Subnautica – Beginners Tips

Tips for Newbies

All credit goes to orionjr!

Intro to Subnautica

Subnautica is a resourse gathering survival game where you survive in a planet full of water with many different diverse biomes and creatures some friendlier than ohers…

In this guide I have the intention on giving you the basic rundown and some tips for beginners to Subnautica.

Basic Gameplay

These are the basic gameplay mechanics. W a s d to move around spacebar to jump and mouse to look around, left shift to run. Left click to pick things up/interact with things. Right click to use items in hand. 1,2,3,4, And 5 control the hotbar. Escape to pause and tab to open inventory.

Inventory / Pda

Ok inside the inventory things can get a bit confusing but as long as you follow along you’ll do just fine. In the inventory there are five tabs at the top the first tab (I’m listing them off from left to right).

The first tab is the main inventory where you equip clothes hold items and equip stuff. To assign an item to the hotbar hover your mouse over it in the inventory then press any key from 1 to 5.

The second tab is blueprints. In this tab you can scroll through to see all the blueprints you have unlocked. Ie: the items you can craft.

The third tab is beacon managment. In this tab you can customize beacon colors. A beacon is a visible indicator on the hud that appears when you get far away from the location it comes from. For example if you build your base and leave a beacon so you remember where it is. When you get far away from the beacon you can always see a marker telling where your base is. In the beacon managment tab you can show / hide these markers along with being able to change their color.

The fourth tab is voice logs. Basically when dialoge happens it shows up in here. So for example if you got up to get a snack but while you where gone you missed a conversation. So you can go into the voice logs to replay the conversation.

The fifth tab is data logs. In the data logs when you scan something the data goes here so that you can read and learn about the thing you just scanned. Also when you find abandoned pdas they go into this tab so you can play them and listen to them (The pda is what subnautica calls the inventory).


When swimming its simple just imagine that your character’s head turns to look anywhere the you make it look. So spacebar makes the character move in the direction the top of the character’s head is facing. W makes the character move in the direction the characters face is facing. A makes the character move in the direction of his left ear. D makes the character move in the direction of his right ear. S makes the character move in the direction of the back of his head. C does the exact opposite of spacebar.

Health Hunger Thirst and Oxygen

When you hop into the game you will notice 4 circular bars in the bottom left of the screen.

The red one is health. Pretty self explanitory.

The blue one is thirst. How thirsty your character is keep a good eye on this one.

The orange one is hunger. How hungry your character. Pay attention to this one.

And the large green one is oxygen. When you are under water your oxygen depleats every 3 seconds oxygen goes down by 3. However if you are below 100 meters this number is 6 oxygen depleated every 3 seconds. And if your under 200 meters this oxygen depleats by 9 every 3 seconds

You can tell your depth by the number at the top center of the screen.

  • Your base oxygen is 45 max.
  • If you make a standard o2 tank then your oxygen goes up to 75 max.
  • If you make a high capacity o2 tank then your oxygen goes up to 135 max.
  • If you make an ultra high capacity tank your oxgen goes up to 180 max.
  • Of course more max oxygen the longer you can stay underwater.

You may wonder well how do I refill my oxgen well good question just swim to the surface once you pop your head above the water your oxgen will refill over time.


To gather resources there are 4 ways to gather different resourse types.

Some you will need to do some are optional. I will mark the optional ones with an O and the needed ones with a N.

N, breaking resourse outcrops. these are rocks that are just everywhere on the ground walls.

On the celing once you left click these 3 times the rock breaks and leaves a resourse you can pick up.

Tip: there are three types of outcrops which all house different resourses.

N, picking resourses off the ground and off plants. Some resourses can be picked from plants or just picked up off the ground, walls, and celings.

N, knifing plants. Some plants will give a usefull item when you use your knife on them.

O, drilling large outcrops. Sometimes you see large outcrops. Once you get a drill arm you can drill these for lots of that type of resourse, you dont have to do this but it does speed things up.


  • In Subnautica the way you progress is by first making a scanner (prioritize a scanner).
  • Then scanning enough fragments to unlock a bluprint which you can then craft.
  • Some blueprints can immediatly be unlocked by finding a databox.
  • You find these things by exploring.

Tip: The way I played was a lot of fun, each day I would make a plan of action of what direction and where I would explore. This oftentimes helped me make progress throughout the game.

Wrecks sometimes you may find areas with large metal debris littering the ocean floor. These are good for you to find you can explore them and find some valuable fragents and datboxes in them.

Tip: If you get stuck finding a fragment to something some fragments are more common in certain locations. But most of the time the deeper you go the better the loot. So know that you will have to go deeper eventually.

You can make vehicles to aid you through your adventures but overall just be ready to explore and get a fresh pair of underwhere because this game can be really scary.

Thats if for basic gameplay and genuinly cant belive you made it this far good job heres a non-existent gold star.


  • Do not watch tutorials. I can tell you from personal experience that watching tutorials can ruin the supprise of the game dont watch any subnautica related content. Trust me on this dont do it.
  • Beauty. This planet your on is beautiful and make sure to take it in. When building a base dont just consider practicality also consider the beauty in your base location. It makes coming home after a long trip a lot more welcoming.
  • Dont be afraid to be curious. Unless your playing in hardcore mod then dont be afraid to get up close to creatures. You never know what ones you can eat or which ones are harmless or which ones are dangerous. If you die you only lose the items you picked up after being in your lifepod or base.
  • Scan everything. If your that kind of daredevil then try to scan every creature in the game. You’ll get some serious bragging rights with all your fish friends when your scanned that big baddie.
  • Dont be afraid to explore. Kind of like tip 3 but if you see that weird creavis in the rock or that big cave or that new biome dont be afread to explore it. Some biomes give a creepy vibe but are actually safe for you to explore. More often then not exploring helps you gets you farther into the game.
  • Make every tool and experiment with it. See something broken or something smoking? Try making something to fix it. You’ll never know what every tool does unless you use it.
  • Have fun. Theres a reason that I have like 200 hours in the game and say that subnautica is my favorite game of all time. Do what you want to do. Go wherever you want to go. And see whatever you want to see. In subnautica there is no handholding. The game just plops you in and tells you nothing. Your forced to explore and figure things out. Just enjoy the experience.
  • A way you could play if you want to. Hello, im going to tell you how I played subnautica. Each night I would craft items I gathered in the previous day while I planned what I would do the next day. For example while I was cooking all my fish I would be like. “Ok im going to go towards the fogy clouds in the distance and see whats happening over there.” Often times I would get sidetracted and go completely the opposite direction but planning what I would do then doing it but getting completely lost in the process was so much fun to me and may be to you.
Volodymyr Azimoff
About Volodymyr Azimoff 13990 Articles
I love games and I live games. Video games are my passion, my hobby and my job. My experience with games started back in 1994 with the Metal Mutant game on ZX Spectrum computer. And since then, I’ve been playing on anything from consoles, to mobile devices. My first official job in the game industry started back in 2005, and I'm still doing what I love to do.

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