Subnautica Below Zero
Personal enjoyment: 5/10
Below Zero was an attempt at capturing the magic of the first Subnautica game and maybe even improving on the concept. It did in some aspects but failed in others. Like many sequels, it couldn’t live up to the original. I’m not regretful that I bought the game but I’m hesitant in recommending it to others.. The game has some absolutely beautiful biomes to explore but half of these only need to be visited once. It’s also a shame that Below Zero has very little left of the original games survival and horror genre.
Useful LinksSteam Store
YouTube – Call Me Kevin
Subnautica on Steam
Subnautica Fandom Wiki
Below Zero Interactive Map
YouTube channel – Play-through
- Game bugs: Subnautica had bugs and some were not fixed in Below Zero. One bug is the “not able to swim” bug. Jumping off cliffs can be a reason for this bug to occur. To fix it you can open/close a door if one is available to you, or kill your character.
- Fish sleep: Most fish are diurnal, which means they are active during the day and sleep at night. So if you’re low on food, nighttime is the best time to go hunting.
- Moonpool: Can now be rotated when added to a base at a later stage.
- Use empty batteries: You can use empty batteries to create new equipment. Those will have no power but it can be useful in the beginning when you still have limit storage.
- Pin recipes: One of the better upgrades of the game is “pinning recipes. You won’t have to keep switching to your menu to find what you need for an item.
- Pengling: These are super cute aren’t they? They also easy to pick up and fit nicely inside a Bioreactor.
Below Zero has two quest lines and is less linear than the first Subnautica. You also get fewer directions and some clues are vague at best. This game requires you to explore rather than follow markers. It’s therefor slightly harder to create a walkthrough..
Crash-landingYou step out of the little space shuttle. Look around for useful items, there should be some food, water and a few flares. If you get too cold walk back to the burning shuttle to warm yourself up. There is a clear marker on your map to where the Drop-Pod landed, make your way to it. Once you enter it you’ll get a lot of information in your PDA, but only the first message is of real importance; find the big radio tower..
(Shallow) Twisty BridgesSoon after you’ll get your first signal; it’s from an emergency supply cache. Go out and explore. These Shallows are a very pretty and safe biome. You’ll find a lot of useful items; Copper Ore, Titanium, Lead, Quartz, Silver (vein), Gold (vein), Ribbon Plants and Bladderfish.
- Seaglide: The Seaglide takes up quite a lot of inventory space but it stays useful till the end of the game.
- Beacon: Place one at a point of interest so it will be easier to return there.
Arctic Kelp ForestThere are patches of this bright orange kelp all around the Shallows. While swimming here you’ll run into Sea Monkey’s. These are cute but can also be annoying as they steal items you are holding. Don’t be too harsh with them though, they can be helpful at times, if you know how to motivate them.
Pickup at least a few of the glowing Creepvine Seed Clusters so you’ll be able to fabricate Silicone Rubber. Create a Knife, Fins, compass and if possible a scanner. Go back with your knife and cut some Creepvine Samples to create Fiber Mesh. Use the Mesh to make the Standard O₂ Tank.
Arctic Kelp CavesCreate a Seaglide and head back to the Kelp Forest. There are entrances to caves everywhere. Some caves are small but some are quite extensive. You still have only a limit amount of air so watch yourself, especially if you go below 100m. Oxygen Plants will help with air supply. Sea Monkeys have their nests in the Kelp Caves and they collect a lot of useful items.
- Laser Cutter: This item will help open sealed doors and cargo crates found in Wrecks.
- Propulsion Cannon: Grab fish from a distance so you don’t have to chase after them. Move items that block access
- Mobile Vehicle Bay: Used to create vehicles. Seatruck (parts) and the Prawn suit.
On day 4 you’ll receive another signal. This is a beacon that will guide you to the island where the radio tower is located. To get to the island you’ll pass through the (Deep) twisty Bridges and the Thermal Spire biomes.
When you get near the deeper part of the Twisty Bridges you’ll receive a strange distress call. It’s best to create a Seatruck before investigating this signal. Make sure to pick up a few Table Coral Samples for the fabrication of Computer Chips, you’ll need quite a few of them. Continue on to the island.
Thermal SpiresYou’ll then pass over the Thermal Spires. Just try to avoid the Cryptosuchus. Don’t worry too much about those, they sound scarier than they really are. If you come across Seatruck fragments, make sure to scan them. There is also a small amount of Lithium that is a must have.
- Seatruck: Your main mode of underwater transportation. Can be extended with additional pods to provide more functionality.
Delta (Radio Tower) IslandThis island has a lot to offer.. you might even say “too much”. You’ll also receive something the precious game didn’t provide, a map. Try to ignore all the posters and other glossary; you can always come back for those later.
- Habitat Builder: Build a base to store your items or just for fun.
- Multipurpose Room: Often the starting point of a base.
- Base pieces: Multiple basic parts for base creation.
- Scanner Room: This is a Base attachment that provides a map of area. You can select materials you’re looking for and it will display their locations.
- Bioreactor: Is the second best energy producer for your base.
- Fabricator: Place this in your base to create necessities.
- Battery Charger: Don’t create more batteries but change the ones you have.
- Modification Station: Will allow you to upgrade your O₂ Tank, Swim-fins, knife and vehicle.
- (Wall) Locker: Storage.
- Aquarium: For decoration or storage.
- Planters: Can be used to plant the flora found on the island.
Build a base so you’ll be able to store more materials and equipment. It doesn’t have to be fancy but keep in mind that you might want to expand on it later. Also build your Seatruck so you’ll be able to reach deeper locations. You’ll now need diamonds: head back to the island. There is a fissure to the right of the dock where the beacon is and to the left of the “beach” where the Pengwings are. This can be a little risky because of the volcanic activity but you’ll find a vein with diamonds. Use the diamonds for a Modification Station and Depth Module MK1 (Seatruck).
You now have multiple options on where to go:
- Do you check out the strange distress call.
- Robin (your character) mentioned Phi Robotics where Sam worked.
- Or the ‘Signal – Pilot – Last known position’.
Below Zero is less linear which provides more freedom but can also case confusion. For this walkthrough I’ve chosen to check out the distress call first.
(Deep) Twisty BridgesWe are going to check out the distress call. Take the Seatruck and head to the deeper part of the Twisty Bridges biome. There are a few very important blueprints here so keep your eyes open. You can only get up to 300m so don’t go too far down, but do try to get the Seatruck Storage Module and a few Gel Sacks.
If you see green glowing monoliths, follow them into a cave. There you’ll find an alien facility. Normally you’d require a Tablet to disable the force field but this one seems to be controlled by the entity(s) inside. Ordinarily they wouldn’t have let you in but it seems they are having some difficulties. You should walk inside and assist them. If you complete the request you’ll now have a traveling companion.
- High Capacity O₂ Tank: Upgrade your air tank.
- Rebreather: Negates the Oxygen consumption penalty when diving below 100m.
- Seatruck Storage Module: Add this to your Seatruck will allow you store items
- Seatruck Fabricator Module: Add this to your Seatruck will allow you fabricate on the go.
Al-AnYou now have a second quest. Investigating what happened to your sister Sam and to find a body for Al-An. Every so often Al-An will chat with you and provide a location of an alien artifact. But for now this walkthrough will continue with the Samantha story line. It’s still recommended to checkout any alien artifacts you come across.
Thermal Spires & Purple VentsMake sure to upgrade your gear and Seatruck. Follow the signal called ‘Pilot – Last known position’. On your way there, you’ll cross the Thermal Spires and the Purple Vents biome. While crossing the these areas.. if you see a Cryptosuchus make sure to give it a little love tap with your Seatruck.
Lilypad Islands - Omega LabYou’ll now enter the Lilypad Islands biome; a very pretty and interesting area. Once you get to where the signal is you won’t actually find a ship of any kind.. Confusing enough what you’ll find is an Alien tether that has collapsed, snaking along the seafloor. Follow it to a cave where a light stick indicates the presence of a base. This base has sustained heavy damage! It’s completely flooded so watch your air supply.
- Exterior Growbed: Can be used to plant flora found underwater.
- Nuclear Reactor: The best energy generator available.
- Power Cell Charger: Can charge the Power Cells used in Vehicles.
- Large Multipurpose Room: The largest base piece available.
Lilypad Islands CavesThere are a lot of useful things in this biome and just like the Artic Kelp Caves, these have Sea monkey nests with fragments. Rubies and Nickel Ore are also found here which are required to progress.
With a bit of luck you’ll also find parts of the space vessel Mercury II. This ship was shot down by the Quarantine Enforcement Platform even before the Aurora arrived. It survived the first blast, landing in the icefield to the north, but was destroyed while trying to escape the planet. The Ship broke in three parts which can be found in at the edge of the Purple Vents and within the Lilipad biome. The PDA’s you’ll find there tell the tragic story. Search the wrecks for materials and blueprints. The Propulsion Cannon will be required to get into one of the rooms. If you find Synthetic Fibers, use them to create the Seatruck Depth Upgrade MK2 before anything else.. There are some Spiral Plants growing near the smallest of the two wreck in the Purple Vents biome.
- Ultra High Capacity Tank: The best air tank available.
- Reinforced Dive Suit: Will protect against damage and provides heat resistance.
- Prawn Suit (3/4): This is an awesome and powerful vehicle!
- Prawn Drill Arm: Mine large resource deposits. It can also be used as weapon. Add at least one!.
- Seatruck Afterburner Upgrade: Speed Boost.
- Seatruck Horsepower Upgrade: Increases speed when hauling additional modules.
- Prawn Suit Thermal Reactor Upgrade: Will automatically recharge the Prawn Suit in hot areas..
- Alien Containment: A wonderful addition to your base. For decoration, to breed fish or to hatch the many mystery eggs.
- Parallel Processing Unit: Quest item.
Lilypad Islands - Marguerit MaidaWhile combing the caves for useful blueprints and resources you might also receive a warning message from Marguerit. Her base is at 375m, probably deeper than your Seatruck could go at the time. With an MK2 upgrade installed you can now visit her. You won’t receive a warm welcome but you’ll live.
- Moonpool: This will automatically load up your Seatruck or Prawn Suit and charge their Power Cells.
- Vehicle Upgrade Unit: Used for upgrades but can also change the color and name of your Seatruck / Prawnsuit.
- Seatruck Perimeter Defense Upgrade: Zap attacking creatures.
- Snow Fox (1/3): Fast land vehicle.
- Spy Pengling: Quest item.. Sort of
- Test Override Module:Quest item.
Marguerit has asked you to fix a little problem she has. The Communications Tower at Delta station is connected with an Alterra satellite. This satellite is able to “spy” on her and she doesn’t like that one bit. She knows more about your sister and is willing to help if you sabotage the Communications Tower. So it would be best to travel to Delta Station and do as she asked. After you’ll receive a call from Marguerit.. inviting you to her Greenhouse to the East of your position.
Marguerit Maida’s GreenhouseTravel east from Delta Station. It is best to keep close to the surface as the Greenhouse is up on an iceberg (she didn’t actually mention that). You’ll find a few more blueprints and some useful plants; Fevered Pepper Tree, Frost Vase Plant, Preston's Plant, Marblemelons.
You can return to her original base for additional blueprints, but none are necessary for progression.
- Indoor Growbed: Can be used to plant flora inside your base.
- Plant Shelf: Small wall mounted plant pot (can only be scanned here).
- Wall Planter: Decoration that can only be scanned here.
There are three Alterra bases you can still visit. Robin mentioned suggested Phi Robotics, but this is isn’t the ideal place to travel next. The order I’ve chosen for this walkthrough is;
- Outpost Zero
- Koppa Mining Site
- Phi Robotics Center
Outpost ZeroThis is an Alterra facility where they studied Alien technology. It’s the closed base to the Drop-Pod. Here you’ll be able to complete the Prawn Suit which is the most important reason to visit this base. Outpost Zero is also the only place where you’ll be able to find the only Lantern Tree fruit in the game.
- Prawn Suit (2/4): An awesome and powerful vehicle both underwater and on land!
Koppa Mining SiteCreate a Prawn Suit with all the available upgrades and walk it over to Delta Island. It is possible to squeeze a Seatruck through one of the many fissures surrounding the island, however the Prawn Suit can walk through the “front door”.
- Prawn Suit Jump Jet Upgrade: Will allow you to jump higher both underwater and on land.
Phi Robotics CenterThis is where Samantha used to work before she was moved to Outpost Zero, probably for her meddling in the Kharaa research. You’ll find a number of interesting items including a map of the area. The map also shows places where the Spy Pengling can be used, with one location circled in particular. There is also Magnetite in the area.
- Cold Suit Fragment: This will help you survive longer when on the surface. It can be helpful I some situations.
- Snowfox Fragment: A fast hover vehicle that was added to explore the Glacial Basin and Arctic Spires biomes.
- Snowfox Hoverpad: Is used as a “home base” for your Snowfox.
Glacial BasinThere is quite a large area beyond this Phi Robotics Center and on the other side of the bridge (when repaired). It is ill-advised to explore these areas without a vehicle. Around the Alterra base you can find Snowfox fragments. The Snowfox is a fast, lightweight hovercraft that does great on flat terrain.. It can however case motion sickness (it did for me) and has no defensive capabilities. Alternatively you can bring the Prawn Suit which might actually be the better option. Travel to where the antenna is on the map. If you already have a Spy Pengling; stop at the location marked on the map and investigate. There is a cave next to the antenna where you’ll find quite a surprise. Use the Kharaa Antidote on the infected creature. You’ve completed what you came to on 4546B to do..
Al-AnYou still have Al-An inside your body and although he’s been a reasonable roommate up to this point, you may still want to find a way to separate from him/them. If you haven’t found or scanned any alien technology then this would be the time to check out the coordinated logged in your PDA. Every few finds Al-An will recall the location of an Alien Cache that might have part of a body part fragment. Not all artifacts will be marked on your map, some are in random locations, and others are close to points of interest. Happy hunting!
- Architect Artifacts – X3: Located in an Artic Kelp Cave. You can squeeze your Seatruck part of the way, using a Seaglide would do just as well.
- Artifacts – Q59: A statue inside the Koppa Mining Site. Easiest to access with your Prawn Suit.
- Artifacts – PK8: Located in an Inactive volcano down in the East Arctic.
- Artifacts – N6M: Is the same artifact as PK8 but this one will bring you to the Tree Spires biome.
- Artifacts – LF0: Can be found below the smallest wreck of the Mercury II. If you explore this cave further you’ll be able to pick up Seatruck Docking Module Fragments. It also leads into the Crystal Caves where you can pick up some Kyanite (don’t travel too far).
- Artifacts: One can be found on Delta Island. When entering from the dock side, keep left along the water’s edge.
- Artifacts: An artifact can be found in a Thermal Spires Cave. Move North/East from the dock of Delta Island. This isn’t a volcanic cave and there are Oxygen Plants.
- Artifacts: There is an artifact in a cave in the Arctic Spires biome. It is advised to explore this biome in your Prawn Suit. Try to avoid the Ice Worms.
- Architect Cache - Lilypad Cave: Travel down the fissure close to where you received the signal ‘Pilot – Last known position’. The Deep Lilypads Cave is a very pretty biome. Besides a fragment for the creation on Al-An’s body you can also find Young Cotton Anemone and Flowering Spore.
- Architect Cache - Arctic Spires: This biome is a maze of paths and tunnels. It’s advised to take the Prawn Suit instead of the Snowfox when exploring. Watch out for Ice Worms, if one appears keep moving, don’t try to fight it and make sure to bring a Repair tool. Eventually you should find on a large icefield with a few Stalkers. Look out for the alien tether, follow it to a cave.
- Architect Cache - Crystal Caves: You don’t really get an indication to go here but eventually this is the last place it could be. You can take the Seatruck or Prawn or both. This biome is patrolled by the snakelike Shadow Leviathans. Look for a crystal-lined sinkhole.
- Architect Cache - Fabricator Caverns: Al-An tells you the Fabricator Facility is ‘concealed at some depth’. He doesn’t say it’s deeper in the current (Crystal cave) biome, it is implied. Make sure to bring all the materials needed to create Al-An’s body fragments. Head back down the Crystal Caves, walk along the wall, the entrance is marked by red crystals. There are also two Shadow Leviathans patrolling here so be careful. Park your vehicle in a safe location and enter the facility. When Al-An is ready he’ll give you directions to the gate through which he will be leaving the planet.
- Architect Phase Gate Facility: You’ll need to get back to Outpost Zero, to the alien facility that’s near it. Al-An will tell you to finish up any business you still have on the planet because there will be no turning back. Save your game at any location you wish to restart from. Leave with Al-An but if you feel like continuing the game.. just load the save file.
If you did enjoy the Below Zero game then please stop reading..
For me it is impossible not to compare Below Zero with the first Subnautica game. And Below Zero did not live up to expectations. My opinion on this game might have been completely different if I’d played Below Zero first. After reading up on the development of this game it seems the story changed multiple times and they were still making changes close to release.
Where is everyone?
This is a question that will probably never get a clear answer. All of the bases have sustained damage, even the ones that were not the target of sabotage or meteors. It looks like everyone left in a hurry and possibly at night (ruffled bedsheets). Robin doesn’t mention it, there are no PDA’s with information.. the game provides so much useless data but leave’s out this enormous puzzle piece.
Below Zero just provides too much and worse yet a ton of useless information. Why do we need to know if Parvan is cheating at ‘Alien intruder’ or that Emmanuel is a complete dickhead? What does it add? The useful information and story just get drowned in a sea of bullshit. Subnautica gave little information but what it provided was worth so much more. What I also liked better, was not knowing what characters behind the voices looked like.. I could use my imagination.
If you played Subnautica, then you should have found a few PDA voice files from or regarding Marguerit. But even from these few snippets you’d know she’s is a complete badass! In ‘Below Zero’ you actually get the chance to meet her! And what do we get? Practically NOTHING! A few cut scenes, a few PDA’s.. You can’t really interact with her; you can’t ask her a single question, she barely does anything! What a waste of a great character. Also.. You can’t kill her or Preston, I tried and they don’t even react. Also.. She and her pet have the magic ability to teleport between locations. The only vehicle she has is the Prawn Suit which wouldn’t fit Preston. Neither her Prawn Suit nor any other mode of transport can be found at the Greenhouse while she is there.. No alien technology found either.
Subnautica actually wasn’t that big, but still the map feels huge! There are no restrictions; seemingly there is nothing to stop you from swim out into the void, except for.. what you’ll find out if you try. The only real boundaries I encountered were on the Aurora. Below Zero however feels like it has a lot of them. From the very first area to the last.. it looks like you can possibly jump up and over walls but if you try you’ll be blocked by an invisible barrier.
These contain useful and sometimes even critical crafting recipes. Subnautica had a lot of places to find data boxes and they shared a list of recipes depending on their location/difficulty. So you’d always find what you need, no matter which location you decided to visit first or even skip. This made for a smooth progression through the game. Not Below Zero.. you want this upgrade? You’re having a hard time progressing without it? Well fuck you if you missed it, because it’s only in this one specific spot.
Wall Planter, the Plant Shelf for example.. you can find these early in the game (if you follow the clues) and yet there is only one place you can scan it, which depending on your progression through the game could be almost at the end of it?!? Why?
Subnautica had lab equipment you could pick up and place around your base as decoration. Below Zero had the exact same lab equipment but.. you’re no longer allowed to pick it up? Why???
Blueprints without materials..
- Hydrochloric Acid -> Polyaniline is moderately useful. The main ingredient is Young Cotton Anemone. And where do you find these anemone? ONE SINGLE CAVE! You don’t even get a clue to go there.
- The same with Flowering Spore.. which is required to make Benzene and can only be found in the same cave as the Cotton Anemone. How can the PDA even suggest that you’ll need this item if it doesn’t know of it existence? How? It just doesn’t make sense!
- Synthetic Fibers, a must have if you want to progress in the game. You’ll get this recipe quite early on, but to make it you’ll need.. Spiral Plant clipping? What is that? Where can I find it? Why Below Zero, why do you have to make this so difficult?
- A Cold Suit can be useful to survive the freezing weather on land. But you’ll need Snow Stalker Fur.. Guess how many including myself were surprised that killing a Stalker wasn’t the way to get it.. Below Zero.. a clue, a hint, come on! Maybe have one or two tufts of Fur lying around Marguerit’s as her pet Preston is a Stalker..
Materials without blueprints..
Root Pustule is a good example. It looks very much like the Blood Oil from Subnautica. But unlike Blood Oil, the Root Pustule is practically useless until the very end of the game. You can’t plant it and it is annoying to harvest. You’re left to wonder what its use is for most of the game.
Too many resources
I’m guessing some people think this is an improvement on the original Subnautica, where you really had to search for raw materials, but I beg to differ. The first game was about struggle, it was a survival game. Finding all the minerals you needed to construct a blueprint felt rewarding. Below Zero takes that away and practically covers the landscape with resources.
This was probably meant to be the main mode of transportation on land. It’s a failure. The Snowfox is hard to maneuver, can cause nausea and Ice Worms bump you off it all the time. Better use the Sprawn Suit.
Prawn can’t enter alien facilities
The Sprawn Suit is no longer allowed inside Architect Bases. In Subnautica entering an alien base could cause a problem sometimes as it seemed to deactivate the Prawn. You’d need the Grappling Arm to drag yourself out. Below zero fixed this by just not allowing the Prawn Suit inside at all. It would have been nice if the Prawn could at least entered the Fabricator Facility as a Shadow Leviathan had followed me and decided to attack it while I was inside.
Just before you touch the ‘Consciousness Transfer Device’, you can simply walk away and leave without a peep out of the Al-An. No ‘where are you going?’, no ‘please come back!’.
Apparently a fan collaboration.. It is sweet that they allowed fans of the game to create an item for the next installment but.. I absolutely hated it. It’s the definition of a “gimmick” and a badly implemented one; story wise it made little to no sense. They should have made it a toy that walked around your base and maybe repairs the Prawn or Seatruck when docked at the Moonpool.
The alien species dubbed the Architects, with extensively more sophisticated technology than humans, were not able to create an antidote for the Kharaa bacterium.. and yet Sam had some in her possession? Somehow the human scientists on 4546B were able to synthesize this, seemingly without research or effort. It doesn’t even require the Enzyme 42! All you need is 1 Frost Vase Plant and a Fevered Pepper! Are you shitting me? This is stupid as hell!
Except for maybe the Shadow Leviathan, there are no “scary monsters”. The Leviathans in Subnautica still frighten me, even after the 100th time. But the Below Zero ones are just annoying more than anything. The Ice Worm and the Shadow leviathan for example, could have been a real threat.. but you end up ignoring their presence.
Can’t harvest Flora!
Below Zero added sooo many cool looking flora yet.. most can’t be harvest!?! Subnautica had the option to at least use the Propulsion Cannon to move them but Below Zero doesn’t even allow for that.. Some plants that were harvestable in Subnautica are no longer in Below Zero! I’m perplexed and pissed off.
I don’t remember having this issues in Subnautica.. but in Below Zero I bumped into fish all the time and it made me wince constantly. Killing Cryptosuchus with a Seatruck is almost obligatory, killing innocent fish made me feel bad :(
This is such a stupid plant! It makes NO sense.. They needed something to help you survive while out of water. I guess the developers basically made the game a little too difficult and had to fix that somehow..
How these plants should have worked: The Lilies face the sun to soak up as much energy as possible. Their roots grow around crystal formations (veins) in the mountainside. These crystals are able to store the suns energy and stored energy can also be withdrawn and turned into heat by the Lilies. The heat is used to melt ice and create freshwater. There are signs that these Thermal Lilies aren’t “natural”, that they may have alien origin. If a lifeform comes close to this plant, it will turn its petals towards the warmth of the creature. It will absorb heat as it does sunlight. If the creature dies from hypothermia; it will become nourishment for the Lily. Dead bodies will also attract more potential creatures/victims. The player can punch the Thermal Lily, and if done so, it will close its petals and become harmless for a while. (You can punch things with or without items in hand) It is then possible to move closer and warm yourself on the exposed crystals.
Crystal Caves / Fabricator Caverns
These are such interesting and underused biomes that must have been a ton of work to create! You only really need to visit them once at the end of the main quest line. Shame.
Leave with Al-An
He tells you to finish up your business before stepping through the portal because there is no turning back. Once the whole ending this is over, you can just start from your last save. Al-An, you are a liar.