Subnautica Beginner’s Guide

Updated on March 16, 2018
Chris Tyler profile image

Chris is an avid gamer who has been playing both console and PC games since the '80s.

“Congratulations on not dying…”

So, you’ve crash-landed on an oceanic world and you’re still alive. In order to keep you that way, I’ve created this beginner’s guide to help you make it through the first few days on your new, hopefully temporary, home.

The basic premise is simple: Don’t die. To accomplish that you’ll need to do several things including, but not limited to:

  • Gathering materials.
  • Crafting gear.
  • Constructing vehicles and habitats.
  • Farming

And the list goes on and on.

In this guide, we’re going to cover the things you need to know to get you set up with your first outpost and ready to start exploring the world.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Get Back In The Water...

Step One: “Just breathe normal fellas…”

When you first start the game you're in what I like to call surface phase. Surface phase means that you're at the point of the game where you have to keep returning to the surface for oxygen. You start out being able to hold your breath for 45 seconds. This basically gives you 15 seconds to get where you're going, 15 seconds to explore, and then 15 seconds to get back to the surface. That's not a whole lot of time.

Your first step is going to be to craft an oxygen tank. Once you got your first oxygen tank you’ll have 75 seconds of oxygen. While this is still not ideal, it's good enough to get you started. It'll take you a while to get used to the timing but your first tank will be more than enough to get you through surface phase.

Warning: the PDA will give you a thirty second warning on oxygen, but it's not always audible, and it doesn't always have a pop-up on the screen. Your oxygen meter will always flash red at thirty seconds, and then again during your last 10 seconds of oxygen. At that point, you'll get an oxygen warning alert along with a message on screen to "swim to the surface".

Grab Materials When You Can!

 CC: BY-SA, via Screenshot.
CC: BY-SA, via Screenshot. | Source

Step Two: “Because we Scan, Scan, Scan!”

Now that you’ve got your oxygen squared away, at least for the moment, your next step is to craft a scanner. The recipe is available in your fabricator, and it’s a really easy tool to make.

Once you have your scanner you're going to scan everything. Anytime you see the little scanner symbol pop-up in the bottom right corner, scan it. Every time you see a resource node, scan it. Every time you see something along the ground the looks like a piece of equipment, or even part of a piece of equipment, scan it. Scan the corals, scan the plants, scan the fish, scan the rocks, scan everything. If it moves, scan it. If it doesn't move, scan it anyway.

Your scanner is how you learn about the world around you and also how you learn blueprints for things you will absolutely need in order to survive. Different blueprints require different amounts of fragments to be scanned so that's why I tell you to scan everything. Once you've learned a blueprint, scanning additional fragments of that type will reward you with resources.

This is the single most important tool you can have for early game survival, and it's one of the most underrated and overlooked tools in the game.

The GravTrap: Don't Leave Home Without It!

Your GravTrap at work...
Your GravTrap at work... | Source

Step Three: “Gravity: It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law!”

Fairly early on, you'll scan the two fragments you need to create the gravity trap, known in game as, creatively enough, the GravTrap. This is the single most important tool you can have for early game survival, and it's one of the most underrated and overlooked tools in the game.

What the gravity trap does, when deployed, is reach out with energy beams and trap everything within a certain range, pulling them into the trap itself. Not only will this be your main source of fish early in the game (which are your main source of food early in the game), but it's also an invaluable tool for the farming and gathering of resources.

Along with fish, the GravTrap also collects resource chunks, and nodes. This means you can swim to an area, deploy the GravTrap, and it will gather up all of the resources in its range and bring them to the trap for you to collect. This is extremely useful in caves where, not only can it be hard to see resources due to the poor lighting, but resources are also spread all over the wall and ceiling, making them easy to miss.

Using your GravTrap can help you drastically reduce the time it takes to get your first outpost built, and get you out of surface phase as quickly as possible.

Step Four: "Can we build it? Yes we can!"

Okay, so if you've followed this guide so far, the GravTrap should have you set when it comes to food and water, and you should be at a point now where you're collecting more resources than you can store in your life pod. Now it's time to say goodbye to Life Pod 5 and build your first outpost.

When looking for a location remember that deeper is nearly always better (stay on target). Building too close to the surface burns too much time with wasted travel up and down. Remember, in Subnautica, not only do you have to deal with direction and distance like in most games, but you also have to deal with depth. This means you need to think in three dimensions.

Once you've found a location you like, start simple. Each base you build starts out with an initial hull integrity of 10. As you add and remove pieces to your base, that number will go up and down. If it reaches 0, your base starts to flood and you need to not only increase hull integrity, but you also need to repair the damage before your base is completely flooded.

My standard design for my first outpost is:

  • One foundation (+2 to hull integrity, HI)
  • Two X-Rooms (-1 HI each)
  • One Hatch (-1 HI)

This leaves you with a remaining hull integrity of 9, which is more than enough to support the equipment you'll have inside. You'll really only want a fabricator and radio in this initial outpost as this is mostly going to be a glorified storage shed for your early-game builds.

Warning: While it may be tempting, don't build your outpost near the Aurora. There are two big reasons why it's a bad idea. Since I don't want to spoil anything for you I won't tell you exactly what those reasons are, but I will say, don't build there. You will die. No exceptions.

Subnautica Cinematic Trailer

And if you gaze long into an Abyss...

This Abyss does more than just stare back...
This Abyss does more than just stare back... | Source

This ecological biome matches 7 of the 9 preconditions for stimulating terror in humans.

"Let's Go Exploring..."

Subnautica is a massive game that will give you hours of amazing gameplay. Once you've got the basic concept down, I strongly suggest you spend some time exploring the world. There are places that are absolutely beautiful, places that are awe inspiring, and places that will haunt your nightmares. And that's only the scenery.

This game reminds me of a quote by my favorite pro-wrestler, Rowdy Roddy Piper: "Just when they think they've got the answers, I change the questions!" Once you've figured this game out and got everything under control, you'll make a new discovery and it'll completely change your entire understanding of the world. It's amazing!

© 2018 Chris Tyler


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      2 months ago


    • profile image


      2 years ago



    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)