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First Steps into Subnautica
By Skarmo
This guide provides all the basics you will need for survival. (It merely leads you through the beginning of the game, so there will still be enough things for you to discover and to find out on your own.)
Important Note
Subnautica is still in development, and even basic content is still being changed quite often. Hence some of the information given here might be incomplete or even wrong. If this should be the case, I would like to apologize in advance. I try to keep this guide up-to-date, but unfortunately I do not always have the time...

(Diese Anleitung ist auch auf Deutsch verfügbar)

You as the only passenger have survived the crash of starship Aurora on a foreign planet. Now you are drifting in an escape pod near the crash site, on an ocean which covers the whole planet. Under you there is an unknown, beautiful, yet dangerous world.

The Aurora's wreck lies east. It emits radioactivity, so beware when getting closer to it. Sunrise on this planet is south, sunset is north.

Your escape pod is equipped with a beacon, which on the water as well as underwater is visible over a long distance, night and day. You will find your emergency accommodation easily when coming home from a prey.


Open game menu
W, A, S, D
Move forward, backward, sidewards
Move up / jump
Move down
Open inventory
Mouse left
Interact with items (take, use, open)
Mouse right
Use item in hand (weapon, tool etc.)
Holster item
Recharge item (battery required)
Q, E
Rotate buildings (other functions will
be displayed depending on situation)
1 - 5
(Hotkeys, see below)


In the inventory you can mount and unmount equipment, eat and drink. You can choose items like tools and assign them hotkeys by pressing key 1 to 5. Using the right mouse button, you can remove items from the inventory (drop them).

When opening a storage, you can exchange items between your inventory and the storage by left-clicking them while holding the shift key pressed (you can also do this with only the middle mouse button).


The heads-up display integrated into your goggles shows various information about you and your vicinity. Besides your diving depth shown up in the middle of the screen, most important are the following four values displayed bottom left:
  • Breathing Air
  • Health
  • Food
  • Water

Note: All information given in this guide refers to Survival mode. In Freedom mode, food and water values will not be shown, since starving or dying from thirst is not possible there.

Your Escape Pod

Here your struggle for survival starts. Your first provisional base has been slightly damaged in the crash, but you don't have to care about this. There are two exits available (one in the floor, the other one accessible by using the ladder), a small storage and a fabricator.

Look if there is something usable in the storage. The items contained in there will vary from game to game, so there is not much sense in concerning with them. Being a little lucky, you will find an advanced tool, a compass or something similarly helpful.

You can craft all items by yourself using the fabricator. We will deal with it in detail a bit later.

Note: The image above is from an older version. The fragment analyzer that you will need to extract blueprints from fragments is not included in the escape pod any more. Instead you can craft it by yourself. You can find fragments, like raw materials, anywhere (they look like metal boxes). Blueprints are required for constructing advanced items and ships. Extracting them will take a while.

Food, Water and Health

Your general condition is good to start off with, but your HUD shows that you are hungry, so you should go out and find some food. Open your escape pod's floor hatch and let the adventure begin!

Down on the sea ground you will find colonies of acid mushrooms. They are edible, but combined with copper you can also use them to make batteries. Collect some of the mushrooms, open your inventory and eat them by left-clicking. Acid mushrooms do not contain too much nutrition, but they are a useful food source, since they regrow very fast.

Should you encounter an airsack, go and catch it. The name of this fish is a bit misleading. In the fabricator, you can transform it into a portion of filtered water, which will still 15 points of thirst.

Gather everything you can find, for you will need it later. Just stay in the shallow water on your first dives, keep yourself away from the larger creatures, and don't forget to take air occasionally.

A bit further west from your escape pod - in opposite direction to the Aurora's wreck - you will find deeper waters with creepvine growing. These plants are an excellent source of food as well, since they also contain some water. However, you will need a knife to harvest them, so this will be something for later explorations.

All fish that you can catch are edible, but eating them raw will make you a bit thirsty, so it is better to cook them in the fabricator before. For this you will need salt, which you can find in deposits on the seabed.

Cooked fish contains more nutritive value than raw fish, plus an additional small amount of digestible water. Initially, in your immediate environment, the most profitable fish is the peeper, giving 32 points of food and 5 points of water when cooked. It is not quite easy to catch, though.

Finding sufficient water resources can be more challenging than finding enough food. Besides airsacks and creepvine, there is a third resource called bleach. You can gain it from salt and the calcium carbonate contained in corals (do not confuse the calcium corals with the darker, red or purple ones, which are needed for crafting chips). Bleach can be processed to desinfected water, which will still 30 points of thirst. For breaking corals you will also need a knife.

When you have lost health (because of an attack or radioactivity), you will need a first aid kit, which you can produce out of four pieces of creepvine and one piece of bleach. The first aid kit will recover 50 points of health.

Note: In the fabricator menus, the airsack is currently shown as "vessel" and creepvine as "fiber".

Recipes (Summary)

Acid Mushrooms
Edible uncooked
+ 2 Food
Edible uncooked
+ 3 Food, + 1 Water
Edible uncooked
++ Food, - Water (!)
Cooked Fish
1x Salt + 1x Fish
+++ Food, + Water
1x Salt + 1x Coral Chunk
< Not edible, for further processing only >
Filtered Water
1x Airsack
+ 15 Water
Desinfected Water
1x Bleach
+ 30 Water
First Aid Kit
1x Bleach + 4x Creepvine
+ 50 Health (Personal Equipment menu)

Crafting Items


The fabricator inside your escape pod is a technical masterpiece. It refines raw materials to resources and processes them to various components, items and tools.

The fabricator will detect everything you are carrying with you and then analyze possible crafting options. This is why its menu is quite empty in the beginning. It is aways a good idea to "show" new resources and components to the fabricator in order to unlock more options. Some items will require blueprints to be crafted (see what has been said about the fragment analyzer above).

Raw Materials

The most important raw material sources are scrap metal, which will give three pieces of titanium each, quartz to make silicone and glass, and limestone, which contains copper or titanium. Noble metals can later be found in sandstone.

Your Basic Equipment

There are three very useful equipment items you should produce as soon as possible.
  • Fins:
    For moving faster underwater. Fins need to be crafted only once.

  • Knife:
    With a knife, you can defend yourself against enemies, harvest creepvine and break corals. Since knives wear off, you should make two of them and carry both knives with you. This way you will have a reserve tool for emergency cases.

  • Tank:
    At first you only have enough air for diving 40 seconds. Every tank you carry with you will extend the possible lengths of your dives by 30 seconds. Unfortunately tanks take space in the inventory. Two of them (for diving 100 seconds) are a good compromise between diving length and space taken. Later on you might need a third tank, depending on how deep you want to dive.

Here is your "shopping list"...

2x Silicone
4x Quartz
1x Titanium
1x Silicone
Scrap Metal
2x Quartz
1x Titanium
1x Glass
Scrap Metal
3x Quartz

These basics will enable you to survive on this fascinating planet. Some hints and tips are following, but in principle you can find out everything else on your own.

Hints and Tips


The waters of this planet are full of the strangest creatures. The ones of them looking dangerous are dangerous. Two of the first you will probably meet are the stalker (down left) and the crash (down right). However, they represent only a small part of the bizarre life forms you will encounter in this foreign world.

The stalker by itself is not particularly aggressive, but malicious. It will get dangerous only when being approached too near, but then it tends to attack from behind, when you are not expecting it.
A stalker bite causes 30 points of damage, so in good health you will be able to survive three of its attacks. The enamel of this predator's teeth is needed for refining glass to enameled glass used in shipbuilding. The stalker likes playing with metal pieces and is able to damage bases.

The small crash is a real kamikaze warrior that builds its nests in ravines and caves. Often you won't see it coming rushing towards you and then exploding. Depending on distance, these explosions can cause significant damage. The nests of this fish contain a rarely needed substance called crash meal (combustible), which will be required for crafting the welder, a tool used for repairing bases and ships.

Underwater Breathing Air Source

Occasionally you will find violet balls on the sea ground, giving off bubbles that you can absorb. Each bubble will contain breathing air for ten seconds. In deep waters and caves, these structures can be life-savers. Use them strategically.

More Storage Space

It will take some time until you can build your first base or ship. Until then, materials and items will accumulate in your escape pod, and the small storage will become insufficient quite quickly. Having things lying about loosely is not recommendable. Instead, you can build small storage cubes, which will provide 16 additional compartments each. You will be able to accomodate three or four of them easily in your escape pod. In one of the cubes you could store food and water, titanium in another one, etc. Later on, in bases and ships, you can build lockers providing more space.

Building Underwater Bases and Ships

For building underwater bases you will need a tool called builder (down left), some glass and greater amounts of titanium. You will have to set the foundation first, and for operating electrical units, a generator is required. Using the builder, you can also dissolve the buildings and regain their resources entirely. Pay attention to the hull strength being displayed after finishing an element. The deeper a base is built, the greater is the water pressure weighing on it. Windows and interior works will additionally weaken the hull. If necessary, attach reinforcements to your base to prevent a hull break.

Ships can be built at the water surface using a constructor (down right). Higher value materials and the respective blueprints will be required. Be sure to set up the constructor in an area with sufficient water depth.

Post Script

I hope this guide has been helpful. If you think so, you might leave a positive rating (on top of this page) or a comment (in the guest book below). Also, since I am not an English native speaker, corrections are welcome.

Please use the Feedback function (F8 in game) to report bugs to the developers. In the Forum (Discussions) you can discuss all game-specific questions that go beyond this guide's scope. Before opening a new thread there, you might use the Search function to see if your question has been asked and answered before.

Have fun and good luck!


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=Axton= Dec 16, 2018 @ 12:38pm 
Can you also add what the main objetive is? I'm just starting out and have no idea where I'm suppose to go or do.
Skarmo  [author] Nov 26, 2017 @ 1:18pm 
Hi all, you are right, this guide is outdated. Sorry!
I am planning to update it with the official release.
Brawndo - The Thirst Mutilator Nov 18, 2017 @ 11:46am 
Although the guide is a bit outdated, can we please take a moment to appreciate the old Salt Deposit model?
Bort Oct 17, 2017 @ 8:23am 
Since this guide is woefully out of date, and shows no sign of being updated, please take a look at my Subnautica starting guide.
Chrizie Sep 15, 2017 @ 2:53pm 
Guys, it's just a steam user who made a guide a long time ago. Making a guide doesn't mean you need to update it every single second something changes. This guy doesn't NEED to do anything. He COULD do it, but if he doesn't care or just doesn't play the game anymore then that's up to him.
Grumpy_Freeman Sep 15, 2017 @ 12:25pm 
Need to get this up to date it has been way to long.
Bort Jul 27, 2017 @ 3:11am 
This is really out of date now.
LoganMalone Jul 16, 2017 @ 5:38am 
New player here. Thanks for the guide, but a lot of this isn't in the game.
Mango884 Jun 17, 2017 @ 12:17pm 
Wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy out of date
Razorblader May 1, 2017 @ 9:17am 
it says on fabricator section op sustenance