The crafting and survival genre have been intertwined for some time now. It is an expected feature the minute you mention a game that task you with exploration and long-term survival.
The popularity of Minecraft and YouTube gamers is likely to blame for that.
So the varying forms have been done, we have had space based, minecraft copies, and even a few that mix in dungeon crawling.
And then there is Subnautica by developer Unknownworlds.
Not the first underwater survival game but so far has shown the most promise. The developers have created a unique exploration game that task players with surviving on an ocean planet following the crash of the mining ship they were on; The Aurora.
But the Aurora’s crash was no true accident as the game’s early access indicates that you might be dealing with an enemy.
Exploring Sandy plateaus and deep ocean caverns, don’t expect to start of by needing to craft some wooden tool. Using your escape pod which will serve as your first home/base, you will have access to a fabricator, which breaks down the materials you bring into base components and then let’s you craft high tech items.
One of the games early first goals is to craft a wielder which can be used to repair bases and tech. It becomes a game of upgrades to explore farther, as the safe shallow sands give way to deep water predatory waters that are pitch black and danger filled.
With constructible seabases able to supply and oxygenate you, and submersibles and deep dive suits letting you stand up to the pressures as well as dangers of the deep. You should make sure to scan and scan everything.
Speaking of oxygen; that, hunger and thirst will be the big concerns early game, as well as a lack of reliable storage space. Building your first seabase will be a want early game.
A unique feature of Subnautica is the fact that unlike most exploration games there is a set map, with region names. This is done not only for triggered events and specific location unlocks but also as a unique way to aid with exploration. If you know the lava caves lead to the lost river zone, it helps because you know exactly where you need to go to get way, though where you first spawn and resource nodes will change.
Each zone does have impressive design and graphics applied to it. Sometimes it might seem like the giant stretches of sand and coral might blend into each other but beneath them lay intricate cave systems; amongst them float beautiful and unique sea life; and they are covered with detailed plants, fungus, ship fragments and coral, accompanied by a unique sound track.
Now the game needs polish as most early access and preview games. We found there was lag when too much of the seafloor was illuminated. There are some clipping issues, especially when parts of the sea floor will spawn above the ocean and just dangle there. The things passing under them getting stuck. And we found that if we build a seabase on certain types of terrain, the terrain would glitch through, sometimes trapping us.
So should you buy in to the early access/preview?
I would say if you truly don’t mind the clipping glitch, which is the one we encountered the most while we played it on the Xbox One, then yes buy it. It’s unique enough that you will have fun playing it if you are a fan of survival games and most importantly the progress that the developer have made on this game is amazing, not to mention what they have planned like new zones and multiplayer. If you don’t want to play the early access that still keep a look out for its general release and we will see you deep in the midnight sea.