What did I do? Since my commenter Smokeman is hell bent on believing that Subnautica is a base building game, I completed most of the game without building a damn thing. Not a piece of base. Not a single ship. And here I am, inside the containment facility:
But… but… exploration? Nope, the only technologies I purposefully learned was Seaglide. Everything else just came automatically as I progressed (if you make battery, you learn making power cell).
Everything I manufactured on the lifepod fabricator is visible on the picture (plus food, water, medkids and tablets consumed on the way):
I didn’t use any glich and played on hardcore and it took me less than two hours and most of that time was spent looking for silver and the damn lost river entrance. If I memorize their locations, I can get here in 40-50 minutes. As you can see, I used 3 air tanks (the final air tank needs modification station that needs a habitat). You can have as many air tanks as you want, just don’t forget to fill them by equipping them in the air.
The first dive was close, I reached the power plant with 30 seconds air left and both extra tanks empty. The swim to the containment unit left me with a full tank. The Sea Dragon and the other nasties did lot of damage, but as they don’t oneshot, I could just keep going popping medkits.
What’s left of the game? Only safe grind, now that the containment facility portals are active. I need to build a Cyclops, because only a Cyclops can fabricate Cyclops shield for the rocket. A Prawn suit to drill Kyanite in the ILZ, because there aren’t small Kyanite deposits and they are needed for the rocket and the second blue tablet. Collecting some crystalline sulfur and nickel in the lost river, few meters from the portal (one scanner room built). Going to the Aurora for the rocket blueprint. Running errands for the Emperor. All quickly done with the portals, without ever going near nasties. Sure, it came with extra risks during the dive, but I only risked less than an hour progress.
There is less than 3 hours gameplay in Subnautica. Sure, you can spend lots of hours exploring every little flavor item and hatch the eggs and decorate bases, but those are unstructured play with the toy and not playing the game (similarly, if you build a house of cards with a poker deck, that’s not playing poker). Not the devs or other players challenge you, hell, nobody challenges you, you just fool around.
I wish the devs spent just as much time designing gameplay as they did with the birds and tunnel effect of the rocket flight. Subnautica is one of the best made toy I’ve ever seen, used to power one of the sloppiest, lamest gameplay ever made.