Subnautica: Below Zero — Expanded Review

I first played Subnautica: Below Zero as an underdeveloped version in January 2019. My initial experience with the Subnautica sequel lasted at most three hours and ended when I reached a point where I was advised against continuing due to an incomplete, broken landscape. I decided to wait until the game was more developed before getting back into it.

When I returned to Below Zero late in 2019, I decided to start over from the beginning for the full experience. But somehow, I didn’t expect the difficulty to be ramped up so much. On my first playthrough, all the story points were a breeze to get through. But that was when it was just a bare-bones version. In the new and improved Below Zero, it takes longer to get through the story. Some extra steps, such as collecting resources to build something, are required.

This update has also introduced a human antagonist, whom I have only encountered once so far. I am very interested to see how this new thread ties in with a young researcher named Robin Goodall who gets an artificial intelligence accidentally lodged in her brain.

On my current playthrough, I have made it to a self-contained glacier, but the landscape is so huge and disorienting that it’s hard to find certain objectives needed to advance the story. I also managed to lose the submersible I’d put a lot of time and effort into constructing by parking it too close to aquatic creatures that could damage it.

Though it may take a while for me to get through the game, I’m impressed with how much Below Zero has been fleshed out. Quite a few of the underwater vistas are absolutely stunning, such as the bioluminescent Twisty Bridges or Lilypad Islands. The new creatures populating the ocean/glacier are equally impressive or terrifying—especially the Ice Worm, a leviathan sea creature who uses a molten-hot sword-like implement on its snout that lets it come at you from underneath the ice.

There have been so many changes or improvements made to Below Zero that it’s almost as if this is my first time playing it. I don’t know how much time it will take to reach the ending since I’ve not yet crafted the necessary items to explore the deepest depths of the ocean. But it’s been quite an experience so far.

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