Subnautica Enters Earliest Access, Offers Prototypes

Much like the above “screenshot” the first of Subnautica‘s released builds are not going to be representative. The second project from Natural Selection devs Unknown Worlds will enter what they’re calling “Earliest Access” on October 31st. It’s called that because they feel the game “isn’t ready” for Early Access – far too much unfinished and in flux. They’re leaving it up to you whether you’re desperate enough for underwater survivalising to support development. Those who go for it will also be given code for a few of the team’s prototype builds, released over the next few days. More details below.

While it’s not being sold on the Steam store, come October 31st the builds will be distributed via Valve’s service. Unknown Worlds are aiming for regular weekly updates and daily ones for those who want them, when they can do it. There’s something enticing about that. I’m generally down on paying for unfinished games, the inevitability of disappointment clear. This is different, something new and interesting every day or week, likely broken, but enough entertainment for short bursts. Eventually – eventually – that will stop, and there’ll be a larger thing that I’ve watched grow.

The game itself is a cool concept too. Survival may feel played out, but this is doing more than a find and replace on “zombies” with “dinosaurs,” “cannibals,” “bears,” or “knights.” The watery depths of an alien world isn’t somewhere I’m regularly transported in games and the fear of deep sea drowning is a new one for the genre. It’s a different sort of dread to being hunted by assorted nasties: the constant knowledge that your environment is immediately lethal and you are kept alive only by the presence of (failing) technology.

It’s $35 at this stage, available through the Subnautica website. The FAQ at the bottom indicates they’re aiming for a full release in mid-2015. Hmm, we’ll see about that, but as Unknown Worlds point out they’ve got a decent track record when it comes to finishing their development plate. Here’s the trailer from last month:


  1. equatorian says:

    Is it weird that I’m willing to pay good money to ‘help turn ideas into reality’ on Kickstarter and don’t actually mind if it fails, but balk at Early Access?

    • Premium User Badge

      Ben Barrett says:

      It is, but I think there are a lot of people with similarly illogical thought patterns, myself included. I’d be more likely to go in on this, yonks from release and unplayable, than a standard Early Access thing, for example. And, same as you, I’ve been much closer to Kickstarting things than I have been to buying them in EA. Not sure why.

      • bjohndooh says:

        I feel similarly but I try to make the true judgement case by case.
        Most Early Access just feels like buying into Alpha/Beta access – where a good Kickstarter is more straightforward with their intentions and goals for the development of the game.

        • Geebs says:

          I’m much more keen on Kickstartering than Early Access, too. Firstly, you don’t end up getting bored with something before it gets good, and secondly, Early Access is a terribly weaselly phrase (I’d settle for ‘Unpaid Beta Tester’ or ‘That Molyneux Guy Sounds Convincing, Listen To All His Amazing Ideas!’), whereas Kickstarter is a much more honest statement of intent.

  2. Jeroen D Stout says:

    Assuming the leaks are not all over the top of the vessel, how come the water keeps streaming in, seeing there would be sufficient air pressure to leave a bubble?

    • David Bliff says:

      Well I’m not super sure what would happen in real life, presumably the pressure would just cause the submarine to implode depending on how deep it is. But if that’s not even the case, then probably because flooding your ship is exciting/scary and it’s a game?

      edit: I realize this comment makes me come across as a total sarcastic butthole. I’m going to leave it unchanged but also apologize, sorry about that. I’ve just come from reading about gamergate on Twitter, you can understand how on edge that might leave me.

      • Jeroen D Stout says:

        EDIT: You did not sound so sarcastic… actually, if I sound sarcastic or mean below (which I will also leave without edit!) it is probably for the same reason. 2 months of GamerGate in my timeline has left me with little true joy when it comes to games.

        I must say I find “it’s a game” a bit lazy an explanation when it comes to countering a principle that was no mystery to mankind from as early as 440 BCE.

        I did do some reading, apparently unless air can escape, the air is pressurised to the same density as water (which makes sense); at great depths, the extra pressure would drastically heat up the air. The image of the brazen bull comes to mind.

        (Cautiously I add this to “ways I do not wish to die.”)

        Apparently most hull breaches relieve pressure, leaving wrecks largely intact beyond their initial injury.

        • David Bliff says:

          Super interesting, and yes I’m willing to concede that “it’s just a game” is in fact lazy rationale.

          So if I’m understanding you correctly, assuming the structural integrity of the submarine is fine, the water flowing in through a puncture in the hull won’t go above the line where the hole is? I’m guessing at that point anyone not trapped below the water will just be burned by the pressurized air or asphyxiate once the air pocket fills up with CO2?

  3. Artist says:

    “…but as Unknown Worlds point out they’ve got a decent track record when it comes to finishing their development plate.”
    LOL, and as most early NS2-players can point out theyve delayed and delayed NS2 again until it was doomed for death…

    • BlitzThose says:

      remember the NS2 trailer that said the game would be realeased fall 2009, 3 years later we were still waiting

  4. RARARA says:

    Even if the fluid physics could do with a bit of work, I really like that warm hue of the ocean.

    I dunno why, but it reminded me of Ocean Girl for some reason…