Subnautica Below Zero gameplay flow (and optimization)

EvilSmooEvilSmoo Members Join Date: 2008-02-16 Member: 63662Posts: 660 Advanced user
Both SN and SB:BZ suffer from this- the only way to really learn how to play the game, is to have played the game for a few dozen hours.

And how do you do that? Wander around randomly? BZ is even worse, because SN had the Aurora as a MASSIVE landmark, and its mere presence presented a few fairly obvious things to do- explore and repair it.

I tried getting my father to play SN. First off, he had no idea what to do- my first point. Many players want SOMETHING to suggest what to do. This man dumped a LOT of time into Chernobyl, exploring and derping around is not the problem. With both SN games, they explain little, there's no hub or mission system. Just some vague escape pods in SN, and BZ just... dumps you in and says "have at!" And the update is even worse now, with flying in all ninja-like.

Then Subnautica started to try and melt the (actually decent) mobile video card in his laptop. Other games don't DO that, just Subnautica. My desktop card doesn't care, but this is IMPORTANT.

How to fix this? Missions. Self-generated missions, to acquire blueprints, or point the player to regions with higher concentrations of desired resources. I've never really liked RNG in breaking mineral clusters, either.

Also, optimize the engine and let us turn stuff down. Dangit, running up the room temperature or melting laptop cards is Not Cool.

If that BZ living pod had a little mapping system, that gave the player an idea what was around down to like 100-200m, so you could run around getting blueprints for the stuff, and put HUD waypoints over kelp and such, and popped a few default missions to get the player going, IMO, that would help a lot. I only knew ALAN was down there cause I already knew it from previous play. Nothing pointed me anywhere, or gave me the slightest idea what to do or where to go. Then you try and swim around, and oh hey, massive sharks. I might be a genocidal maniac who can work with a knife, but sharks are effective walls a lot of the time.


  • EvilSmooEvilSmoo Members Join Date: 2008-02-16 Member: 63662Posts: 660 Advanced user
    edited June 3
    Like, trying to go below 100m without rebreather unlocked should pop a mission to unlock the rebreather.

    Scanning ANY sea-truck wreckage for ANY portion should unlock a mission that results in base sea-truck becoming unlocked.

    Other things in that vein.

    In latest BZ, it never even MENTIONED the base building tool. Or what to do, or where to go. My BEST indication of ANYTHING to do was a vague picture in the PDA? Not really good enough. Robin would have to be a maniac or a moron to land on a planet with absolutely no idea where anything was, or what to do about it. Doesn't seem like a moron, but the former does seem likely. I mean, what's her PLAN here? Find her sister if Alterra was lying, find her sister otherwise, find what happened to her sister. Okay.

    Then what? Be smug about it while she's trapped on an alien planet under the control of a hostile corporation? She doesn't seem to have any exit plan whatsoever.
  • elfcrisiselfcrisis Members Join Date: 2017-05-13 Member: 230466Posts: 527 Advanced user
    You know BZ isn't done yet, right?

    I'm just checking because it kind of sounds like you expect all this to have been in place already.
  • EliCVideogamerEliCVideogamer Members Join Date: 2020-05-08 Member: 260791Posts: 11 Fully active user
    @elfcrisis The original is done, and it has similar problems to this. We just need to make sure they don't make the same mistake twice.
  • TamishTamish USAMembers Join Date: 2020-06-07 Member: 261685Posts: 1 Freshly registered user
    I think a lot of people like the game the way it is. It would be difficult to make the game "perfect" for all people.

    I like that the game doesn't railroad me and hold my hand for every little tidbit of the game. Yes, I felt a little bit lost at first. But I felt a sense of accomplishment when I got to the end credits. There's plenty of content on YT or streaming services to watch a play through or just get the little bit of help one may need.

    It's a survival game, you're an employee of a major corporation that really doesn't care if you survive, so why would they give you a robust survival suite of tools and database knowledge to do so?
  • jodojodo czech republicMembers Join Date: 2020-06-11 Member: 261791Posts: 5 Fully active user
    Hai from Czech republic. I played early acces Subnautica Below Zero for 100 hours. Game is great and very good. I had some bugs, but it does not matter. I look forward to next update.
  • EvilSmooEvilSmoo Members Join Date: 2008-02-16 Member: 63662Posts: 660 Advanced user
    elfcrisis wrote: »
    You know BZ isn't done yet, right?

    I'm just checking because it kind of sounds like you expect all this to have been in place already.

    Bad writing is bad writing. Bad ideas are bad ideas. Bad optimization is bad optimization. Early access is a state, not an excuse.

    A marginally competent operative should have SOME exit plan in place before landing (unsupported) on a hostile planet. In SN it made sense, since you had no plan to be on the planet in the first place. But this one? She's there intentionally.

    And a game engine should not over-stress video cards. *MY* card doesn't really care, but it should NOT melt a decent laptop. And it's a decent laptop, but not an overpriced video card like I'm running.
  • HaliosHalios OzMembers Join Date: 2015-11-27 Member: 209514Posts: 260 Advanced user
    @elfcrisis The original is done, and it has similar problems to this.

    Yeah. Their criticism was levelled at both games.
    We just need to make sure they don't make the same mistake twice.

    Personally I like the aimlessness of the original game and dislike the more narrow and directed approach of BZ. So I don't think they are the same in this respect.

    Though I also think it's smart to cater to as many tastes as possible when designing games. A more structured, linear mission system could be there as an option. Something you choose either as a gameplay setting or when starting a new game.
    EvilSmoo wrote: »
    Bad optimization is bad optimization.

    My card wasn't great (comfortably above min spec but not awesome) and I have to confess that I stopped playing the original game because it was super choppy even with graphics turned down. Swimming around was generally ok but full speed in the seamoth was very ugly.

    It was visually jarring to see everything loading in so slowly and also for me to be constantly hearing the thuds of fish I'd hit without ever seeing cos of said slow loading.

    I decided to put it aside until I had a better card so I could actually enjoy it. Which I do now but haven't gotten around to that yet.

    I think I saw something about an update which touched on optimization, but since I am on a different machine I can't fire it up for comparison.
  • potatoZMasterpotatoZMaster IsraelMembers Join Date: 2020-06-20 Member: 261999Posts: 7 Fully active user
    i disagree with the missions idea. the whole point of subnautica is presenting you with a plotline, in the context of an open world to explore. i think bz suffers from a different problem that you are hinting at: there isnt enough to do. in sn, you had wrecks to explore, and countless biomes with unique things, lifepods, and plenty more to do that was unrelated to the story, in bz, almost everything is related to the plot in some way, providing less open world and more plot driven storyline. one of the draws of sn was that there were entire biomes that had absolutely no storyline relevance, they were just there to explore (see; mountains, bulb zone (for the most part), crag field, grand reef, sea treaders path, most of the dunes, mushroom forests, etc.) in bz, every biome is relevant to the story (with the exception of the sparse arctic and tree spires), which makes it feel constricted and less open world.
  • PantagueulePantagueule BelgiumMembers Join Date: 2020-06-26 Member: 262149Posts: 4 Fully active user
    edited June 26
    "Just some vague escape pods in SN" As an exploration game, I fail to understand why breaking immersion to baby-walk players around the game is necessary. I feel like many subnautica players would agree that the first 12 hours of the game were their favorite. For the others, many spoiler-free tutorials exist on youtube to remedy that. My 7 and 11 year old brothers both finished the game, and apart the quite harsh, albeit very funny first encounter with a reaper, didnt have any problem figuring out where to go and what to do.

    "Other games don't DO that, just Subnautica." As a laptop gamer, I disagree. Any game with similar or better graphics WILL make your laptop overheat, IF you aren't using a proper cooling system (i.e; ventilation mat, vacuum cooler). I'm playing in the summer heat and my game ran smoothly on medium graphics (2015 laptop with gtx970m, nothing crazy), BECAUSE i'm using a cooling system. When I turn the fan off? Hehehe, you could put thermal plants around my house and count my FPS with one hand ;)
    Post edited by Pantagueule on
  • FrraksurredFrraksurred USAMembers Join Date: 2015-04-04 Member: 202960Posts: 126 Advanced user
    edited July 2
    I love Subnautica, but I've always found it to be tedious. Most open world games give you an objective, map and marker, and then let you choose to go there or spend the next 40 hours ignoring it. This series gives you next to nothing, which has always frustrated me. Given all the running back and forth, searching aimlessly at depths while your air or battery is running out, and huge amount of territory you have to cover... I've always felt the game needed to give more direction. Leave up to me whether I want to pursue it right this minute or not, but at least tell me what and where my next move is.

    Salad Days gives you a couple pictures with key locations marked on them, but you still have no form of a map to compare them too, so they are useless. It would be nice if one of our tasks was to hack into one of Alterra's satellites for a map with our location on it. Doesn't have to be of the entire game map, but of specific areas like Glacial Basin and enough of the starting area to give the new player a leg up. Save spoilery areas for later, or to discover on your own, but BZ needs something to give us some bearings.
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