Content of the article: "TLDR; The map is so small it’s ruining the game design, and the sea truck seems badly conceived to compensate for the small map."
I love the original subnautica. One of my favorite base building games of all time, but I don't think below zero will ever become a worthy successor for the fundamental reason that the map is just too small and everything is too close together.
In my opinion, a base building game becomes ruined when aspects of the game design render large sections of the tech tree as uninteresting.
In the previous game I often felt motivated to build remote bases in far flung and deep biomes to provide food, air, vehicle recharging, prawn suit docking etc. Of course this spawns its own gameplay loops in regards to locating, storing and processing resources to build the new base.
But I've only ever run the sea truck under 50% power once, and that was while being lost in the crystal caverns. So no need for a base to recharge power cells.
I never have any trouble with food, which seems to spawn everywhere. Only water matters in my playthrough and only once have I been on a trip where I wanted more than a couple large filtered waters.
With no extra bases, the entire branch of the tech tree that deals with multiple power options becomes useless. Why deal with a nuclear reactor when my 1 base has 8 solar panels and has had since the first hour of the playthrough?
I can understand why the team felt the cyclops was not a great design for such a tiny map, but the "mobile base" was secretly serving the purpose of motivating you to build remote bases. The cyclops was huge, slow, power guzzling machine with build restrictions that couldn't go very deep and couldn't fit in many places. It could only carry one exploration vehicle (Which for me was always the seamoth). It encouraged you to build remote bases to recharge and supply it, store prawn suits for going deep, motivate you to desire good power systems to recharge ion cells.
The seatruck ability to carry the prawn literally anywhere while also being the "seamoth" is op compared to the cyclops, but it doesn't matter when the seatruck has a crush depth of 1000m and can go anywhere the prawn can go. For most of the game my sea truck depth was actually ahead of prawn depth.
I actually really like the improvements in the prawn maneuverability and performance, it's got a really interesting traversal method and really brings you up close and personal with the biome but it's being ruined right now by the sea truck.
In regards to the sea truck design itself… Upgrades actually slow the vehicle down? The vehicle who's actual purpose is fast transport? Bad negative feedback design loop that encourages me not to use the sea truck modules. I tried out all the modules but bringing anything other than the storage module feels bad.
Fabricator module feels like dead weight, I rarely fabricate anything in the field because my main base is always so close and is where I store my resources.
The prawn suit module isn't interesting as long as the sea truck can go anywhere the prawn suit can go. Mining is a great angle for the prawn suit, but the map is so small there's literally resources everywhere you look, and since I'm only building 1 base there's just not a huge need for bulk resources.
Aquarium module is just weird. I thought I could use it to breed specific fish for filtered water and make the fabricator module interesting but the way it picks up random strays breaks it.
All in all, I got to say I'm disappointed. The game is fundamentally flawed at this point in a way that some further polishing just isn't going to fix. It needs a total rework of the map and the sea truck. Don't even get me started on the above the water gameplay. Honestly, at this point, if the team isn't going to redo the map they should just cut the sea truck totally and focus on the prawn suit, which is actually supported by the tiny map design.
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