I feel this game being a standalone expansion hurts perceptions of it immensely.

I finally managed to 'finish' (As much as one can, I guess? I am under the impression this last update cycle was feature complete, even if still EA) Below Zero and man I have some super mixed feelings about it.

The scope of the world being so much smaller. So much of the game taking place trudging around vast islands with barely anything going on between content drips. The main big bad leviathan (Chelicerate) only appearing four times outside of the Void versions and being pretty underwhelming at that. A general sense of underwhelming leviathans if I'm being honest. I hate the Seatruck and everything about it in comparison to the Seamoth and Cyclops, mainly that it feels like an amalgamation of both but carries all of the cons of both with not all of the pros coming with those cons.

Yet overall I did really enjoy the game, I think. Below Zero really ironed out a lot of the hiccups, bugs and gameplay issues which is always welcomed. Sitting here thinking on it though, I think almost all of my issues with BZ would've been solved or at least remedied heavily if there wasn't this constant looming comparison to the original. That said, I think the standalone expansion approach was the wrong one for BZ.

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Base Subnautica and BZ both together cost less than most AAA games do in one single purchase. I don't really see why the need to be able to play BZ before base is important because I would wager a huge chunk of the BZ playerbase is composed of runoff from the first title. I'm sure people do exist who played BZ and not base, but overall I'd assume they're a pretty small minority. This part is largely semantics, but it's the only logical reason I could see for the devs deciding to make the expansion standalone.

All that out of the way, if BZ was instead DLC or a paired expansion to base, I think a lot of my and other people's perceptions would be different. If this were a game inside base Subnautica, there wouldn't be this constant pressure to live up to something that BZ was never intended to live up to in the first place. Within the context of BZ being a fairly cheap expansion to an existing game, I think it's pretty damned impressive. Take that context away however, and it comes off as a lacking half step sort of sidegrade to the original instead. I know we all know it's an 'expansion' but when we have to boot the game from its own executable and have no shared gameplay from the base game, it doesn't really FEEL like an expansion.. It feels like a whole new game.

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Plus I think it could've been cool to port over all (I know some have made it. But not all) the cool updated shit into the base game which would've come easier if BZ was a DLC. It also would be cool to possibly have some kind of in-game way to the the two parts of the world together, even if only just acting as a transfer point and a loading screen, which would help it go toward feeling like one big expanded world instead of one big world and one small world.

I don't know. I'm just kinda rambling. I did enjoy BZ a lot overall and will go back to play it. It just isn't on par with the original, and it being standalone just further separates two halves to what I think are truly the same whole anyway.. It just doesn't feel that way, which can lead to some bad impressions and feelings when playing BZ.


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