Subnautica: Below Zero State of the Project (May 2020)

Posted by david 5 months ago

Hello, Subnautica friends.

These are strange and challenging times we’re all living through.

I hope you and yours are staying healthy.  If you play Subnautica or Below Zero, I hope that our games bring you happiness and some kind of healthy distraction.

We recently released EA9.  Here’s a quick update on where we’re at:

  • The new story is just starting to come online.  You can start a new game, experience the new intro sequence, and check out the new voice actors brought in to play Robin and Sam.  We are much further along in planning than we are in implementation, and you can expect a lot more story content in the coming months.  For now, we hope you enjoy the fresh start and new perspective, but please keep in mind that we have only finished a fraction of the new story.
  • Voice acting is going to take some time.  We know it’s a bit confusing that we have some Robin / Sam voice in-game and nothing else.  Lockdowns in response to COVID-19 prevented us from recording Al-An and Marguerit as planned for this release, and the uncertainty has made planning for voice more complicated than usual.  The story will likely be text-only for at least the next few months.  It’s likely that – much like more traditional game dev projects – we may just do all the voice recording in one pass once the story is 100% complete.
  • We continue to chip away at the icy, cold surface.  Our main objective is to better integrate surface and underwater sections of the world.  Previously, the “surface areas” of the game felt too removed and disconnected from the core underwater game.  To accomplish that, we rebuilt the Glacial Basin from scratch around the new Glacial Bay, survival mechanics went live for the first time, and a variety of supporting tech and equipment has been added or upgraded.
  • We continue to polish and improve the underwater world, such as a detailed art pass on the Purple Vents and digging into the crevices of the Lily Pads biome.  We’re also continuing to invest in the quality of creatures like the Sea Monkey and Snow Stalker.

  • Looking forward, you can expect the story to continue taking shape, a focus on player progression, and more polish across the board.  There are very few features left to add; it’s time for us to pull everything together and make the experience work holistically.

As you may know, old save games will no longer function due to the story change.  We will do everything in our power so we don’t have to take this step again, but we are still in early access – things are going to be a little rough around the edges until we hit 1.0.

We understand that COVID-19 is affecting people’s lives in all kinds of ways, and we’re grateful to be in a position to continue working (almost) entirely as before.  Our team is distributed around the world and has been mostly working from home for many years; for most of us, life is largely unchanged.  For some of us, the disease has hit a little closer to home.  Side effects of the outbreak – like families suddenly staying home together or our UK-based voice recording studio closing due to lockdown rules – can affect our work in unexpected ways.

It’s hard to know what the future holds, but we endeavor to continue making Below Zero the best game it can be.  To no small extent, we are able to continue doing this thanks to your support.  For that, you have our deepest gratitude.

Stay safe and healthy out there!

Yours,

David Kalina
Project Lead / Subnautica: Below Zero