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Subnautica gets upgraded and now Steam Deck Verified

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Subnautica, the hugely popular watery open-world survival adventure has a fresh update out that notes it's now Steam Deck Verified. It originally launched in 2018 after being in Early Access from 2014. Considering how it was quite a while ago now, it's nice to see this kind of post-release support for it.

This isn't just a case of another developer announcing they went through Deck Verified without doing anything, the developer Unknown Worlds Entertainment actually went back and updated some parts to work better including:

  • Steam SDK upgrade.
  • Steamworks .NET upgraded to 20.1.0.
  • Virtual Keyboard support for Steam Big Picture mode.
  • Fixed wrong controller stick dead zones handling (now should be easier to aim using controller).
  • Fixed occasional black screen on game start.
  • Refactoring, other fixes and UX improvements (mostly related to controllers).
  • Fixed black screen in VR after resolution change.

You can buy it on Humble Store and Steam.

I'm still yet to play this one, am I missing something big here? Maybe now I might actually jump in and see. It's rated Overwhelmingly Positive on Steam so clearly people love it. Good things come to those who wait then, since I'll now get the best experience huh?

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CanadianBlueBeer Mar 8, 2023
It is a very good game.

I do recommend it.

soulsource Mar 8, 2023
Quoteam I missing something big here?
Definitely yes. I played it on the Switch, and it's an incredibly good exploration game. In the beginning it's a bit stressful, because the survival aspects dominate. Once you have crafted the tools needed for a steady supply of food, water and electricity, the focus definitely shifts towards exploration though. The progression is also pretty well done. The list of objects you can craft gets extended constantly, giving you a nice feeling of progress. Also, you uncover more and more details about the history of the planet the game is set on, which gives you the information you need to win the game.

I don't know if this applies to the PC version too, but the Switch version has very annoying clipping issues though. Some mid- and late-game enemies have a nasty tendency to swim through walls. I guess that faraway objects don't have collision enabled...

Also, animations while on land are a bit clunky. Just don't look at your character's feet...

Last edited by soulsource on 8 March 2023 at 5:16 pm UTC
CanadianBlueBeer Mar 8, 2023
Don't forget to change the colours on your vehicles.

We all live in a yellow submarine.... (or a banana...)

Hohlraum Mar 8, 2023
I found it was an exercise in storage management and got frustrated quickly. Need to give it another try and see if there is a mod to remove that annoyance.
vox Mar 8, 2023
I would say that while the story is the main thing about this game that people appreciate, the underlying game mechanics are tired, stale and undercooked. Hohlraum already voiced his dissatisfaction in the comments, but I think that the storage management is just one ingredient of the sad cocktail of mechanics holding this game back.

Let's take a step back and look at SOMA. I think that it's a great game. One of the greatest in fact. This game changed me as a person, just a bit. But the lingering effect of the overall story and consequence of my decisions are still with me and I would say that it's almost not even a game - it's an experience! SOMA is built on its story, otherwise it's a walking simulator with hide-and-seek mechanics. Which are... not very interesting in the first place, not my thing and are getting old pretty fast. But despite all of that, you're in for the story and the story is great - it's one of a kind. I highly recommend anyone to experience it.

That's very interesting from the game design perspective, because usually you have game mechanics as the foundation and then the story is tacked on (take almost any game from almost any genre from the golden era - FPSs, ARPGs, platformers etc.)

Subnautica is about story, but they thought that it would be natural to slap on survival mechanics to it. I'm firm in a belief that there's nothing else as stale as a survival mechanics. There was almost nothing done for years by game designers, it's all the same everywhere - you have one, two, three countdown meters that you replenish with some one-use items. And there must be an inventory system to manage such items, which usually represented as a series of chests and whatnot. Basically it's just a busywork compounding on itself all the time for you to do for it's sake. It's a thing in itself. And I kinda hate it.

Yes, there are games that are built with this mechanics as a foundation and I would say that there's a good examples of inventory management with various quality of life features. But I would be hard-pressed naming good examples of a hunger-shmunger meters. Okay, many people like Don't Starve. I don't. You can call me biased hunger-meter-hater, I won't bite. BUT! At least Don't Starve was really built around this mechanic - you have 2 meters and you have an intricate dance of managing them. They are integral and foundational for various reasons. And it's a good design, I just don't like the gameplay that much.

In the case of Subnautica, the survival mechanics are tacked on and it shows. More than that - the designers made hunger and thirst meters at first, then they started to realize that the thirst meter is too much of a borefest and busywork, that they relegated it to it's own "more hard" difficulty, that is not default as far as I can remember, but also they just negate it altogether in the late stages of the game. You just don't need to drink, basically, past some point if you choose.

Tiny spoiler about how it's made:
Spoiler, click me
There's a technology you see, that enables you to "recycle" your watery excretions for the consumption. I say, give me other recycling technologies, that will satisfy the hunger meter once and for all. If I'm drinking my own excretions, I can manage to also eat some of them.

And the inventory management is a mess and was without ANY quality of life things that anyone would expect. Third of your inventory is for various devices that you will need, plus oxygen tanks. Another third is for food and water. So basically you have one third of your inventory for resources in a game about exploration! That makes you go constantly back and forth to your base or some locker somewhere. Then you have 10 lockers and you need to go for each one while unloading and then cycle through them again if you need something crafted. This is ridiculous and a waste of time.

What mods were recommended when I played couple of years ago:
  • QModManager (for installing and managing mods)

  • MoreQuickSlots

  • BluePrintTracker

  • EasyCraft

Don't install mods with maps or about mapping - it will spoil the game most likely.

TLDR: Subnautica is a great exploration game with a great story and immersion, that tanks heavily in a busywork-mechanics department. You should treat it with a collection of mods to make those mechanics somewhat bearable. And don't enable thirst-meter - it's a waste of time
Spoiler, click me
and piss
syrjala Mar 8, 2023
QuoteI don't know if this applies to the PC version too, but the Switch version has very annoying clipping issues though. Some mid- and late-game enemies have a nasty tendency to swim through walls. I guess that faraway objects don't have collision enabled...

Those issues are notorious on every version. One time a reaper took my seamoth and swam straight through the ground. Goodbye seamoth :( And the problem isn't strictly limited to leviathans either. I've lost count how many times my prawn has fallen through the ground, usually with me inside it fortunately so I had a chance to save it. But one time I parked it on a hill and went to grab some resources, and when I came back the prawn had fallen through the ground 10m into some inaccessible cave. So close but yet so far. Goodbye prawn :( And I've also had eg. fish swimming inside my base.

I do have a feeling later game updates have made some improvements to these issues. Also recently they added some kind of "unstuck" button which presumably teleports you somewhere if you yourself clip through into some inescapable place (has happened to me inside the Aurora for example).

Also, in case it's not obvious, this might just be my all time favorite game. If they ever come up with safe way to erase specific memories my Subnautica memories will be the first to go so I can go back in totally blind.
Termy Mar 9, 2023
Quoting: HohlraumI found it was an exercise in storage management and got frustrated quickly. Need to give it another try and see if there is a mod to remove that annoyance.

Yeah, wouldn't want to play it without some storage-QoL-mods. Other than that pretty great game ^^
CanadianBlueBeer Mar 9, 2023
My inventory when out of base/ship is just 1 ea of water, food, oxy.

Storage of all the stuff, well, yeah. Hence labelling the big lockers.

Now, I tend to overdo things, so Titanium 1, 2, 3 , ingots, etc.

STAY AWAY FROM REAPERS!!!! (for the seamoth, have the wee zappery item, that'll get it to let go. then RUN , er drive away!)

Save the food bricks. great for long trips away (eat when 1 pt below 100, it overstacks)
water, well, you want the good stuff.

Only lost a seamoth into the terrain once. (crap happens in any game, annoying but...)

Is it perfect? No.
Is it for everyone? No.
Do *I* think it's fun? Yes.

There are hilarious moments (asplodey fish, I'm looking at you)

The starting area is really rather peaceful, just swimming about, and it's georgeous at night!

(and yeah, I like the submarine) :D
rcrit Mar 10, 2023
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If you don't want to deal with the food and water mechanic you can start a game without them. I think there is an O2 mode for that too. I think they add to the immersion.
mZSq7Fq3qs Mar 12, 2023
I'd love to play this game but I really would require mouse and keyboard for this one, and even then I am way too scared to play subnautica.
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