8 Tips for Starting out in ‘Subnautica’

Joab Gilroy
Indie Games Games
Indie Games Games PC Gaming

You’ve just crash landed on a wild, oceanic planet. Your lifepod is mostly intact and you’re in surprisingly good health. Like Tom Hanks in Castaway, you need to survive long enough to be rescued — or forge a new existence with an alien creature egg taking the place of Wilson.

Here at FANDOM we’re already one of the best resources you can find for Subnautica information thanks to our wiki, but we’ve also put together a tidy list of (mostly spoiler free) tips for you to get a good start in Subnautica.

Keep in mind that Subnautica is a game about exploration, and surviving thanks to your own wits. So we’ll keep the information in this article to just the early portions of the game, and we’ll focus on the things we wish we’d known when we started Subnautica.

Water, Water Everywhere

Subnautica is all about priority management, and you’ll quickly find that the most difficult priority to manage in the game is water. Food, Oxygen, Health — all of these can be solved with relative ease as you go along, but despite spending 99% of the game submersed in the ocean, drinkable water is a priority you will constantly have trouble managing.

 

Bladderfish are your best solution when it comes to water in the early game. They’re pinkish-purple fish that swim near your lifepod, and you can grab them by left-clicking on them. Take them to your fabricator and you can turn them into filtered water. This will be your primary source of water for much of the game.

Hunting Bladderfish is easy — they spawn near your lifepod, and if you go looking for them at night they glow and are pretty docile. Grab as many of these as you can carry to make sure you have water on hand when you need it. Trust us when we say you’re going to need it.

The Air Up There

While Water will be a more constant concern for you, Oxygen will at times be the only thing you care about. And once again the handy Bladderfish comes in handy — if you eat a Bladderfish raw, you will gain a small amount of oxygen back. You’re better off turning those Bladderfish into water, because you can always get oxygen by reaching the water’s surface — but if you’re certain you won’t make it, it’s worth knowing about.

 

Through the course of a game you will craft bigger and better oxygen tanks, but even if you do there’s still a chance you’ll overestimate how much oxygen you have. What you should know is that if your oxygen counter reaches zero, you will still have a few seconds before you die. Don’t stop swimming even if the screen goes black. If you can make it to a space with oxygen, you’ll stay alive.

Food, Glorious Food

Eventually you’ll be able to farm your own food, once you’ve built some of the elements you need to make that viable. But that’s a fair way off yet — for now, keep in mind that uncooked fish will decrease your Water, and so too will cured fish. Cooking your fish in the Fabricator will transform it into something worth more food points and usually worth a bit in the water metre as well. If you’re in a pinch, grab any old fish and eat it — it will cost you some water, but should keep you from going hungry long enough to get back to a Fabricator to cook something.

Storage Bores

The above three should keep you living at the very least, but if you plan on thriving you’re going to run into a new issue — Storage. You’ll find a small amount of space inside your Lifepod, and it’s already filled with some handy goodies. But pretty quickly you’ll want to create a few Waterproof Lockers to deploy outside of that space, as you’ll run out of room.

Remember to rename your Waterproof Lockers!

The best advice we can give is to build four straight away. That will cost you 16 titanium, which you can acquire by grabbing Metal Salvage strewn around the ocean. You want four because you need to organise them early on to save on confusion down the track.

Make one just for bottles of water and fill it sooner rather than later. Make another for copper — trust me on this. Make the the third a space for items you find along the way – gold, silver, titanium — and the fourth for extra crafted components you’ve made like copper wire or computer chips.

Edit the labels so you know which locker contains what, and add new lockers as you need them for each category. When you can, build a small base and transfer all of this to wall lockers — it’s worth the effort.

The Beacon Is Lit

There are two things you should carry on you at all times. A Beacon and an Air Bladder . The Beacon can be dropped to mark a location of interest — early on this might be an area with a lot of sandstone or limestone, but later could be your base! You can pick the Beacon up again too, so while it might take up a spot in your inventory it’s better to have it, drop it and then be able to return somewhere than to spend valuable time searching for a key location again.

Beacons are redeployable, so only make extras when needed!

The Air Bladder is something you’ll hopefully never have to use, but it might absolutely save your life. Once inflated, it will drag you to the surface quite quickly without your character needing to move. As you get deeper into the game, you’ll find this a useful tool to have available, be it to escape from nasties or just because you need some oxygen quickly. As already mentioned, you have a few seconds to live once your oxygen hits zero — this bad boy might be the thing that saves your life as it takes your unconscious form to the surface.

A Scanner Brightly

Make a Scanner as soon as you can. I can’t stress this enough. The moment you have one Copper, two Acid Mushrooms and one Titanium you should craft a Scanner. Then scan literally everything you can — up to and including the nasty sea creatures that might try to chomp you along the way (although you should exercise caution in this!)

Make a Scanner asap!

Scanning is a fantastic way to incentivise you to explore more, and exploration is what makes Subnautica great. But more than that, getting in the habit of scanning everything means you won’t accidentally miss scanning something. If that something you missed was a vital element in crafting your base, you’d totally regret it — so get in the habit now and scan away!

Also remember if you scan an item with a blueprint you’ve already unlocked you’ll get two Titanium for your trouble — worth it if you need the Titanium, but a pain if you need the storage space.

Bravely Run Away

You’ll create a Knife, and you’ll eventually get some vehicles you can use to do some nifty things, but by and large you need to remember that in Subnautica you aren’t even close to being at the top of the food chain. If something nasty tries to have you for lunch, your first move should be to run away. If that’s not viable, slash the beast with your knife once and then run away.

You can’t kill most of the things that want to eat you — at best you can stun them. Take that opportunity and bail!

No One Man Should Have All That Power

You’ll quickly realise you need a lot of batteries and you don’t have the resources or time to craft them all. Your Scanner needs batteries. Your Repair Tool, Torch, Habitat Builder and Seaglide all use batteries too. And seeing how you can’t rig up a bunch of humans into a Matrix-like system for some inefficient battery power, you’ll undoubtedly run out at some point.

The good news is you can hot-swap batteries as you play. If your Seaglide runs out of power, take the battery out of your rarely used repair tool and slot it in! Simply press ‘R’ and you can scroll to remove the battery from one item and then do the same with the other.

 
With these tips in your arsenal, you’re more than ready to take on the wild and wonderful world of Subnautica. Explore away, learn new things about the world and do your best to survive! And have fun of course!

Joab Gilroy
Joab is a games critic from Australia with over 10 years of experience and a PUBG tragic.
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