Subnautica is an open world underwater exploration and construction game. We are Unknown Worlds, the developers of Natural Selection 2, and Subnautica is our new project. Subnautica will combine elements of role playing, sandbox, exploration and cinematic games to create a unique experience, the genre of which we do not believe has yet been invented.

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Twisty Bridges Subnautica Concept Art: Lava Zone 2 Coral Reef 3
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3 comments by SgtBarlow on Apr 17th, 2014

‘Pre-Alpha’ is a way of saying ‘before this game is even vaguely ready to be properly considered a product that could be released.’ These screenshots are taken from a real playthrough of a real playable version of Subnautica, but they are very, very early. The game you see here has only been worked on for a few short months. They do not represent what the final product will look like. They do represent some of the gameplay and visual themes that we hope to express when Subnautica is released. We are very proud, and excited to be showing them to you now.

Subnautica Pre-Alpha: Safe Shallows

In the first screenshot, called ‘Safe Shallows,’ the player is swimming in a coral reef area rich in life. The fish and rays present react to the player’s presence, some are scared, some are curious. Throughout the coral reef area, resources may be found, shells and caves explored, and fish caught. The water is quite shallow, allowing sunlight to play across the player’s vision. This is where players start in our PAX East 2014 demonstration. While it is very early, and not representative of the final product, this is not a staged screenshot and it is really playable!

Coral Reef Zone Concept

Safe Shallows is the in-game realisation of coral reef concept art such as the piece above: Many of the life forms and features that you see in this concept have made it into this early build of Subnautica.

Subnautica Pre-Alpha: Sub and Stalkers

The second screenshot, which we call ‘Sub and Stalkers,’ shows off many different gameplay elements. This screenshot is taken deeper down in the world, and less light is reaching the sea floor. Different life forms are present, from unique coral formations to the terrifying and dangerous Stalkers. The player is maneuvering using the Sea Glide, a personal water vehicle with a propeller that is faster than swimming with arms alone. Using the Sea Glide, it is possible to evade the hungry (and quite aggressive!) Stalkers.
Most notably, the player is before a Cyclops – The first submarine to make it into Subnautica. At the lower right of the vessel, above the tail of the right-most Stalker, you can see an open door. This door leads to a hatch, through the player may enter the Cyclops. In this early pre-alpha stage, the Cyclops has an extensive detailed interior, which you can glimpse through the bridge glass. 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.

Subnautica Pre-Alpha Screenshot: Koosh Bush Zone

This is the Koosh Bush Zone – An area of the environment featuring lots of different sizes of Koosh bush, among which creatures dart about. These glowing, pulsating orbs are examples of the multitudes of unique flora that Subnuatica will feature. Note that the little turquoise balls on the Koosh bush are glowing – Sure to be a spectacular light show when the sun goes down…

Subnautica Pre-Alpha: Grassy Plateau

Being underwater means Subnautica’s environments can take on wonderful vertical freedom: Even shallow areas like this grassy plateau can feature towering geographical features, all of which can present opportunities for exploration. 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.

All four of the screenshots we have revealed this weekend come from Subnautica in a playable state, they are not staged, static constructions. These are early days: Only a tiny fraction of environments, creatures, game mechanics, equipment, graphical features and technical systems are implemented. Subnautica has lots of development time ahead, we hope these screenshots have given you an appealing first taste of what you are in for…

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shakespub Mar 10 2014, 3:49am says:

Really interested in the exploration aspect of this game...on the watch list. Cheers!

+2 votes     reply to comment
sunson Dec 30 2013, 7:07pm says:


+2 votes     reply to comment
sam.ibbitson Dec 30 2013, 5:03am says:

Really nice idea, looking forward to seeing more!

+2 votes     reply to comment
HeadClot Dec 22 2013, 5:43pm says:

Hey Unknown Worlds - Question for you guys - Why are you using Unity3D opposed to your own Game engine Spark?

Just curious :)

+3 votes     reply to comment
SgtBarlow Dec 23 2013, 10:15am replied:

Because of the way the team has been split between the two game titles, After a lot of consideration, It was decided that the most effective approach was for staff with knowledge of and placed focus on Unity to work with that engine while those unfamiliar with unity but know everything about Spark may as well carry on working on NS2 as they can't abandon work on NS2 for the sake of adapting the engine for the requirements of Subnautica.
Plus, Unity was a better candidate when it came down to this game requiring use of Voxels.

+4 votes     reply to comment
cinco Dec 22 2013, 5:21pm says:

these ships, if they are to go deep, need to look more like the trieste. no elegant lines, just heavy duty.

+2 votes     reply to comment
shadowlag Dec 16 2013, 5:06pm says:

AWESOME! Love NS and NS2 can't wait to see more of your new project.

+2 votes     reply to comment
BioDestroyer Dec 16 2013, 9:07am says:

The idea and the concepts look awesome, tracking.

Is it coincidence that a developer named Unknown Worlds first made a game on space with aliens and now is making a game in the oceans, which many people consider we know very little of? xD

+4 votes     reply to comment
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Ooooo what's this?

Aug 25 2014, 9:08pm

RT @Flayra: Had so much fun writing new "cellular automata" system for @Subnautica. I'm addicted to "work"!

Aug 23 2014, 12:04pm

@Temeezer bingo! Anything red moves!

Aug 22 2014, 12:38pm

@BltRunner we are game for you to be game for this game :D

Aug 22 2014, 12:34pm

Here's the engine room of a Cyclops submarine, which you will be able to play with! See more:

Aug 22 2014, 12:32pm

RT @zZCastleZz: Making some good progress this week. @Subnautica #Gamedev

Aug 21 2014, 8:32pm

RT @lnowaczek: Designing and implementing an inventory system for @Subnautica with @Flayra is quite challenging, but really fun! T.c

Aug 21 2014, 5:18pm

RT @Flayra: Sylvain making some dynamic water spray for sub leaking: (and bugz: @subnautic

Aug 20 2014, 5:05pm

RT @geoffkeene: I am quietly super excited for @Subnautica. You should be too.

Aug 19 2014, 7:20pm

RT @obraxis: Giving the SandShark a good floss. He doesn't seem happy about it! @Subnautica #flossing

Aug 19 2014, 2:37pm

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