I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. I didn't think it would be anything but a pretty underwater simulator and did not realize that it takes place on an alien planet and also has a bit of a story and lots of unusual flora, fauna and other things to discover. I do think it's one of those games that you'd better go in without knowing too much about, a lot more fun that way (read on at your own risk). In any case, I thought graphics and atmosphere were awesome, exploration was exciting for the most part, the story was nice to discover, with some cool animations and scenes (not really cutscenes, control of your character is rarely taken from you while stuff happens around you), professional voice-acting in audiologs, and the crafting and survival mechanics, while being a big time waster and a bit tedious, also gave me a great sense of achievement, when I found or figured out something new.
My rig more or less met the minimum requirements only (GPU fine, but CPU probably a bit lower), and when I first started Subnautica, I thought it was going to be unplayable. Loading time on a new game was over 8 minutes (!), and then the game kept freezing for seconds in between movement. All of that changed though after a restart when I put the game on the lowest settings. And to my surprise, it still looked beautiful. The only drawback I experienced was far away objects (like grass, rocks etc.) being added while in viewing distance already, so at the edge of my view graphics weren't always smooth, but everything in range was still looking good, and the occasional blurry texture didn't change anything about that (contrary to e.g. Quantum Break, where setting the options to low didn't improve performance much but made the game look really shitty). So that was a positive surprise, too - going from thinking I'd never be able to play it to fully enjoying a mostly smooth and beautiful gameplay experience.
(Loading times for savegames were still rather long though, maybe 2-3 minutes for me, but I seldom had to load in the midst of a session, just at the beginnning. As a sidenote, there is only one save slot and you need to save manually to it; otherwise, if you die, I think you get set back to the last time you were in one of your bases and you lose a few of the last gathered items. It's not a big deal most of the times, but I still recommend saving manually when making progress.)
While I think the game was pretty great overall, there were also few things that I didn't like that much. I appreciate what the game has to offer in terms of content, but I still think I spent too much time with it in comparison to that (I'm not going to disclose how much, but it was a lot). I guess it comes with the genre - I haven't played many games like this yet - but unless you know what you're doing and you're thinking ahead, you can waste a lot of time on menial tasks. Especially later in the game, water, food and energy management is no real challenge anymore but constantly interfering anyway. And there is a lot of going to and fro, at comparatively low speed, so especially later in the game when you've discovered enough to not care that much anymore, the journeys from point A to point B are often more than a minute of just pressing forward and doing nothing else. This is made worse SPOILER by your submarine only being able to carry one of the two smaller vehicles at a time, even though they have different uses and you'd ideally want to have access to both of them whenever you need them, instead of having to swim or drive back all the way to get the one you left behind./SPOILER
And I really wish the game would have offered some kind of map. As it is, you not just have to go without automapping, but there is no map whatsoever in the game, not even one you can fill out manually. You'll have to draw it on paper, and it's not a small task considering this is not about a linear dungeon or something but a whole open world of freely passable terrain in all directions, with nothing to guide you but a compass. And within the more or less homogenous zones it's not always easy to orient yourself, there may be the occasional landmarks, but a lot just looks kind of the same. Even if you try to map the terrain on your own, it's no guarantee that you won't overlook things, that you won't revisit the same locations over and over again or that you'll miss parts of the map without really noticing.
Also, while finding out things on your own is fun as long as there's a lot of stuff to do, there were stages in the middle and near the end of my playthrough when I didn't really know what else to do, where to find the rarer materials, or when the game wanted me to do very specific things without telling me what or how, and since I had already spent so much time with exploration, traveling and crafting, I often didn't feel like guessing what the game wanted or searching the whole unmapped terrain for a needle in a haystack. Instead I lost patience and looked up what I needed in guides and forum threads, and having to resort to something like that always dampens the fun a bit. Free exploration is cool, but the story is kind of linear and a bit like an adventure game at times, and because of that, in these instances I'd have preferred a little more guidance and also less item hunting (I liked finding fragments and discovering plants through exploration, but I hated having to search the whole map for specific fragments and very rare and hard to spot plants).
There were still occasional clipping issues, sea creatures swimming in air, ladders out of the water sometimes being bugged, and surfacing from the water with momentum once lead to me glitching through a ceiling and getting stuck outside the walls etc. But none of these were really bad enough to detract from the fun.
Despite all the criticism above, what a fantastic and unique exploration game, on the whole!
Post edited February 08, 2018 by Leroux