Reviews > Subnautica Below Zero Review: Underwater Survival

Subnautica Below Zero Review: Underwater Survival

by Kegan Mooney

After playing Subnautica for the first time last year, I have been very excited to jump onto Subnautica Below Zero and see how Unknown Worlds Entertainment has pushed the sequel further.

Straight away I could see Subnautica Below Zero was going to be bigger and better than its predecessor Subnautica.

Jumping onto the story mode, I instantly jump into the boots of Robin Ayou, in search of her sister Sam a year after the events on the first game, and prepared for some epic underwater adventures.

Subnautica Below Zero Game Modes

There are three modes to choose from in Below Zero, story mode, the default mode, which offers all the survival elements including food, water, and the newly introduced temperature.

New Threats

As you would expect from any sequel, there are now new threats to watch out for in Subnautica Below Zero some of which are more hazardous than others.

One of the less dangerous creatures added to the game is the new sea monkey, an adorable yet mischievous creature that lures you in by looking super cute, then robs you, swimming away with some of your valuable equipment.

As well as creatures & the ever-present threat of drowning, there are also extreme weather conditions which can cause you harm too, of course, there are the freezing temperatures, but also lightning and giant hailstones too.

In some cases, it might be better to take shelter than to try to head-on into these storms.

Below Zero Temperatures

One of the biggest changes to the game is the addition of freezing temperatures, if you thought that surviving the original Subnautica was tough, try doing that while battling the elements.

Temperature is more of a concern when on land, but there are methods to overcome the cold, one of the best methods is to find a heat lily, a beautiful red plant, which expels heat, keeping the player safe from the elements.

Once you have warmed up at a lily, you will have bought yourself some time to push on further inland until you need to find another one or another way to warm up.

Another new item added to the game is the thermos which can be filled with hot coffee and consumed to gain body heat, while this isn’t as effective as a heal lily, it might just be enough to save your life.

Below Zero's Biomes & Environment

The first thing I think of when someone mentions Subnautica is the stunning environments, when booting up Subnautica Below Zero for the first time, I expected the same stunning environments, but as I explored, I found myself in awe of my surroundings.

Subnautica Below Zero has not only managed to continue the theme of out-of-this-world alien environments, but it also managed to push it to the next level with new and stunning biomes which without a doubt show just how creative this team is.

From giant glowing coral reefs to 200-meter high lily pads, each environment offers a very unique look, each one as graphically breathtaking as the other, in its own unique way.

The level of detail shows that Subnautica is a labor of love, with developers sparing no expense on making sure the players are submerged into a completely unique and alien world unlike anything ever seen before.

Subnautica Below Zero Base Building

One of the more popular features of Subnautica is the base building aspect of the game, which has not only been continued in below Zero but expanded on to bring players even more detail they can add to their submerged metropolis.

As with the original game, players must still create a scanner which they will need to use scan items to be able to fabricate them back at their base. But many of these items can be found early on by just following the story.

The only restriction to the base building is your haul integrity, which can be increased by reinforcing your walls or using foundations, without keeping it in check your base could start falling apart, with breaches popping up all over the place.

Exploration & Going Deeper

At the start, you are restricted by basic equipment, which makes it difficult to explore too far, but once you start getting better equipment you are able to start pushing further afield.

Once you have built an advanced oxygen tank and a sea glider you will be able to start reaching better depths, which will allow you to explore more.

The next step is a sea truck, which keeps you safe from some of the bigger creatures out there and lets you move around quickly without the need to worry about oxygen, this is where the game starts to get really interesting, as you are now free to explore the alien depths with much less holding you back.

It wasn’t until I got into my newly crafted Sea Truck that I really realized just how much work has been put into making such a stunning world, at each turn, I was met by completely unique biomes, with deeply wild ecological lifeforms.

It’s not just the sea that captures the player with its amazing design, there are also plenty of areas on land, which not only look great but add more depth to the story too.

Subnautica Below Zero also has several alien sites, ran by the architects, an advanced alien race that adds an interesting and unique layer to the game. 

While I didn’t find getting to or finding any of these alien sites difficult, the path leading to them was both enjoyable and beautiful.

Subnautica Below Zero Summary

After reading some of the other reviews online, I can see many people are claiming that the map is not as well designed as the original game, however, that’s not been my experience, each biome has been incredibly well designed, with unique plants and creatures.

The game also has great sound design and voice acting, which along with such detailed design really creates an immersive experience, unlike anything I have played before.

As far as survival games go, the survival element is fairly easy, but the main emphasis is on exploration, which is done in a unique and fun way.

The open-world design includes several named areas such as the twisty bridges, each one being unique and teeming with life.

Building vehicles such as the prawn suit allow you to dive deeper into the sci-fi world and unlock the mysteries of the planet 4546b.

Craft tools, explore the seas, create a base and uncover planet 4546b’s secrets, there is so much to do in Subnautica Below Zero which will give you hours of fun.

The only thing I felt the game is missing, which also applies to the first game is a multiplayer mode, I would have personally loved to play Subnautica Below Zero with my friends, I had hoped that once the game left early access, they might have added multiplayer, but sadly that was not the case.

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