Similar to many other open-world, sandbox-style games, Subnautica encourages exploration and experimentation by providing a rich and complex gameplay experience with lots of detailed game mechanics and a minimum of in-game tutorials and explanation. Additionally, the story line and progression through the game hinge on the player solving complex puzzles and hunting down specific items.
While this creates an interesting and compelling experience, it can sometimes lead to a player getting stuck or overlooking certain details of the game that might have otherwise made their gameplay more enjoyable. New players may take paths that lead them to advanced areas of the game and struggle with puzzles that they weren’t yet intended to solve.
The intent of this guide is to help with those situations, to help guide new players along the most logical progression of the game without giving away too many spoilers, and to help repeat players streamline their game strategy and fill in any details they might have overlooked in their first play through.
Staying Safe in Early Game
Subnautica is all about exploration – but exploring beyond the area around your Lifepod comes with greater risks, and isn’t necessary during the early part of the game. For the majority of this tutorial, everything discussed can be completed within a 300 meter radius of your Lifepod.
Familiarize With Your Lifepod and PDA
It can be easy to overlook the details of your Lifepod and PDA, but they’re important pieces of your early game in Subnautica.
Gathering Water and Food
Understanding the basics of gathering food and water is key to early game survival.
Understand Early Game Threats
Read through this guide to learn more about the hazardous fauna that live in the area around your Lifepod.
Fabricate Basic Survival Tools
The Survival Knife, Fins, and Standard O2 Tank are first priority builds. This guide walks through the process in detail.
Next Steps: More Early-Game Tools to Build
With basic survival tools completed, it’s time to move on to crafting some additional tools and supplies.
Build a Seabase
By this point you’re probably starting to run out of inventory space, even with the help of the Lifepod’s onboard Storage Container. You have a couple of options if you want some additional storage: You can either craft some Waterproof Lockers at a cost of 4x Titanium each, or you can craft a Habitat Builder and use it to build a small Seabase. This chapter will cover both options, as well as the pros and cons of each option:
Waterproof Lockers are crafted using the Fabricator (they’re found in the Deployables category,) at a cost of 4x Titanium each. In order to be used they have to be deployed in the water, and will hold their position at a fixed depth. They can be nudged around by colliding with them.
- You don’t need to craft a Habitat Builder.
- Great for adding a small amount (1-2 lockers) of extra storage before you have enough materials to fabricate the Habitat Builder.
- Can be labeled.
- Only require Titanium, of which there is plenty around in the form of Metal Salvage.
- Can’t be deconstructed to refund the Titanium used.
- Can become tedious and messy to work with if you start making too many of them.
- Small storage capacity – each locker provides only 16 item-slots of storage space.
- Will likely become obsolete junk as soon as you do build a Seabase.
- Is awesome.
- Can be completely deconstructed to refund 100% of the materials used.
- Is built primarily out of ubiquitous, easy to find Titanium, and not even that much of it. Rooms and interior lockers cost only 2-3 Titanium, compared to 4 each for the Waterproof Lockers.
- Interior Wall Lockers, which cost only 2x Titanium each, provide a generous 30 item-slots of storage space. You can cram a lot of these lockers into even a very small Seabase.
- Adding rooms and Storage Lockers is much more efficient than Waterproof Lockers in terms of amount of storage space per Titanium used in construction.
- You need to craft a Habitat Builder, which requires several different materials to fabricate – including 2x Silver, which may take some time to track down in early game.
Fabricate the Repair Tool and Radiation Suit
Now is a good time to craft these two items as they will enable you to expand your exploration efforts.
Exploring The Grassy Plateaus
Start exploring the Grassy Plateaus, where more advanced blueprints can acquired by scanning fragments.
Build the Seamoth
Early Game is Over – Next Steps
With the acquisition of the Seamoth, Early Game is officially over – and so is this guide. For next steps, see the Mid-Game Progression Guide: