What is it about games like Subnautica that appeal to us so strongly? Is it the sense of freedom we feel when we explore a world with some level of autonomy, rather than being forced along some boring storyline which frankly we couldn’t care less about? Or perhaps, in a world that’s growing ever-more stressful and unpredictable, it provides the escapism we crave to just let all our worries about real-life go for a few hours, allowing us to completely immerse ourselves in the exploration of the virtual worlds created and designed specifically for our enjoyment.
Whatever the appeal, Unknown Worlds Entertainment’s offering, ‘Subnautica’, has been a smash hit in the gaming world since it was released in early access back in 2014, and with over 5 million sales by 2020, it has undoubtedly been one of the best-selling Indie games of recent years. With the full release of Subnautica Below Zero on the horizon, we here at HQ Gamer have compiled a selection of the perfect survival, adventure and exploration games like Subnautica to keep you busy in anticipation of the upcoming release.
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Games like Subnautica
No Man’s Sky
The sheer scale of Hello Games’ ‘No Man’s Sky’ is enough to floor even the most experienced of gamers. This space-exploration game provides an opportunity to explore over 18 quintillion alien planets (yes, you read that right) across its vast open-world galaxy. Yet, despite being amongst the most eagerly anticipated games of 2016 due to this frankly ridiculous size, No Man’s Sky has become somewhat notorious in the gaming world for its dramatic failure to live up to the hype it built up before its launch.
However, a series of updates released over the last few years have dramatically improved No Man’s Sky, adding a myriad of new features and fixing the longstanding bugs and issues that had plagued it since its release.
Players begin the game on a random planet somewhere in this vast universe, near a crashed spacecraft which, once repaired, becomes the primary tool for exploration and adventure. The gameplay is largely built around four key aspects: fighting, surviving, exploring and trading, and players are granted the freedom to pursue any or all of them as they please.
The extent and depth of the crafting system will feel familiar to any Subnautica players, as will the exploration of different and interesting biomes. Weird and wonderful-looking, hostile creatures inhabit many planets you happen across, so be prepared to fight both space pirates and robot police for control of each planet’s resources.
Although No Man’s Sky will likely be remembered as one of the biggest launch failures of all time, with the significant updates released in the four years since, Hello Games have finally managed to craft one of the most immersive open-world games that any fan of Subnautica will undoubtedly enjoy playing. It has truly become one of the best survival games on the market which is sure to keep you occupied for hours.
If this sounds interesting to you, check this game out on Green Man Gaming today!
ARK: Survival Evolved
Released in 2017, ‘ARK: Survival Evolved’ is another open-world survival adventure game, focusing on the standard experience of harvesting materials, crafting exploring and fighting. But this time, the game developers at Studio Wildcard have thrown in a pretty significant twist – the ability to tame creatures and command or ride them.
In Survival Evolved, you are thrust into the open-world known as the ‘Ark’, a huge area of land and ocean populated by dinosaurs, other prehistoric creatures, and mythical beasts. Players must harvest materials from around the world in order to craft better weapons and equipment, keeping an eye on various survival meters like health, stamina and hunger.
Levelling up is a key part of this game, as each level grants you skill points which can be spent on improving stats like max-health or movement speed, with harvesting, crafting and killing creatures being key components of this. Players also have the ability to build bases throughout the world by acquiring structural components which are scattered across the Ark.
However, by far the most unique aspect to ARK: Survival Evolved is the taming of wild creatures and dinosaurs, usually through the use of tranquillizer darts. Once tamed, these can either be given instructions; for example, they can be sent to attack another base or protect your own; they can even be ridden directly by the player. And who doesn’t like the idea of flying across an open world on a pterodactyl or rampaging your triceratops through an enemy base – imagine having Jurassic Park levels of destruction at your fingertips!
Departing somewhat from the more light-hearted Survival Evolved, Endnight Games’ ‘The Forest’ is an open-world survival-horror game, which is certain to appeal to those who enjoyed the unpredictable experience of the deep sea in Subnautica and its occasionally terrifying encounters with rogue wildlife.
In The Forest, you become Eric LeBlanc, the survivor from a plane crash on an isolated world which is, surprisingly enough, heavy on the forest, and due to being populated by creepy deformed cannibals, heavy on the freakiness. The Forest’s intriguing story revolves around the protagonist’s efforts to try to find his son, who was kidnapped right after the crash. As you progress, you learn more about the indigenous locals, as well as every reason they’re so freakin’ weird.
The basic gameplay of The Forest will be familiar to any seasoned survival game players, revolving around base building, crafting resources, and maintaining vitals such as health, hunger and thirst levels. Instead, what stands out is the complex behaviour of the cannibals that also inhabit the forest, as they may attack, follow, entrap, or flee from the player; they may even attempt to communicate with you depending upon the situation.
The constant fear of knowing an attack may, at any time, be imminent, the anxiety you feel when you notice signs that you’re being stalked, and the panic that arises from spotting a deformed cannibal in the shadows are sure to shake the nerves of even the most experienced survival gamers. If you love a game that puts you on edge and you don’t mind the occasional scare, The Forest was made for you.
The Long Dark
Set in the frozen wastelands of Northern Canada, ‘The Long Dark’ is one of the few games which can match up to the sense of lonely isolation as experienced in Subnautica.
Players have the option to choose between two main game modes: Wintermute or Survival. Wintermute is the game’s story mode, following the exploits of crash-landed pilot Will Mackenzie and his search across the Canadian wilderness for his friend Astrid. Unsurprisingly, Survival mode is exactly what you’d expect: scavenge resources, hunt animals, and survive as long as you can.
It would be fair to say The Long Dark is more of an immersive simulation than a simple survival game. Players must keep an eye on multiple vitals including body temperature, caloric intake, thirst and fatigue, all of which can be affected by your activities, playstyle and environmental factors such as the changing weather conditions and levels of wind-chill. In addition to battling the elements, frostbite, hypothermia and other afflictions that pose a constant threat, there are wolves, bears and other wildlife which seeks to hunt you down.
While somewhat light on the exploration but heavy on the survival, The Long Dark is immersive, challenging, and undeniably a game well deserving of both its title and its place on this list.
Although ‘ABZÛ’ technically isn’t a survival game, this offering from Giant Squid Studios brings the ocean world to life in a marine adventure which will certainly appeal to those who enjoyed exploring the vast depths and extraordinary beauty of the sea in Subnautica. Players of ABZÛ take on the role of a diver who journeys through the game’s marine environment, experiencing life at the bottom of the ocean, stumbling across underwater ruins and technologies from ancient civilisations.
Whilst there is an underlying storyline which involves ocean mysteries and puzzle-solving, the beauty of ABZÛ lies in the opportunity it provides to just relax and explore, making your way around the marine world at your own pace. Its genuinely beautiful graphics and visuals, coupled with an incredible and relaxing soundtrack, ensures ABZÛ provides a peaceful and tranquil gameplay experience for those who simply love the idea of exploring the deep sea.
If this game as piqued your interest, check its latest price on Green Man Gaming!
So there we have it! Our selection of the best games for exploration, survival and adventure that any fan of Subnaurica can dive into headfirst. And if you really fancy jumping into Subnautica: Below Zero, don’t forget you can pick up an early-access copy on Steam today!
If you’re liked this post but are looking for a more fantasy-focused gaming experience, check out our recent post listing our favourite fantasy games like Skyrim: The Elder Scrolls.