Posted on May 8, 2014, Phil Hornshaw Unknown Worlds Starts Subnautica While Modders Add to NS2
After more than a decade spent working on a game about marines and aliens killing each other, the developers at Unknown Worlds are looking to explore something a little different.
That new project is called Subnautica, and it’s about as far from Natural Selection 2, the developer’s asymmetrical multiplayer first-person shooter-slash-strategy hybrid that started its life as a Half-Life mod, as you can get. Instead of a violent game about fighting and killing other players, Subnautica is about exploring an alien ocean.
As Hugh Jeremy, Unknown Worlds’ producer and PR manager, explained at PAX East 2014, that’s not to say there are no dangers in Subnautica. Some animals found in the ocean may still be aggressive, for example. But he said players won’t be dropping onto an alien planet and just shooting up the place, or killing off whatever’s there, because that’s not what explorers on a new world would do.
“That’s just not how humans would roll,” he said.
Instead, Subnautica is an open-world sandbox that’s about gathering resources, finding, creating and customizing submarines, and going ever further and deeper into the strange ocean around you. Running in the Unity engine, Jeremy said the game is procedurally generated around the player as they explore.
You’ll also impact your strange new world, he said. For example, Jeremy mentioned deadly creatures called stalkers that can threaten players in certain areas. Killing all the stalkers in an area might seem like it could afford the player some relief, but the lack of a major predator might invite something even more dangerous to move into the area and take its place. Making changes to the ecosystem also can have other, cascading effects, Jeremy said.
Gameplay in the PAX build, which Jeremy said was still pre-alpha, amounted mostly to cruising around the ocean, viewing the world from a first-person perspective. Players could find supplies on the ocean floor that are used to work on vehicles, and it was possible to use both personal diver propulsion vehicles, those small, handheld machines that look like a kickboard with a propeller, and larger subs.
Players will be able to explore a number of biomes, like reefs, lava zones, and regions of varying temperature, and elements of the various ecosystems in Subnautica will be combined through procedural generation to make for unique areas to explore.
Subnautica obviously is still early in development, but Jeremy said the team at Unknown Worlds is interested in trying something new after so much time spent in the world of Natural Selection 2. But that doesn’t mean that as Unknown Worlds turns to new projects, its well-loved multiplayer title will be ignored.
Instead, Unknown Worlds is leaving at least some of the continued work on NS2 in the hands of the game’s thriving modding community. Already there are players so dedicated to the game that they create new elements for it, and many of those have been or are being incorporated into the game proper.