Below Zero is having its story totally rewritten and I cannot blame them. I applaud the attempt to have living, breathing characters but it just doesn't work in a survival game. I can get a mission that progresses the main plot and NPCs won't care if I do it in 5 minutes or dick around for a week and then do it. And that does not make for an immersive experience.
Having said all that, I think I have a way to minimize this problem while still making characters feel a little more alive. So here is my pitch for Below Zero's story and this is based on the story we have so far.
It starts the same, I like the idea of Al-an and downloading him to your mind. The dialogue with Robyn about how he experiences senses different can be tweaked a little to justify the survival-crafting issue. Some time-wimey nonsense about him experiencing time differently so he tells you to effectively "take all the time you need".
The vesper space station is destroyed. Sam is where the NPC issue is most obvious. She tells you to go do stuff then doesn't care if it takes 10 minutes or 10 months. It's silly. So I say the space station is destroyed completely. It would also explain why you find fragments of tech everywhere like in the first game.
You find Jeff, so we get a taste of NPC, but he is immediately killed, since again, I am not a fan of live characters waiting on you. You go together to the frozen infected leviathan but an ice worm attacks. Jeff doesn't escape the cave and somewhere along the way, the sample breaks infecting you. Al-an chimes in about recognizing the disease but remember his memory is fuzzy. Something is jarred when you mention enzyme 42 since you already know it. This leads Al-an to give you the location to the first base. Each base you visit Al-an gets a little more memory, seeming to have a clearer idea of where we might get the enzyme. But the big twist, Al-an is in fact leading you to get his body back.
As a precursor, he never found a cure. If you remember Subnautica 1, the sea emperor leviathan didn't like the precursors too much and never gave them the enzyme. So you in fact give Al-an his body back, he has a big "I'm actually the villan speech" and then disappears. At this point, Sam reveals she escaped the vesper, is alive at the nearest space station and is sending help. A rescue ship comes but is suddenly shot down, the QEP from Subnautica 1 has been turned on from a remote location in this area. This base is the endgame, where you find Al-an, a source for the cure, and a way to shut down the QEP so Sam can safely land and the game ends with the sisters taking off together waxing philosophical about Robyn's experience.
I know this is a retread of the first game but hey if it ain't broke… And to be frank, I think trying to cram more precursor lore into this planet when the first game made it pretty clear they were there to research the disease is just annoying. If they wanted to dive this much deeper into precursor lore, why not just have sub zero be on another planet. It would have been so easy to just say "thanks to ryley, when found the Precursor home world, long abandoned since Kharra wiped them out." The idea that there is this whole deeper layer on that same planet feels like its overwriting the first game.
Anyways I hope you like this idea. and PS. I'm not touching the whole Maida is alive thing because that is too absurd. I like the idea in theory, but she won't sit around and let you do your thing. Also I don't care how badass she is, Kharra would have killed her already. So if she is going to fit in this story, she needs to have found a cure. Maybe she is the key to finding the sea emperor in this area?
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