This article is about Game Modes in Subnautica. To see this subject's article on the Below Zero Wiki, click here.
Subnautica features four different Game Modes. The player can select a Game Mode when starting a new save file; a save file's Game Mode cannot be changed after creation. Each Game Mode imposes different restrictions (or lack thereof) on gameplay.

Survival Mode

To stay alive, the player must manage their health, oxygen, food, and water levels. If the player runs out of health or oxygen, they die and lose all of the items in their inventory. If the player runs out of either food or water, they will begin to lose health until they die. The player can return to where they died to attempt to reclaim their lost items. The player can "secure" their inventory by entering Lifepod 5, a Seabase, or a Cyclops; if the player dies with a secured inventory, they will keep all the items from the last time their inventory was secured and will respawn in the last place they secured their inventory.

Freedom Mode

Similar to Survival Mode, but the player does not need to maintain their food or water levels. The sustenance section of the fabricator does not appear.

Hardcore Mode

Similar to Survival Mode, but restricts the player to a single life only; if they die, the game ends, forcing them to completely start over from the beginning. Oxygen messages are completely disabled. In addition, you cannot save the game anytime like in the other modes; the only option is to Save & Quit.

Creative Mode

This is a sandbox mode for players who want to freely explore and build. The player cannot die and does not have to worry about health, oxygen, hunger or thirst. Materials and Blueprints are not required for crafting, and vehicles and Seabases do not require Energy to operate and cannot be damaged. The player can make story progress in this mode, despite the description saying otherwise. 


This section contains bugs related to Game Modes. Make sure to only post reproducible bugs, and use appropriate system template ( XboxLogo, PlaystationLogo, WindowsLogo / AppleLogo ) depending on which platform(s) the bug has been encountered on.

  • WindowsLogo Whilst playing creative mode, there are only two specific instances the player can die. These are in a Cyclops explosion while the player is on board, or if the player stands under the elevator on the Neptune Escape Rocket.
  • WindowsLogo Until the Big Little Update, oxygen messages remained active in Hardcore mode despite the menu claiming otherwise.
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