I went snorkeling once, in Australia. I was scared I’d be eaten by a shark, but that fear soon revealed itself to be silly when compared to the real dangers of the sea. When I surfaced and swam back to our gently bobbing platform, I watched as a man tried to stem the blood pouring out of his leg. He’d brushed up against the reef and now had a big hole where flesh should be.
So it is with nervous, almost fearful anticipation that Iap up these Subnautica screenshots. Unknown World’s new game - in a new genre, they say - is all about exploring alien, underwater realms. They are places to build in, navigate through and encounter life within. They are also strikingly pretty.
The screenshots come from a pre-alpha build of the game. Unknown Worlds says they aren’t representative of the finished product, but are from a fully-playable version that PAX East attendees were able to fiddle around with.
This shallow area is where the PAX demo kicked off. It's a safe area with small fish and rays that that might be curious about the player, or might flee from them. There are items waiting to be discovered, like shells, caves to explore and fish to catch, says Unknown World’s Hugh Jeremy.
Players can use various vehicles to navigate the ocean. The Sea Glide is a small craft with a propeller - it’s faster than swimming and makes it possible to evade hostile sea life. The larger sub, the Cyclops. is the first in the game, and can be entered, explored and then controlled. “In this early pre-alpha stage, the Cyclops has an extensive detailed interior, which you can glimpse through the bridge glass,” said Jeremy. “Players can board the Cyclops and pilot it around the world, faster and with more protection from danger than while swimming or using the Sea Glide.”
The underwater worlds change depending on the time of day. This area, the Koosh Bush Zone, gets lit up like a wet Christmas tree come night, with the turquoise balls on the eponymous koosh bushes creating a light show when the moon comes out.
The final screen shows off the Grassy Plateau, a shallow area with some imposing rock formations and a bizarre creature. “Even shallow areas like this grassy plateau can feature towering geographical features, all of which can present opportunities for exploration,” said Jeremy. “Ahead of the player, at the lower left, sits a Jumper – A unique creature that many PAX attendees have enjoyed playing with as it leaps across the sea floor, watching the player with its downward facing eye.”
Subnautica has only been in development for a few months, so it’s got a long way to go yet. But it’s already showing a lot of promise. What do you lovely lot think? Fancy a swim?