Subnautica is one of those games that never fail to surprise you. You go in expecting to walk around harpooning some fish and drifting around in your submarine. But then Subnautica hits you with a truckload of style, lore, and genuinely engaging gameplay that is as deep as the oceans within its world.
Not only is this an exceptional open-world survival game set in the seas of an alien world, but the story is sure to keep you interested till the end.
After finishing Subnautica, you might want to explore other games that offer a similar open-world survival experience. I came up with a list of 16 games like Subnautica. The games on my list are all survival-themed, and most are open-world with tons of exploration.
However, Subnautica evokes a feeling like none other. Part of that is due to its unique aquatic setting with richly colored, diverse biomes that are filled with creatures of all shapes and sizes.
Another reason Subnautica is so interesting is the base-building and crafting. You have your own underwater base and upgradeable submarines.
1. ARK: Survival Evolved
A game that simulates the experience of starting from nothing and building your very own base complete with modern technology and crops. You literally start out naked on an isolated secret island called ARK.
This mysterious place is inhabited by primitive yet seemingly alien creatures. Some of these creatures are dinosaurs. And you gradually forage your way through the dangerous jungles, gathering meat and plants while trying to not get killed.
Eventually, you can build a base and craft weapons. Plus, you can even tame some of the feral animals you find on ARK. And yes, you can ride into battle against other players on your very own velociraptor.
2. The Long Dark
There are no zombies, dinosaurs, aliens, or other fantastical creatures trying to hunt you down in The Long Dark. Oh, but you will have to do everything you can in order to survive and keep those meters from going to zero. What is it that you’re trying to survive from? The cold.
Sub-zero temperatures, blizzards, and hailstorms- all of which are the result of a geomagnetic disaster that has brought everyone into a new ice age.
Entire towns abandoned, people starved to death, and wolves fighting for the carcasses in a dark landscape lit only by moonlight. This is what you shall deal with in the Long Dark.
Since you’re looking for games like Subnautica, how about another survival game set in the ocean? Raft starts out similar to the story from one of those movies about people who survive a sinking ship only to find themselves on a deserted island.
In Raft, you wake up on a shoddy little raft (duh?) made of plastic in the middle of a vast ocean. Hungry, thirsty, and being cooked alive underneath the sun, you have very few choices and not much time to make a decision.
Eventually, you find land and start gathering resources to cook food and get a roof over your head. You can play Raft solo, or in online co-op mode with friends. It also has PvP.
It’s not comparable to No Man’s Sky in terms of scale, but Astroneer is a fun little space exploration game with 7 distinct worlds for you to do stuff on.
What kind of stuff? You can reshape the terrain, gather resources to build bases and upgrade your vehicles, or move to another planet. There is no strict path for you to follow, Astroneer doesn’t have much of a story. It is open-ended and has fun mechanics.
The low poly models and colorful visuals make it look like a game for kids, but I feel people of any age can enjoy it. And it will run on just about any computer from the last 7 years.
A more laid-back experience compared to Subnautica, Abzu is less about survival and more about the joy of diving.
If you want to explore a beautiful underwater biome, swimming amidst colorful fish while orchestral music plays in the background, this is the game for you. It has very intuitive controls and you can explore a ton of areas right from the start.
6. No Man’s Sky
Ah, No Man’s Sky. What can I say about this game that hasn’t already been said? It started out promising a never-ending procedurally generated universe for players to explore. But the product turned out to be quite disappointing on release with very little for you to do.
However, over the years a lot of content has been added. And the game has transformed into a fun experience that can keep you engaged for hours.
Basically, it is a gigantic space exploration sandbox in which you can travel to new star systems and land on unknown planets. There are thousands of planets, procedurally generated, each different from the last one. And each planet has its own unique biome and creatures.
7. Subnautica: Below Zero
Want to play games like Subnautica? The only thing that truly matches Subnautica is even more Subnautica! In this new installment, you start 2 years after the original game. An explorer visiting the alien planet 4546B, you must find out what happened to your sister.
In the process, you will discover many alien creatures and craft bases/ exploration vehicles. This is a new part of the planet, an arctic region covered in snow. You can explore abandoned scientific bases and examine logs to find out what happened to the people living there.
8. The Forest
Would you believe me if I told you that this game was made by a team of just 4 people? Because it rivals many modern AAA games in terms of gameplay depth and storytelling. Even the graphics aren’t half bad.
The Forest puts a twist on traditional survival games by introducing a horror element. Granted, most survival games do have a creepy, eerie feeling to them since you’re trying to survive against many things trying to kill you. And you’re often powerless until you get a bunch of gear.
However, in this game, you’re actually being hunted by mutant cannibals after surviving a plane crash and landing in the middle of an uncharted forest.
These mutants are humanoid and have clans, language, and culture of their own which makes them even creepier when they try to rip your throat out with their bare hands.
Unlike any other game on this list, Starbound is a 2D side scroller. And what’s even more interesting, it manages to mix space exploration with action in a way that feels fun and immersive.
The story is paper-thin, and you won’t really find much survival mechanics in here. Even the crafting is pretty basic. But the adventure stuff- exploration, bounty hunting, quests, gangs, etc. is what makes this game so unique. It feels like an action RPG at times.
10. The Solus Project
Combining elements of sci-fi with space horror, The Solus Project feels like Interstellar or The Martian in video game form. It has a shallow but easy-to-follow story in which planet Earth is on the verge of dying and you’re humanity’s last hope.
You and a small team of explorers set out on a space journey to find another planet where humanity can migrate to. However, your ship is shot down over an alien planet and you might be the only survivor. If you die, it’s game over for all of Earth. You have to gather food and water, craft items that help you navigate this harsh new world.
11. Stranded Deep
Basically, this is “Castaway- the game”. If you’ve watched that Tom Hanks movie, you’ll know what I’m talking about. You are the survivor of a plane crash, now stranded on an island in the Pacific.
You must hunt, scavenge for parts, and improve your survival skills to keep yourself alive until help arrives. You can even craft crude makeshift vehicles like rafts and gliders. Or weapons such as bows, axes, spearguns, etc.
12. The Uncertain: Light At The End
With over 100 million monthly players, this is one of the most popular games ever. And that’s really impressive if you consider that it’s essentially a giant procedurally generated pixelated sandbox that can run on a toaster.
However, Minecraft is the most open-ended sandbox there is. You can create your own village in cooperation with people from across the world, and you can gather resources or discover entirely new worlds created within Minecraft by other players.
It is virtually infinite since everything just keeps expanding the further you explore. Using building blocks in the game, you can construct everything from an axe to an entire metropolis.
Ever wondered what it would be like to construct your own factories and supply chains on an alien planet rich with resources? Wonder no more, because Satisfactory is the perfect factory simulator.
You can build your own manufacturing facilities and siphon resources from the nearest coal mine or lake with a network of trucks, bridges, pipelines, etc. Logistics and planning is the name of the game. Efficiency and productivity are what you want to increase.
14. Don’t Starve Together
A multiplayer expansion to the world of Don’t Starve, this is the perfect survival game for when you want to have a good time with your buddies. Together, you can go on an epic adventure to collect resources and learn skills so that you make it through the harsh world of this game.
There are critters to hunt, plants to pick fruits from, and seasonal bosses to kill. You control characters who each have their own unique powers, and the game has various biomes to explore. Like the dark and hellish underworld, or the dense green forests.
Rust gives you one objective- survive at any cost. That’s it. But can you make it through even a single night? After all, you land naked on an isolated land where just about everything wants to kill you. The animals, other people, and the environment itself.
You craft tools which then help you craft even better tools. Then you make weapons to hunt. Or you can grow crops if you want to go the vegetarian route. Maybe hunt and grow crops? We are omnivores after all.
Also, you get to build your very own base. Vehicles can be made with scavenged parts.
Imagine being stranded in a world of giant insects and lizards. And unable to see the dangers that lie just a few feet ahead of you because everything is covered with grass and there are weird noises all around you.
Pretty tough, right? Expect it’s your own backyard and you’re a bunch of kids who have been shrunk down to the size of ants. Basically, this is a video game version of the movie “Honey, I shrunk the kids”.
And it’s a survival game, so you’ll have a lot of crafting and inventory management to do alongside resource gathering and hunting.
Well, what do you think of my list? Are there any other games like Subnautica that you would wish to see here? Truth be told, it’s hard to replicate the authentic Subnautica experience. The witty dialogue, tongue-in-cheek humor, and visual storytelling of Subnautica are simply too good.
You can get a similar ocean exploration game in Raft. Or a similar survival experience in ARK. But the overall theme and aesthetic cannot be recreated.
Still, any of the games on this list are guaranteed to provide you with a good time if you like Subnautica.