Difficulty of Subnautica BZ - It's Too Easy to Outmaneuver Hostile Wildlife

BrolocaustBrolocaust Members Join Date: 2019-07-21 Member: 253849Posts: 4 Fully active user
I’ve logged dozens of hours on the original Subnautica and now I’ve put a few hours into BZ and I’ve discovered that most of the complaints I have with the original persist with the sequel. I still love this game but there’s lots of room for improvement regarding the difficulty of the game.

First of all, food and water is a non-issue. Both are very abundant and very easy to obtain (is it just me or are the fish even easier to catch in BZ?), so feeding myself feels like a causal chore. There really isn’t anything interesting or adventurous about keeping yourself fed in this game, I just need to spend a couple of second plucking fish out of the ocean and pay a quick visit to the fabricator.

But the most important issue is the wildlife: it just doesn’t pose much of a threat. When I first started playing the original Subnautica I was terrified any sea creature that was bigger than half my size, but by the time I finished the game I was completely ambivalent to the most vicious goliaths. Once I discovered that it’s easy to outmaneuver all of the underwater antagonists the game becomes an underwater amusement park. Even worse is the fact that most bad guys can be avoided by simply swimming away in a straight line using the sea-glider. This is very bad both in terms of gameplay and marine-biology. The idea that a human could out-maneuver a shark in the ocean is rather absurd, even with advanced propulsion technology. The pathfinding abilities of enemy mobs in this game is very clumsy and their attacks will almost always miss. Even when I’m standing still the enemy mobs will often miss me and they will tie themselves into knots trying to turn around to make another pass at me.

When an enemy does land a successful attack on me it can be pretty scary, especially when it grabs me in its jaws and takes me for a ride. The scariest type of enemy attacks are the ones that limit my mobility and the game does this well, however there is not enough lasting effect. Once the attack is over I am free to swim away again at full speed and if I have a medkit I can be instantly restored to full health. At the very least, it should take time for medkits to restore your health (10-20 seconds would do). You could also implement an injury/affliction system which would make enemy attacks more meaningful. Afflictions such as bleeding, broken bones, venom etc would up the ante in terms of being attacked and it feels much more natural instead of just using a basic HP system. Bleeding would slowly drain your hp over time and would entice all nearby predators, broken bones would limit your mobility and venom would do a bit of both. There’s no need to craft complicated cures for these afflictions, they can all be healed by the advanced technology of the medkit, but some should take longer than others. Bleeding wounds can be stopped in a few seconds but broken bones should take a minute or longer.

So if I find the game to be quite easy why don’t I just switch to Hardcore mode? I don’t think Hardcore mode is suitable for Subnautica at all. Despite the fact that Subnautica is an open-world game, the progression in the game is fairly linear and it is measured by the tech-tree. If I die and lose my progress and I have to start all over from the beginning I would be super pissed because I need to spend all my time revisiting the wrecks I found to obtain the technology to re-build my base and all of my equipment. All of the fragments I found would be in the same place and it would be a tedious chore re-tracing all of my steps just to get back to where I was before. This is not how perma-death is supposed to be used. If you want to see a good example of well implement perma-death I highly recommend “The Long Dark” (I’ll bet that you’ve already played this game and have received a lot of inspiration from it). Sandbox mode in TLD is the perfect example of a well implemented perma-death system because every game is a fresh start in a dynamic world where loot and wildlife spawns are quite variable, and the availability of loot is the driving factor behind exploration. There’s also no story elements that need to be repeated and no tech trees that severely limit the areas that you can explore. Death in TLD is a soul-crushing experience but every time it’s happened I have gladly jumped right back in for a new adventure. If I lost all of my progress in Subnautica I would be super discouraged and I would go online to see if I could download somebody else’s save file so I don’t have to repeat everything I’ve done in the last 20 hours.

This game needs a hard mode that doesn’t rely upon perma-death. All we need are aquatic lifeforms that can out-swim a human.
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