It’s time for console gamers to return to planet 4546B, this time to explore the frozen waters of its arctic region. Following the January PC release, Subnautica: Below Zero is now available on PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One / Series X | S, and Nintendo Switch.
Subnautica: Below Zero launches as a full single-player survival game. The developers have promised to continue working on the game as an open development project, however. So we can expect more changes and improvements to come.
With the original Subnautica, I had a pleasant surprise when I took a late-night punt on the all-new Steam PC Early Access game. I watched as a game with the simplest premises, a forced landing on a water planet, turned into a fine work of art.
As before, players find themselves crushed on planet 4546B this time in search of their lost sister. When crashing into the Arctic, the first thing players need to do is enter the water before freezing and locate their base. While oxygen is a problem underwater, it’s the freezing temperatures that need to be watched for when you’re exposed to the arctic surface.
After a crash landing, players start with a small base resting in the shallows just off the surface of the frozen planet. Inside the base there is a storage area and a maker. Players must collect resources to craft materials with which, in turn, to build equipment. Early in the game, players watch for a scarce supply of oxygen and must return to the base or surface to refill. Making larger air tanks, fins and submersibles makes exploring easier and faster. This opens the game to a higher grind level.
The basic mechanic of the game (as with all other survival genres) is that of a resource gathering that offers just enough rewards to keep you wanting to keep going. Of course, the game’s sandbox mode gives players access to everything, but it completely eradicates everything in the game. To get the most out of Subnautica: Below Zero, you need to be there for the long haul before things go wrong. start to get interesting. It’s a slow burn that will be wasted on those who don’t have time to sink into the game.
As players travel further and further from the base, better materials and blueprints become available. Plans gleaned from scanned wrecks at the bottom of the ocean. As the game progresses, not only does the planet reveal its mysteries, but players have the freedom to create sprawling structures and a fleet of underwater and surface vehicles.
Of course, players are not alone and some hostiles need to be dealt with. From annoying sea monkeys to some of the most carnivorous beasts of the depths (and land), players must be able to defend and heal themselves when injured.
The game takes off with the construction of complex bases. These can be customized with equipment and furniture to create unique structures ranging from the surface to the seabed. Specialized modules such as moonpools create an authentic looking underwater base. The addition of windows and observation decks allows for great underwater views. Building structures also allows players to dig wells deep into ocean canyons and crevices. These create submerged and easily accessible outposts to organize even deeper expeditions.
In addition to the basic elements, vehicles such as the Modular Seatruck can also be manufactured. With this new technology, players can begin to explore further from their home base. Players who want less of a challenge can opt for creation mode, which grants access to all gear without worrying about oxygen or death. I think that negates the interest of the game somewhat, but it’s interesting to taste the huge amount of building elements available.
Exploration and mystery is what powers the game. Early Expeditions will have players scouring the shallow waters around their small base. Curiosity begins to propel you deeper into chasms and canyons. Something of interest always seems to be out of reach, too deep, or just too far away for your oxygen supply. And that’s what makes you addicted. It’s one of those games that turns 10 p.m. into 4 a.m. The beautiful world of Subnautica: Below Zero is a major factor in stimulating the desire to explore. The underwater environment is amazing on both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. PlayStation 5 owners can expect a faster frame rate. At night, the luminance of fish and flora is magnificent, showing the underwater landscape in a different light. The visuals really immerse you in the game and inspire you to explore further and further. This time around, the surface is also much more accessible, with abandoned facilities for exploring and collecting clues.
Subnautica: Below Zero builds on the success of its predecessor. It’s a refined game that offers intrigue and rewards for players willing to put in the time. Beautiful to watch, it’s a game that defines the survival genre, embracing the spirit of exploration as well as the drudgery of gathering resources and crafting equipment. It’s not a game for everyone, but if you love survival games and like the idea of exploring a very detailed underwater world, this is the one for you.
Summary of the news:
- Subnautica – Below Zero Game Review (PS4 / PS5)
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