Of Life And Depth: Subnautica

Unknown Worlds, the studio behind Natural Selection 2, have announced a new game in a genre that they “do not believe has yet been invented”. Popping players in a customisable submarine, Subnautica will “combine elements of role playing, sandbox, exploration and cinematic games to create a unique experience”. There aren’t many details yet but there’s a superficial (at least) resemblance to Hello Games’ recently announced No Man’s Sky, particularly when it comes to close encounters of the weird kind: “Interaction with impossibly diverse and fascinating creatures. Some of these creatures will be truly enormous, all of them will be unique.” I’ve embedded a video below and Unknown Worlds promise open development, with early access some time next year, and frequent updates at their site.

Here’s a brief overview and ‘welcome’ to the project.

The ‘unique’ nature of the creatures suggests some degree of procedural generation but the developers don’t appear to be aiming for free-form underwater adventures.

The underwater environment will invite you to construct submarines and develop your equipment in order to reach its far flung and diverse corners. Decisions you make about vessel layout, capabilities and structure will affect your ability to navigate hazards and enter the domains of creatures; the likes of which your imagination has never conceived of.

Sounds like a challenge. I know a crew who are up to the task.


  1. The Random One says:

    Call me unconvinced. That’s a whale of a claim, and I’ll believe it when I sea it.

    • Duck_Feet says:

      We shell sea if they can deliver on their clams.

      • Vandelay says:

        I’m not ready to shell out on it yet. There are a few rays of light though. Natural Selection should tide me over until we sea a bit more.

    • Muzman says:

      If they flounder they’ll be fish in barrel.

      • SillyWizard says:

        It’s nice to see them dive in head-first. Now they need to sink or swim!

    • Shodex says:

      You guys have really submerged to a whole new depth of pun-foolery. I’m a little wet behind the ears when it comes to the art, and I doubt I’d be of any kelp. So I’ll not make any attempt and just be off.

    • gekitsu says:

      cod help them.

    • hilltop says:

      I’m pleased to sea them plumb the depths of this kind of exploration game.

      I personally can’t fathom why leagues of people would want access to the minutiae of development (unless they are perhaps budding designers?). I prefer to hold off until full release and immerse myself then.

  2. InternetBatman says:

    Endless ocean combines all of those elements. So there.

  3. airtekh says:

    Contributors to NS2’s reinforcement program have known about this for a while now, it sounds exciting.

    My only concern is that they still have the resources to keep updating NS2 at the same time; seems a lot for an indie studio to take on.

  4. kwyjibo says:

    What actually is it? An MMO? An undersea Minecraft clone? I hope it’s an actual game and not just a bunch of sandbox tools.

  5. SanguineAngel says:

    ‘Popping players in a customisable submarine, Subnautica will “combine elements of role playing, sandbox, exploration and cinematic games to create a unique experience”.’

    Isn’t that Aqua Nox?

    • rebb says:

      I loved me some Schleichfahrt and Aquanox.
      Looks like this is going to be the modern Version of those :)

  6. Shodex says:

    Maybe it can capture a little bit of the under-appreciated magic of Archimedean Dynasty and the later AquaNox.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Ah! Archimedean Dynasty is absolutely the one I was thinking of when I said aqua nox.

      • Shodex says:

        Also known as Schleichfahrt! A hilarious word to all non-German English speakers.

        • SillyWizard says:

          Is that pronounced “shlickfart?”

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            If I remember my GCSE German at all well, I think that ‘ei’ is pronounced like “eye”, so it would by Schl-eye-ch-fart.

            Also, if we are going back to GCSE days …. *snigger* “fart”.

            link to translate.google.com and click the little speaker. There may of course be regional variations, the speakers of whom will of course tell you that’s the ‘right’ way to say it :)

    • KwisatzHaderach says:

      AquaNox was such a let down after the stellar Schleichfahrt! Why the hell would you dump a main character like Emerald “Deadeye” Flint for some ridiculous cartoon nobody-wannabe?!
      Still, I don’t think this game will be similar as it lacks any kind of combat (at least UWE never mentioned it).
      After having played NS2 for nearly 2 years almost exclusively I am convinced it is the most brilliantly realized MP game I’ve ever played. I got trust in UWE that they can pull this off, even if the concept they are aiming for is pretty untested.


      • pilot13 says:

        To be fair Kwis, NS was untested as a genre really when first released (well almost untested).

        With the construction/exploration elements this sounds minecrafty to me, or at least of that ilk.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Oh I was hoping for SimCity or Theme Hospital under sea. If it’s just a WOW clone or another ship flying mmo I’m not interested. Will no one give me the underwater city simulator I want?

  7. LionsPhil says:

    Please stop. My Molyneaux alarm is dehydrating.

    • Vandelay says:

      I wouldn’t say this is Molyneaux-esque. There just isn’t very much to go on. Outside of it being underwater and featuring big sea creatures, there isn’t any info on what the game will actually consist of. Molyneaux might get over excited about his ideas, but at least we actually know what the ideas are.

      NS2 is superb, so I have faith that Unknown Worlds will (eventually) make something interesting here. I’m just not sure if it will be something that interests me.

  8. Moraven says:

    Make it sandbox and like Mincraft, Terraria and it will sell like clams

    • Ross Angus says:

      I think you mean sea shells on the sea shore.

      • Shodex says:

        Not necessarily. all we know is that she sells the sea shells by the sea shore. We don’t know if the sea shells she sells sell well, hell you can easily find free sea shells by the sea shore. The sea shore she sells sea shells at may even be polluted, and she would have no luck selling if the sea shells smell.

  9. Muzman says:

    Sounds interesting (stress on sounds). The title strikes me as odd though. Subnautica sounds like something not quite nautical. So it’s a game about putting to sea in some sort of bathtub or inflatable pool raft.

  10. Pich says:

    “combine elements of role playing, sandbox, exploration and cinematic games to create a unique experience”
    This is the most buzzword game ever.

    • MichaelGC says:

      I’m still missing ‘procedural’ and ‘immersion’ on my bingo card.

      Oh, and ‘zombie.’

      • GameCat says:

        I would add “and space”, but this was already taken by sea.

        Or maybe this is a space sea? Does anyone ever thought about something like that?

      • The Random One says:

        Also missed “inspired by Dark Souls”.

    • Niko says:

      Can we trust game developers using that kind of language?

    • hilltop says:

      I just hope it is visceral.

  11. CookPassBabtridge says:

    I think this looks good.

    Urrggghhhh blimey that was tiring. Being positive on the internet takes a lot out of me nowadays.

  12. Darth Gangrel says:

    “Oh, that looks like an…”, “No, it does NOT, it’s completely unique, the likes of which your imagination has never conceived of”, “Uh, sure, if you say so”. That’s probably not the case with people talking about unique stuff, but I like to think that it is, because it fits with the pretentious claims that these people make.

  13. Niko says:

    Rifters Trilogy, please.

  14. Duke Flipside says:

    One of my favourite theme tunes ever :D Not really sure how a Stingray game would work, but I guess an exploration-focused sandbox RPG wouldn’t be too far off the mark…

  15. Faxanadu says:

    Figures Unknown Worlds would like to tackle the “new genre” thing, considering how Natural-Selection 2 was also pretty much unique genre. (FPS/RTS.)

    Natural-Selection 2 is easily the best multiplayer game I’ve ever played, but dunno what’s gonna be appealing about this game.

    Considering it has subs, this could be an outstanding game for Oculus Rift (move sub with controls, look around inside sub with oculus) so that’s a trick they can pull off. Just gotta wait and see.

  16. Don Reba says:

    They should really consult with Peter Watts. This is the best advice I can give them.