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Subnautica's Eye Candy update makes water look wetter

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I've been meaning to sink some proper time and energy into Subnautica, Unknown Worlds' game of submarine exploration and underwater survival, but looking at the latest update suggests I might be best waiting until I get my shiny new PC. That's because the Eye Candy update makes the game (visually) better, down where it's wetter. Rub your eyeballs all over the update trailer within or take a peek at the full update notes here.

Essentially, the Eye Candy update brings your usual suite of post-processing effects to the table. That familiar cocktail of detailed depth-of-field, motion blur, color grading, lens artefacts, chromatic aberration and more. You've seen it in a thousand other games this year, but it really does seem to give the alien, underwater environments of Subnautica a boost, and it just feels right to have the underwater world feel a little murkier. But that's just a land-lubber talking, so take it as you will.

These renderer improvements coincide with a variety of graphical bugs that they've managed to squash, including stars being visible through the moon, sun-shafts piercing through shadows and more. There's a few small additions to the world itself in this update, with abandoned bases seeing the most love, gaining audio-logs detailing the plight of those who came before you. Mechanically, the Dive Reel has also been buffed to leave a breadcrumb trail of glowing markers, a work-in-progress tweak allowing easier escapes from dark underwater tunnels.

Cover image for YouTube video

Rendering bugs aside, almost all the new visual features of the Eye Candy update seem to be optional, meaning that your PC shouldn't creak and groan too much if you lack the hardware to drive the fancy new shader-based effects. Plus, some people would prefer to have the underwater world pin-sharp and perfectly defined. Personally, I think a certain haziness is an intuitive part of the deep-sea diving experience.

Other recent updates to the game have brought a somewhat more tangible improvements to the game, including the adorable (and pun-tacular) Cuddlefish, a creature that seems to fill a previously unnoticed void in-between Excitable Puppy and Octopus - truly a critter worthy of being an aquatic Disney Princess' sidekick. Before that, the game expanded on the dramatic beats of its progression with an alien plague, a cure found deep within the ocean, and dark depths now haunted by luminous and impressively menacing predators.

Subnautica may still be in Early Access, but it's an enormous critical success on Steam, with thousands of recent reviews almost all giving it a thumbs up - a rarity for open-world sandboxes like this. You can pick it up on Steam for £19.49/$25, although the upcoming winter sale is almost certainly going to take a chunk of that figure if you don't mind waiting a little longer to get your feet wet.

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Dominic Tarason