Ghost Update now haunting Subnautica

Ghost Update - Subnautica

When I get emails with the subject “Ghost Update” it is usually Alice pointing out something important from the latest issue of our favourite ghost magazine – the angel who was also potentially a surfer dude or the couple who kept having little arguments with each other and past life regression revealed that they had been a trapeze act where one had dropped the other one to their death meaning this life was a bit socially awkward for them.

Confusingly, Ghost Update is also the name of the latest Subnautica [official site] update – no passive-aggressive dead trapeze artists BUT there’s a spot of new content (POTENTIAL SPOILER WARNING), more final plant art (!!!), a new biome called the Mesas, and… detailed models of poop?

I still haven’t gone back to Subnautica because I ended up deciding I didn’t want to burn out before the full scope of the game was realised so this news is being summarised as I try not to think about it too hard. It’s no mean feat, I can tell you. Having watched the video, though, the whole thing seems slicker and sleeker than when I last ducked in.

The Ghost Leviathan is, I assume, the namesake of the update – the images suggest it’s more that it’s bioluminescent and maybe blanched in the way that deep sea creatures tend to be – here’s an interesting article on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website about how you measure the colour of deep-sea animals.

There’s some plot stuff which I’m ignoring and hoping I forget, and some accompanying creature info. The Mesas is a bit better in that it just tells you there are now grassy flats near your initial landing site and leaves you to find out what might be living there.


The PDA interface which is how you manage your resources and so on has had a bit of tweaking so you can drag and drop plus get a bit more info about the crafting side of things via tooltips. The Cyclops, which is the bigger submersible, also has a bunch of changes which all seem pleasant enough, especially the increased storage space.

There are some things you might want to read the notes for if you’ve got a save from pretty far into the game storywise which you’re playing – just so you know about things you might need to re-do for various reasons, but if you’ve just been pottering about or want to start a new save it won’t apply so you can ignore that (and the spoilers it entails).

Everything else seems either minor, quality-of-life-y, optimisation-y, or to do with the progress towards the final art assets and models and whatnot. If you’re looking for anything in particular you can find the full info here.

The Ghost Update is out now over on Steam. I adore Subnautica but I want to remind you it’s an early access project so all the usual caveats etc etc.


  1. Lars Westergren says:

    It was beautiful before, now it is really gorgeous.

    Lots of new and more higher detailed textures, better framerates, longer draw distance, less pop-in of geometry and textures. I saw a few cases of white space between vertexes, especially when swimming in caves, but that has gotten better too. Now that they have gone into feature-freeze, they are going to spend a lot of time optimizing, so hopefully it can get even better.

    • JarinArenos says:

      Really hoping optimization goes well. I’d like to go through the mushroom forest at more than 5fps. But other than that, the game is looking amazing.

    • Jay Load says:

      less pop-in of geometry and textures. I saw a few cases of white space between vertexes, especially when swimming in caves, but that has gotten better too.”

      …are you sure? I was playing it last night and all of that was still as bad as it ever was. For some reason I was noticing the pop-up a lot more last night: it’s pretty bad.

      Game seems a bit smoother though. I’ll give them that.

  2. fuggles says:

    Gosh I love the look of subnautica so much. One day I tells ya.

    I will even buy into an early access product as it seems pretty complete.

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      DuncUK says:

      It’s fantastic. Having played a good 40 hours of the game I’ve decided to leave it alone until it hits 1.0… this is truly a great combination of survival/crafting, storyline, environmental horror and exploration… especially the latter. However, it was clear as I reached the end of my playtime that I was nearing the end of the available content so I decided to stop. I can’t decide whether to start again when it hits 1.0.

      • Sutenvulf says:

        This is what I was going to do, spent about 30-40hours several months back and got to the end as it were, last week I gave in and jumped back in, frame rates were the biggest let down but I persevered, this update seems to have ironed a lot of that out, though time will tell.
        It’s the only early access game I’ve played and although I’m not big on horror I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

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          DuncUK says:

          Frame rates were bad when I last played, that’s a big part of the reason for staying away… there’s not much point them optimising until everything is mostly implemented, so I expect that’ll come in or near the 1.0 release

          • tryst46 says:

            Leaving optimisation until the end was the problem with Ark. The poured so much content into the game that any real optimisation became impossible.

            I am personally hoping Subnautica devs learn from that mistake and continue to optimise as they go to give us smoother transitions into new content as well as to warn them when PC hardware limits are being reached.

  3. kulik says:

    I hate that this and The long dark game doesn’t have proceduraly generated environments, at least partially. And yes, I know that there is very much to explore but I have that nagging voice in the back my head telling me “If you die, you’re going to play in this same world.”

    • maninahat says:

      Huh, different strokes I guess. The rigid environment is one of the things that makes the game so appealing to me; It means its crafted to look especially nice and spaced out, with things in their best place. Generated worlds can end up full of niggling annoyances (like a crucial item being stuck under a generated house or in an impossible to reach place), or weird aesthetic quirks produced by the algorithms trying to stick a snowy mountain in a sandy canyon or whatever.

    • dvrabel says:

      In the default survival mode, if you die you respawn without losing any progress so you don’t need to keep replaying the beginning stages.

    • SaintAn says:

      Yeah, I really want randomly generated worlds. I memorize game environments and don’t really forget them, and I REALLY love games being a mystery so I won’t be able to play it a second time once I beat it the first time. I really love this game so that makes me really sad and not want to beat it so I won’t know everything.

      • tryst46 says:

        Yes, that’s the biggest problem with fixed maps. While they are easier to make from a development point of view, players get to know exactly where every resource is so the game loses the challenge. For example: Before you even start, you know you’re going to need the Cyclops to get to known places where there is an abundance of a certain resource.

        PG maps may have their quirks, but at least exploring a new world becomes part of the challenge.

  4. VFRHawk says:

    Anybody play this in VR? There were a lot of reported bugs in VR so I’ve only ever played for the first hour or so until they’re fixed – the HUD is off screen, things like that.

    Does anyone know if VR got any love in the recent patches?

    • Sakkura says:

      I played it some a long while back, and it did already get some VR improvements back then. I’m sure there have been more since. I’ve just been waiting for the basic game to get more complete, as the VR aspect had gotten “good enough” for me. But that’ll also depend on your sensitivity to performance issues etc.

  5. R. Totale says:

    How do you not find this terrifying?

  6. kincajou says:

    I recently played subnautica and found it amazing… Sadly though I also was reminded of the reason I don’t play first person games… I was nauseous and breathing heavily within 30 minutes….

    Breaks my heart that I’ll have to pass on this game :( (devs have stated repeatedly that they’re not going to implement a third person view)

    On a related note, people on steam forum can be real asses, assuming that people asking for third person view only do it for preference and not because they want to be able to physically enjoy the game…

    • Highlandcoo says:

      Sorry you wont be able to enjoy it but I can also see the dev point of view, its not as simple as sticking a camera 3 feet behind the player.

    • JarinArenos says:

      My wife has the same problem with FPS games. Have you tried adjusting the field of view, and/or taking dramamine 10-15 minutes before playing?

      It’s a shame that there’s not more consideration for people who are vulnerable to motion sickness, but there’s a few ways to attempt to cope at least.

  7. bramble says:

    I loved the time I spent with Subnautica! However, once I started progressing to the deeper and more dangerous waters, a deep, primal, childhood fear of sea monsters lurking unseen around me caused me to stop playing. I remember trying to get to the crashed ship and encountering that reaper thing or whatever, that grabs you. I haven’t been so scared like that by any kind of media in a long, long time. Lovely game, but I have to acknowledge my own weakness here and say it’s just not for me.

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      Nauallis says:

      Oh man, yeah this. Subnautica hits all of those fears in a terrifying way – the drop-off depth if you get more than about 200m from the lifepod, the deeps after the mushroom forest, the fact that the crashed starship is essentially resting on an undersea promontory. Yikes. I tried to explore the broken-off section of the starship early on, and I just had to nope right out of there because the seafloor isn’t visible from the water’s surface… and there are things prowling around in the murky shadows…

      The deepest I’ve ever gotten is the shell caves under or adjacent to the mushroom forest.