can be played in multiple different modes with different levels of difficulty. The requirement to acquire food and water in addition to the other elements needed for survival can be added in. In most modes if you drown or are otherwise killed you will re-spawn in the escape pod or your most recent base minus anything in your inventory that was picked up on that run, which can be a punishing penalty in its self. Additionally a hardcore mode is available that adds in all of these factors as well as more advanced power management requirements and the dreaded permadeath, meaning that when you start all over (not recommended for new players obviously). Regardless of the mode that is chosen, the player must always contend with the need for oxygen and wildlife that ranges an entire gambit from tiny little piranha-like biters to incredibly massive horrific sea monsters. The aquatic open world of Subnautica is beautifully realized with stunning graphics and excellent sound design. The game's world is very large and consists of several different areas called "biomes" that vary greatly in appearance and content, and which more are still being added as the game continues to expand. There are kelp fields, mushroom forests, vast expanses, submerged mountains, deep cave systems and much more to be discovered, some of which elude description. There are many tense moments while exploring or scavenging for resources and suddenly hearing an eerie sound that could be some hungry creature or seeing a hulking mass moving in the distance. There have been many intense encounters, but one in particular I was rooting around in a field of red kelp on the ocean floor for resources when I suddenly heard a massive deep sound and looked up and saw a gigantic alien whale creature swimming several meters above me. Fortunately the creature was docile or I was too far away from it to bother with me and It swam on past, but at one point I thought it might run into my mini-sub that was parked hovering in the waters above me. The game is full of such emergent experiences that can range from awe-inspiring to startling or even frightening.
I have enjoyed my time so far in Subnautica's underwater world immensely and look forward to more adventures. The content that is already there is well worth the price of admission and the potential for what this game could become is almost without limit.
Subnautica Home Page: http://unknownworlds.com/subnautica/
Official Forums: http://forums.unknownworlds.com/categories/subnautica/
Windows and Mac Versions on Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/264710/
Several YouTubers have made "Let's Play" video series's covering Subnautica. Here is the first episode of one from the sometimes comedic JackSepticEye:
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