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This article is about Exploration Tips. You may be looking for the Getting Started page.
Exploring in Subnautica can be a risky business that can go sideways quickly without some planning. When you're surrounded by predators and 500 meters below, an extra battery can make the difference between life and death. Along with this, Subnautica has unique game design that requires a thorough exploration of each area in order to fully access the next. This guide is intended to provide a helpful overview of the dangers of exploring at different depths as well as tips and tricks you can employ to ensure that you're prepared for the next dive.

Notes:

  • This is not a general guide for the game. It is specifically meant to help with surviving and navigating at various depths, and does not provide information about the specific creatures or objects found in each area.
  • Any items listed in an area's section can be found and crafted in that area or in a previous one.

0 m - 100m (Safe Shallows & Kelp Forests)

When you begin the game you have very little in the way of swimming or diving capabilities. With only basic fins and about 45 seconds worth of oxygen, even visiting the ocean floor can be dangerous.

Inventory

While exploring the Safe Shallows and Kelp Forests around your life pod you should keep the following items in your inventory at all times. Don't be afraid to use them! Just replace anything you use as soon as possible.

Area Hazards

The starting area may be called the 'Safe' Shallows but there are plenty of dangers to worry about. Below is a list of hazards you'll face and the tactics/equipment you can employ to mitigate them.

Drowning

Early on, the most common cause of death is drowning. It's very easy to lose track of how much oxygen you have left, underestimate how long it takes to surface, or get lost in underwater caves.

Starvation & Thirst

Food and water are easy to maintain but also easy to forget about, and if they get low while exploring you might not reach your lifepod in time.

  • Keep your food and water levels above 50% whenever possible.
  • Carry at least one cured fish and bottle of water at all times.

Predators & Other Hazards

Occasionally you will take damage; whether from predatory fish, hazardous flora, or any number of environmental dangers. What's important is to know how to avoid getting hurt, and be prepared for emergencies.

  • Always carry at least two first-aid kits, and try to save one of them for dire emergencies only.
  • Most aggressive enemies in this area will swim away after a swipe or two from the survival knife.

Exploration

Starting out, exploring the ocean can be disorienting and strenuous; especially with little in the way of navigation and resources.

Returning to Important Locations

  • You can keep track of nearby locations by using the crashed Aurora and your life pod can as stationary reference points.
  • Physical landmarks can be help reorient your sense of direction and what's nearby.
  • The compass can help immensely by giving you a directional heading; upon discovering a new location, simply note the direction and distance to your life pod.
  • Beacons make navigation much simpler. It is recommend to use descriptive names when using them to help make different beacons easier to tell apart.

Making the Most of Each Trip

  • By keeping an extra bit of food and water in your inventory, you won't have to cut trips short due to hunger or thirst.
  • Check your batteries often and always carry a spare with full charge. The last thing you need is your Seaglide dying in the middle of a cave system or 500m from your life pod. If it comes to it, remember you can always exchange batteries from other tools. 
  • Keep your inventory clear. It can be easy to lose track of free space when you're gathering supplies; utilize a floating locker or the life pod's storage to store any materials you aren't currently using.

Leaving the Area

Before you move on to deeper waters, you should make sure that you are prepared for what you might face.

Upcoming Hazards

  • Radiation
    • The radiation suit is needed to survive in areas close to the Aurora
  • Depth
    • Diving deeper than 100m without a rebreather  consumes oxygen faster than normal.

Essential Gear

Before leaving this area, you should have the following equipment:

  • Scanner
  • High Capacity Oxygen Tank
  • Seaglide
  • Beacons/Compass

100m - 200m (Grassy Plateaus, Mushroom Forests, & Crash Zone)

At this point, you should have a decent amount of oxygen to your name, as well as some tools that enable speedy navigation and efficient mapping.

Inventory

Even though you now have better tools and equipment to aid in your journeys it is still wise to keep some emergency provisions on your person.

  • 1 x First Aid Kit
  • 1 x Cured Fish (Reginald is best)
  • 1 x Bottle of Water (Disinfected is best)
  • 2 x Battery

Area Hazards

As you go deeper you'll find new dangers and threats; but you may also find that some familiar hazards have gotten tougher.

Depth

In shallow waters the biggest concern is making sure you can reach the surface, but at 200m below reaching the surface might not even be an option.

  • Build a Seamoth as soon as possible. 
    • ​​​​​​Effectively a mobile air source, a Seamoth can allow you to reach extreme depths by bringing the oxygen down with you.
      • Keep careful track of where you leave your Seamoth while exploring caves or other locations where surfacing is not possible.
    • Always carry a repair tool to undo any damage dealt to your Seamoth. If it's destroyed by an unlucky hit, you'll likely be stranded.
  • Know your limits.
    • Be mindful of your depth and the distance to the nearest oxygen source. When in doubt, always assume it will take longer than you expect to reach air.
  • Explore wrecks slowly.
    • Because they are interesting and filled with valuable items, it can tempting to keep exploring a wreck until the last second. Don't. Wrecks are confusing to navigate and take time to fully explore; the best thing you can do is park your Seamoth nearby and search one room at a time.

Starvation & Thirst

  • At this point, you're likely making long trips that take you far away from your life pod or base, which means that the trip back can take enough time to pose a threat. Make sure your hunger and thirst are 70%+ before each outing, and keep some backup rations on you.

Predators & Other Hazards

  • Keep a repair tool with you to undo any damage dealt to your Seamoth.
  • You now run the risk of running into large predators (like the Reaper Leviathan). These creatures can kill you outright and destroy a Seamoth easily. For now, you do not have access to proper defenses, and your best bet is to simply flee as quickly as possible.

Exploration

Finding New Areas

  • Construct a base.
    • Your life pod is a wonderful resource, but its location in the Safe Shallows prevents you from going very far, and crafting more useful tools and equipment will require appliances like the Modification Station which can only be built in a base.
    • For now, the location of your base doesn't matter much, as long as it allows you to get deeper and access new areas.
      • A good rule of thumb is to build in the farthest place from your life pod that you've explored before. This will give you a semi-familiar area to work with while also getting you near uncharted territories.


500 meters and below

If you have managed to go this deep without drowning- good job! This depth is the deepest you will need to go for a long time! If you have a Cyclops, it can be very useful for storage, but keep in mind it is not a Seamoth, so don’t try to use it like one! If you need to go to depths of 900 meters or below, a Prawn Suit is very helpful.. didn’t the Aurora have a Prawn bay? However, driving a Prawn Suit is very unlike a traditional submarine, so be careful not to take it anywhere it might get stuck! Going past 500 meters for an extended amount of time is dangerous, so make sure you have the following:

  • Sufficient Water- a Stillsuit helps a lot!
  • Plenty of oxygen- an ultra high capacity tank is best-never go to far from your sub!
  • 2 Cured fish (Reginalds are ideal)
  • Plenty of batteries (never know when your flashlight will run out)
  • A way to fix your submarine
  • Necessary keys/ tablets (where could you find those...)
  • Bravery, and lots of it!

That’s all for now. Good Luck!