I won't explain the story in this guide, but I will be talking about equipment and biomes, a few locations (I'll keep it vague), a few critters and giving advice on how to streamline the experience a bit. Read at your own risk, though. Not everyone agrees on how much information is too much and it is not my intention to ruin the game for anyone.
First off, I'll go over some equipment and supplies I always keep on me.
Knife, scanner, flashlight, repair tool, cutting tool, 4 of the best water I can currently make, 3 cured peepers, 2-3 medkits, 1-2 batteries (depending on the current charge on my tools), and 1-2 power cells (1 if I'm in my Seamoth, 2 if I'm in my Prawn).
Propulsion cannon/Stasis rifle/Seaglide/an extra O2 tank are also options, but I only used the propulsion cannon once when visiting the Aurora, and never used my Seaglide after getting my Seamoth.
Before visiting the Aurora, make sure you have the laser cutter, propulsion cannon, repair tool, and a few fire extinguishers. Try to leave some inventory space because you'll find a lot of batteries there as well as some fun cosmetic type items. Don't worry about getting into the Captain's cabin. You'll get the code later. There are hints for cabin 2, but you can Google it if you can't figure it out.
It's sometimes difficult to find some of the most important blueprints in the game, but explore the beacons as they appear throughout the story and look for crash sites. Once you get the first 2 vehicles, the moonpool, and vehicle upgrade console, you can start modding your vehicles and explore even more.
My personal preference for the Seamoth is the depth module, proximity defense, hull reinforcement, and either the solar charger or storage. Alternatively, drop the hull reinforcement and have 2 storage modules for extra inventory, just be prepared to repair a little more often and keep an extra power cell or 2.
The proximity defense on the Seamoth needs to be activated every time you enter by pressing the keybind shown in the tooltip when you board. Then press the LMB (or controller equivalent) to charge up a pulse that electrocutes the surrounding area. The longer you hold the button, the greater the pulse. It drains a lot of power, but is an excellent defense against even the strongest creatures.
Prawn suit preferences are drill, grapple, depth module, jet propulsion, and 2 storage modules. I'm sure the thermal charger is also good, but I never ended up using it myself.
On to the rest of the guide:
At one point you'll get a beacon labeled Aurora rendezvous. Explore that entire area and scan as much as possible for important blueprints, especially indoor/outdoor growbeds. Also pick up one lantern fruit, potato, and hit the melon with a knife to get seeds. If you see any trees that look like they're leaking milk at the bottom, hit that as well to get a bulboa seed (I think that's how it's spelled anyway). These will all be amazing to grow at your base for constant food supplies. Pick up any purple tablets you find lying around as well for later.
Some things you'll need much much later, but can gather as you come across them are seeds from various zones that beacons should be leading you into as you go. You don't need to grow these, they're just for a one-time crafting thing. There's a mushroom forest around pod 13. Hit one of the big mushrooms to get a fungal sample. Pod 2 (500m down so you'll need a slightly upgraded Seamoth and possibly a rebreather) will be in the blood kelp zone. Look for ghost weed and hit that to get a seed.
Also from the blood kelp zone, grab a blood oil sack to grow in one of your outdoor growbeds for crafting. If you see white mushrooms in deeper areas, hit those to get seeds (it'll hurt you a little) to grow as well. I can't quite remember if those are in the blood kelp zone, but keep an eye out in deep areas. Also gel sacks. I hear you can grow these, but I just gathered them. They're used with rubies to make aerogel.
You'll also need a seed from an eyestalk plant for that later item I mentioned earlier. It's a bit harder to find, but in various zones such as bulb zone (also called kush zone on maps you can find online), kelp forest caves, crag field, sparse reef, and mountain zone. Speaking of the bulb or kush zone, there are blue bulb plants that you'll also need to hit to get a seed for that same item. The last seed you need for this is seacrown, but that will be available right before you need to craft it if you don't come across it earlier.
Rubies can be found around the second officer's pod (as well as gel sacks). They can also be found around the blood kelp zones if I remember correctly.
Shale deposits can be found in a trench around pod 13. It's not too deep and a fairly safe zone. They're also around the cliff edges between pod 13 and your own life pod (along the border between that mushroom forest and a creepvine zone). It seems like a safer, shallower area to collect diamonds and lithium, and there are also sandstone deposits for gold, silver, and lead.
Magnetite can be found at one of the locations the story will lead you that has giant glowing jelly shrooms. There are chunks laying around. Be careful of aggressive creatures here, but you should be ok if your Seamoth has the proximity defense module thing. Or be sneaky. Either way.
When you get to the point where you need nickel for the prawn and cyclops depth modules, you'll want to take your prawn suit to the lost river. This is also where you'll find sulfur for the prawn's jet propulsion module. You should have the drill and grapple arms for the prawn before attempting this endeavor. If you have your cyclops you can ferry the prawn closer to the entrance, but it's not necessary. I'd suggest going towards pod 2 (the one 500m deep) and looking for an entrance leading deeper. When you see green rivers, you're in the right area.
Go ahead and remove the grapple arm when you get down there, but don't get out of the prawn while in the green stuff. It hurts you. Go around the green stuff and pick up sulfur with the free hand on the prawn. Also look for nickel deposits to drill and any free ones laying around (rare, but I've seen them). You'll need 9 nickle and 6 or 7 sulfur to finish the storyline (can't quite remember on the sulfur so gather a few more just in case). 3 nickel is enough for now, though. You'll be coming back to the lost river with your cyclops later and can craft the depth module for it when you're there.
Warning! There's a giant scary monster patrolling this area. If it attacks, drill it in the face and punch it repeatedly. Repair your prawn when it flees and keep an eye out for further attacks.
If you have free inventory space after gathering the nickel and sulfur, feel free to gather uraninite for nuclear power rods, silver, gold, or copper. Anything you might see that you're running low on. I wouldn't worry too much about titanium. There are easier places to stock up on that and it's more important to save your inventory space for things you can only get here. Reequip the grapple arm to help you get out when you're done gathering.
Preparing for the endgame:
If you've managed to gather seeds from the various plants I mentioned earlier (bulb, ghost weed, eyestalk, fungal sample, and possibly seacrown), consider going to the location with the keyword "Sunbeam." If you haven't gotten that beacon yet, wait for the story to lead you there. Otherwise go back there if you didn't have these items at the time. Hopefully you explored that entire area when you were prompted to visit.
Bring enough supplies to that location to build a tiny base (just a tube, a hatch, a solar panel, a fabricator, and a locker). Place the seeds in the locker for later.
If you're ready to gather Kyanite and visit a location 800m deep as hinted by the storyline, make sure you have a modification station, better O2 tank, better fins, better knife, the thermal dive suit (heat resistant, found in a databank in one of the crash sites), a cyclops, and the MK1 depth module for the prawn.
Pimp out your cyclops a little bit. Have the energy efficiency module (found on the Aurora or crafted), shield generator (necessary for crafting something later anyway), and any other modules you want. (I just had the decoy beacon upgrade, most module slots were empty).
Put some growbeds in it for easy food, a fabricator, a few lockers, and the modification station. Stock up with extra food and water for trips away from the cyclops, extra power cells (I went nuts with 18 extra but I only ended up needing about 6), some decoy beacons, and everything you need to craft the rest of the depth modules for the cyclops and the prawn besides the Kyanite you'll be getting along the way (or the the nickel for the cyclops if you didn't get enough earlier). Also make sure you have the purple tablets you've been finding along the way.
Dock your prawn suit with the jet propulsion module, depth module, grappling hook, drill and either two storage modules, or just one and a thermal charger if you have it (I didn't, but I got by just fine without).
When you're ready to go, head towards pod 17 from the direction of your life pod, past a large wreck, and then go left a bit. You're looking for a deep trench with blood kelp. If you hear scary noises (you should know what those are by now), back up a bit because you've gone too far into the dunes. It can be a little difficult to find. Consult a map online or video guide if you need to. I would suggest using "ahead slow" on the cyclops in general to save power and move a little quieter btw, but that's not necessary in safer waters.
When you find the trench (there should be blood kelp down there) dive down. Don't worry about bumping into walls as long as you don't wedge your cyclops and get stuck. I know the proximity alarms can be scary, but hitting walls won't damage your cyclops. Once you reach the bottom of the trench, there's an even deeper opening into the lost river. It's often guarded by an electric eel looking thing, but that actually helps me find it. Go past the eel. It might attack, but does very little damage that won't require repairs. I just ignore it. Sometimes there's another medium sized critter that attacks a little farther in. Deploy a beacon if it's annoying or you're worried.
Keep heading downward and forward (again, consult a guide if you're lost), until you see a large cave with giant rib bones. Hug the left side as much as possible because there's a giant scary creature patrolling nearby. If it attacks, you can put up your shield for a second if you actually see it about to strike. Otherwise, just turn off your engines and deploy a decoy beacon. Wait a few seconds, turn your engines back on at slow speed and keep skirting that left side towards some mushroom shaped stalactites and go under them. If you have a hull breach, repair it after you get into the next cavern.
Keep going forward and down. You're looking for a cavern with a small fossilized creature in the middle and green waterfalls along the walls. This is where you're going to park your cyclops until you can get Kyanite to upgrade it. Why? Because it's less than 900m deep and to craft the final modules you'll have to remove the ones equipped and the default depth for both the cyclops and the prawn is 900m. Now turn off your engines.
Ok. Take the prawn out and gather more nickel around here if your cyclops still needs some for a depth module. Remember, you'll need 3 extra after upgrading both vehicles to complete the storyline. There should be some obvious looking pillars to the right of the cavern. If you've been following the storyline, you should know what you're looking for at 800m. Go through there and explore that location.
Come back to the cavern where you parked your cyclops, but stay in your prawn and head to the right towards some blue lights. There's a cove with a big blue tree. Go towards the tree and past it to an opening behind and head down and around a curve until you see lava flows. This is the inactive lava zone where you'll be getting Kyanite. Watch out for leeches that attach to your prawn suit and drain its power. Get out and slash them with your knife if they latch on. You'll need 6 Kyanite for now.
If you're unlucky, some of the nodes won't give you any and you might have to travel farther down into the inactive lava zone. Watch your depth meter, but you should be able to find enough before you get to 1300m. Got 6? Great!
Head back to your cyclops to upgrade both depth modules. The prawn will need to be on the ground to access the upgrades, but again, this cavern isn't below 900m so you're safe to remove it. Also, there's a slight bug in the game that will warn you that the cyclops is below its default depth and hull damage is imminent when you remove the first module to upgrade it. I think an older version of the game had the default depth at 500 instead of 900. Just ignore the warning. You'll be fine as long as you parked in the cavern at 800m or so.
Now dock your prawn in the cyclops and take both upgraded vehicles to the same spot you found the kyanite and keep going down until it opens up into a huge cavern. Park right before a gigantic hole in the ground (you'll probably be hearing something loud and terrifying by this point and you want to keep your distance). Turn off your engines, restock any supplies for another excursion and take your prawn out again.
Just past that giant hole in the ground is the lava castle. It's a cone shaped mound guarded by a scary thing. Sneak past (or prepare to drill and punch it in the face) and look for any small doorways into the mound. The storyline should tell you what you're looking for down here. Explore it when you find it. Gather any items inside (green cubes and tablets especially). You'll also need 5 more Kyanite to finish the storyline and there are deposits around so you may as well grab some as you go.
Head back to your cyclops after you're done with that location. You need to craft a blue tablet at the fabricator in your cyclops because you'll need 2 for the next spot. It needs 1 Kyanite and 1 green cube.
The last location is somewhere around that mound. Take your prawn out again and look for openings in the ground to enter the active lava zone below. Lava rivers flowing downward can help guide you, but it might take a bit of exploring to find it. Again, the storyline should explain why you're going down there and what you're looking for.
Once you find it, explore, pick up more green cubes, scan stuff, etc. There's a pool of water inside. Save that for last. Make sure you have 2 green cubes before jumping into that pool with your prawn. Follow the storyline. At one point, there will be a portal and you should have a new recipe requiring those seeds I mentioned earlier. Great news! That portal will take you near the base I suggested you build earlier. If you didn't find any seacrown, check the pool before going through the portal. There's some around there, maybe in a few of the caves.
Now go through the portal towards your temporary base. Grab the seeds from the locker and use the fabricator to craft the item, then return through the same portal to come back to the pool. Follow the storyline prompts. At one point, there will be a floating orange glob thing you should click on. Go back through the portal. You should know what to do at that location now. Get that done, then go back through the same portal to return to the pool.
At the other end of the pool a little higher up in an alcove is another portal to help you get out of the pool and back out towards the lava zone. Make sure that you have at least 4 green cubes (as many as you want though to craft cool items) and 4 Kyanite to finish the story. There's a spot in that location that respawns the cubes a few minutes after gathering them. Return to your cyclops and head back to base (be careful again in that cavern in the lost river with the giant rib cage with the scary monster) and continue the rest of the storyline.
Congrats on getting through it all! I hope this guide is helpful without ruining the story. I did warn about mild spoilers. At the very least, it could come in handy for players planning on their second or third playthrough. Also feel free to correct any mistakes or add anything I might have missed. Just try to keep it as spoiler free as possible.
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