This article is about the Getting Started page. You may be looking for Exploration Tips.

Welcome to the Getting Started Guide for newer players who are having trouble, or are simply preparing to survive in Subnautica. The Exploration Tips page may be helpful as well.

Getting started guides around the web

Some useful guides can be found in Subnautica's guide database on Steam.

Before starting to play Subnautica

Subnautica game world

Subnautica's game world is fixed, rather than a procedurally-generated, randomized world.

There is some variation, such as the precise location of Lifepod 5. Also, the way some raw resources are found inside lime/sand/shale outcrops means it is only decided at the time of pick-up exactly which resource is contained within. The location and content of Data Boxes are fixed.

Orientation

  1. The visibility range above water is around two kilometers. Underwater, vision is very limited, even during the day. This is mainly because of below water’s render range.
  2. It is this limited visual range that cripples orientation.
  3. Subnautica intentionally does not feature a map within the in-game interface. This provides players with a more immersive experience, where they discover things themselves.
  4. Instead of a map, the game uses a waypoint and compass-bearing system, which superimposes your current depth and an icon of Lifepod 5 and the distance to it. Additional beacons can be manufactured and placed to create new waypoints. Instead of setting beacons, the player could plant artificial landmarks: an Exterior Growbed with some of the bioluminescent Creepvine. Using the PDA waypoint customization can help certain points stand out by changing them from default blue to orange, red, light blue, or yellow.
  5. Underwater cave networks make orientation and navigation in the third dimension an additional challenge.

Avoid frustration

  1. It is the combination of
    • a lack of orientation (where was that spot again?)
    • a lack of purpose (what task to start and finish next?)
    • a lack of planning (decide what to do next and do only that without getting distracted)
    • several aspects of the game (you can build a lot of stuff you do not need, you get distracted, you get lost, you get eaten, etc.)
      which all leads to frustration!
  2. Play the game purposely and plan:
    • Do you want to go scavenging, then empty your inventory?
    • Do you want to go set up a new seabase, then fill up your inventory and take all necessary resources (plus seeds for food!) with you, so you don't have to travel back and forth?
  3. Beacons are a big help, but don't litter the world with them to build a replacement map! Your viewing distance will remain crippled and you will have a lot of (useless) virtual icons around you. Instead, place one as soon as you find a spot worth visiting again soon, e.g. when scavenging and running out of inventory space. When done, remove the beacon for use at another location!
  4. Orientation can be easily crippled by the short visibility range, so a map may not help as much as you think! Do not spoil your game experience, by looking at maps outside of the game, and instead, maybe sound travels further than light underwater?
  5. If you cannot kill predators, maybe you can avoid or distract them?
  6. Choose a game mode you think is best for you!

Crafting

Crafting is split two-way:

  • Anywhere you can whip out your Habitat Builder and build things from the raw materials currently inside your inventory.
  • There is stationary equipment (build with the habitat builder, but must be located inside a "seabase") which is used with the necessary raw materials located in the inventory to build stuff.

Full refund

The habitat builder refunds all resources when deconstructing, so don’t worry about building the "wrong" things. Even in survival mode, you get 100% of the resources back when you deconstruct. Just equip your habitat builder and press and hold q (PC) or Combops4sq.png (PS4) or

XBOX X

(XBOX) while targeting the structure.

Storage

An example of storing items in the player's inventory

  1. Your inventory is a 6×8 grid. In the beginning, this is a lot of usable space, since none of the craft-able items require huge amounts of resources!
  2. Subnautica is not a treadmill: There is no need to hoard huge amounts of resources, which requires many storage lockers, which you then need to switch between accessing one after the other again and again. Also, you do not need to pointlessly travel between locations back and forth.
  3. Play the game step-by-step: gather only what you need, get back to the Pod and craft these items! Revel at the beautiful flora and fauna as you go.

Blueprints

You start the game with several Blueprints. You can find more scattered around Subnautica by scanning fragments and retrieving data boxes. 

Hints

  • All in-game batteries are rechargeable! While real-world batteries are constructed using lead and acid, in Subnautica, copper and acid mushrooms are used instead. This is done for game balancing reasons.

Getting Started Guide

In Subnautica you play as a high-tech castaway. You begin the game fleeing in Lifepod 5.

If you choose to play in "Survival mode", you need to regularly eat and drink, but you have unlimited lives. Should you die, your inventory at the time of death will be emptied on spot, and you will respawn in the last habitat you entered before death, with the same inventory you had at that time.

You start the game with 81% Health, 51% Food and 90% H2O. Each Lifepod has a built-in locker which contains two nutrient blocks, two filtered water, and two flares. However, before you can access this locker, you must extinguish a fire that has started in your Lifepod. Extinguishing this fire (using the Fire Extinguisher) acts as a short tutorial to some basic game mechanics, so food and H2O don't drop. If the player opts to skip the intro, they will start the game with the fire already extinguished.

You begin the game without any tools, but you do have your PDA, which the game instructs you to press Tab to access. As the PDA has been damaged, it contains only the blueprints for a few basic tools.

Gather Food, Water, and Raw Materials. Consult your PDA to learn how much you need. You can gather most resources by simply picking them up with LMB, but some require a Survival Knife or Thermoblade to be harvested (RMB).

You can build equipment to increase your Swimming Speed and O2 Efficiency and Capacity

The basic Fabricator blueprints will support you in the early game, but to advance, you need better tools and equipment.

Some tools run on batteries, which lose charge over time. Pressing R while holding a battery-powered device allows you to swap in any charged batteries you have in your inventory. Depleted batteries can be recharged in a Battery Charger, which must be built in a Seabase.

The game world of Subnautica is divided into Biomes. Lifepod 5 lands in a biome known as the Safe Shallows.

All hostile life-forms can kill you, but almost none can do it instantly. This gives you a chance to escape before they can finish you off.

Essentials

As soon as you dive into the water, you should be on the lookout for a few crucial materials to get access to necessary items and supplies. Here are two shortlists for your focus: Crucial Tools:

Unordered Priority List

Required Materials: Unordered Priority List

How to get basic supplies

  • Acid Mushroom - purple mushrooms found growing on the ocean floor, usually in groups.
    • When collecting their seeds using the knife, be aware the Acid Mushroom will expulse a small amount of acid and it will inflict damage.
  • Salt Deposit - White rocks, similar in appearance to quartz, but with more of a blocky crystal structure.

The Lifepod

Lifepod 5 is where the player respawns if they die until they enter a habitat or Cyclops. The lifepod will serve as a shelter early game.

An important component in the lifepod is the Fabricator. The fabricator serves as a means of crafting, and new recipes will be revealed when you scan fragments or gain certain materials. Using the fabricator will slowly drain Energy from the three self-charging Power Cells on the bulkhead. The lifepod also comes with a Medical Kit Fabricator. Every 30 minutes (10 minutes real-time) it will fabricate a new First Aid Kit and beep to let you know it is complete. Fabrication only restarts after the first aid kit is taken out of the fabricator.

The storage area behind the ladder is also important as it contains supplies like water and food. Items can also be dropped on the seabed under the lifepod if storage is full. Just be aware that Stalkers like to "play" with metallic items.

Your Radio

Your lifepod comes equipped with a small radio, which will allow you to receive broadcasts from other life pods or vessels. Listening to these broadcasts is usually a good idea, as they can lead you to new areas, new components, and generally progress the story. However, be sure you are prepared before setting off. You will need to repair the radio before it can be used. 

Scanner Tool

The Scanner is perhaps the most important item in the game. The Scanner tool is used for Self-scans and fragment scanning because most important tools require fragments.

Metal Salvage & Oxygen Tanks

Pieces of metal salvage are scattered about the ocean floor. Watch your oxygen as you look for metal salvage and get yourself at least three pieces for your first tank and potentially a survival knife. Then take the metal salvage to the fabricator and craft titanium. This tank gives you 30 extra seconds of oxygen (Total of 75 seconds). They take up four slots of your inventory.

As soon as you have the 2 Creepvine Seed Clusters, 2 Quartz and Titanium you should craft the Fins and Standard Oxygen Tank.

Peepers (or other food fish) & Food

When it comes to food, the Peeper makes for a nutritious choice at +32 food points. It is easy to spot (big yellow eye) and can even be used as a lure to keep stalkers away. Garry fish are easier to catch, but not nearly as nutritious, weighing in at a measly +18 food points. here are all the edible fish in the Safe Shallows:

The downside to the Peeper: it is fast, and can, therefore, be difficult to catch. However, after crafting your first pair of fins, you should be able to catch a few. 1 Creepvine Seed Cluster will provide enough material to make them.

If you cannot find or catch any Peeper, do not hesitate to catch any other smaller fish around you. Almost every fish in the Safe Shallows is edible (except for the Gasopod, Rabbit Ray and Crashfish.)

Bladderfish are also an ideal food source for beginners, due to their slow speed. They can also be used to craft Filtered Water.

When you catch any fish, you take them to the fabricator to analyze the fish and cook/cure it. If you just eat a normal Peeper you will lose -15 water. Cooked fish will rot over time. If you don't eat them immediately, the advantage of curing fish is that they'll be preserved, but you need Salt to cure them and they will dehydrate you.

Titanium & your Survival Knife

While you are looking for metal salvage, be on the lookout for Limestone Outcrops. With some luck, you'll find Titanium within the first couple of outcrops. Looking in enclosed areas, like the insides of large tubes or caves may increase the chances of finding Titanium. These nodes also contain copper, which will be useful for building batteries for your tools.

As soon as you get your titanium and a Creepvine Seed Cluster (= 2x silicone rubber) you can craft a Survival Knife.

Coral Samples & Water

As you now have a survival knife, it's time to get some Coral Samples. Look out for a Coral (the big coral tubes you can also swim through) and strike it with the Survival Knife. After you've done that, you'll need to craft Bleach with the Coral Samples and Salt Deposit. Now you can craft disinfected water, which adds +30 to H2O.

If you can't make it and it's an emergency, just go after some Bladderfish. They can be used to craft filtered water. Not as good as our initial plan but still a solid +20 to H2O.

Dealing with Radiation

Once the Aurora explodes, harmful Radiation will spread into the waters surrounding it, extending almost one kilometer out of the Aurora. The radiation will keep you from exploring large areas near the Aurora but can be circumvented by crafting a Radiation Suit. The radiation suit requires two Fiber Mesh that can be crafted from four Creepvine Samples which can be acquired by hitting creepvines with the survival knife and two Lead. Lead can be harvested from Sandstone Outcrops. Once the radiation suit is crafted the radiation suit, radiation helmet, and radiation gloves will be acquired. All three of these items must be worn to fully protect against radiation damage. The radiation can be stopped but that is up to the player to figure out how.

Dangerous Creatures

As you explore more of Subnautica, you will begin encountering creatures that do not want you in their territory. The most common dangerous creature is the Stalker, who you will encounter at the Kelp Forest. The creatures will become more deadly the deeper you go, and it is best to avoid the Aurora, as there is often a Reaper Leviathan guarding it.

You've made it!

If you made it here you'll be able to survive your first days and nights in the alien world of Subnautica. Feel free to keep this Wiki open in case you get lost or need some information - but most importantly at this point - start exploring and enjoying the game. :)

What to do next?

Now that your more immediate needs have been taken care of, you'll want to start exploring - however, your ability to explore is limited by how much equipment you've discovered and built. The biomes surrounding Lifepod 5 gradually get deeper and deeper, as well as more dangerous. While it's not required to discover every available piece of technology or point of interest, it will help you along the way. Here are some suggestions for how to proceed, in no particular order:

  • Find and scan Seaglide Fragments and build a Seaglide to increase your speed and exploration range
  • Locate the other Lifepods for extra provisions and even a full Radiation Suit - the Lifepod's Radio will send you messages where they are located, assuming you've repaired it.
  • Find the Multipurpose Room fragments from theDegasi Seabases .
  • Build a Seabase to store your inventory, grow food and have access to more tools than the Lifepod provides. You can build Waterproof Lockers as temporary storage (should you need it)
  • Explore Wrecks for Fragments and supplies; most of the more advanced equipment and technology you will want can be found in these locations
  • Build a Mobile Vehicle Bay and a Seamoth; so you can easily explore deeper waters and other biomes farther away from the Lifepod (requires you have found the blueprints in the appropriate wrecks first)
  • Build a Cyclops as your mobile base (requires you have found the blueprints in the appropriate biomes first)
  • Explore alien bases to progress in the story.
  • Explore the wreckage of the Aurora (requires a Radiation Suit) WARNING: There are very dangerous creatures around the Aurora, so be careful!
  • During the exploration of the Aurora, you can find all fragments of the Prawn Suit. You can use it to build the Prawn Suit for exploring deeper Biomes or for mining Large Resource Deposits.
  • Wait for the Sunbeam to rescue you.

While you can play the game at your own pace, the game will direct you towards certain story events that need to be completed for you to progress further and eventually escape the planet. These events can be completed at any time, but will oftentimes steer you to new locations and require you to have found certain items (whether it be a vehicle that can go deep enough or various keys) to access them. Use this wiki if needed, but try to avoid spoilers as not knowing what will happen next is one of the key parts of the game. If you don't know what to do next- Dive Deeper.

Good luck and watch out for Leviathans

References

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