Subnautica’s time capsules contain hidden treasures

*singing* Wouldn't it be ice if this was frosty / then we wouldn't have to live so looong

Underwater survival game Subnautica has a feature I neglected to mention in my review – time capsules! These titanium pods are player-made containers. They can hold a message, a screenshot and a few small items. At a certain point in the game you get to make one of these capsules. It’s then put through a voting process, vetted by the developers and – if it’s good enough – finally plopped into the ocean for other divers to find. Some of these gifts have been useful, others sentimental. One is even an easter egg from the game’s technical artist. Here’s the best ones we found when we went trawling (through Reddit).

I’ve only found one of my own so far – a pod containing the most basic tools. A useful backup cache, but not as interesting as the capsules others have found. This one contained a poem (as found by ctothel on Reddit).


Another diver called, er, ErectForElon, found a new friend waiting for him in the container.


Other players, like Luke-HW, dismiss all generosity of spirit and instead issue a challenge, in the form of a treasure hunt.


Oobey found a capsule with four floaters in it. These are small, harmless creatures that stick to rocks and make them float. They’re cool beasties, but generally pretty useless. The message in this capsule?

“Yep. Floaters.”

Sometimes people just leave jokes, as ConradLaces discovered.


Others, like RalphDamiani, intend to leave some nice art.


And, as covered by Kotaku, one of the game’s own artists made a capsule containing early plans for the game.


But the best example of time capsule discovery, as judged by the RPS chatroom, was the moment Twitter person Indoor Snowman realised they’d made a terrible, terrible mistake.


Don’t worry, the gang of fish friends are safe with some people at least. A fact the capsule’s creator and original fish parent, appreciates in the reply to that very tweet.

Subnautica was already an excellent game, even before I realised these capsules where the work of other players. Please keep this up, fellow sea peeps.


  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I’ve only found two. One just basically said “Here’s something to help” with some alien tablets and ion cubes.

    The other was a log of the user’s landing, then exit a year after. Containing a stasis rifle and some other stuff.

    Neither were hugely useful, but they’re always neat to find.

    • Theelargemarge says:

      that sounds like the one i left behind

    • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

      I found one with some basic tools(scanner, repair tool, maybe flashlight?) which seemed pretty unhelpful until I noticed that they were all loaded with ionic batteries while I was still puttering around in the shallows.

      Always check the charge level before tossing a tool for being an uninteresting duplicate of one you already have.

  2. LewdPenguin says:

    Found one so far and assumed it was just a helping hand from the game in case someone got that far without the basic tools and bits it had in it, don’t recall the message but shall go look whenever I next fire up the game.

    Pretty awesome thing to include purely for the sake of being awesome though, and although I’m normally very wary of this kind of cross-player messaging systems it sounds like they’re doing a grand job curating the experience.

  3. epmode says:

    I found one with some anime-style Subnautica fanfiction. Pretty great.

  4. Avus says:

    I dont understand, I thought this is a single player game… are these plug-in mod?

    I didn’t buy into the No Man Sky hype, but I may buy this game when it go on Steam sales again…

    • Crusoe says:

      It’s a SP game, and no this isn’t a mod, just a way of leaving something behind for other players to find.

      (After the devs approve it)

      • Wolvie501 says:

        I got endgame tech from this stuff too, even thou I was near safe shallows… Bah

        • Don Reba says:

          I got a Cyclops depth mod but then died from clipping through geometry and couldn’t retrieve it again.

          • Harlander says:

            I got a Cyclops depth mod MkIII from the technical artist’s capsule. I’d have thought he’d be less willing to step on the game’s progression like that, particularly in light of the accompanying picture.

    • Chickenpuffs51 says:

      You Dont even Have to wait for a steam sale to get the game! its already cheaper than No Mans Sky!

  5. Danarchist says:

    Still have not found one. What do they look like in game? Just standard PDA?

    • Crusoe says:

      Nope, they’re white and slightly blue tubes, much bigger than PDAs, but quite easy to overlook if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you could easily mistake one for wreckage or a fragment if you haven’t confirmed what one looks like.

      Happy hunting!

      • Danarchist says:

        I just hunted an image down on the googs. Yup, swam past one last night when I was hunting for lead. Totally ignored it as it was sitting near a bunch of other ship debris.
        See if I can find it after work =P

  6. BlitzThose says:

    I wonder if there is a capsule out there somewhere with the elusive hughnicorn in it…

  7. Don Reba says:

    So, that’s what was up with those time capsules. They always seem to contain useless junk and immersion-breaking messages.

    • Eagle0600 says:

      Ideally, the voting and creator-vetting process would filter those out, but apparently not.

      I found two in my play-through, and they both seemed in-character enough that I never questioned that these were designed by the developers of the game until I got my own chance to fill a capsule, so it went well for me at least. At that point, I realised that if I were to put anything in my capsule, it would have to equally in-character, so that’s what I did.

      • Don Reba says:

        The ones I remember were:

        – single girl looking for a guy
        – thought you might like a snack

        I found five, or so, and they were all off-putting. It’s the same as any of those Kickstarter games that incorporate backers’ messages.

        What I’d like is something that looks like it was written by the game’s writers, something that reads like the Degasi story or at least the pod messages.

  8. Dorga says:

    Mine was a cool hint towards a well hidden place in the game.

  9. Wolvie501 says:

    Remove this FEATURE.

    This feature ruins game for many people.

    I have seen frigging mk3’s in these things. Why? Why do new players who dotn know what these ‘time capsules’ are, use these? They skip half of the game…

    • Retorrent says:

      Well no one is forcing you to use the items, if you want to find/craft it yourself just drop the item and move on. I will never understand people who complain about this.

    • fish99 says:

      On reflection I have to agree. They could have end-game items in and the messages could contains spoilers or tips. So there’s the potential there to shorten someones time with the game and prevent them having to figure something out themselves. Also, depending on the message, the player finding them wouldn’t necessarily realize they’re from other players, I certainly didn’t. I just thought it was regular loot.

  10. Nelyeth says:

    I made mine yesterday. Put a back of crackers, a cup of coffee and a sea crown seed in it, because I figured I might as well give something neat, without making it too easy.

  11. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    Yay! Glad to read about the people appreciating the fishies.

    That early concept sketch makes me want to play Aquaria again…and Subnautica for the first time, of course, though maybe not quite so far in VR as I was assuming I’d go. °-°

  12. satan says:

    Found one on the ocean floor, nowhere special, it had kyanite inside!

  13. Blackrook says:

    Damn, I didn’t realise these were just random fandom.

    I had one that said something like:
    “I’m leaving now, but I’m leaving you my favourite red Cyclops Submarine, drive it well”

    This was before I’d got all the blueprints so
    I spent ages searching the area for a free Cyclops!

  14. DeadCanDance says:

    Whoever left the time capsule I found had a picture of his/her base in it and said it was fun but the place was full of things trying to eat him/her.

  15. MultiVaC says:

    The first one I found was the “Fish Are Friends” one, a long time before I was able to really build much of anything, and I wound up carrying the six fish around while I tried to scrape together the minimum amount of things to build an aquarium because I didn’t know how long fish could survive in your inventory (I’ve since found out it seems to be forever). So for just about my entire playthrough so far I’ve had these guys hanging around in my first habitat’s aquarium. I had assumed the time capsules were just another part of the game world, it was kind of cool when I found out these fish I’ve been keeping had belonged to a actual person (sort of). I wish they did a better job of filtering (haha) out the ones that get in the way of the game’s immersion (lol), though. Luckily most of mine so far are pretty cool.

  16. Kingchris195 says:

    Ha I found the same capsule as the last guy, the one with all the fish. I knew about the messages though, and made an aquarium in my cyclops for them.