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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 packed inside lime/sand/shale stones 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.
- The visibility range above water is great! Underwater it is very limited, even during the day.
- It is this limited visual range, which cripples orientation.
- 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.
- 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.
- Underwater cave networks make orientation in the third dimension an additional challenge.
- 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 leads to frustration!
- Play the game purposely and plan:
- 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, do not hesitate to 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 again!
- Orientation is crippled by the short visibility range! A map will not help as much as you think! Do not spoil your game experience, by looking at maps outside of the game! Instead, maybe sound travels further than light underwater?
- If you cannot kill predators, maybe you can avoid or distract them?
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.
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, press(and keep it pressed) while targeting the structure.
- Your inventory has a size of 6×8. In the beginning, this is a lot of space and in the end, this is still enough space, since none of the craft-able items require huge amounts of resources!
- 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.
- Play the game step-by-step: gather only what you need, get back to the Pod and craft these items! Rejoice and enjoy the beautiful surrounding while you go!
- There are speed walkthroughs done in about 1 hour!
You start the game with several Blueprints (recipes/construction instructions). You can then find more in the world of Subnautica!
- All in-game batteries are rechargeable! While real-world batteries are constructed of lead and acid, in Subnautica, copper and acid mushrooms are used instead. This is done for game balancing reasons.
Getting Started Guide
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.
However, before being able to access this locker, you must extinguish a fire that has started in your Lifepod. Extinguishing this fire (by using the Fire Extinguisher) acts as a short tutorial to basic game mechanics, so food and H2O don't drop.
You begin the game without any tools, but you do have your PDA (press to access). As the PDA was damaged, it contains only the recipes of some very basic tools. You should try and get more recipes.
Gather edible stuff to eat and drinkable stuff to drink, and gather Raw Materials to build stuff. Consult your PDA to learn how much of what you need to gather. You gather resources by simply picking them up (clicking on them). Some require a knife to be harvested.
The basic stuff you can build (by employing the fully-functioning Fabricator inside your Lifepod) helps, but to get on, you require more advanced recipes. Maybe something to increase your mobility in general.
Some tools run on batteries, which can be depleted. However, pressing allows you to swap in any charged batteries you have in your inventory. Depleted batteries can be recharged in a Battery Charger, but you cannot build one inside of your lifepod.
While all hostile life-forms can kill you, only very few can kill you with one hit. So you should be cautious while exploring, but you do not need to be afraid.
From the first time you dive, you should be on the lookout for a few materials to get access to necessary items and supplies. Here are two shortlists for your focus:
Priority List in Order
- Scanner Tool
- 1x Standard O₂ Tank
- Food, especially Cooked Peepers
- 1x Survival Knife
- Filtered or Disinfected Water
- Repair Tool
Priority List in Order
- 1-2 Metal Salvage
- Peepers or other fish (about 2-3 for starters)
- 2 Quartz
- 2 Creepvine Seed Clusters (From adjacent biome called the Kelp Forest, with the tree-like kelp)
- 1 Copper Ore
- 2 Acid Mushroom
- 1 Salt Deposit (for Disinfected Water)
- Coral Tube Samples (a couple; also for Disinfected Water)
- Cave Sulfur (found in caves inside Sulfur Plants, but be careful, when they are approached a crash fish will suicide bomb you if you are too slow!)
How to get basic supplies
- Metal Salvage - Huge pieces of metal found on the ocean floor
- Try checking the Kelp Forest. Stalkers like to stash them there.
- Fish - Found everywhere, hard to catch without proper equipment like Fins or a Seaglide
- Try catching Bladderfish, since they are slower.
- Quartz - White crystals found on the ocean floor, but mostly on the walls and floors of caves.
- Creepvine Seed Cluster - Glowing yellow seeds found on Creepvines in the Kelp Forest
- Watch out for Stalkers, as they like to spend time in these areas.
- Acid Mushroom - purple mushrooms found growing on the ocean floor, usually in groups.
- When you try to collect their seeds using the knife, be aware the Acid Mushroom will have a small expulsion of acid and it will inflict damage.
- Salt Deposit - White rocks, similar in appearance to quartz, but with more of a blocky crystal structure.
This is where the player respawns if they happen to die, until they enter a habitat or Cyclops. The lifepod will serve as a shelter for the early game.
An important component in the lifepod is the Fabricator. The fabricator serves as the main 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 start beeping to let you know it is complete. New fabrication only starts after the first aid kit is taken out of the fabricator.
The storage area behind the ladder where excess items can be stored is also important as it contains supplies, like water and food. However, items can also be dropped on the seabed under the lifepod if the storage is full. Just be aware that Stalkers like to collect metallic items like salvage.
Until it is fully repaired by the Repair Tool, the lifepod can drift in the ocean.
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 by using a Repair Tool on it before it can be used.
The Scanner is perhaps the most important item in the game. You need to get a Scanner tool for fragment scanning because most important tools require fragments. To craft the Scanner, you have to have 1 battery (2 acid mushrooms and 1 copper) and 1 titanium.
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.)
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 to 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 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.
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 the Degasi 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.
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.