Subnautica 2

Lately I have been playing Subnautica 2.

It’s pretty good. Not as brilliant as the first, and I think it’s just because I’m getting used to the underwater world and its peculiar logic. This version changes things up a bit – the player is in an arctic zone and staying in the water is safe; the surface has nasty weather.

“Heima” – my base

There is the usual panoply of gear, and you have to explore some truly strange and creepy places. There are shipwrecks and weird biomes and things that want to eat you.

They’ve added a few new components you can use for base-building, including the very large room, which can have a translucent ceiling. Naturally, I built a deep base around it, right in an area where there is a large permanently angry thing swimming around trying to eat me. It makes the occasional outside “food run” a bit more exciting.

I’m glad the developers re-visited the world of Subnautica and got some more mileage out of the beautiful engine that they’ve made.

One change that I’m a bit less excited about is that they changed the way/order in which gear is found. You get urged to explore places where the blueprints for new things also turn up, which means that (like Subnautica 1) you don’t get the really cool toys until you’ve dug fairly deep into the plot-line. That gives the whole game the feeling of an endless fetch-quest, which, basically, it is. And the ordering is a bit goofy: you don’t learn the plans for showers and toilets until halfway through the game. And, in the big room, the walls snap to an invisible grid that is large, so it’s hard to make a “little room” unless it’s too small to hold a shower. Other games should have flaws so grave.

There are a few bits that are straight-up cheesy, like a thermos of coffee that can help keep you alive in bitter cold (if you remember it!) and hot peppers that also warm you. I know the scripters know that’s not how hot peppers work.

Otherwise, I continue to love these games. They’re beautiful and sometimes they’re really scary and tense. I got lost in a deep cave system with my ship’s batteries running down and was feeling genuine panic: there was no way I could swim to the surface from there! So I had to think things through and came up with a way of swapping batteries around so I could get a bit more power, and I got out of there and back to my charging station with 2% battery life on the gauge.


  1. invivoMark says

    Glad you’re having fun with it!

    I have thalassophobia, and almost gave the series a miss. I’m glad I eventually gave it a try – the first game is one of my favorite games of all time. I don’t typically care for “base-building” type games, but the first game has such an excellent way to draw you into the world, by periodically hinting that you should go check out other life pods, and enticing you into exploring through messages, events, and the promise that you might just stumble upon some new toy to craft.

    I found that I really missed the life pods in the sequel. I felt like I was exploring a lot of locations “because they’re there,” and not because there was something drawing me to it.

    Still, the environments are gorgeous, and the creatures are sufficiently terrifying.

  2. says

    @invivoMark: I have been careful to avoid just looking up answers in google. So there has been some backtracking and a few exciting deaths. For example, don’t try to swap the depth enhancement module when you are 300m down. Also, I am (I have nearly drowned twice) terrified of drowning. So I take multiple oxygen tanks when exploring. I don’t know if it was a deliberate game mechanic but swapping them as they empty does work.

    It’s one of my favorite games, too.

  3. invivoMark says

    Carrying multiple oxygen tanks is the strategy for the speedrun – you can make enough that you have just enough time to swim all the way to the bottom. Cool that you discovered that strategy on your own!

  4. says

    Cool that you discovered that strategy on your own!

    One of the things I most appreciate in a game is when you can hypothesize how things should work in the game’s world, and try it – and it does. That tells me something about how much effort was put into making the game engine behave consistently. I don’t know why I think that’s so impressive, but it is.

    Subnautica even does the “right” thing with tank-filling. You have to re-equip the empty tank so it re-fills. I found that out the hard way when I did a deep dive, switched tanks at the halfway point, and discovered I had 12 seconds of air left in the reserve tank. Whups!

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