Sealab 2015: Subnautica’s Habitat Update

I’ve had Subnautica [official site] for a while now, but only got around to installing it this weekend. As it continues to ascend out of Steam Early Access, the undersea explore ’em up has spat out a big update with a few things that made me want to dive in. For starters, undersea bases can now have all the cool glass corridors and viewing domes that really set off a seahome look. On top of that, it’s got an eerie new reef biome hundreds of metres down, and I do dig unearthly dark waters.

Best of all: you can put a little fish tank in your base to keep pet fish.

This vid from developers Unknown Worlds goes over the new and shiny in the ‘Habitat’ update:

It’s not all decoration. Safety-wise, you can now drop in bulkhead doors to compartmentalise your creations to protect against flooding. Power generation has been overhauled too, with new solar, plant-powered, thermal, and nuclear options linked together by transmitters. If you want those nuclear reactors, though, you’ll need to go down into the new Grand Reef zones.

Found at depths from 200-450 metres, this dark reef looks to have lots of odd bioluminescent life, bubbles, jellies, and other oddities, not to mention a few nasties. It’s the reef of my dreams.

I ended up too busy to dive down this weekend, but I’m keen to get into Subnautica. Early Access games seem to easily slip down my playing priorities, as I know there’ll be more to come anyway. The game’s £14.9 at the moment, though do remember the usual disclaimers about early access games. We sent Marsh down back in January and he enjoyed the exploration after turning off its survival elements, and I imagine I’ll do the same. I want to explore a weird ocean, not craft.


  1. klops says:

    That picture made me think this is a Trine-like pretty sidescroller but underwater. Oh well, no new Aquaria, still.

  2. KingNewbs says:

    What is that, Pod Six? I don’t even know why we have a Pod Six.

    Pod Six is JERKS!

  3. Chris says:

    In order to be fun, a survival game has to have goals / a story or co-op / multiplayer. Subnautica has neither.

    • Chaz says:

      At the moment the goal is to survive and improve your situation. As for a story and co-op and multiplayer, neither of those are needed for a fun survival game. I’d much rather be able to do my own thing than have some story thrust upon me. A story that will be the same every time I start over and reply the game. As for co-op and multiplayer, I could see the ability to co-op with 2-3 other players being fun when the game’s a bit further down the line in development, but right now it wouldn’t add anything.

      • Ross Angus says:

        I assume the goal is to build Rapture.

        • Chaz says:

          Yep, and by the time you’ve done it you will have become completely deranged and turned yourself into an aquatic mutant.

    • Shizzle says:

      But… but… why did I have so much fun with Minecraft. All alone and without any story or goals?


      • aleander says:

        You are wrong, you are not having any fun at all. In fact, it’s illegal to have fun without achieving an ISO-931337 certified goal.

    • TJ says:

      Story is coming nonetheless.

    • aldo_14 says:

      I wouldn’t say a game, survival or otherwise, needs to have goals or story elements to be fun; it’s all about the experience you want. In my case, I’m looking at this and getting quite interested from the position of considering a nice relaxing diversion – sort of a fake underwater safari – more than a survival struggle aspect.

      • Canadave says:

        I definitely prefer the underwater exploration aspects, though the base building is a nice little diversion as well. That said, be warned that the game is about 85% calming and relaxing, and about 15% terrifying. Some of the hostile creatures in this game are downright terrifying, for one, and there have been occasions where the sheer vastness of the water just gets to me. I’m not hydrophobic or anything, it’s just that the game really does a great job of giving you the sense of scale of the ocean, even in a limited map, and I’ll sometimes be cruising along 1000 metres deep and get overwhelmed by it all.

        That’s not to say I recommend against the game, though. It takes an impressive amount of atmosphere for it to have that effect.

    • itchyeyes says:

      In order to be fun, a survival game has to have parrots / characters named Bob / grenade launchers. Subnautica has neither.

      Look, I can make meaningless, unsubstantiated declarations too!

    • ulix says:

      Weirdly, I had a lot of fun with Don’t Starve, which has (or had, since they added multiplayer) neither of those.
      So had millions of others.

  4. Chaz says:

    I’m having fun playing this right now.

    You can either play it in Freedom mode or Survival. In Freedom mode you don’t have to worry about power or food and water, where as in Survival you do of course. I’ve played in Freedom mode previously and I’ve just been giving survival a go for a few days. Survival unfortunately can be a bit of a grind as the rate at which you need to eat and drink is a bit too fast, meaning that 50% of your time seems to be spent resource gathering to stave off your thirst and hunger. Hopefully that will be tweaked in due course and perhaps other elements added such as being able to farm kelp and add a water purification unit. Right now though I’d recommend playing in Freedom mode as it means all your time can be spent doing the fun stuff.

    Base building is very simple and easy. You simple need the required resources in your inventory and a building tool and then just spray it into place, a bit like a commander in Total Annihilation. Bits can be easily rotated and flipped around and snapped together. If you misplace a piece or you decide you don’t like its position, you can simply suck it back up into your inventory into its component pieces again. So if a bit later on you find an even better spot for your base or you want to rearrange and rebuild it, it’s easy to break back down and rebuild. Building or breaking it back down only takes a few seconds, making base construction quite a fun thing to do.

    What will take a while however is finding and gathering all the resources needed to build or the bits of your base in the first place. That’s where the exploration comes in as some resources can only be found in certain types of biome. To reach some of the deeper biomes you’ll need better equipment. So the need to explore and gather resources tie together quite nicely.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      It’s been a few updates since I’ve played, and I’m sad to hear that the player character’s hyperactive metabolism has not been fixed. The problem, as I recall, is that early on all your food and water sources are really small, so you spend 90% of your time just trying to avoid dropping dead. The way I see it, in most survival games, food and water should be a background concern that you have to keep in mind as you handle the crisis de jour – not the primary threat to your life.

      However, once they patch in a fix, I’ll be happily jumping back into the game. Exploring the world itself is amazing… it’s so lifelike and yet alien that it gives your fight or flight response a real workout. Even though most threats are actually quite manageable, you’ll find your animal instincts kicking in as you try to read the behaviour of completely alien lifeforms. It’s a pretty unique experience in gaming, and one that I highly recommend.

  5. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    Subnautica has undersea bases? *hovers mouse over purchase button*

  6. Mortomes says:

    Is this basically space engineers….. IN THE OCCEEEAAAN?

  7. Buggery says:

    Hmm yes let me place solar panels under the ocean instead of using tidal power I can see this working well

  8. lordfrikk says:

    This game is pretty amazing.