Hands up if you’re into exploring an ocean on an alien planet! Some of you may have been enjoying diving into Subnautica’s underwater adventure. But what’s in store for us in Below Zero? Let’s discuss the differences between the two.
0:35 Overall feel of the game is very different
Subnautica is a survival game. It’s about being stranded on an alien world and trying to get back to civilization. In Subnautica, your character didn’t talk, you just listened to others. You listened to the sunbeam messages, to the messages from other survivors, you even listened to big momma the sea emperor but you didn’t carry a conversation. This aspect helped a lot with the sense of isolation in the game.
In Below Zero, we don’t get that. It’s not just a change in the story aspect itself, it’s the fact that our character is carrying on conversations. We talk to other characters and even talk to ourselves in the game, which is admittedly realistic, but it’s because of this two-way conversation that we lose a bit of that feeling of isolation in the game.
1:29 Changes to the heads-up display
In Subnautica, we were worried about not getting too hot meaning not being cooked alive. In Below Zero, we have to worry about our body temperature dropping too low and dying from hypothermia. We still get the same main focus on our O2 level. However, when you transition to open-air, you’re going to see the focus go to your body temperature. So, instead of changing the heads-up display to add another meter, we now have a transitional heads-up display that focuses on the critical element.
The next key difference is that Below Zero is less about being in the water than Subnautica was. In Subnautica, we had the floating island, the mountain, and the insides of precursor locations for our open-air environments. In Below Zero, we now have entire biomes that are oriented around open-air exploration. It’s still a game about exploring underwater but adds more land-based exploration than we had in the original Subnautica.
If you’re a fan of vehicles in Subnautica, you may be disappointed in Below Zero. The fan favorites, Seamoth and Cyclops from Subnautica, have been replaced by the Seatruck in Below Zero. The Seatruck takes upgrades like the Seamoth, but you won’t be throwing any storage upgrades on it. Where the Cyclops allowed for customizing the inside, the Seatruck lets you customize what additional modules are added. Think of a train where you can add more cars in various arrangements, customizing what you add and in what order. Unfortunately, you can’t customize the inside like you could with the Cyclops. Vehicle options in Below Zero are a bit limiting.
Like the first game, base building is a significant part of Below Zero, even more so now that we do not have the Cyclops to serve as a base on its own. So, we get more buildable items and a greater focus on base building. We also get buildable items that can change. Certain buildables will change based on where you place them. For example, the alien containment module will build bigger in the large room as opposed to the standard look in the multi-purpose room. The hatch will also change based on if you’re in water or on land.
Some of the recipes that you may be familiar with in Subnautica are going to be different in Below Zero. We have some of the same materials from the first game but also some that have been replaced with new ones. For example, there are no stalkers in Below Zero to provide Stalker Teeth, so Enameled Glass has a different recipe. Fortunately, you don’t have to remember the new recipes while looking for supplies as we can now pin recipes to the heads-up display to track the ingredients.
Subnautica originally released on PC with ports to consoles happening later. Below Zero is set to release for all platforms on the same date, so a lot more people will be getting it on non-PC devices right away. Why does this matter? If you want to use mods with Below Zero, you need to get it on PC from either the Steam or Epic stores. Console players are out of luck unless the devs decide to add in-game mod support. If you are a one-and-done player this won’t make a difference to you, but if you enjoyed the original game and played through multiple times, you may want to go with the PC version for Below Zero and have some fun with mods.