The survival scene has seen us blast off into space, it’s seen us wander a world full of dinosaurs and it’s seen us run the rooftops of cities plagued by a zombie outbreak. Rarely though have we ever seen a survival title drop us into the deepest oceans, leaving us hellbent on scouring the seabed, scavenging whatever we can find in the process.
Now though, or at least fairly soon, we’ll be able to do just that with Subnautica on Xbox One.
Currently available as an Xbox One Game Preview title, Subnautica may not yet be the finished product, it may be a little rough around the edges, and it may have some way to go before we finally get to a stage in which we can safely grab our scuba gear and head underwater, but what is currently in place is worth a little look. Especially if you’re a fan of whiling away the hours with just the one objective in mind…that of survival!
Set beneath the waves, or at least 99.99% of it is, Subnautica takes you to an alien world that is full of life, full of colour and full of things that want to eat you. Fully open world, you’ll be tasked with diving deep for as long as your O2 levels allow, grabbing whatever you can find and marveling at the glorious world before you, before heading back to the safety of your crashed escape pod. It is here where you’ll discover if what you’ve picked up was worth the hassle, and decide upon your next step. Should you use your materials to craft better tools, ones which will help you out further down the line, or store things up prior to heading down into the wet stuff once more? The choices are huge and as more and more features get added by Unknown Worlds, will ensure Subnautica drags you into its depths time and time again. Underwater base with your own choice of vehicle anyone?
Whenever you do drop down, you’ll be left watching your vital signs carefully. You may be sat in a sea of water, but your hydration levels, hunger, health and oxygen meters will be constantly depleting. Much like those found in that other Game Preview open world survival outing, ARK: Survival Evolved, these will only be topped up with some hard graft. Ignore them, and you’ll be left passing out, ultimately dead to the world. And believe me, you don’t want to come back to life without those precious commodities you spent hours trying to create!
With a full day and night cycle in place and working well, you’ll also need to time your visits well. The ocean may be wonderful during the day, with sun drenched sand banks hiding the deeper darkest caves, but come night time, the predators awake and look for anything that may be food. But if you hide from the darkness you may never find the most precious items!
However, should you not wish to bother with the intricacies, preferring instead to just float around aimlessly, then you can ditch the initial Survival mode for one without hunger or thirst in Freedom. Similarly, if you need a deeper experience, then the Hardcore mode will heighten all your senses before eating you up. There is also a fully Creative mode in place (as you would fully expect) and this just lets you have utter fun. With only your imagination holding you back and no need to worry about health, oxygen or an overall story, there is nothing to stop you from creating your ideal underwater world. Except perhaps time itself.
As you would expect with a Game Preview title, there is much to like, but there is also much to frustrate, with a huge initial loading time and slightly dodgy in-game resource menus currently amongst the chief worry instigators. But with the team at Unknown Worlds Entertainment fixated on releasing updates at a fairly consistent pace, you should happily find more to do, and less bugs to worry about, each and every time you put on your wet-suit.
Subnautica is currently scheduled for a full release around December 2016, so there is plenty of time for the team to get things working the way they want. We’ll be sure to have a full review up for you as soon as they give the green light on a full release.
But for now, if you’re looking to help them out and want to have a small say in how Subnautica is shaped, then go and download it from the Xbox One Games Store. Just be prepared to lose half of your life to it as you swim through giant coral tubes, pick up endless acidic mushrooms and gawp open mouthed at the stunning alien fish swimming alongside. And that’s before you’ve even bothered with the fully open creative side of things!