Subnautica surfaces on January 23rd

The alien undersea explore-o-survival sandbox Subnautica will properly launch on January 23rd, after three years in early access. I enjoyed a dip way back when, splashing about in the shallows, but since then have been waiting for a full launch. Seeing the sea sights over the past few years, from Pip’s volcano base to ghost rays flocking around a tree in an undersea river of brine, have made it difficult to stay away. I’m glad to have managed that, as an alien ocean I barely know is waiting for me and I’ll get to be delighted and terrified for the first time by the full experience.

The developers, Unknown Worlds have muttered about aiming to launch on January 23rd before, on their public development roadmap, but today they sent us an e-mail and announced they’re holding a livestreamed launch party at the Monterey Bay Aquarium so it’s definitely confirmed now.

Looking at that roadmap, work left on version 1.0 seem mostly to be tidying up and checking boxes.

As I say, I’m very excited for this. I’ll happily play multiplayer games in early access, for the larks to be had along with the way, but singleplayer games I’d rather get to know in their finished form. Not long now. But if you’ve been diving down these past few years, how was your journey been?


  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I too played this extensively a year or two ago, and found it quite fun though unfinished.

    I’m not sure about some of the changes they’ve made, but in general I’m looking forward to playing it again once the story is actually finishable. It’s a nice thing, being able to swim about in the sunny shallows, and it’s even fun to dive deep in the dark.

  2. Lord_Reynardine says:

    I’m totally with you on single-player early access. Especially RPGs, but anything where an authored experience, or exploration, is central.

    Will give Subnautica a spin at some stage.

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      DuncUK says:

      I agree for the most part, but I picked this up as part of the freedom bundle (thanks, Donald!) and curiosity got the better of me. I loved what I played, I haven’t touched it for about a year but watch all the (curiously scored) update videos with interest. I do hope the performance has been addressed as this got quite stuttery when your base got to any appreciable size.

      Now I’m torn as to whether to start again when 1.0 hits or to continue with my last save. There’s quite a bit of (enjoyable) resource gathering to build a decent base and wreck exploration to collect all the blueprints and I’m not sure I really want to repeat all that. On the other hand, there might be plenty of tweaks to various areas in the game that I would otherwise have little reason to go back to.

      Then again, I am assuming that my save isn’t broken by so much patching since I last played.

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        DuncUK says:

        Reading around, it seems like some of the newer stuff would be locked out of an old save and other parts of the game might be broken as hell. New game it is then!

  3. Megatron says:

    Not Yet Finished: the final Rocket build/escape sequence! Apparently it doesn’t build, just takes your resources. That’s kind of where I am having completed the rest.

    My last week of gameplay saw me taking my cyclops and Prawn down into the Inactive Lava Zone and beyond, where I’d been barred form for so long due to lack of a vital resource to harden both vehicles. Finally getting down there and exploring the surrounds counts as one of my peak gameplay experiences. The sense of menace and oppression are unparalleled. But at the same time, bounding across magma flows in the Prawn is just the best fun ever, especially if it’s grapple enabled.

    I’m a huge fan of this game. It’s still a little rough around the edges but what’s there is so enchanting you can easily forgive them. I might take the time to rebuild my base somewhere a little deeper so it can accomodate some of the other bits and pieces I’ve not yet had the chance to build on it. And if the devs are planning a Cyclops Dock in the future, woohoo! Really hope that comes about.

    If I had anything on my wishlist, it would be to allow the many and beautiful creatures free roam of the sea (within reason). Having them always keep to the same locations is a little dull. I’d like to be surprised, now and again.

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      If I had anything on my wishlist, it would be to allow the many and beautiful creatures free roam of the sea (within reason). Having them always keep to the same locations is a little dull. I’d like to be surprised, now and again.

      They do.. sorta. I mean a few of the stalkers wander around fairly deep into the safe shallows, and that sort of thing.

      But not just forever, I guess. Though there’d have to be some restraint, I don’t want Reapers hanging around my base in the shallows.

  4. nitric22 says:

    Good reminder Alice. My thanks. This one has caught my eye a few times in the past several years, as Steam continues to insist I buy it via my Discovery Queue. Now I must simply decide if I want my survival game purchase to send me to the deep depths via this game, or go to the great vacuum in Astroneer. I’d better get my fill of the Long Dark before anything else. I’m just dipping my toes in after it’s inclusion in this months Humble Bundle. I do fear though that this genre is one that I’m much more in love with the idea of, rather than the actual final product. Thus, I must tread lightly.

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      DuncUK says:

      I’ve not played Astroneer but if it’s a choice between that and Subnautica (which I love) then I’d recommend the latter on the basis that it is exiting early access soon. Save Astroneer for when it hits 1.0

      Subnautica has phenomenal atmosphere. The graphics and sound design really capture the wonder and horror of the sea, the way the crafting progression is weaved wonderfully into the storyline and exploring is just so much fun. There’s something to be said for well crafted environments in single player survival games and this game has fantastic map design. The sea seems so alive and full of creatures and yet with its slow reveal of information about the planets previous inhabitants, the game evokes a profound sense of loneliness. This is the game to get.

      • nitric22 says:

        How wonderful to here. The immersion provided by a well built world is what I crave beyond all else. I’ll place Subnautica at the number one spot. Thank You.

  5. Chaz says:

    I haven’t played since before they put in the prawn suit, as I’ve been saving it for the 1.0 release. So really looking forward to this. I hope they’ve sorted the VR issues.

  6. Synesthesia says:

    Maybe Pip could make a guest appearance and do the WiT?

    • Megatron says:

      I’d second this but would add that maybe she do it…as a video?

  7. alert says:

    Wonder if this is a ‘real’ release or an Overgrowth-style cash panic relaunch. I remember this game as being really promising, but had loads of pop-in/animation issues at the time.

    • Splyce says:

      I’m 50/50 on this. Admittedly, they’ve been wanting to ‘launch’ for what seems like awhile, but some of the technical decisions they’ve made have proven to be fairly large setbacks. Due to console space limitations, terrain editing was removed wholesale, which sucked. There are huge pop-in/draw distance/optimization issues, especially after the recent graphics update. After 3 years in EA, I’m sure revenue has slowed to a crawl, there is little more they plan on really adding or changing, and even though the product is sub-par on several technical levels, getting a big cash injection from a proper ‘launch’ couldn’t hurt them right now.

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        Tkrens says:

        Having already played Subnautica a lot I can’t say I have experienced or observed any of the issues you mention (GeForce 1060). I certainly do not agree with you that the product is sub-par. As far as I’m concerned the game looks absolutely fantastic and the environments are a joy to explore, as well as sometimes utterly terrifying. Is it perfect? Probably not. The one bug I have experienced regularly is storage objects randomly disappearing with all their contents, which can be extremely frustrating.

        I still wholeheartedly recommend Subnautica to anyone vaguely interested in this genre of games and I can’t wait to play the full version when it’ll be released later this month.

        • Megatron says:

          Pop-in is still an issue, but I noticed in the Devs’ Trello page they are considering a ‘fade-in’ solution for it. but that won’t land until a while after 1.0, I reckon.

          But I really don’t care about that. It’s one of the most fantastic experiences I’ve ever had in an underwater game. The level design, art direction and biomes are all amazing to visit.

          Not to mention the unique little touches all over the place – this game is clearly a labour of love, for lovers of sci-fi and underwater environments both. It’s a wonderful thing.

  8. poliovaccine says:

    Awesome, I was also waiting for the full release of this, after having had a little taste of the alpha over someone’s shoulder and realizing if I let myself get it and get into it I’d quickly hit the content wall, whereas I’d rather be able to binge it to completion. It’s just one of many survive o’crafts, but the setting and the unique menace to the creatures, plus the promise of more hostile weirdness the deeper you go down, are enough to make it stand out to me. Like Pip, I too have a boner for the ocean.

  9. Carl Sagans Ghost says:

    Subnautica has wonderful atmosphere. I picked it up, courtesy of an article on RPS, because of descriptions of this videogame that painted it more like a tense survival game and less like an aquarium simulator.

    No regrets. Well worth the purchase.

  10. Oasx says:

    I love Subnautica and have played through it a number of times, but I would argue that this is an early access game that has actually gotten worse throughout the years.

    The developers have added a lot to the game, but it still has a lot of bugs that were around when I first started playing it years ago, the cyclops is still crap and has even gotten worse because the developers only listen to a small group of fans, that want the game to be as realistic as possible.

    I have no doubt that I will play Subnautica again, but right now you pretty much need to check the wiki regularly in order to make any kind of progress, and I doubt they will fix all the things missing in this game by launch.

  11. SaintAn says:

    Makes me sad this is the finished game and that they aren’t adding a randomly generated world mode. I love this game so much, it’s so unique and filled with great ideas, but there’s so many features I want, no mod support, and I already have the world and mechanics memorized, so I can’t enjoy it like I first did ever again unless they add randomly generated worlds and modding to change the mechanics.

    This game actually covers a lot of my phobias, so it is the scariest game I have ever played, until I got the big sub and mech suit. Normally I avoid games that scare me, but it really is that good. I shut my computer off or Alt F4’ed more than once in a panic.

  12. pookie101 says:

    Haven’t played since wow August 2015 for a few hours and I enjoyed it then but one I was putting away till it was finished.. good news they are almost there :D

  13. neofit says:

    Subnautica is the only game that I have enjoyed playing in VR, and that was a year ago. Besides the game by itself being very good, that heavy thingy, that they always make too small for large heads, felt like a scuba mask. And the low resolution and subsequent fuzziness wasn’t out of place underwater. I just wish they don’t remove too many console commands and let us have fun.