Below Zero is terrible, right? Am I the crazy one?

lor360lor360 Join Date: 2019-02-03 Member: 250304Members
I was so excited for another Subnautica game. I thought it would be amazing. 1 hour after starting Below Zero I simply quit. I don't know what this is, but its not fun.

Everything is too cramped, both below the water but especially above. The weather effects are so over the top I struggled to see where I was going (in a bad, not survival game way). The phrase "professional self restraint" comes to mind. Every place, every spot is jam packed with things, like a over decorated Christmas tree. There is no room to let the world breathe, no time to let you think where you should go next, because everywhere has something.
No infamously beloved thalasophobia from biomes with infinite ocean blue on every side of the compass. No break in interesting objects and locations with a bit of space to make the world feel huge. In Below Zero, everything is crammed into a arctic puddle, with every single square inch of land being covered in some plant, formation, or a piece of technology.

Paradoxically, a lot of this visual clutter is recycled old stuff from the original game. Repainted kelp, slightly modified fish from the original game, flat out identical items and human objects.

The story is just as overwhelming as the map. Tons of text, documents, sound files are dumped at you immediately when loading a new game, to the point where you can spend 20 minutes reading your PDA before you even move your character. Then, every 10 minutes there is more text, more documents. Remember how in the original game you got maybe 1 document every 5 wrecks and only if you bothered to explore them from top to bottom? Well, not in Below Zero. Every room in the first base I found had like 2-3 documents in it, 2-3 toys, 1-2 new characters and 5 scanable objects.

And its not like the story is that impressive. Uninteresting characters with dialogue I could only honestly describe as autistic (I don't mean to offend). The main character thinking out loud completely mundane and obvious things, as if the developers where afraid the player wouldn't realize he made a flashlight unless the character says out loud "I have made a flashlight".

The bad kind of jump scare in the cave with Marguerite, that's cheap and insulting, as opposed to making a hostile and unnerving world with dangers.

Yet, despite everything being cluttered and text dumped, someone who never played Subnautica might spend hours going in circles trying to figure out how to do the most basic of things, like make rubber for a knife, or realizing that its even possible to upgrade your underwater air capacity.

I loved Subnautica because it was vast. Quiet. Abandoned. Its world couldn't care less about you. The story was done more by showing the world, not telling. Building a base was necessary. Moving the story required preparing and launching expeditions.
Below Zero felt like a mod done by overenthusiastic pre teens. It feels like some first person shooter without the guns. "The more colorful objects and dialogue we shove into the map, the more fun the map will get!" I cant believe the developers missed the mark so much on why the first game was successful.

Also, Rileys hair shadow shows she isn't wearing a helmet when diving in arctic water.


  • TwoechoTwoecho Join Date: 2021-04-25 Member: 269454Members
    I don't think it's awful. It's just not as good as the first one. To your specific points:

    It seems the devs were going for a claustrophobic reaction. Things certainly are more cramped, and for me it just didn't have the desired effect. What made the first one scary, for me, was the vastness of everything. I'm much more frightened by the prospect of open water than I am of the cavern effect. At least in a cavern you can find something to hide behind. And with a seatruck that fit into every single place, the fear of running out of oxygen wasn't an issue. Couple that with the fact that there was no real explanation for why the Shadow Leviathan's live in a tiny cave with nothing but a scarce amount of small fish and it was rather infuriating. At least in the 1st one you could find clues as to why the Leviathans lived where they did and evolved as they had...

    As for it being recycled models, this doesn't bother me as much. It is, after all the same planet, and there is enough of an evolution of the flora and fauna to make it believable. The African desert is so very different from the US mountains and they both have humans and the only real difference is the color of their skin. In BZ we got whales, and Paddlefish, and hole fish and jellies and more. Lots of evolutionary differences there...

    The story was good. Not as enthralling as waking up on an alien planet and trying to figure out why you crashed and how you escape. But it was good. And I enjoy having lots of PDA stuff to find and read. Oh, and as hard as it is to believe, there are surely folks that need those mundane things to be explained to them After all, humans have directions printed on a tube of toothpaste...

    All in all, I enjoyed it. It was not as good as Subnautica, but that story has been told. How do you go back to 4546B and recapture that same initial sense of wonder? I don't think you really can. But they did a good job of trying. And without spoiling anything, If they do indeed make another, there should be plenty of opportunity to recapture that exploring a strange new place vibe...
  • Morph_GuyMorph_Guy Join Date: 2016-04-21 Member: 216034Members
    lor360 wrote: »
    dialogue I could only honestly describe as autistic (I don't mean to offend).
    I had some whole response ready about how while Below Zero does have issues your points are kind of just wrong like how the detail just kind of makes sense for a living world in general or how there aren't really that many recycled models but then I got to this point and it's just. I can't even see what the thought process was here and also you very much offended. So nah I don't think I'm gonna bother with any of this
  • OsydiusOsydius France Join Date: 2015-09-19 Member: 208031Members
    Though it pains me to say so, being a huge Subnautica fan, I tend to agree with Lor360.

    It's not that Subnautica Below Zero is a bad game in itself, quite the opposite, but we do not judge it on a standalone basis, i.e. we have to compare it to Subnautica. And the issue is that it's not as good as Subnautica and well below what I at least expected from the second episode of the franchise.

    I mean normally the sequel of any successful movie or video game is supposed to be "the same but bigger". Bigger budget, bigger action, bigger map, bigger everything. But with Subnautica Below Zero, they actually went the other way. Everything feels smaller. The map is smaller and less deep, the game is not as scary, the tech less impressive (how I miss my Cyclops), the creatures less nightmare-inducing, the story less engaging, etc.

    The story is probably my biggest issue with Below Zero: while more fleshed out than the first Subnautica and improved with some great voice acting, is actually less engaging. The hero comes willingly to the planet and there is no sense of urgency throughout the game. And the story is full of holes. As I played, I kept asking myself "where is everybody ?". Sure there was an accident that killed two employees but weren't they working on incredibly sensitive and potentially game changing technology (or weaponry) ? Is that accident enough for them to simply pack up and leave everything like that, including all samples of the Kharaa, without any security ? I kept expecting to find some data explaining why they left in a hurry but no, nothing ever came (or I missed it). Also why are all installations destroyed ? We have an explanation for the research lab and the cave-in near the sample, but what about the rest ? It's like the place fell apart years ago, which is not possible obviously considering the timeline. And the whole "curing the Kharaa" section is so weird, many people just skipped it by accident because it's not central to the plot, even though it is literally the reason you're here in the first place, what started it all.

    Also, this game offered a huge opportunity in terms of tech, the ability to create a whole lot of new futuristic tools (like the first game)... but that never happened. Compared with the first game, whatever was added feels useless. Like the Snowfox for instance which is barely useful, or the Control Room, which looks cool but serves no real purpose. Or of course the Seatruck which sucks hard compared to the Cyclops. Getting the Cyclops in Subnautica was THE "wow" moment of the game (there were many but man was it cool to get that sub). The Seatruck never feels that good. The only piece of tech that was added that was actually an improvement over Subnautica was the Jukebox (cool music btw)...

    Where are the base attacks ? The DNA research ? Body alterations by mixing bio and mechanical parts (like the warper) ? We all wanted a replacement to the Cyclops that would blow us away, a huge ship in which you could dock the Cyclops, and instead got something that is just a less appealing Seamoth. At first I thought the point of it was to create more tension, not feel as protected as you would in a Cyclops, but ironically, not only do the creatures in Below Zero feel more tamed than in Subnautica, but once you get the defense perimeter module, they also become trivial.

    Now I know the above makes me look like I disliked the game but it's not so. I played it in full and enjoyed it. But Subnautica is one of my favorite games ever (and I've been playing video games for over 30 years), and I really thought that the Sequel would blow me away with more of what made the first one successful, i.e. a mix between survival and horror, with crazy tension, beautiful landscape and futuristic tech. In the end, the tech hasn't changed, the tension disappeared, and only the beautiful landscape remained (and it is beautiful indeed - special mention to the Deep Lilypad caves).

    Overall this feels more like an add-on than a real sequel. It's a good game, I would still rate it a solid 7/10 and recommend it. But for someone who has played and loved the first one, the taste it leaves in my mouth is that of a wasted opportunity.

    I hope there will be a third Subnautica, and I hope this time, the Dev teams simply goes wild and actually implement all the suggestions I have seen them make over the past 5 years.
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