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Welcome to the Getting Started Guide for newer players who are having troubles or simply are preparing to survive in Subnautica.

How to get access to the latest build

Subnautica is currently in an early access phase. To get access to the latest build (patched almost every workday) follow the procedure listed here: Steam Subnautica Game Guides: Dev Updates & Progress

Getting started guides around the web

Getting started videos

A great video for new adventurers by MycroftCanadaNS,[1] showing you the basics of survival in Subnautica.

Please keep in mind that this is very outdated, and does not cover most of the things in the current version of Subnautica.
Subnautica 10837 How To Get Started & Survive!12:28

Subnautica 10837 How To Get Started & Survive!

Getting started Guide

If you start playing the Survival mode of Subnautica, the main goal after being spawned into the world is to get Food and H2O (Water).

After you spawn you'll sit at a level of 80% Health, 50% Food and 65% H2O - so it's time to hurry up and get the supplies rolling. Your Lifepod 5 has a built in locker that contains two nutrient blocks , two filtered waters, and two flares

However, before being able to do this, you must extinguish a fire that has started in your Lifepod. Extinguishing this fire acts as a short tutorial to basic game mechanics, so food and H20 don't drop.

Your best bet is to get yourself some Fins to increase Swimming Speed and a Survival Knife to defend against predators and harvest life forms. You will need materials to build them, for example Quartz and Titanium. Titanium is the most common material in the game that is used in crafting, and can be made out of Metal Salvage, which can be collected from the seabed. Coral Tube Samples and Bladderfish (fauna) can also come in handy to craft what you need, especially filtered or disinfected water.

The game begins in a Biome called the Safe Shallows, and it lives up to its namesake indeed. It still provides you with all the things you need at this point so you don't need to stray off too far yet. Just don't venture into the caves, which are home to nasty Crashfish.  

Essentials:

From the first time you dive you should be on the lookout for a few materials to get access to necessary items and supplies. Here's two short lists for your focus:

Priority List in Order

  • Scanner Tool
  • 1x Standard O² Tank
  • Food, especially Cooked Peeper
  • 1x Survival Knife
  • H20, like filtered or disinfected water
  • Repair Tool
  • Fins

To get these items here's what you should watch out for:

Gasopods

Stalkers

Required Materials:

Priority List in Order

How to get basic supplies

Metal Salvage - Huge pieces of metal found on the ocean floor

Fish - Found everywhere, hard to catch

Quartz - Shiny white crystals on the ocean floor

Creepvine Seed Clusters - Glowing yellow seeds found on Creepvines (Watch out for Stalkers)

Copper Ore - found by breaking limestone

Acid Mushrooms - purple mushrooms found growing on the ocean floor, usually in groups.

Salt Deposits - White rocks, similar looking to quartz.

Coral Tube Sample - Use a knife to cut coral on the sides of reefs

The Lifepod

Lifepod 5 is where the player spawns and where he will respawn if he happens to die, until he enters a base or Cyclops. The lifepod will serve as a shelter for much of the early game.

An important component in the lifepod is the Fabricator. The fabricator serves as the main means of crafting in Subnautica and new recipes will be revealed when interacting with it while possessing different items in your inventory. Using the fabricator will slowly drain Energy from the three Self-charging Power Cells on the bulkhead.

The Lifepod also comes with a Medical Kit Fabricator. Every 30 minutes it will fabricate a new medical kit and start beeping to let you know it is complete. 

Also of importance is the storage area behind the ladder where excess items can be stored. It will contain supplies, like mentioned above at the beginning of the game. However items can also be dropped on the seabed under the lifepod if the storage is full. Just be aware that Stalkers like to collect metallic items like salvage.

Until it is fully repaired by the Repair Tool, the Lifepod can drift in the ocean.

Scanner Tool

You need to get a Scanner tool for fragment scanning, because most important tools require fragments. To craft the Scanner, you have to craft 1 battery (2 acid mushrooms and 1 copper) and 2 titanium.

Metal Salvage & Oxygen Tanks

Pieces of Metal Salvage are scattered about the ocean floor but be careful not to take them if Stalkers are near or you are in the Kelp Forest as they might belong to a Stalker and it might begin to attack you. Watch your Oxygen as you look for Metal Salvage and get yourself at least three pieces for your first Tank and potentially a Survival Knife. Then take the Metal Salvage to the fabricator and craft Titanium. This tank gives you 30 extra seconds of oxygen. They also take up four slots of your inventory, with the exception of the first tank, which you can carry for free.

Hint: As soon as you have the 2 Creepvine Seed Clusters, 2 Quartz and Titanium you should craft the Fins and Standard Oxygen Tank.

Peepers (or other food fish) & Food

When it comes to food the Peeper makes for a nutritious choice at +32 food points. It's easy to spot (big yellow eye) and can even be used as a lure to keep Stalkers away. Garry fish are easier to catch but not nearly as nutritious, weighing in at a measly +18 food points.

The downside to the Peeper: It's fast. Crafted your first pair of fins you should be able to catch a few. 1 Creepvine Seed Clusters should do the trick.

If you cannot find or catch any Peepers do not hesitate to catch any other smaller fish around you. Almost every fish in the Safe Shallows is edible.

Bladderfish are also an ideal food source for beginners due to their slow speed. They can also be used to craft Filtered Water.

Hint: When you catch any fish, you take them to the fabricator to analyze the fish and cook/cure it. If you just eat a normal Peeper you will lose -15 water. Cooked fish will rot over time, however, if you don't eat them immediately; the advantage to curing fish is that they'll be preserved, but you need salt to cure them.

Titanium & your Survival Knife

While you are looking for metal salvage, try and see if you can spot a Limestone node. With some luck you'll find Titanium within the first couple of nodes, looking in enclosed areas like in large tubes or caves may increase chances of finding Titanium. These nodes also contain copper, which will be useful for building batteries for your tools.

As soon as you get your titanium and a Creepvine Seed Cluster (= 2x silicone rubber) you can craft a Survival Knife. Watch out: Stalkers will try to steal it if you keep it out all the time. Put it away if they are nearby.

Coral Samples & Water

As you now have a survival knife, it's time to get some Coral Samples. Look out for a Coral (the big coral tubes you can also swim through) and strike it with the Survival Knife. After you've done that, you'll need to craft Bleach with the Coral Samples and Salt Deposit. Now you can craft disinfected water, which adds +30 to H2O.

If you can't make it and it's an emergency, just go after some Bladderfish. They can be used to craft filtered water. Not as good as our initial plan but still a solid +20 to H2O.

Dealing with Radiation

Once the Aurora explodes, harmful Radiation will spread into the waters surrounding it, extending almost one kilometer out from the Aurora. The radiation will keep you from exploring large areas near the Aurora but can be circumvented by crafting a Radiation Suit. The radiation suit requires two Fiber Mesh that can be crafted from four Creepvine Samples which can be acquired by hitting creepvines with the survival knife, and two Lead. Lead can be harvested from Sandstone Outcrops. Once the radiation suit is crafted the radiation suit, radiation helmet, and radiation gloves will be acquired. All three of these items must be worn to fully protect against radiation damage. The radiation can be stopped but that is up to the player to figure out how.

You've made it!

If you made it here you'll be able to survive your first days and nights in the alien world of Subnautica. Feel free to keep this Wiki open in case you get lost or need some information - but most importantly at this point - start exploring and enjoying the game. :)

What to do next?

Now that your more immediate needs have been taken care of, you'll want to start exploring - however, your ability to explore is limited by how much equipment you've discovered and built. The biomes surrounding Lifepod 5 gradually get deeper and deeper, as well as more dangerous. While it's not required to discover every available piece of technology or point of interest, it will definitely help you along the way. Here's some suggestions for how to proceed, in no particular order:

  • Find and scan Seaglide Fragments and build a Seaglide to increase your speed and exploration range
  • Locate the other Lifepods for extra provisions and even a full Radiation Suit - the Lifepod's Radio will send you messages where they are located, assuming you've repaired it.
  • Find the Multipurpose Room fragments from the Degasi Seabases.
  • Build a Seabase to store your inventory, grow food and have access to more tools than the Lifepod provides. You can build Waterproof Lockers as temporary storage (should you need it)
  • Explore Wrecks for Fragments and supplies; most of the more advanced equipment and technology you will want, can be found in these locations
  • Build a Mobile Vehicle Bay and a Seamoth; so you can easily explore deeper waters and other biomes farther away from the Lifepod (requires you have found the blueprints in the appropriate wrecks first)
  • Build a Cyclops as your mobile base (requires you have found the blueprints in the appropriate biomes first)
  • Explore alien bases to progress in the story.
  • Explore the wreckage of the Aurora (requires a Radiation Suit) WARNING: There are very dangerous creatures around the Aurora, so be careful!
  • During exploration of the Aurora, you can find all fragments of the Prawn Suit. You can use it to build the Prawn Suit for exploring deeper Biomes or for mining Large Resource Deposits.

While you can play the game at your own pace, the game will direct you towards certain story events that need to be completed in order for you to progress further and eventually escape the planet. These events can be completed at any time, but will oftentimes steer you to new locations and require you to have found certain items (whether it be a vehicle that can go deep enough, or various keys) to access them.

Good luck!

References

  1. http://forums.unknownworlds.com/discussion/136240/build-10837-how-to-get-started-survive#latest Dated December 2016.