Subnautica: Below Zero early access release set for January 30

Subnautica: Below Zero is a followup to last year's outstanding underwater sci-fi survival game, set in a different region of the same planet after the events of Subnautica. I won't get into that too much in order to avoid spoilers, but it means that Below Zero could be a good bit different from its predecessor in some ways.

One way it will not differ is how it's released: Subnautica made its debut on Steam Early Access in 2014 in a far-from-complete state, and Unknown Worlds said that Below Zero will follow the same path, beginning on January 30. It will be available in early access on Steam, the Epic Games Store, and Discord (not listed there yet), and it will not be ready for its closeup.

"Below Zero is not finished. It is full of bugs. It lacks polish, runs poorly, and is missing features," the studio said. "We are offering Early Access not because we want your money, but because we want your feedback. We make better games when we make them with you." 

That's not the sort of blurb you normally see on the back of a box, but Unknown Worlds is wise to be upfront about the state of the game. Subnautica is one of the best games I've played in years, and we selected it as the Best Survival Game of 2018, but it took three years in Early Access to get it to that point. Players expecting to move straight into Below Zero without any bumps in the road are bound to be disappointed, so it's better to ensure that everyone knows the score before they start throwing their money around. 

Unknown Worlds will livestream the Early Access release of Subnautica: Below Zero, which will also include a trailer release and interviews with members of the development team, on Twitch and YouTube, beginning at 10 am PT/1 pm ET on January 30. 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.