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Useful Tips for Exploring & Surviving in Subnautica

The extraterrestrial planet of Subnautica is large and filled with all sorts of flora, fauna, and unique challenges for even the most akin survival experts to overcome. With so much at your disposal, the descent into this unique world takes quite a bit of time and resource management to ensure success. By applying the following tips, you will be well on your way to navigating this new world efficiently, enjoyably, and of course — with style.

For starters, it is important to note a few things about Subnautica. The most habitable area available is the one where you land, the safe shallows. Here there is plenty of fish to eat, quartz, titanium, and other basic crafting ingredients. No one in the safe shallows will attack you and for the most part, it’s the “kiddy pool” of the ocean. SO DON’T BE SCARED!

Also, take note that certain items will occupy more space in your inventory, such as creepvine cluster samples, metal salvage, creature eggs, and handheld equipment. With that in mind, make sure to only pick up these items if you need them right away. Otherwise, your inventory will clutter up fairly quickly. If you haven’t created your own seabase yet, there is a small storage unit available on the bench inside the crash pod and you can also craft floatable storage lockers. For hoarders like myself, I crafted three storage lockers surrounding the pod in the event that I had something good but didn’t want to drop it.

With those important notes out of the way, let’s start with quick beginner’s tips:

In the escape pod, you will find a wall-mounted Fabricator. This fabricator is essentially your Minecraft version of a crafting table. Study the basic recipes and start developing a plan for what you need to collect. I cannot stress enough how important it is to learn the basics of the Fabricator when it comes to playing efficiently and enjoyably.

If you don’t want to swim back to the Fabricator to reference crafting ingredients, press alt+tab and keep the Subnautica wiki open in your browser for quick reference.

2. Craft a pair of fins.
Surrounding the safe shallows, you will see long “creepy” seaweed trees that rise all the way to the surface from the seafloor. Go in there. Make sure to keep an eye out for little fish that have pink tails and red heads, these are called bleeders and are essentially the leeches of the ocean. If one sucks onto your arm, hit it by right-clicking until it comes off. You will also want to watch out for Stalkers, they look like white mini dragons with blue scales. For the most part, these aggressive fish will ignore you, but try to watch out for them regardless. Once you navigate past them, grab four of the glowing yellow bulbs (creepvine cluster sample), head back to your fabricator, craft two silicone rubber, and then craft your fins. Boom! You are now a faster swimmer with far longer underwater breathing time to boot. You’re welcome!

3. Craft two oxygen tanks.

From the jump, you’ll want to breathe longer underwater and swim faster than your body allows, so you’re going to need two oxygen tanks to start. In order to craft the oxygen tanks, you will need two titanium and four quartz. Titanium is the most basic element in Subnautica and can be found in the rocks attached to underwater landscapes or in the metal salvage lingering on the ocean floor (among other places). Quartz is the white crystal you find lingering in bushes, in caves, or at the edge of the safe shallows. Gather these items, head back into the pod, explore the Fabricator (crafting machine), create two glass with your quartz, and then craft your two oxygen tanks. Now you will be able to breathe underwater for 100 seconds.

4. Pick up two Airsack (lung) fish and one Peeper fish.
Until you manage to find salt scattered around the ocean floor to craft disinfected water, start off with snatching Airsack fish to create filtered water. Although disinfected water is better, Airsack fish make for a decent substitute until you become more familiar with the terrain. Once you craft filtered, drinkable water, go ahead and catch a Peeper fish. These little buttheads will always swim ahead of you and then hang a quick right to get away, so anticipate this move. Once you grab one, head back to the fabricator, and make a cooked Peeper. Be careful, cooked fish will go bad if you don’t eat them right away, so feel free to leave them in your inventory until you’re ready to cook them. Cured fish is always better, so once you start gathering salt you will have higher quality, non-perishable food, and drink.

5. Craft a survival knife, first aid kit, air bladder, scanner, and seaglide.
Now that you have the basics down, go ahead, and craft a survival knife. This will allow you to gather coral samples which can then be combined with salt to create bleach (bleach can be used for first aid kits and disinfected water). As far as a defense weapon go, the survival knife is not very effective and generally, most of your time underwater will be spent avoiding aggressive creatures rather than defending yourself against them. After you create a knife, craft at least two first aid kits in the event that you need one in a hurry. Then go ahead and make an air bladder. This small, handy tool allows you to dive deeper and not worry about swimming back up for air. By equipping the air bladder and right-clicking, the air bladder will inflate, shooting you up to the surface.

You will also need a scanner with you at all times from the beginning — this is very important. When you find small white boxes resembling lockers, go up to them and scan them. By doing this, you will unlock new blueprints which will, in turn, grant you more building options when creating a new base. Lastly, craft a Seaglide (the fragment can be found in shallow wrecks) to propel you through the water faster, but be wary, it will run out of power if you use it too much.

6. Build a Mobile Vehicle Bay and then craft a Seamoth from it.
Although the Seaglide is nice, it shouldn’t be used for any extensive travel, so you’re going to need a submarine. Start scanning for Mobile Vehicle Bay and Seamoth fragments in a Grassy Plateaus Wreck or Kelp Forest. Once you’ve found all the fragments and have built a Mobile Vehicle Bay, you can now craft your  Seamoth from it.

Seamoth will become your best friend. This mini-submarine will alleviate the stress of swimming everywhere and will quickly become your most prized possession, so make sure to watch out for the Seamoth’s health. You don’t want it to go too low or else the front window will crack and it will start smoking until it finally breaks at 0% (the Seamoth can be repaired with a welder tool). Make sure to use the Seamoth wisely, keep the lights off at all times (unless you desperately need light), and only drive it when you need to. Although the Seamoth is a lifesaver, it will die fairly quickly if you use it too much, and crafting it again becomes rather tedious over time.

7. Create your first, small base.
I’m sure by now you’ve realized that the crash pod is rather small for an avid ocean explorer. With little room to store things and limited power to your fabricator, it’s time for a new home! Although you want to explore further, try to stay in the safe shallows (which is rather large, I might add). Preferably, you will want to create your new home on the other side of the same terrain. This way, when you come back from a long journey and you’re far from your home base, you can stop at the crash pod if you need quick access to a fabricator. This is what you would refer to as maximizing your location.

Now that you have your Seamoth, explore a prime spot for your new base. Always make sure that you set up camp next to a Kelp Forest. This way, you can have quick access to all the ingredients you need, both safe shallow items (acid mushrooms, quartz…etc), and Kelp Forest items (creepvine cluster sample, silver, gold…etc). You will also need a fairly flat space to build your base. You don’t want to build foundations over rocks and uneven terrain, so feel free to take your time searching for the perfect spot. Also, if it isn’t 100% flat, that’s fine. The terraformer grants you the ability to fix that later.

You will need a habitat builder to create a base. Craft one from the tools section in the Fabricator and build four foundations to form a perfect square. You will want to create a base with high hull strength (so water doesn’t get in) and starting with foundations and then installing reinforcements will guarantee this. After the foundation is set, create one multipurpose room on top of the foundation and one hatch to enter it. Do not create more than this. Also, do not start placing tons of stuff inside until you have lithium for reinforcements (I learned this lesson the hard way).

Make sure to craft solar panels to place on top of your multipurpose room. The fragments can be found in the Kelp Forest.

7. Find the first small island and gather lithium.
If you are staring at the Aurora head-on, head south of the front end of the vessel. Sooner or later, you will run into a small island. [Side note: finding islands is rather simple if you travel on the surface. There is a temporary glitch that will expose island landscapes through the waves as you go, giving you a quick glance at fully formed landscapes.] On this tiny patch of land, you will find all sorts of goodies such as uranium, mercury, magnetite, and the most important in your case — lithium. You will notice small pink lithium crystals scattered all over the shore, gather as many as possible, and then head back to your new base.

Now go ahead and start installing your reinforcements from the blueprint menu with your habitat builder tool. Keep in mind, once you have installed a reinforcement on a particular panel, you can no longer connect corridors to your multipurpose room on that same panel. That being said, make sure you place lockers, benches, cabinets, and all furniture in front of reinforced wall panels so you can expand later if you want to. If you do this, you won’t ever go through the hassle of having to deconstruct all of your furniture.

8. Build a Moonpool for your Seamoth.
By now, I’m sure you have noticed that it’s difficult to explore the vast ocean with a Seamoth that loses its charge so quickly. Once your base is set up and you have a place to call your own, go ahead and start scanning for Moonpool fragments so you can build one and charge your Seamoth. These can be found in the Blood Reef Wreck or the Grand Reef. Don’t feel bad, finding the Moonpool fragment proves to be one of the most difficult challenges of the game, so prepare yourself for tedious searches. I would suggest stocking up on food and water at your base, getting in your seamoth, heading to the Grand Reef, and before you dive down, save your game. This is a good idea because you will often dive too deep looking for it, damaging your Seamoth only to turn up with nothing. You don’t want to waste Seamoth energy and food/water when you can save, search, and if it doesn’t work out, re-load the game and head someplace else to look for the fragment.

Once you do find the Moonpool fragment (good job!), go ahead and build the Moonpool next to your base. Make sure to place it higher up because you will need to swim underneath it to dock your Seamoth inside. Slap some solar panels on that bad boy and boom! You can now explore the ocean and not have to worry about building a new Seamoth every time you run out of energy (and you can finally use your light whenever you want without feeling bad about it)!

Once that is complete, go inside and craft a Seamoth Modification Station (you will need to place it on the wall directly in front of the Seamoth). With this station, you can create Seamoth upgrades such as a storage locker, solar power rechargeability, and can name your Seamoth and paint it crazy colors. Go crazy!

Now that you have the basics covered: oxygen tanks, fins, handy tools, Seamoth, Moonpool, and seabase, you can finally explore the ocean and not have to fuss about all the smaller things. Now you can focus on deep-sea exploration, scanning all the flora and fauna, and really taking in the glory that is Subnautica. Enjoy!

For additional solar panel resources, please feel free to check out the graphic below provided by SaveOnEnergy.com

How solar panels work

Also, feel free to check out some of my Subnautica Let’s Plays on my Youtube channel.