Subnautica: Below Zero Review

Unknown Worlds launched Subnautica: Below Zero in early access almost two and a half years ago, and the full version of the game is finally coming to almost every available platform. Originally intended to be DLC for Subnautica, the game has grown into a full-fledged sequel that takes about half the time to beat as its predecessor. Set two years after the events of the first game, the player takes on the role of a new character, Robin, who travels to Subnautica’s Planet 4546B in search of his missing scientist brother. After an accidental crash landing in an Arctic region of the planet, Robin has two goals: find out what happened to his brother and survive. Any fan of survival games will undoubtedly enjoy Subnautica: Below Zero, but the follow-up title Unknown Worlds will delight newcomers to the genre. The learning curve, while a bit shaky at first, is not too high to be dissuasive. The game taps into people’s natural needs – sustenance, air, warmth – and instincts will kick in even if the tutorials don’t, and that almost makes success more satisfying. subnautica below zero review plants The first thing that will hit any player upon loading the game is the incredibly stunning visuals. This is not a dull green ocean with a featureless sandy bottom, wilting seaweed, and the occasional discarded plastic bottle that drifts by. It is a world full of colorful sea and plant life, many of which sparkle and brighten the water with different colors. It’s easy to get caught up in the environment and the game’s intuitive base-building mechanic, forgetting for a moment that this is a survival game with needs for food, water, and air that require constant attention. Even though it’s a standalone title, it seems safe to assume that many people diving into Below Zero have already played the first game, and the sequel will be very familiar with the graphics and gameplay. The PDA that serves as the repository for all useful game information is almost identical, with the only notable and very useful difference being that blueprints can now be pinned, allowing the necessary materials that can be easily viewed from the HUD. Most of the tools, food, flora, fauna, gear, and vehicles found in Subnautica haven’t changed much either, but there are some fun additions that will keep players from feeling too much déjà vu. There are some new gadgets to play with, as well as unfamiliar plant life and creatures to meet or escape from. subnautica below zero review sea monkey Below Zero introduces two new vehicles, the Snowfox and Seatruck. In the game, players spend less time on the ground than in Subnautica, and the landscape is covered in snow and populated by aggressive Snow Stalkers. This is where the high-speed all-terrain Snowfox hoverbike comes in handy, allowing players to quickly cover a lot of ground and make several getaways as needed. The Seatruck is exactly what it sounds like, a maneuverable underwater vehicle that can be customized with various modules attached to the back, forming a train of sorts. For example, the storage module features multiple lockers to store items found while exploring away from the base. The aquarium module has two tanks and sucks up any unlucky fish that venture too close, providing a useful way to capture marine life for food or display without having to chase them down manually. things. The Seatruck is a very useful addition that players will want to unlock as soon as possible, though attaching too many modules will make this vehicle unwieldy and prone to damage. subnautica below zero review seatruck Subnautica: Below Zero is incredibly successful in evoking a sense of exploration and discovery. After carefully packing the Seatruck with provisions and tools, a player can start with a specific task in mind: “Okay, get to that wreck!” Twenty minutes later, they find themselves instead mining a newly discovered mineral, 400 meters deep inside a narrow gorge filled with phosphorescent flora and possibly dangerous marine life. And they won’t mind. The underwater world of Below Zero is vast and almost limitless, full of secrets, many of which will forever be hidden within the caves and the decaying remains of previous expeditions. The game offers a wide range of biomes to explore and enjoy, each dramatically different from the next. Of course, there is an Arctic biome, with ice stalactites growing inexorably towards the ocean floor and the poor sea creatures turned into ice sculptures almost indistinguishable frozen to the edges. There are glowing thermal vents, forests of Creepvine swaying in the current, dark depths filled with giant whale-like beasts and even larger lily pads, and claustrophobic winding tunnels that lead to mysterious alien structure. subnautica below zero review cave These areas are not all open to the player from the start. Access is granted at a steady and satisfying pace, as the player finds data pads and broken machinery, unlocking item blueprints that grant entry to other parts of the world. A fissure with an intriguing red glow far below may be unreachable until a blueprint is found that provides a greater oxygen reserve, thereby allowing deeper exploration. Rusty doors in shipwrecks, which surely hide treasures, cannot be opened until the recipe and materials for a laser cutter are discovered. Curiosity and constant poking around in every hidden corner rarely goes unrequited. The freedom to explore means the player is rarely bored. Below Zero also provides regular guidance, with beacons or recorded conversations providing clues about key locations to investigate. While Subnautica sometimes left the player a bit unsure about what to do next, Below Zero is slightly more story driven, but not to an overwhelming degree. The ability to freely explore the open world remains, but now there are also scripted sequences, several cutscenes, and plot points to prevent the wandering player from potentially straying too far. subnautica below zero review base multipurpose Base building is another important part of Below Zero’s draw. Anyone who has spent hours building a base in Valheim or building a complex CAMP in Fallout 76 will know the allure. While perhaps not as deep as the mechanics in those games, seabase creation in Below Zero is just as immersive. While many of the base pieces and modules remain the same as those available in Subnautica, there are a few additions, the most notable of which is the Large Room, which provides more space than the spherical Multipurpose Room and therefore greater opportunity for personalization. The developers have even added components for building a bathroom, complete with toilet and shower. In developing Subnautica: Below Zero, Unknown Worlds listened to the lessons learned from Subnautica and the feedback received from players about both games over the years. Below Zero takes no step backwards and instead offers a more polished experience than its predecessor. As for the gameplay and story, it’s not necessarily a better game, but it’s certainly just as good. Subnautica: Below Zero releases on May 14 for PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Today Technology was provided with a Steam code for this review.

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