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Reviewing the critters of Subnautica: Below Zero

A squid shark lit up by a submersible
(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

Subnautica: Below Zero is a great survival game for many reasons, but what makes it one of the most unique survival sims is its colourful and creative fauna. Below Zero's animals range from small fish that can fit in your hand, to huge, terrifying leviathans that can fit you in their mouths. The way you interact with these animals, and the ways they interact with you, are a crucial element in Below Zero's dynamic and surprising journey of discovery.

But which is the best creature in Below Zero? The apex predator, the cutest critter, the emperor penguin? To find out, I gathered up Below Zero's marine menagerie, and ranked them according to the following criteria: cuteness, threat, function, and strangeness. So let's find out who sinks and who swims.

Pengwing

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

The pengwing is basically a penguin, only it has four eyes and its beak is on the top of its head. You'll see them waddling around on ice floes and diving for fish in the shallower areas of Below Zero's arctic ocean. They're passive and friendly creatures, unless you pick up their young, whereupon they'll quickly put a beak-shaped hole in your diving suit.

Cuteness: 6/10

Threat: 2/10

Function: 0/10

Strangeness: 4/10

Pengling

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

A baby pengling. Similar to the adult, but much cuter.

Cuteness: 9/10

Threat: 0/10

Function: 0/10

Strangeness: 4/10

Pinnacarid

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

The pinnacarid is a pengwing that God dropped and then accidentally stood on. This evolutionary disaster of a bird has an inexplicable number of fins, antennae, and weird bladelike growths protruding from the sides of its head. It's entirely harmless and can actually be fed fish by the player, but it is phenomenally ugly.

Cuteness: 0/10

Threat: 0/10

Function: 0/10

Strangeness: 9/10

Arctic peeper

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

The chilly cousin of Subnautica's peeper, this large-eyed fish is distinguished from its tropical relative by its longer fins and purplish hue. Cute to look at and good to eat, it is among the most common of all Below Zero's animals.

Cuteness: 6/10

Threat: 0/10

Function: 8/10

Strangeness: 5/10

Titan holefish

Below Zero animal

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

A big yellow water doughnut, the titan holefish is easily recognisable by the fact that it's shaped like something Sonic the Hedgehog would collect. Easily one of the oddest-looking creatures in Below Zero, it also has a practical purpose. The hole in the centre of its body traps air, which means you can grab a lungful of oxygen by swimming close to them.

Cuteness: 2/10

Threat: 0/10

Function: 7/10

Strangeness: 8/10

Brute shark

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

A big, dumb, ugly alien shark. Will try to eat you, but easily avoided.

Cuteness: 0/10

Threat: 5/10

Function: 0/10

Strangeness: 3/10

Sea monkey

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

Unrelated to the sperm-like creatures you can buy in a packet at the garden centre, Subnautica's sea monkeys are human-sized marine creatures that are among the most intelligent of Below Zero's fauna. They display a particular interest in shiny metal objects, including your equipment, which they will attempt to steal from you to decorate their nests. After a certain point in the story, however, they'll switch to helping you, collecting resources and offering them to you whenever you're close by. They're also undeniably cute.

Cuteness: 8/10

Threat: 3/10

Function: 8/10

Strangeness: 6/10

Glow whale

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

The glow whale is a whale that glows. While impressively large, they're otherwise fairly unremarkable creatures on the Below Zero scale. They can be petted by the player, however, giving them a slight boost to cuteness.

Cuteness: 5/10

Threat: 0/10

Function: 1/10

Strangeness: 2/10

Rock puncher

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

Basically what you'd get if you crossed Tyson Fury with a prawn. These ugly pink bastards have a nasty punch and will attack you on sight. They do dig up useful materials as they search for food, however, so it can be worth risking a crustacean haymaker to collect what they leave behind. 

Cuteness: 0/10

Threat: 5/10

Function: 5/10

Strangeness: 5/10

Squidshark

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

A shark, but with squid's tentacles for a mouth. Absolutely horrible. Also tries to eat you.

Cuteness -100/10

Threat: 7/10

Function: 0/10

Strangeness: 8/10

Noot fish

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

At a glance the noot fish looks like any other fish. That is, until it goes hunting. When it attacks prey, its mouth expands to multiple times its normal size and engulfs whatever it's hunting. Not the weirdest animal in Below Zero, but still pretty odd. You can also eat them, though I'm not sure why you'd want to.

Cuteness: 3/10

Threat: 0/10

Function: 5/10

Strangeness: 7/10

Cryptosuchus

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

This prehistoric looking creature is basically a big spiky goose. It makes a lot of noise and will attack you for no reason whatsoever, but it can be easily run off with a swift kick up the arse.

Cuteness: 0/10

Threat: 5/10

Function: 0/10

Strangeness: 6/10

Chelicerate

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

The largest carnivorous fish in Subnautica, the chelicerate is not to be messed with. It shares physical characteristics with a shark, a lobster, and a nightmare. It will attack you on sight, and can kill you instantly if you're below 75 health. It can also deal significant damage to vehicles, including the supposedly robust Prawn Suit. A truly fearsome animal.

Cuteness: 0/10

Threat: 9/10

Function: 0/10

Strangeness: 8/10

Lily paddler

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

Perhaps the weirdest looking creature in all of Below Zero, the lily paddler looks as much like a plant as it does an animal. It also has one of the strangest defensive behaviours in all of Below Zero, basically hypnotising the player and leaving them in a disoriented state. 

Cuteness: 2/10

Threat: 4/10

Function: 0/10

Strangeness: 10/10

Eye jelly

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

A jellyfish whose membranous body houses an enormous eye, which tracks you as you move around. Extremely creepy, but harmless unless you accidentally touch its electrified tentacles.

Cuteness: 0/10

Threat: 3/10

Function: 0/10

Strangeness: 8/10

Shadow leviathan

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

The shadow leviathan is an enormous black centipede that wants to eat you, and is every bit as terrifying as that sounds. They can kill a player under 75 health instantly, and if they catch you in a vehicle, will spray an acidic substance from their mouths to try to get to you. They'll also attack any other aggressive creature in the game, making them one of Below Zero's most hostile animals.

Cuteness: Lol

Threat: 9/10

Function: 1/10

Strangeness: 9/10

Snow stalker

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

The snow stalker is a cross between a large dog and a polar bear. They look fairly cute from a distance, big white furballs that waddle along the ice. Get too close to one, however, and they will annihilate you, knocking you to the ground and battering you with their huge paws. Their fur can be used for insulation purposes, if you can close enough to one to collect it.

Cuteness: 6/10

Threat: 8/10

Function: 4/10

Strangeness: 5/10

Ice worm

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

A twenty-metre long annelid comprised entirely of knives and rage, the ice worm is the most fearsome creature in the whole of Below Zero. They can tunnel through the ice at astonishing speed, and will chase you across the tundra, bursting through the ground and slashing at you with their blade-like head-plates. They also literally eat snow stalkers for breakfast, which should give you some notion of how ferocious they are. Avoid.

Cuteness: 0/10

Threat: 10/10

Function: 0/10

Strangeness: 7/10


Best animal – sea monkey 

With a perfect combination of cuteness and weirdness, while also being pretty handy to have around, the Sea Monkey is without a doubt the best animal in Below Zero. A round of applause for these seaborne simians.

Worst animal – squidshark  

Undone by its vast cuteness deficit, the Squidshark is officially Below Zero's worst sea creature. That mouth, yuck.