Guide for Subnautica: Below Zero – Below Zero – Beginner’s Guide and Tips
These is a minimum-spoiler guide containing tips for beginners who have NOT played the original Subnautica game.
Note that Below Zero is still in Early Access, and the ending is locked until its final release on May 14th, 2021.
Warning for new players
If you are a new player who has not played the original Subnautica game, please stop and play that one first. I implore you.
The first one is an absolutely amazing and larger game. In comparison, Below Zero (BZ) feels more like a smaller, standalone DLC. You’d be doing yourself a disservice by playing BZ first. You’ll also be missing out on much of its lore.
Nevertheless, if you still wish to play Below Zero without having played the original, scroll below for the spoiler-free tips:
Basic Game Tips
General Game Info
- Subnautica and Below Zero are free-exploration games where you are expected to figure out things yourself. Do not expect much hand-holding.
- Sometimes you can go hours without triggering any events or clues. Relax and just keep exploring.
- This game is very light on logic puzzles. It does not require the same puzzle-solving skills you would need to beat Portal, The Witness, or Braid.
- Instead, puzzles simply require finding objects, scanning objects, crafting more objects, and placing objects in certain spots. That’s about as advanced as it gets.
- This game is mainly equipment-gated. You can explore everywhere in any order from the very start, but many places are going to be very hard to survive unless you have the appropriate equipment. Try going elsewhere first.
- There are no limited-time events. You can relax and take as long as you want to complete the game.
- If you are really, really stuck on any specific parts, you can look up the next step in my walkthrough. This is generally discouraged if have yet to spend 20+ hours in the game.
General Gameplay Tips
- Scan everything: Every time you see something new, try scanning it. Scanning gives you information and helps unlock construction blueprints.
- Read the PDA for everything you scan. It often give hints about how to use them.
- Food rots. If you don’t immediately eat fish after cooking them, they will slowly rot. Eating rotten food will give you less food/water and can hurt you.
- Experiment with building everything. Some things will be quite useless (e.g. decorations) while others are extremely useful.
- Collect plants/flora. Picking them up usually allows you to use them, while cutting them often gives you seeds you can plant later on.
- Mineral deposits and naturally-occurring plant seeds will not respawn after you collect them. Don’t worry, there are plenty of materials in the game, and it’s nearly impossible to run out.
- Certain things have weight and will slow down your swimming speed. Holding an equipment will slow down your swimming speed.
- Always carry a beacon. On the rare occasion that you die, you will drop some of your items. Your beacon will deploy where you died.
Early Game Tips (slight spoilers)
- Explore around your starting base and slowly expand outward. Keep building equipment until you can go farther and deeper. Later on (probably within several hours), you will find a certain object that allows you to construct more bases. That will alleviate running out of storage early game.
- Use beacons to mark important locations.
- The seaglide is amazing and will increase your swimming speed.
- The air bladder is amazing for quickly escape to the surface.
- There are vehicles in the game, and they will help you explore. Find and build upgrades for those vehicles to allow them to explore further.
- Growing plants will allow you to have an infinite supply of them. Certain plant foods won’t rot.
- You will know when you swim too far off the map into the Void if it gets really dark and the background music stops playing. If your feeling of dread rises off the chart, it’s time to head back to safety.
- There is a certain creature that will steal your equipment. Later on after completing a specific task, they will help you instead of steal from you.
Mid Game Tips (slight spoilers)
- There is an island near the center of the game with a base at the top. It contains a map of the entire region. Scan it acquire the map in your PDA. That should help guide you on where to go.
- You may come across a moonpool in an underwater base. Its interior door won’t open until you trigger its story arc.
- The longer your main vehicle, the slower it’ll drive.
- You may come across a locked building on a small iceberg. It won’t open until you trigger its story arc.
- Exploring on land is cold. There are 3 ways to mitigate freezing: use a vehicle, eat things that keep you warm, or construct a certain body suit.
- The land regions are large and maze-like. Don’t expect to fully-explore them quickly. Use lots of beacons if needed.
- If you ever see a glassy hole you can’t enter, it probably opens from the other side.
- This game is designed so that you don’t have to kill anything. It’s easier to swim around predators.
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