Below Zero looks cool, but development has me a bit nervous so far

Subnautica 5 - Below Zero looks cool, but development has me a bit nervous so far

Subnautica One (the base game) is amazing. It reaches a level of experience where its not even worth rating. Its 'better than good' and just something you NEED to play. And I want more, the first game has no RNG so replays are a little weak. I would have been satisfied with a remixed map and no new features produced months ago. But if they wanted to make a new game, I thought that had great potential too. And while they're still working on Below Zero (of course)… I'm not really seeing anything I could describe as out and out 'improvement' over the base game.

I. Minor Story Issues

You have suffered minor head trauma. This is considered an optimal outcome.

Now you can nitpick story endlessly in any game, but personally I preferred the inhuman PDA to the relationship-drama of two sisters. I think the 'Architect' stuck in your head, is something they should introduce right of the bat (before the storm) and focus on more. That fits the flavor of Subnautica much more in my opinion.

II. More serious gameplay issues.

Subnautica, while an amazing game wasn't perfect. There were a series of issues the game had that could be improved. Listed below from most important to least important:

— Crafting was 'dumb' (as in manual).

You couldn't craft multiple stacks (For example: 5 bladder fish at once) You had to craft each component manually before making the final product. This is opposed to a 'smart' crafting system which automatically builds intermediate parts if you had enough resources. (Example: flash game Glean). Nor could crafting pull from storage in the base (Example: reagent banks in MMOs). Nearly every streamer mentioned this as a major annoyance with the game.

— There was no reason to construct multiple bases or big bases.

Bases were a cool and fantastic part of the game, but were often a waste of time and resources. Other than the Modification Station, having ONE base was barely necessary. This is a big topic but worth putting thought into. There are a series of mechanics or McGuffins you could do to encourage base building. (Example: Astroneer has gasses you collect from different biomes, has alien devices you need to power, and research stations build up points for new blueprints.) There could also be a set pieces, like build a laser to cut an opening in a glacier or to power a door.


— Building vehicles required always returning to the surface.

Among a series of mechanics that punished deep water bases (including lack of solar power and surface only resources like Table Coral) was vehicle construction. As a game development choice, building in the air avoids possible clipping issues, but it still always felt out of place in an underwater game. An obvious solution would be to allow construction of vehicles in moon pools, or any appropriate docking location.

— Minor issue, but long distance travel was cumbersome.

In Subnautica One, going to 'Gun Island' and realizing you forgot one resources, was like getting to work/school and realizing you left your cell phone at home. If you're just skimming the surface trying to get somewhere you feel like a snail. This is a problem any open world game, as you tune speeds for exploration, verisimilitude, encounter danger, and immersiveness. But if you really want to get from one side of the map to other, it becomes extremely annoying. Other games fix this with fast-travel, portals, flying, taxi-points(flight paths), etc. Not all of which make sense for Subnautica, of course. But something like build-able teleporters, landing/launch pads, or drones that ferry resources between bases would go a long way.

I assumed that at LEAST ONE these obvious 'pain points' would be addressed by Below Zero. Even for the sake of marketing purposes and reviewers. As its good for review scores if critics can point to something as a clear improvement over the base game. But so far nothing on the road-map even suggests this. Only have ~4 months left until release and I predict the consensus will be "good, but I liked the first game more."

Am I wrong? Am I missing something? If you disagree, please don't just down-vote, tell me why.

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