Developer Unknown Worlds is at it again, bolstering its standalone Subnautica expansion, Below Zero, with a brand-new update – introducing new biomes, creatures, modules, and an adorable robot penguin for undercover espionage.
Well, technically, "penguin" isn't quite accurate. The icy corners of ocean planet 4546B are populated by alien fauna, so what we're actually dealing with here is a Pengling. And the spy version is as nifty as it is adorable, enabling players (while in Exploration mode) to work remotely without bothering wildlife.
The device comes equipped with robot arms, for grabbing nearby objects, plus four handy storage slots. Better still, its Document mode can be used to grab sneaky photos of local fauna without disturbing their habitat – and it's even possible to snap adorable Pengling selfies.
Elsewhere, Below Zero's latest update introduces a beautiful new biome in the form of Tree Spires, a "petrified forest of branching spires…with ancient formations venting mass from deep within the planet's core". Tree Spires is home to one of Subnautica's most intimidating creatures: the new leviathan-class Vent Garden. Luckily, this towering beast – which provides a home for other wildlife in its transparent dome – is a "gentle giant".
Somewhat less benign are the Lilly Paddlers, which reside in the Lillypad Islands – described as "a relatively young biome expected to reach maturity in the coming months" of early access. These creatures frequently attract others, thanks to their bright colours, and while non-aggressive, will use their markings to hypnosis anyone or anything that gets too close, causing temporary confusion and disorientation.
Rounding off Subnautica's Spy Pengling update are a new Teleportation Module for the ever-useful Seatruck and a buildable Precursor Tether. The latter can be carried around while exploring distant corners of the world and, once activated, will instantly teleport players back to an appropriately equipped Seatruck. A few additional tweaks and improvements are detailed on the update announcement page.
Subnautica: Below Zero is expected to remain in early access for at least 12 months. But if you're eager to try it out now, it's available from Steam or the Epic Store for £15.49/$19.99 USD.