Subnautica: Below Zero and its adorable alien penguins are out in Early Access

Like pretty much everyone else, I presume, I have an abiding love for penguins, so I’m glad to see that the new Subnautica: Below Zero trailer—check it out above—contains an abundance of quality penguin antics. Alien penguins, too! The trailer announces the start of Early Access, so you can go for a swim in the standalone expansion right now.

Below Zero is set on the same ocean world as the original, one year later. Instead of a survivor from a spaceship disaster, you’re a scientist studying the alien world’s artefacts. Expect plenty of swimming as you explore the region, but there’s also quite a bit of surface exploration this time. You’ll be climbing mountains as well as rooting around in underwater canyons. 

Judging by the trailer, the surface can be just as dangerous as the depths of the ocean—I hope those penguins are OK—so it’s a good thing you’ll be able to escape giant beasties in fancy vehicles designed for the new environments. Supplies will be dropped off from the space station above, but you’ll still need to go out and find your own resources and crafting materials, so having a hoverbike should come in handy. 

Unknown Worlds expects the Early Access phase to last for about a year, and the current version contains 1-2 hours of story and multiple environments, but prospective players are warned of frequent bugs and poor performance.

Subnautica was the best survival game of 2018, so I’ve got high hopes for Below Zero. There are already a lot of games that task players with surviving in freezing wildernesses, such as the excellent The Long Dark, but I’ll happily throw on a scarf and warm coat again if it means I can pet some funky alien penguins. 

Subnautica: Below Zero is out now on Steam, Discord and the Epic Games Store for £15.49/$20.