SPOILER WARNING Subnautica vs Below Zero setting discussion

MischiefSCMischiefSC Join Date: 2016-08-28 Member: 221802Members

No, seriously, there's no real way to have this sort of discussion without a lot of spoilers. If that's a concern for you don't read further!

We all good? Okay? Okay.

Subnautica was a very isolated, lonely, survival-focused setting. You were the lone survivor and only the wreckage of others attempts remained. It was also a total sandbox - you could go anywhere, unlock anything, build whatever you could get your little mitts on and attack the story however you wanted or even not at all.

Below Zero, conversely, has you constantly connected. You've got existing fully functioning bases you can't just take over but that you can go live in as needed, you have a station full of resources that drops things in for you and plenty of critical tools and tech are gated to story progression.

This change has driven some negative reviews and concerned comments and I'd love to get more into the pros and cons of the difference as people see it.

I was originally very skeptical of the new approach and feeling a bit bummed about it. However as I revisit Below Zero more and more I start to see the potential it provides.


The voice acting and characterization is orders of magnitude better. Most people don't even know their guys name in Subnautica. He's just a shadow projected by the lights of their Sea Moth. He is, ironically, a Nemo - latin for 'Nobody' as a term for an unidentified 'could be anybody' man. In Below Zero though you're a defined, interesting, well realized character with goals and a personality and motivations.


Isolation vs being connected to Alterra resources, stations and drops. At first this was a dissatisfier for me but I honestly think now that's more because of us only having the prelude. As I see the potential of where the story is going, being hunted not just by the monsters of the icy deep but by Alterra itself? Giving you that connection to resources and tying you to a linear (almost training style) plot and then turning that 180 so you not only don't have that anymore but now it's all out to get you could be a lot of fun. Suddenly its you and a passive/aggressive AI trying to not just survive but avoid Alterra while trying to find a solution to your situation. I've gone from concerned to cautiously optimistic on this one.

Land vs always underwater:

This is another one where I think the lack of an existing temperature mechanic in beta skews perception. I don't think, once more content is in, that being on the surface will be 'safe' compared to underwater. Far more the opposite. Between Alterra, the incredible cold and only having 2 dimensions to avoid enemies in instead of 3 I think underwater will end up safer. I'm willing to give this one plenty of room to play out as well. Plus that first moment you're going to surface and realize there's ice above you. The setting itself is really, really cool and well realized already.

Map size:

On one hand the long travel times in Subnautica were a thing and I kinda get the value of shrinking things a bit. On the other.... no such thing as 'enough Subnautica'. Not kidding here. Give me a procedural endless world and I'd just play Subnautica for hundreds and hundreds of hours. I want more space. I'd buy $20 DLC for the original Subnautica with new areas and plot stuff and I'd buy it constantly. Map edges are... jarring. I want more to explore, I'm hungry for it and seeing how small Below Zero feels already gives me a bit of a sad.


My initial reaction was concern, after playing it a bit I think my concerns will be answered as we get more mechanics and story filled out.

How about you guys?


  • CaptainFearlessCaptainFearless CO, US Join Date: 2016-12-14 Member: 224941Members
    I'm interested in the seemingly vast difference between isolation. In the base game you are alone, and terrified with the ship as your main landmark, otherwise it's just ocean. In Below Zero right off the bat you have the Vesper, and soon Al-An, and you have Pengwings and are surrpunded by a lot of land. I'm guessing the leviathans are going to be purpose built to be terrifying, making you love the surface much more than the base game did. It is gonna be interesting!
  • RezcaRezca United States Join Date: 2016-04-28 Member: 216078Members
    edited February 2019
    I was ecstatic when they said there'd be voice acting, and I'm loving the dynamics between the characters so far
    Al-An: You were more polite when we first met.
    Robin: Yeah, process that.
    Al-An: I will try.
    (In a databank entry) Addendum: I believe you became less polite after I threatened you.

    As well as a later entry with another character I'd rather not mention since it'll probably ed up changing somewhat. In fact one of 'em as already changed since I first found it heh. Also spoilery-spoiler stuff because likely late game.
    Still here? Alright then. It's chatter with Marg from the base game. Seems like we might even meet her in person too! Unless it changes, and it may very well do so. Sounds like from the first dialogue bundle I ran into while deep diving with pipes and oxygen tank sets mentioned a Snowstalker, but the second time I ran into it that bit was written out.

    I think people sling around negative conceptions of games like this, that decide to do things a little differently than the base game but still retain its 'spirit', a little too easily. Without giving it too much of a chance and all that. But hey, their loss :P

    I do wish the map was a bit bigger, but there's always post-release..... Assuming they want to anyway. They didn't seem keen on doing that with the base Subnautica and their canonizing the map edge (Which is a giant cylinder, not a volcanic crater.) that severely limits what they could do should they ever feel like it. I'd be happy with them smoothing out the map edge so it's not a jarring transition from Map to Nothing. In-Universe explanation for it or not, it's still an abrupt stop to the playable game area's geometry. If they made it a slope downwards for a while, maybe with some rocky outcroppings and stuff along the way, a surface sea dragon or two ('cause they look SO MUCH better in the water column than in the lava zones) and some optional caves or something.... THEN dropping into oblivion because the game has to end *somewhere* (even Minecraft ends eventually)

    But, if they ever go through with that Map Editor they mentioned on Trello before abandoning the site, then we could take that into our own hands. Remember all those Unique Landscapes in Oblivion? Imagine that in Subnautica now. We're a dedicated enough community, if we put our minds to it we could probably do a lot of things. Extend the Lost River across the whole map like in the pre-concept concept of it, return the old Corridor Trios to their What Could Have Been glory, and heck if it's at all possible.... Maybe even port the Lily Pad Islands over or something.

    Depending on how they handle such a tool, we could do a lot of things with the base game so they won't have to.
  • JAZZYFORSUBNAUTICAJAZZYFORSUBNAUTICA Join Date: 2018-05-01 Member: 240453Members
    edited February 2019
    sorry just a question how do you add the spoiler warning thing
  • RezcaRezca United States Join Date: 2016-04-28 Member: 216078Members
    edited February 2019
    sorry just a question how do you add the spoiler warning thing

    Like this :)
    You've been Spoiled!

    Can also add "spoiler" "/spoiler" in [ ] tags to do the same effect. Without the "'s of course.
  • DrownedOutDrownedOut Habitat Join Date: 2016-05-26 Member: 217559Members
    I didn't know what to expect of BZ's temperature mechanic and assumed it was already in the game when we're warned of the area's storms. So when I was told to go to the rocket station, I rushed my way over there thinking my health bar could start dropping at any moment. It wasn't until I had the rocket sent up and made my way back down again and for the first time noticed one of those low texture hot pools that I realized there was no temperature mechanic, because there couldn't be so many things around to help keep me warm when I needed not a single one of them.

    Just a thing I thought to share in light of many early hesitations and some ongoing complaints, mostly over on vaporized water. Upon my own realization, I've come to look forward to surface gameplay greatly. I'm especially hoping to get to launch a rocket during a storm, whether scripted or by luck, because that's probs going to be something.

    (Anyone else hoping there'll be buildable hot pools as a surface equivalent to the pipes? C'mon, I want a luxurious surface base!)

    And the Vesper strikes me as something that can very easily get a Big Brother quality, which is another kind of isolation from what SN has done before (give or take the PDA keeping track of you) but not at all out of place. One thing I like to do in SN1 is to drive around in the Cyclops at the surface at night while using the upper camera for view. It's delightfully peaceful. Whatever the equivalent of that experience in SN2, I hope the presence of the Vesper ruins it.
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