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Subnautica

Seven starter strategies for surviving in Subnautica

It's sink or swim out there.

  • Text: Sam Bishop
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Unknown Worlds' Subnautica has just launched on PC after just over three years in early access, and while there are a lot of players who have taken to the waters while it's been in this state, there are a lot of newbies diving into it for the first time with this full launch. Since there's hardly any tutorial to speak of in the game, it can be a bit daunting at first stepping into the alien world, which is why we've compiled a list of seven top tips to help you survive and make the most of your time.

Choose your difficulty wisely

Before you start the game, you need to be aware of what the different difficulties are and what they mean, because each one will dramatically impact your experience. 'Survival', first of all, means you have to manage thirst, hunger, health, and O2, so from the very start you'll need to keep all of these in mind as you forage not only for materials but for sustenance as well. This means a lot of back and forth distracting you from your main objective. 'Freedom', however, is probably more equivalent to a medium difficulty, as this eliminates hunger and thirst, meaning all you need to do is go and find materials and construct things with less distractions.

'Hardcore', however, is like 'Survival' but with permadeath enabled, meaning that if you make one mistake and drown, that's your time done; it isn't for the faint-hearted. On the other end of the scale though there's 'Creative' which eliminates everything but the building, including the story. Here you can just build freely at whatever depth you want without having to worry about anything, so this is really for the people who don't want anything but the crafting.

Subnautica
If you don't want to deal with dangers like these, maybe Creative mode is the way to go.

Know what to craft first

You start out in Subnautica with pretty much no resources to your name other than a bit of drinkable water, some flares, a health pack, and some food. Of course depending on your difficulty setting not all of this will be relevant, but you'll still need resources, and so head to the fabricator (a sort of workbench) to take a look at everything you can build and what you need for each.

We'd recommend building bigger and better O2 tanks, as you'll find yourself unable to go into the depths of the oceans or in caves without having to swiftly come back out if you don't. This will make the overall exploration process much easier for you in the long run, and it's a good starting point for everything else. Then we'd recommend building fins, which will make you swim that bit quicker.

Food and water are probably your next port of call if you're in 'Hardcore' or 'Survival', so take a look at the fabricator to see what you need (and remember, there are supplies already in the ship at the start). The knife is up next, as this will allow you to defend yourself and collect samples (like those from the creepvine) as you explore further out.

Last up are two essential tools - the scanner and the repair tool - which you should definitely build next. The former will help you obtain biological information from the wildlife as well as schematics from the ship's wreckage, while the former will let you repair your escape pod, including the radio. Once the radio is fixed, you're in business, as you'll be getting calls from your crewmates and others that give you more locations to visit and explore, and maybe even progress the story.

Schematics are crucial

When you begin your journey there are plenty of blueprints and schematics open to you on the fabricator, but that's not nearly all there is to build in the game, and it's vital that you find more to not only make your life easier but to also allow you to venture into new biomes that were previously unreachable.

You get these by exploring the wreckage of your ship when you crash, as there are plenty of chunks of metal laying on the seabed. Once you find these, there's a chance you'll see remnants of technology you may need, like a laser cutter or a seamoth, and with your scanner you can work towards unlocking these schematics for yourself. It's worth noting that these items often appear in little boxes which you can see below, so it's worth keeping an eye out for these specifically, as they often appear far away from other salvage.

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These boxes often contain useful tools to scan and unlock schematics.
Subnautica
Subnautica