Splendid sopping survival sim Subnautica is off to an icy ocean in a standalone expansion named Below Zero, developers Unknown Worlds Entertainment announced today. This was once talked about as DLC but naw it’ll now be its own separate thing, entering early access “in the coming months”. UWE are keeping relatively quiet for now, showing a few concepts for new alien oceanlife while muttering “We’re still in early stages and nothing is set in ice”. That said, folks who don’t mind spoilers or potential disappointment can follow their public dev board to see all the wonders and horrors that may make it in. I’ve had a peek and ooooh!
“Set in an ice-bound region of planet 4546B, after the events of the original game, Below Zero will offer a new chapter in the Subnautica universe,” Unknown Worlds say on the expansion’s website.
That page includes concept art showing a lot more of the surface than the original Subnautica, with a Prawn mechsuit wandering across a glacier, a hovercraft whooshing between icy spires, and a sub surfacing in a frozen canyon. There’s plenty underwater still, mind, including ‘brinicles’ trapping critters and something big and awful with bioluminescent tentacles.
The devs say they plan to work on Below Zero in much the same way as plain ol’ Subnautica, using early access to figure out what works and building it up across content updates ahead of a full launch. Subnautica’s early access was grand so sure, go wild, I trust you.
To briefly step back to the world of regular Subnautica before ploughing into potential spoilers, that’s soon to receive an engine upgrade as a side-effect of the upcoming console release. That should bring better performance and better controller support, and you can now opt into a public beta branch if you’re too impatient to wait for the full launch.
Back to Below Zero and the leagues of things that people might not want to read about now if they wish to discover everything for themselves while exploring the ocean. The Below Zero development board on Trello shows plenty of things they’ve been working on, which may not make it into the final game or may be changed but do give exciting looks at the sort of ideas they’re throwing around.
Check out the 3D model for this weird fish, which I assume spins like a Catherine wheel? Become overconfident looking at the hoverbike. Be pleased with these pretty lily pads. Be delighted by how this adorable fish sounds like it’s probably a right git to meet. Don’t even ask what a ‘squidshark‘ is. Want to meet the ‘glowwhale’. Feel drawn to putting your hand through the ‘holefish’. Fight the urge to feed crackers into this beak. Coo over this colourful ceature. And, most importantly, oh my god these penguins. Do dive into the Trello board if you fancy more hints and pretty things.
Having swum in icy waters a number of times myself, I look forward to boldly declaring “This can’t be so bad” and leaping into the alien iceocean with just my cossie then instantly dying. For now, do read our Subnautica review for a reminder of why this is all exciting – and do buff up on the temperature chart: