|Developer(s)||Unknown Worlds Entertainment|
|Publisher(s)||Unknown Worlds Entertainment Gearbox publishing|
|Genre(s)||Adventure, survival, open world|
Subnautica is an open-world survival-adventure video game developed and published by Unknown Worlds Entertainment. It allows the player to freely explore the ocean on an alien planet, known as planet 4546B, collecting unique resources to survive. They will face creatures of all kinds in a battle for survival.
Subnautica was first released in early access for Microsoft Windows in December 2014, Mac OS X in June 2015, and for Xbox One in May 2016. The full release out of early access was in January 2018, exclusively for Microsoft Windows on Steam, and later on the Discord and Epic Games stores, with the versions for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on December 4, 2018.
Subnautica is a survival, adventure game set in an open world environment and played from a first-person perspective. The player controls the lone survivor of a space ship called the Aurora that was hit by an unknown beam of energy, on the fictional ocean planet 4546B.
The main objective of the player is to explore the game's world and survive the dangers of the planet while at the same time following the story of the game. Subnautica allows the player to collect resources, construct tools, bases, and submersibles, and interact with the planet's wildlife.
The majority of the game is set underwater, with two explorable islands. It has a day and night cycle which affects the gameplay and surroundings, as well as four difficulty modes:
- "Survival", the player will have to maintain nutrition, hydration, and oxygen. If the player dies, some items are lost from his inventory.
- "Freedom mode", in which hunger and thirst are disabled
- "Hardcore mode", which is the same as Survival, except that if the player dies, the player will no longer be able to respawn
- "Creative Mode", in which the hunger, thirst, health, and oxygen features are all disabled, all the crafting blueprints are acquired, where no resources are needed to craft and the submersibles do not need energy and cannot be damaged.
The game officially supports VR headsets such as the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift with the additional input of a keyboard and mouse or game controller according to the Steam sale page of the game.
Subnautica takes place in the late 22nd century, when humanity begins to colonize planets in space. A vessel constructed by the trans-gov Alterra, known as the Aurora, has been sent to the outer reaches of controlled space on its maiden voyage. Its goals are to construct a high-speed space travel structure known as a Phasegate, and to find a lost ship, called the Degasi, which crashed on planet 4546B long ago. While the Aurora was cruising around the planet, it was hit by an unknown energy pulse and crash-landed on 4546B. Several lifepods are jettisoned from the Aurora as it was crashing, one containing the player. The other lifepods' inhabitants perish through various means, leaving the player as the only survivor. The player finds records of the Degasi’s crew stating that two are confirmed dead and one is presumed dead.
The player also learns of the existence of the "Precursors", an alien race that came to this planet to research a bacteria called the "Kharaa". 4546B is under automated quarantine due to the bacteria escaping in an accident. The Quarantine Enforcement Platform shoots down ships that attempt to leave, land or enter orbit in order to stop the bacterium from spreading to other worlds. The player witnesses this happen when another ship, the Sunbeam, detects the Aurora’s distress signal. When the player attempts to deactivate the installation, it fails due to the player being "infected". In order to leave the planet, the player must locate the Precursors' base deep underground to find the Sea Emperor Leviathan. It has been keeping the life in the area alive by using small creatures known as "Peepers" to distribute small amounts of a degraded form of the cure. This keeps the planet's flora and fauna alive but it is insufficient to eradicate the plague. It asks the player to help it hatch its eggs because its young produce the cure in a purer form. Once the player hatches the eggs using a hatching enzyme received from the Sea Emperor Leviathan, the player is cured of the infection. They are then free to disable the Quarantine Enforcement Platform and construct a rocket to leave the planet, ending the game.
The development team opted to use the Unity engine rather than Spark, the engine used for the company's previous game, Natural Selection 2. Subnautica producer Hugh Jeremy justified this decision because of the different demands that the game places on the engine, and "because [the team] does not include people working on Spark, it's not appropriate for Subnautica to use Spark. By using Unity for Subnautica, Spark can continue to develop in certain directions, while Subnautica develops in others. To use Spark for Subnautica would be like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole."
The development team opted against the inclusion of firearms in the game. Charlie Cleveland, the game's director, described Subnautica as "one vote towards a world with less guns," and had felt inspired by real life gun violence, including the Sandy Hook shooting, to encourage players to think about "non-violent and more creative solutions to solve our problems."
The complete version of Subnautica was released on January 23, 2018 for Steam.
Subnautica received a positive pre-release reception. Ian Birnbaum of PC Gamer described Subnautica as an "underwater Minecraft", remarking that "with an experienced developer at the helm and a limitless variety of the oceans to play with, it's going to take a lot for Subnautica to go badly wrong. As the toolbox gets deeper and the shape of the end-game gets set, Subnautica will be a unique example of the ways survival can be tense, rewarding, and fun." Marsh Davies of Rock, Paper, Shotgun praised the rewarding nature of exploring the world of Subnautica, but criticized the "arbitrariness" and lack of intuition in some of the in-game recipes.
At launch, the game received "generally positive reviews" on all platforms according to review aggregator Metacritic. Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw on The Escapist's Zero Punctuation series gave it a generally positive review, stating, "Underwater exploration is an inherently appealing concept: this whole new world rolling away before you, made all the more beautiful by its utter hostility." He did criticize that it was "... a little unintuitive and not a little buggy." However, he would later go on to list it as his 2nd favourite game of 2018 in his year-end video.
|2018||Golden Joystick Awards||Best Visual Design||Nominated|||
|Best Audio Design||Nominated|
|Breakthrough Award (Unknown Worlds)||Won|
|PC Game of the Year||Won|
|Ultimate Game of the Year||Nominated|
|Gamers' Choice Awards||Fan Favorite Indie Game||Won|||
|2019||D.I.C.E. Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Game Design||Nominated|||
|National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards||Game of the Year||Nominated|||
|15th British Academy Games Awards||Original Property||Nominated|||
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