I'd like to love this game. I really do. It's just that this game is bad, and I can't sugarcoat it. I'm not upset that this game doesn't give off a subnautica high, but it still shouldn't be so much worse that I have to resort to a full critique.
But why is it bad? you may ask before promptly banning me?
Well, here it is:
- Story: They tell the story through dumb audio logs instead of through gameplay. Show, not tell. I doubt anyone finds the main protagonist likable after all the various annoying dialogue a player has to deal with. Also, it's just bad after the development hell it's gone through. This is like the 3rd iteration, each one getting worse. Just be minimalistic. It's a gameplay focused video game, not like a JRPG. If I wanted a phenomenal story with minimal gameplay, I'd play P4G.
- Gameplay: Remember when in Subnautica you felt like the world was totally open? You could get a seaglide in the very beginning of the game, and travel all the way to the sea treader's path. There were minimal beacons telling you where to go, and often, crafting was actually interesting, with rare materials only found in particular biomes. Below Zero feels like a Ubisoft game, where you just follow the beacon, and don't have to actually do things yourself.
- Environments: The environments are designed for spectacle, not actual depth. The lost river was not a very spectacular biome, but the feel of having so litle space in a cramped tunnel, where dangerous predators lie was enough to make the place feel dangerous and amazing. The biomes in Subnautica Below Zero look interesting, but the fact that oxygen is aplenty and most biome specific dangers are mere gimmicks (looking at you icicles) really kills the potential.
Now, how did we get here from the original Subnautica? The answer? F8.
The OG Subnautica was molded by the button. Imagine if the devs just told the community to shut up and follow them. Imagine the travesty Subnautica might have been without the feedback of the community. Now, how is Below Zero not the same, you may ask. It also has F8. Unfortunately, the game launched so far late in production that the problems were often deep rooted. The intro placed you in a luxurious little shelter, and it felt way too safe and structured. Unfortunately, few spoke out about it or at least were muted by the yesmen. Yesmen exist now, because before Unknown worlds was totally new to the spotlight and had no prior reputation. Yesmen kept on lauding Unknown worlds for every stupid decision. The few that criticised Unknown Worlds were drowned out and called haters.
To be honest, apart from the entire Simon Chylinski controversy, I don't dislike Unknown Worlds in any way. I'd love if they actually took this criticism and make their game better. Dear Unknown worlds, please listen to the problems in your game, and take action to prevent them from becoming deep-rooted, like the obscene story focus that greatly extended the game's early access period.
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