The New Writing in Below Zero isn't Very Good

Morph_GuyMorph_Guy Members Join Date: 2016-04-21 Member: 216034Posts: 508 Advanced user
So recently I've been watching the story progress and honestly I have to say it isn't looking good, especially when compared to the old story, and the general quality boost to every other aspect of the game. So I feel like I should at least just get my opinion out there somewhere and list a few reasons as to why I'm not a fan of this new story, so let's get on with it; (note that some of this stuff isn't in the game yet outside of text in the files)

No characters:
Perhaps the biggest issue is that the story has no characters, with every one of them feeling really "safe" and generic, and lacking in personality. All of the large Alterra crew act the same, with the most characterization they get being either "misses their family" or "misses their family and is also horny", with nothing outside of that, made even worse by the fact that there's nine of them to not be able to keep track of in the slightest (the number of them probably being an issue even if they were distinct). I legitimately could not tell you which character is which based on their names. Even characters such as Robin and Al-an are affected by this, being a particularly prevalent example due to how much dialog he has now.

As is Al-an feels like a combination of a small part his old personality, a Star Wars alien with funny alien words, Jar Jar Binks, a Boov, the PDA from the original, and a redditor, wrapped up in a really safe pop culture alien bun. When he does show personality his dialog is less coherent and contradicts itself, such as him being said to be the lead of a science team and then him dismissing fundamental flora as "worthless" and "purely decorative". I'd also like to briefly mention that making him a "somebody" is entirely unnecessary and feels very forced, and it's much more charming if he's just some random dude on the research team. But most of his dialog is just random one-liners with no soul to them, just text for the sake of it. He has basically lost all of his truly alien aspects, just seemingly a regular human except they use George Lucas names for their things that are just copy/pasted human stuff.
I'd also like to briefly mention that Al-an being this huge important figure is so unnecessary and much less charming or interesting than him just being a random person on that expedition. Al-an is basically a different character entirely at this point, and very much a less interesting one.

As for Robin most of her specific issues are that her dialog is pretty standard and/or stilted and obviously speaking towards the player instead of acting natural when talking to herself, and her current voice feeling less consistent and somewhat unfitting which seems more like a direction problem than anything.

Bad Jokes:
The humor in the original SN was generally more subtle when it appeared with at least some nuance to it, not just feeling like the most generic jokes one could think of, and didn't overstay its welcome when it did show up. The jokes in BZ meanwhile are much more frequently thrown in your face and often don't land, being such wonderful comedy as, "guy hates birds for some reason" and "multiple poop and fart jokes" and many other low hanging fruits, which is such an immense downgrade and simply doesn't fit with the feel of Subnautica, at least not with how it's currently presented. Again honestly the best way to describe this is modern Star Wars writing, and not the good modern Star Wars writing.

No Stakes:
One thing I find odd is the decision to make basically every other character in the story dead, which has the consequence of lowering any sense of tension within the story immensely. You no longer have supervisors watching you like a hawk as an active threat to both you and your companions, trying to sneak by or fight them off whenever possible. Now you just kind of meander around until story, never really having a threat to you outside of the relatively easy to harness environment, which was also still a factor in the original story.

Nothing Happens:
Nothing even happens within the story itself, the events of BZ mostly have you wandering around cleaning up corrosive bird feces (because that's a cool and funny joke) for marge so she tells you where to go because that's her only purpose so that nothing else can happen in that place and so on and then the game ends. Even in the events prior to the game nothing happens, with the Alterra people just kind of sitting around hating their job until they die. It even tries to have a plot with marge interfering with the Alterra people's stuff, but they just don't care and go back to playing Fakin' It because apparently that's the only thing that actually happens in this story.

Worldbuilding Has Suffered:
One of the biggest strengths of Tom's writing is the world building, and unfortunately the old detailed and fascinating history of this future world with all these intricate factions and cultures seems to have also been pushed to the side and replaced by the previously mentioned funny Star Wars names like Tworlock and generic future stuff with no real interesting thoughts presented within them. Even the biological information which was pretty hit-or-miss in the original has taken a dive in quality. The most interesting piece of lore is the Sea Monkeys being attracted to you with Al-an in your head, but there doesn't seem to be any interesting details like that elsewhere in the game.

Conclusion:
Despite what problems I did have with Tom on a few occasions with plot holes or biology his writing was still consistently interesting and compelling for most of it, and being totally honest here I feel none of this writing is better than the original BZ writing in even one aspect, and I would rather it have just been completed based on what was already there since it was basically done anyway. Writing is the one aspect I feel has actively gotten worse since
even between the start of the year and now while every other part has been even better than I could've imagined, even with the issues I do have, so I'm sorry for the really negative post but I'm just disappointed more than anything.
Post edited by Morph_Guy on


eternaSomeoneInInt

Comments

  • Boxcar336Boxcar336 30728 zip.Members Join Date: 2020-09-02 Member: 263736Posts: 2 Fully active user
  • eternaeterna Members Join Date: 2020-09-06 Member: 263818Posts: 2 Fully active user
    I feel the same way - it's really dissapointing to see the new writing, originally intended to be an improvement over the mistakes of the first draft, to turn out as such a trainwreck. I hope they realise that before it's too late.
  • SomeoneInIntSomeoneInInt EarthMembers Join Date: 2020-09-06 Member: 263819Posts: 2 Fully active user
    Couple of points:
    No characters:
    I can agree with points on characters, but I feel like you want them all to be some kind of super human beings, while in story the point IS that they are just ordinary people + some of them just exist to guide the player(Murgl and Alexis)
    Bad Jokes:
    Can agree with fart jokes(tho there is only one), but i dont understand that is wrong with birds joke. He just paranoid about them because they ruin his stuff. Its never supposted to be d e e p joke. hmm, maybe this thing is telling about character more, so he stands out more? Same way i can say that sandwich and is it worth it jokes are bad.
    No Stakes:
    I agree, but dont see it as big problem.
    Nothing Happens:
    To be honest the way you say it, i can tell it about every single story in video games(not only in them too). And i noticed a strong pattern in which you oversaturate some things. Everyone are dead, while only two of ten died, lot of bad jokes while there are only +- two inefficincy and one fart jokes, everyone hates their job, while only two kinda disliked it. Sounds like bad wordbuilding to me.
    Worldbuilding Has Suffered:
    I didnt find any info on THE FUTURE world in Below Zero that can be " funny Star Wars names and generic future stuff with no real interesting thoughts presented within them", because there are none. Biological data are mostly not exist right now(only some Toms databanks). In original only interesting worldbuilding is Sea emperor and Peepers relationship, too.
    Conclusion:
    While i agree with some points, it sounds like you oversaturated some points both in original and in Below zero context. Sorry if comment sounds salty, i have nothing against you and your opinion, just pointing out some things. Will read with love your respond(if there is going to be one).
  • eternaeterna Members Join Date: 2020-09-06 Member: 263818Posts: 2 Fully active user
    on the topic of world building:

    Al-An does bring up some star-wars grade worldbuilding while describing the Architect culture, which is a thing now aparently.

    In the original, there was a lot of worldbuilding in databanks describing Alterra and other factions (e.g. trans-gov profiles, or connection to NS2), which is probably what OP means.
  • SomeoneInIntSomeoneInInt EarthMembers Join Date: 2020-09-06 Member: 263819Posts: 2 Fully active user
    edited September 6
    ok, but what does "star-wars grade worldbuilding" mean?(thats funny but i never watched any Star wars movie, maybe i should...). I still think there are none future stuff in Bz, maybe except Mercury 2 lore(which is not confirmed).
  • RickAllenRickAllen FloridaMembers Join Date: 2020-09-24 Member: 264176Posts: 1 Fully active user
    It's worse than bad writing. The story has no basis for it's actions. So a scientist suddenly becomes a murderous terrorist? So her sister decided on her own to go solo to a hostile world illegally in order to talk to her sister? There basically isn't any logic to what the characters are doing and why. They go from being benign do-gooders to criminal murderous thugs at the drop of a hat for stupid simplified reasons. All logic fails in this story line.
  • LightdevilLightdevil AustriaMembers, Subnautica Playtester Join Date: 2015-06-10 Member: 205381Posts: 195 Advanced user
    I haven't completed the story so I skipped a bit of what you've written down, I don't really wanna get spoiled in case the story doesn't fundementally change because of your opinion, but the parts I read I almost entirely disagree with. I haven't had a single moment where my immersion was broken. Not even at the bird feces pda. It was kinda ridicous sure but my suspension of disbelief was fine.
Sign In or Register to comment.