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The original game:

  • Ass Pull: As part of the course of the story, another ship, the Sunbeam, will detect the Aurora's distress beacon and attempt to render aid. This results in the planet's automated defences vaporizing the ship for violating the quarantine. If Sequence Breaking is used to disable the quarantine platform before their arrival, they will instead refuse to land, citing the thick layer of debris orbiting the planet, even though it doesn't impede their approach should you let events play out normally.
  • Awesome Music: "Abandon Ship" from the soundtrack is an energetic theme that sounds like something from a nightclub.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: In a hidden Easter Egg, interacting with the data terminals in the Quarantine Enforcement Platform will occasionally cause the PDA to say "Resistance is fertile", then play a short piece of jazz music. It only happens once with no explanation given.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
    • Due to how slow and cumbersome manoeuvring the PRAWN Suit is, it's a guarantee that players will always equip it with the Jump Jet Upgrade Module to thrust themselves higher and longer, and especially the Grappling Arm upgrade so they can move around faster Spider-Man-style.
    • Players will almost always build their first base in the Safe Shallows due to being one of the safest biomes in the game roughly at the centre of the world map, and therefore closer to most biomes around so they can go gather resources without having to travel too far away. There's even a nice open spot in the Grassy Plateaus about 200m from Lifepod 5, right near an entrance to the Jellyshroom Caves, seemingly encouraging players to take advantage of it.
    • Similarly, it's a very common strategy to build a base at the far end of the Lost River, in the Tree Cove area right before entering the Inactive Lava Zone; it's a perfectly safe area located right between two large & conversely unsafe biomes home to a litany of rare resources.
  • Creepy Awesome: The leviathans are some of the most iconic characters of the games. While the hostile ones can be horrifying both during the day and especially at night, a lot of players find them cool and jaw-dropping.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: A removed Easter Egg where the Seamoth AI would say "I love it when you come inside me" instead of "Welcome aboard, Captain" when you enter it. There is at least one complaint thread on it on the Steam forums. It was added as a joke by the game's sound director, but the rest of the devs weren't ok with it, which was probably just as well.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • No one likes Crashfish much, due to their high damage and the fact that they can destroy the all-important (and slightly expensive) Seamoth without any upgrades. It certainly doesn't help that they're guarding a resource necessary to make basic tools.
    • Warpers. Not only do they often attack in groups, not only can they teleport you out of your Seamoth or PRAWN with a fast-moving teleportation "sphere", but their attacks can drop you down to half health in one hit, hurting more than any other predator of comparable size.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: The various A.I.s that are in each of your vehicles and your PDA are fairly popular, leading to several Fan Nicknames for them.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • The Stasis Rifle and Thermal Knife can kill anything in the game without the player taking a single point of damage. The only drawback is the amount of time the leviathans take to kill; any other target will die in one uncharged stasis shot and just a few hits with the knife. This turns even the dreaded Reapers into tempting targets, or even just makes them easy to scan without the threat of being attacked. This is explicitly mentioned by the devs as the reason the stasis rifle was removed from Below Zero.
    • While only unlocked a fair way through the midgame, Thermal Generators can eliminate practically all seabase power management concerns. A cluster of them built near or especially within hydrothermal vents, black smokers or the game's deepest volcanic biomes will constantly & rapidly generate power, with no further required maintenance or resource consumption following their initial construction. Any concerns regarding vent proximities to ideal/desired seabase sites are largely addressed by Power Transmitters, which only a few are needed to carry power across generous distances, even doing so through terrain when connecting to neighbouring transmitters/seabases.
  • Genius Bonus: The fauna on 4546B has some thought put into it. For example, Reaper Leviathans are the primary Apex Predator of the above-cave-level places on the planet, and as such they are one of the few animals in the entire game that lack in bioluminescence, which means they can very easily sneak up on you.
  • Goddamned Bats:
    • Bleeders. They are easy to shake off and don't take off that much health at once. However, they also prevent you from getting resources until you get them off. Also, their shriek is painful to hear.
    • Stalkers. Once the initial fear of meeting them subsides, they become simple pests that have a surprisingly far-roaming distance due to tracking down metal salvage. While they aren't dangerous, they will nip at you and your vehicles if the opportunity arises. What makes them annoying, however, is their obsession with camera drones. If you build a Scanner Room anywhere near a Stalker, it is a guarantee they will go out of their way to pull camera drones out of their sockets to play with them.
    • Cave Crawlers. They don't deal that much damage and are easy to walk around and avoid, but are still annoying to deal with on land since they jump all over the place, making it harder to slice them up with your knife.
    • Spadefish are non-aggressive and harmless to the player, but they are unique among edible fish in that crashing into them damages the Seamoth, forcing you to repair it every so often during long voyages.
    • Biters and Blighters don't hit hard and they're fairly easy to spot. But, if they manage to gank you, they can do far more than their usual trick of making you pause, grunt and lose a bit of O₂ and health.
    • Lava Larvae. These volcanic leeches stick to your vehicles and drain their power. This isn't a big issue for a Prawn short of obscuring your vision, which only has so much room for them, but they will swarm over your Cyclops like it's a free meal, and enough of them can easily outpace a thermal charging upgrade. There are numerous ways to remove them directly (Repulsion Cannon, knife, Cyclops shield, grav spheres), but all of them require diverting your attention. More importantly, Lava Larvae will swarm regardless of whether or not you are present, so if you leave for some other task, you may come back to find a dozen of the little monsters have taken up residence on the hull and sapped a fair bit of power. Another more obtuse trick is to deliberately pull your power cells before you leave and store them in a locker. If there's no power, the larvae won't attach, and you can plug them back in later.
    • Lava Lizards are like underground Stalkers: not dangerous, but quite aggressive. What makes them worse than Stalkers is that, instead of targeting mundane things, these lizards absolutely hate your Prawn, and will attack it without end, even if you're not in it. It's very easy to lose a Prawn to them if you're not paying attention.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • Before the Silent Running update for the Cyclops (which also nerfed its then-intended invulnerability), players could build Power Cell Chargers on the Cyclops that charged Power Cells faster than the Cyclops drains them with the Cyclops Engine Efficiency Module, letting players infinitely and sustainably generate power for their Cyclops with a couple of spare Power Cells on cycle. Now, built Power Cell Chargers will generate power one-to-one with the Cyclops's drain rate.
    • As of the press release right before exiting Early Access (version 1.0), players can interact with Cuddlefish through walls. A Cuddlefish roaming outside can thus be pulled into a base (where it flies around as if it were in water) or even pulled back into its containment tank.
    • Since early access and extending into 1.0, there's an infamous bug that lets small fish clip through the base. Don't be too surprised at seeing a school of fish fly through your base, or a single curious Peeper floating through your hallways. Some players love to Hand Wave it as the player character hallucinating and going mad from solitude and being marooned on a water-filled alien planet. On the other hand, this becomes annoying since fish in containment can clip out of their tanks and start roaming the base (or, worse, clip outside the base into the wild).
    • Another harmless, potentially annoying, potentially funny bug (but purely visual) is the tendency for the player's hands to glitch when operating tools. Open a Bulkhead? Sometimes your arms are positioned as if the handle of the door was at the top of the screen instead of the middle. Open a locker? Sometimes your arms become crossed as you open it. Use a handheld tool? Sometimes your wrist is pulled backwards.
    • In the PS4 console release, prolonged play could cause the map to load incorrectly or not load at all. This could allow access to cave and tunnel resources while also removing above-ground barriers for crashfish to aggro you. Since this glitch allows you to go under the terrain, it's possible to exploit it to make travelling to places easier.
    • If you build a compartment that goes through a wreck, then the entire wreck will disappear, letting the player get all the materials inside without having to navigate through it.
    • As of the 2.0 "Livin' Large" update, entering the Primary Containment Facility's Aquarium will disable oxygen consumption while underwater. While likely intended as an Anti Frustration Feature to prevent the player's O2 needs from interrupting a crucial narrative event, this effect remains active permanently, even when exiting the Aquarium no matter the route taken to do so.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Nightmare Retardant: While the Sea Dragon Leviathan is menacing on paper, for some its slow speed and general "mermaid" aesthetic come off as a bit less scary than it ought to be.
  • Obvious Beta: Even with the rest of the game functioning fine, the Aurora remains are blatantly this. It's full of a bunch of arbitrary invisible walls that make traversing it more of a maze than it already is, and it has several textures that you can just swim right through.
  • Paranoia Fuel:
    • If you weren't already afraid of the ocean, this game may make you terrified to be in the open ocean.
    • The whole concept for the player. You're on an alien planet and you're the only human on it. Your resources are scattered across the planet, which is populated with strange creatures, some friendly and others hostile. These creatures can range from the size of a bug to a medium-sized whale. You have no idea what's safe on this planet and you may die if you're ill-equipped and uninformed of the potential dangers.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • The mechanics behind powering seabases are odd, to say the least, and the game doesn't bother explaining it beyond what's visually obvious. Your seabase will display the total amount of reserve power available, representing the total of all generators. What the game doesn't tell you is that it will draw from each one in sequence based on the order they were built, rather than spreading the load during times of high stress. You can have several different types of generators running, but the game is always going to take from the one built first, even if it wastes resources (for example, drawing from a Bioreactor when Thermal Plants are running). You thus have to carefully set up your power generation so the resource-intensive ones get tapped last, or simply run only one type so you use them consistently (Thermal Generators, for example. See Game-Breaker above).
    • So are the mechanics behind base integrity. The concept itself is fairly straightforward: structural elements provide bonuses/penalties to your base integrity, and if integrity drops too low, the hull is breached and you have to reinforce/repair your base. The problem is that the game never tells you what the bonus/penalty values are. Descriptions will occasionally note if a component will add or detract from integrity, but only in extremely obvious cases. The current level of integrity also only appears when parts are added or removed, so if you didn't have a safe margin (and the reinforced panels that grant integrity bonuses are rather expensive at early stages), better grab your repair tool and go waddle around your flooded base hunting them breaches! In addition, the penalties increase the deeper you descend, which could lead to an absurd situation where even building just the room and the hatch will be enough to flood it. Finally, the game sums the integrity effects of all elements that are adjacent to one another, not just those that are directly connected, which just makes no sense.
    • Beyond initial playthroughs, Torpedoes are rarely employed by players, if ever. Utilising them requires building their respective launchers for both the Seamoth & PRAWN, which take up full upgrade slots for the former and require a dedicated arm for the latter. While Vortex Torpedoes conform to the game's doctrine of prioritising non-lethal solutions to problems, they are far from the cheapest or even most effective method of hostile fauna deterrence, especially when most can simply be avoided or damage-tanked. And despite Gas Torpedoes technically being the game's most damaging weapon, they fly in the face of the aforementioned pacifism-first approach while being generally less efficient and more expensive at killing assailants compared to the PRAWN's default Power Pincers.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: For many players, wiping out the hostile leviathans is one. There are only so many of them (22 reapers, 6 ghosts, and 3 dragons), and once they're dead they're gone for good so killing them is not only a challenge, it also makes the Crater much safer to travel.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • The game takes place primarily underwater, but there are a few rough spots with the visuals when you're not. The Thermoblade will always give off bubbling steam even on dry land, and schools of ambient fish will frequently fly straight through the walls of underwater bases. The bubbles representing the protagonist's breathing mask sometimes don't go away while entering bases or vehicles.
    • Leviathans on the lengthy side love to clip through the seabed, particularly Reapers and the subterranean-dwelling Sea Dragons. The former may sometimes freeze in a vertical position as a result, stiff and dead to the surrounding world.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: A space traveller stranded on a hostile planet, and trying to survive using the technology at his disposal? That sounds like The Martian, set underwater.
  • Ugly Cute: With their long snouts and rather amusing habit of picking up metal scraps and carrying them around, Stalkers are this to some.
  • The Woobie: The Sea Emperor. She was kidnapped by the Precursors and forced to breed, had her life extended well beyond the regular lifespan of her species, and yet she's probably still aging. It would have ended long ago, but the Precursors made a mistake and kept the eggs in the wrong hatching conditions. It's made clear that her children - the ones the Precursors didn't dissect, that is - have been stuck as eggs for centuries. It gets worse when you find out that she may or may not know the true, well-intentioned purpose behind all of this... which means all she can do is accept her current condition.

Below Zero

  • Base-Breaking Character: Marguerit Maida, as she appears in Below Zero. While she's still a badass Action Girl, with her paranoid hostility towards the player and lack of karmic payback for indirectly getting Sam killed, one might wonder why the writers felt she deserved to survive her presumed death in the first game. It also goes in the face of one of the biggest messages of the Degasi tragedy; that both Maida and Paul were wrong in their approaches of violence or fear respectively, with Bart surviving the longest because he was somewhere in the middle. By having Maida survive and leaving the other two for dead, it instead rewards/validates her hostile behaviour, despite both games otherwise leaning heavily on how things must exist together and in balance.
  • Contested Sequel: While reception to Below Zero's new biomes and creatures is mostly positive, the story and gameplay have proven divisive. Many players found the story engaging and enjoyed the increased character interactions (including the new player character having a personality and goals rather than being another Heroic Mime). Others feel that these elements detract from the isolation that made the original game so terrifying and also complain about Below Zero's shorter length and more relaxed difficulty.
  • Designated Hero: Sam Ayou is supposed to be seen as heroic for her trying to stop Alterra from researching the Kharaa, but there's just so little evidence that something bad might have happened that it makes Sam come off as paranoid. Not made better by the fact that her trying to prevent further research caused the death of a man with family.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • In Below Zero, if you keep a Flare on hand while on land, you needn't fear Snow Stalkers ever again as they will be afraid to attack you while holding one. This makes the surface portions of the game significantly easier, especially since the Flares won't burn out unless you throw them.
    • The humble Spicy Fruit Salad. Though one of the ingredients can't be accessed until a certain point in the plot, once it is acquired all semblance of difficulty with hunger management vanishes. Spicy Fruit Salads restore more hunger than a nutrient bar, more water than filtered water, fully restore the temperature gauge, are nonperishable, and take up one inventory slot. And since both of the ingredients can be grown indoors, you can manufacture enough food for an entire playthrough within ten minutes.
  • Goddamned Bats: Sea Monkeys, who will steal whichever tool you're currently holding right out of your hands, forcing you to go take it back from them and put your tools away when you're around them, at least until they start retrieving materials for you.
  • Memetic Mutation: Shortening the title to Sub-Zero.
  • Pandering to the Base: For some, Marguerit Maida's inclusion in Below Zero smells heavily of blatant Fanservice with little reason other than some people finding her cool in the first game.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • The Chelicerate effectively replaces the Reaper Leviathan as the biggest and nastiest fish you'll encounter near the surface. However, while its attacks rival the Reaper in strength, it is much less aggressive and its general "oversized shrimp" appearance causes it to lack the Reaper's scare factor, so it's generally seen as an inferior replacement for the original game's iconic super-predator.
    • The Sea Truck is a massive downgrade from the Cyclops submarine of the original Subnautica. The Cyclops could be modified with the Fabrication tool, allowing the player to turn it into a mobile base with enough food, water, and item storage for days of exploration. The Sea Truck, by comparison, is essentially a Seamoth with the ability to add dedicated modules that are in every way inferior to what the Cyclops can offer, with the only caveat being that the Sea Truck is faster and draws very little power.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: The Snowfox handles more like a rusty shopping cart than a badass speeder bike, and while it is fast in a straight line, it just isn't well suited for navigating the narrow caves and winding paths that make up the land portions of the game. Many players instead opt to carry it around in their inventory as a portable heat source. It's much easier to build a Prawn for the same task, making yourself pretty much unkillable, albeit much slower.
  • Sequel Difficulty Drop: Below Zero on the whole is a fair bit more forgiving than the first game. The map is smaller, there are fewer predators to deal with, and there are fewer vehicles to manage so progression moves along at a faster pace. While the risk of freezing on the surface provides an added challenge, it's easily mitigated and generally isn't likely to happen unless you're careless.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • The Seatruck introduced in Subnautica: Below Zero is a modular combination of the Seamoth and the Cyclops, combining the Seamoth's speed and manoeuvrability with the Cyclops' large mobile storage facilities. One notable difference from the Cyclops however is that it's not large enough to carry a growbed, which may make it harder to maintain a renewable food and drink source in Survival (the Aquarium module may help, but it's not as consistent as plants).
    • Earlier in Below Zero's development, Robin was voiced by an actress with a British accent, in the final release, she has an American accent instead. Some players, notably Jacksepticeye, regret the former voice because they think having a character with a non-American accent was unique and refreshing.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: In Below Zero, Robin's search for Sam is given weirdly little impetus, considering that it was her entire reason for going to 4546B in the first place. Al-An's storyline is the only one that is essential to complete the game, so the mystery to what happened to Sam can even become an Aborted Arc, with Robin leaving the planet behind without even seeing the Frozen Leviathan or doing anything about the Kharaa infection that Sam was so worried about (essentially having her end up as a Forgotten Fallen Friend).
  • Tough Act to Follow: Regardless of how one feels about Below Zero, it's widely agreed that the first game's story, environment, and gameplay mechanics set the bar incredibly high and that it would be very difficult for any sequel to live up to it.

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