Panic Button Games, the studio responsible for the PSVR port of Electric Hat’s To The Top (2017), are working on bringing popular underwater survival game Subnautica (2018) to PlayStation 4. Although both Steam and Oculus Store versions of the game support VR, PS4 users won’t be so lucky; Unknown Worlds, the game’s original developers, say it probably won’t ever come to PSVR.

Announced via a PS blogpost recently, the impressively polished deep-sea survival game is slated to launch on PS4 this holiday season. Critically missing in the announcement was any mention of PSVR support.

Unknown Worlds addressed the lack of PSVR support in a statement on their blog, and gave a brief but candid look at the challenges of squeezing the game to fit the headset’s inherent graphical limitations:

Subnautica is coming to PlayStation 4, woot! Will it support PS4 Virtual Reality (VR)? This is a tricky question. The short answer is: Probably not.

The long answer is: We haven’t made any decisions about PSVR. However, the performance challenges of stuffing Subnautica onto console are already daunting. In this context, ‘performance’ means how fast the game runs, or how many ‘Frames Per Second’ (FPS) we can achieve.

High frame rates are crucial for VR. We are already battling hard achieve stable, consistent FPS above 30 on consoles, and VR requires 60+. Perhaps in the future, once we have achieved strong performance on PS4, we could revisit the question. But for now, it’s safe to assume PSVR is not on the horizon.

We’re sorry for any disappointment that causes, but we are also thankful for your feedback. After all, it was all your requests for a PS4 version that led to yesterday’s announcement. So keep telling us what you want!

Throughout its early access period, Subnautica included a ‘VR mode’ to go along with its primary support for traditional monitors.

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Some of the reason why it won’t be hitting PSVR could also lie in the game’s implementation of its ‘VR mode’ in the first place, as it seems to be a pretty divisive issue among PC VR users. Although it holds a 94% positive rating on Steam (primarily containing reviews of the monitor version), many VR users cite the game’s playability in-headset. Major complaints cite frustrating controls, illegible in-game text, and overall comfort issues as concerns, which currently has it sitting at a middling 3.7/5 stars on the Oculus Store.

At any rate, it’s a shame we probably won’t be seeing Subnautica on PSVR anytime soon (or ever), as the 20+ hour main story and overall visual polish are really something VR users are craving.

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  • sebrk

    The horrible VR support in the PC got me to return the game. Not following any best practices it was simply horrible to play. If they ever decide to do a proper implementation I’m interested again.

    • Master E

      I thought the pc VR was amazing. Minus not being able to use touch controllers the overall vr experience was probably my favorite since resident evil on PSVR or the lab.

      Mind you I’m someone who would rather sit and play a vr game because I’m on my feet all day.

      What didn’t you like about it out of curiosity?

      • sebrk

        Maybe they updated it. I remember that all menus were horrible to navigate or even get a focused view, like breaking the first rule of VR UI design. Maybe that has changed.I generally like to be active when doing VR as it enhances immersion.

        • arczi79

          Not changed (they are not doing any upgrades for VR). You have all elements of GUI on your face. Without closing one eye it is hard to focus on anything.

  • nasprin

    For me, although the VR implementation was not the best, Subnautica is still one of the best VR Games available – a proper single player story-driven game, with movement that works perfectely in VR is not something we had for virtual reality before it came out.

    If the fix the inventory management and the camera positioning on the Cyclops sometime in the future, i won’t have any complaints left.

    • Sandy Wich

      Wait.. Subnautica has a single player story? It’s not just another indy sandbox but with water?

      ..By story do you mean like text stuff, or is there legit quality story development in the game?

      • nasprin

        Well, it has a Sci-Fi-Robinson-Crusoe-like story, mostly delivered in Text, but i found it very fitting for the game and the game world. It is definitely not just a Sandbox game – you have a clear endgoal.

        • Sandy Wich

          Hmm… Well I’ll give it some research. I love sandbox games but I’m really getting bored of the old, “play forever”, thing.

          If this game has an ending and a story It would be most welcome. >:D

          • Jason Martin

            It has an ending and a proper story that is well written and mostly delivered via radio broadcasts and audio logs, the text bits are mostly extra flavor. As someone was never really into survival sandbox games for the reasons you mentioned I can say without a doubt subnautica is in my top 10 games of all time.

  • MarquisDeSang

    Narcosis VR is better than Resident Evil VR. Subnautica without VR is just a regular student project.

  • Luke

    I would buy it on PC only if they release a good patch plus motion controllers support

    • The gamepad support is pretty good. I don’t feel like I’m missing much. Mostly you swim and pilot subs, so you wouldn’t get too much from motion controllers.

  • Master E

    Bummer no PSVR support, but damn those moves controllers are third rate and the tracking on PSVR is a joke. Looking forward to next gen console VR. Shame this game is perfect for VR and considering they don’t have to have some crazy view distance for underwater stuff.

    • Alexisms

      Never had a problem myself with the move controllers or tracking. With do you mean by “third rate” about the move controllers?

      • Tarisis

        He probably means they don’t have 360 degree tracking, and you can actually block tracking with your arm, or the other Move Controller causing a disruption in emersion. If you’ve never had tracking issues that’s great, but tracking issues do exist none the less.

        • Master E

          360 degree tracking would surely help… and I’m still loving PSVR, but something to solve for next gen console VR for sure.

          I really hope if and when Sony releases a new HMD they work on something significantly better and just make this current one backwards compatible with the PS5. I’d hate for PSVR to start getting shabby mid gen upgrades.

          As a display maker, I have faith in Sony making something really good as PSVR definitely has strengths to build off of. Let’s cross our fingers they don’t cut corners or release something too soon in the life of PS5.

          We need new controllers, a wider field of view, all that good tracking stuff and I’d be fine with a standard 1080p. Their ability to mitigate the screen door effect compared to the Vive and Rift was pretty decent with their subpixel approach and I find PSVR to be the most comfortable of the three.

      • Master E

        Compared to Oculus or the Vive the tracking has trouble with faster speeds and all around angles in my experience. Great for if you’re just sitting there, but for something like Rec Room for example I found it to be night and day between PC VR and PSVR. Could barely shoot a basketball around without things tweaking. I have my camera approximately 5’ off the ground as well.

        Not every program mind you, but a much more frequent occurrence on PSVR.

        On a side note I wish Sony would’ve made a move controller with an analog on it. Something similar exists for ps3, but of course no tracking. It doesn’t seem like it would be a huge update to the tech and would give PSVR some more versatility in the short term until next gen hardware.

        • Candy Cab

          Yes the navigation controller seems like it would be a nice fit with the move. Back in January there was a Sony patent for a new VR controller with an analog stick, hopefully we will see something new soon. I would say the current tracking system was clearly developed to keep the costs low since they probably had ship loads of move controllers that were largely useless on PS3 hardware.

  • This is heartbreaking, as Subnautica is one of the best VR games I’ve ever played. It’s right up there with Skyrim VR. It’s deep, intimidating, fear inducing, astonishing, and wondrous. Even though it’s gamepad only, it’s been amazing to play. The only thing lacking is CoOp.

    • arczi79

      Except VERY bad GUI (that literally is sitting on your face) it is also one of my favorite VR games (Seeking Dawn and The Forest in the same line). Bad that they stopped fixing bugs for VR users… :(

      • Meow Smith

        Stopped fixing them pretty much out the gate as soon as they added VR support, they have a VR hit on their hands but don’t realise it in the slighest.

        • Maybe Bungee or someone should buy Unknown Worlds so they could add some real clout behind development? Get a real franchise going?

  • Tarisis

    It would require more power than the PS-Pro has to run smoothly. I have a powerful PC, and this game has some areas where the frame drops. I can’t wait until the next gen GPU’s come out in August/September so I can brute force this game to run smoother.

  • Meow Smith

    Not surprising VR users have been begging them for over a year to fix the inventory pad being to close to the players view that and to improve on the VR experience, its mostly hit deaf ears, a wise move on the devs part give how much resources they have put into the VR side of the game.

  • Zinfer

    This needs PSVR so bad it’s screaming for it.

  • Subnautica has *so much potential*!! Coop, more worlds, more crafting, extra missions and so forth. I would pay handsomely for DLC.

    As for PS4 VR and performance issues, could you not simply release a sucky version for regular PS4 and really target PS4 Pro users for VR?

  • Nub Nublet

    It seems like it was considered, but not added because one of the console commands is ‘vr morpheus’ but it does nothing (at least on ps4)