Subnautica: 10 Tips for Getting Started

Here are 10 tips to help you get underway in Subnautica.

When you first dive into the oceans of planet 4546-B, you’ll probably be struck first by how beautiful everything is and just how massive and dangerous the world around you is. Crash landing on an entirely alien planet can be disorienting, especially when half of the wildlife wants to eat you.

Whether you’re dipping your toes into Subnautica’s oceans for the first time or need a refresher before diving back in, we’ve got 10 tips for getting started and settling into your new underwater home.

  1. Crafted the Scanner first
  2. Always carry a Nav Beacon
  3. Keep an Air Bladder in your hotbar
  4. Don’t try to fight
  5. Keep your old batteries
  6. Stockpile base materials
  7. Assume it’s dangerous
  8. Salvage gear fragments
  9. Prioritize water production
  10. Let yourself wander

1. Craft the Scanner first

Getting Started Tip #1 — Craft the Scanner first

Almost everything you find in Subnautica can be scanned. Every creature, plant, and even rock can be scanned and logged in your PDA. This gives you information on whether or not a creature is a threat and how to utilize or deal with them.

The scanner allows players to catalog their environment and is required to create new blueprints by scanning gear and vehicle fragments. The sooner you have the scanner, the sooner you can start making better equipment.

2. Always carry a Nav Beacon

Getting Started Tip #2 — Always carry a Nav Beacon

The world of Subnautica is huge, but what makes it so daunting to explore is the addition of vertical exploration. With all that open water to explore, it can be very easy to lose track of points of interest if you don’t mark them.

Oftentimes you will come across ship wreckage, resource deposits, or interesting locations when wandering around. Keeping a nav beacon on hand means you can mark what you find so you can return later.

3. Keep an Air Bladder in your hotbar

Getting Started Tip #3 — Keep an Air bladder in Your Hotbar

As one might expect from an underwater survival game, drowning is a constant threat. Especially early on, when your air capacity is low, it is easy to forget about your oxygen and dive too deep to reach the surface before time runs out.

With the air bladder handy, you have a faster and more reliable way to reach the surface when your air runs low. Inflating the air bladder will send you rocketing straight toward fresh air at speeds twice as fast as you can swim.

4. Don’t try to fight

Getting Started Tip #4 — Don’t Try to Fight

For most of the game, the knife is the only real weapon players will have access to. Knowing this tip when getting started can help save your life because not only is it borderline suicidal to try and fight an angry Bone Shark with a dive knife, but it’s ultimately pointless.

Creatures in Subnautica don’t drop anything when they die, so there isn’t much to be gained by killing them. Once the player has the Prawn Suit, killing dangerous creatures might be easy enough to be worth it, but until then, it’s better to distract or avoid enemies.

5. Keep your old batteries

Getting Started Tip #5 — Keep Your Old Batteries

When your tool’s battery runs out, and it’s time for a new one, don’t toss the old ones out of the airlock. Not only is it bad for the environment, but these batteries can be recharged later with the battery charger.

This extends to power cells too! Keeping and recharging your batteries and power cells will save you a lot of time and hassle farming materials for new ones.

6. Stockpile base materials

Getting Started Tip #6 — Stockpile Base Materials

Between building your underwater base and the hefty requirements for advanced vehicles, you will be using a LOT of base materials. Titanium, Copper, Quartz, and other relatively common materials can become difficult to come by when you need them in large quantities.

Grabbing extra materials when you see them is a good practice because they can always be swapped out for more important items if needed. You’ll be glad you have some stashed away when you suddenly need 50+ titanium to build a new vehicle.

7. If you don’t know what it is, assume it’s dangerous

Getting Started Tip #7 — Assume it's Dangerous

The ocean’s depths are full of various creatures and plants, each with its own distinct way of interacting with the world. Unfortunately, much of the life on 4546B is hazardous to yours. Even the plants and environmental features can be deadly if not handled properly.

While plenty of non-threatening and helpful flora and fauna exist in the ocean, caution is the best rule of thumb when dealing with something you haven’t seen before.

8. You can salvage gear fragments once you have the blueprint

Getting Started Tip #8 — Salvage Gear Fragments Once You Have the Blueprint

If you need an easy source of titanium or wish there was something you could do with all those vehicle fragments now that you have the blueprint, try scanning them.

Once you’ve scanned enough of one kind of fragment to unlock the blueprint, you can continue to scan fragments of that kind. This will break them down into varying amounts of titanium to be reused by the player.

9. Prioritize water production

Getting Started Tip #9 — Prioritize Water Production

With as much time as you’ll be spending in the water, you probably aren’t thinking too much about thirst. Hunger and thirst will decrease much faster than you likely assume, and though food can be easy enough to come by, fresh water can be a real pain if you don’t have a purifier.

While just about any small fish can be cooked and eaten, only Bladderfish can be used to produce water. Bladderfish can be found most easily in the shallows at night, where they gather in moderate schools.

10. Let yourself wander

Getting Started Tip #10 — Let Yourself Wander

One of the most important and enjoyable parts of Subnautica is the exploration. Not only is it fun to wander around and see what you can find, but it’s also one of the best ways to find wreckage, points of interest, fragments, and new biomes to explore.

Of course, we don’t recommend wandering so far when getting started that you get lost, or the leviathans take notice. Sometimes though, it’s beneficial to just set off with an empty backpack and see what you can find.

Final thoughts on getting started in Subnautica

Unknown Worlds created an incredible underwater world when making Subnautica. Regardless of how much we see, there’s always something new around the next corner.

Learning to survive is just the first step, and with these tips for getting started, you know how to handle the threats of Subnautica’s Planet 4546B. Get out there and explore!

Aaron Van Dyck's avatar

About Aaron Van Dyck

Aaron Van Dyck is a thriller novelist with a passion for survival games and exploration. He started writing at the age of 13 and has always been drawn to the sense of self-reliance and freedom found in open worlds. An avid urban explorer and RPG enthusiast, he enjoys dungeon crawling and has a particular love for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Far Cry 5, and Cataclysm: DDA. He's also a fan of shooters and action games with immersive stories and unique monsters to encounter.

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