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Subnautica’s Leviathans Ranked from Least to Most Terrifying

Very few games are capable of invoking pure terror with as much ease as Subnautica. Although the game feels surprisingly peaceful and serene when you first jump in, the atmosphere changes in a heartbeat once you start exploring the depths of planet 4546B’s vast ocean. The reason? Subnautica’s Leviathans of course.

Most of these massive sea monsters are pretty scary but some are absolute nightmare fuel. Especially if you’re suffering from thalassophobia. If you do, you’ll definitely want to read this article in its entirety so you’ll know what to expect if you decide to play the game anyway.

And if you’re not scared of the deep, you’ll want to read it just for the sheer fun of it because today we’re ranking all of Subnautica’s Leviathans from least to most terrifying.

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A couple of rules before we get started. First off, we’re looking at Leviathans from both the base game and the Below Zero standalone expansion. Secondly, we’re only looking at Leviathan-class organisms as described in-game. So no Crabsnakes, Squidsharks or any other medium-sized creatures. Finally, we’re not taking into account extinct Leviathans.

With that out of the way, let’s get to it.

12. Ventgarden (Below Zero)

leviathans in subnautica below zero
Image Credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

We’re kicking things off with the least threatening Leviathan of them all, the Ventgarden. This is the only stationary Leviathan found in any of the two games and one of Subnautica’s only passive Leviathans.

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You may mistake it for a giant underwater plant or mushroom upon first encountering it, but the Ventgarden is classified as Fauna. If you get close enough to it, you’ll quickly notice that this is a living, breathing organism inspired by the Coelenterata phylum.

While certainly impressive in size and appearance, Ventgardens are completely harmless to the player. Subnautica’s Leviathans, even the peaceful ones, typically have some sort of defense mechanism but that’s not the case here. Worst case scenario, you might get lost while swimming inside it and possibly drown. But that’s pretty much the only thing you’ll have to worry about with this one.

11. Glow Whale (Below Zero)

Subnautica's Leviathans Glow Whale
Image Credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Next up we have one of Subnautica’s friendliest creatures, the Glow Whale. These peaceful Leviathans are typically found swimming in herds close to the ocean’s surface.

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Although a bit intimidating due to their size, Glow Whales are passive creatures and won’t attack the player. Quite the contrary. The animals are so friendly that you can pet them or even ride them around if you want to. If only all of Subnautica’s Leviathans were so peaceful.

Although classified as herbivores, Glow Whales can be seen hunting shoals of fish and consuming them in one gulp, much like regular whales. Similarly, Glow Whales occasionally jump out of the water for oxygen before diving back in.

Glow Whales are a tad bigger than typical Blue Whales, which are considered the largest animals on Earth, but they’re one of Subnautica’s smallest Leviathans. That should give you an idea of just how big some of the following creatures are.

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10. Reefback (Subnautica)

Subnautica's Leviathans Reefback
Image Credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

The Reefback is the first Leviathan you’ll encounter while playing the base game and will likely leave a lasting impression on you due to its sheer size. Coming in at around 70 meters (230 feet) in length, the Reefback is by far the largest creature you’ll come across in the early game.

Luckily, you don’t have to worry about them attacking you because these gentle giants are entirely passive. That’s not to say that they can’t be dangerous, though.

One of the most distinguishing features of Reefback Leviathans is the mini-ecosystem living on their backs. The creatures carry around various types of flora and corals along with barnacles that can be harvested for resources.

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In addition, the Reefbacks sometimes also carry Tiger Plants that shoot spikes at any nearby lifeforms, including the player. The spikes don’t do a ton of damage, but the plants have a high rate of fire and should be avoided whenever possible.

Reefbacks are some of the least threatening Leviathans in Subnautica but they are more dangerous than Glow Whales and Ventgardens because they can carry Tiger Plants. They’re also more likely to give you a good scare when you first encounter them. Which is why they’re a bit higher up on our list.

9. Sea Treader (Subnautica)

Subnautica's Leviathans Sea Treader
Image Credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Most of Subnautica’s Leviathans resemble archetypical sea monsters with elongated bodies, but that’s not the case when it comes to Sea Treaders. These are the only Leviathans that don’t swim, relying instead on long insect-like legs to walk on the bottom of the ocean.

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Aside from Reefbacks, Sea Treaders are the only Leviathans that provide potentially useful raw materials. In this case, they come in the form of droppings that can be used to power Bioreactors.

In addition, the creatures also unearth Shale Outcrops as they walk, which contain either Gold, Lithium, or Diamond. Overall, a pretty useful creature but not quite as docile as the other Leviathans mentioned so far.

Sea Treaders are the smallest Leviathans in the game but don’t let their size fool you because these creatures can pack a punch. They won’t hesitate to kick and stomp you if you get in their way and they can kill you in just a few hits. However, they won’t actively try to hunt you. You should be fine as long as you keep a respectable distance.

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While perhaps not outright terrifying, Sea Treaders are at the very least unsettling due to their outlandish appearance. That, and the fact that they can easily kill you makes them pretty scary.

8. Chelicerate (Below Zero)

how many leviathans are in subnautica below zero
Image Credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

This is where things start to get interesting. The Chelicerate is the first Leviathan on this list that’s likely to give you nightmares. Larger than a Glow Whale and sporting four sizeable mandibles, this alien monstrosity looks like a cross between an oversized shark and an arthropod.

As if its appearance wasn’t terrifying enough, the Chelicerate has a brutal kill animation. And you’re likely to see it first-hand pretty quickly if you get too close because it only takes a couple of hits from this monster to kill the player.

Just in case you were curious about the name, Chelicerata is a subphylum of arthropods that includes animals such as horseshoe crabs, sea spiders, and arachnids.

You can notice some common characteristics between Subnautica’s Chelicerate and some of the creatures found in this subphylum. The similarities are even more noticeable when you look at extinct Chelicerata.

There’s actually a bigger and scarier version of this predator in Below Zero, but we’re going to talk about that one a bit later because it deserves its own entry. But before we do that, let’s take a look at the biggest Leviathan in Subnautica.

7. Sea Emperor (Subnautica)

Subnautica's Leviathans Sea Emperor
Image Credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

You’ll run into a wide variety of creatures while exploring Subnautica’s vast open world, some much bigger than others. But there’s only one creature that towers above everything else and that’s the Sea Emperor.

Not only is this the largest creature in the game, it’s also the oldest and by far the smartest. There’s only one of these behemoths in the game but you will encounter juvenile versions of it towards the end of the main story.

Subnautica’s Leviathans aren’t particularly intelligent for the most part. At least not compared to humans. But the Sea Emperor is an exception. Not only is it sapient but this Leviathan is also telepathic and capable of communicating with the player.

Although the Sea Emperor is not an aggressive Leviathan, it’s still terrifying due to its sheer size. At almost 200 meters (656 feet) in length, the creature is awe-inspiring and your first face-to-face encounter with it is one of the highlights of Subnautica.

But perhaps even scarier than that is the first telepathic message you receive from the Sea Emperor. You spend a good chunk of the game thinking that you’re the only sentient being on 4546B, only to find out that there’s another one and it can beam its thoughts directly into your head.

Even more concerning, you don’t know if this being is friendly or what its intentions are. Now that’s pretty terrifying.

6. Void Chelicerate (Below Zero)

Subnautica's Leviathans void chelicerate
Image Credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

We mentioned earlier how the Chelicerate has two different versions, which is pretty unusual. Most of Subnautica’s Leviathans don’t come in multiple variants unless you include juvenile specimens. But that’s not really the case here. Void Chelicerates are considered rare, mutated Chelicerates that roam around the edges of the map.

Void Chelicerates are significantly larger than the common species and are white instead of red. Other distinguishing features include yellow eyes, blue mandibles, and a black tail. Upon closer inspection, you can spot strange yellow and brown patches dotting the monster’s skin.

Void Chelicerates basically look like decaying zombie Leviathans and an encounter with one is sure to send chills down your spine.

Void Chelicerates are essentially the Ghost Leviathans of Below Zero. Their purpose is to stop players from going beyond the edge of the map and will automatically spawn near your location whenever you venture too far into open waters.

They do slightly less damage than regular Chelicerates because they’re primarily meant to act as a deterrent. But that doesn’t mean they won’t kill you if given the chance.

If you die in the Void it’s going to be a real pain to recover any lost items, so it’s better to turn back as soon as you see one of these monsters. If you don’t, they will pursue you endless until the edge of the world. Literally.

5. Sea Dragon (Subnautica)

Subnautica's Leviathans Sea Dragon
Image Credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Some might be surprised to find the Sea Dragon at only number five on our list. It is, after all, the largest aggressive Leviathan in the game and certainly not to be messed with. However, you’ll only run into this colossus late into the game and by that time you’ll have plenty of options for dealing with it. Or avoiding it entirely, which would be the smarter thing to do.

Sea Dragons can be found swimming around the Lava Lakes and the Inactive Lava Zone at depths of anywhere between 900 and 1300 meters. There’s only a couple of them in the game but you can’t miss them as they can be spotted from a mile away due to their size.

Sea Dragons look surprisingly similar to the Sea Emperor, albeit significantly smaller. Still, at 112 meters (367 feet) in length, a Sea Dragon dwarfs most other Leviathans in Subnautica.

The Sea Dragon is the only Leviathan in the game that can instantly kill the player with one bite regardless of their health. Interestingly enough, though, they deal comparatively little damage to Prawn Suits, allowing you to withstand several hits while you’re in the vehicle.

It’s definitely a good idea to stay inside a vehicle when you’re around one of these things because they have multiple attacks that can completely wreck you. Including a ranged fireball attack. Luckily, these attacks are slow and fairly easy to dodge.

4. Ice Worm (Below Zero)

all leviathans in subnautica below zero
Image Credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Most of Subnautica’s Leviathans are pretty scary but at least you don’t have to worry about them while you’re on dry land, right? Well…

The developers wanted to make sure that you don’t feel safe anywhere in Below Zero so they came up with the Ice Worm, a subterranean Leviathan that can attack the player on land. In Below Zero you can expect to spend much more time on dry land than in the base game, so you’ll run into this monster quite a lot.

Coming in at around 95 meters (311 feet) in length, the Ice Worm has a giant mouth that splits into four parts and a massive horn protruding from its head. The creature uses the horn to burrow through the ice and to impale its victims before devouring them whole.

The thing that makes the Ice Worm terrifying isn’t necessarily the creature itself – though that is a major contributing factor – but rather the anxiety it manages to induce as it’s hunting you.

Much like Dune’s Sandworms, the Ice Worm is attracted to sound and will start traveling in your direction as soon as it hears you, quaking the ground in the process. It can be hard to predict where the Leviathan will emerge from so you’ll have to be constantly on your guard when you hear it nearby.

On the bright side, you can distract Ice Worms using a Thumper. And, as a last resort, you can get away from them by jumping into the water. Ice Worms can’t swim so you’ll be safe there.

Ice Worms are impossible to kill or even scan because they don’t have hitboxes. The only thing you can do while facing one is to try to distract it or run for your life.

3. Shadow Leviathan (Below Zero)

can you kill leviathans subnautica below zero
Image Credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

The Shadow Leviathan is one of the most unsettling monsters we’ve ever seen in a video game. If none of the previous Leviathans managed to make your skin crawl, that will surely change when facing this monstrosity.

Looking like a hellish mix between a black ghost knifefish, a lamprey, and an Aegirocassis, the Shadow Leviathan sports a smooth elongated body flanked by 14 pairs of clawed appendages and rows of red spots running along each side of its body. Meanwhile, its horrifying mouth is surrounded by several sets of hooks that help it capture and immobilize its prey before swallowing it whole.

Encountering a Shadow Leviathan in Subnautica is a bone-chilling experience. Due to their dark color, these monsters can be very difficult to spot in their natural habitat and can sneak up on you unexpectedly. If you do manage to spot one from a distance, it just looks like a massive dark silhouette swimming silently – and menacingly – through the water.

That’s exactly what I saw during my first encounter with a Shadow Leviathan and I immediately turned back. It took me a while to muster the courage to go back and see it up close. I ended up dead in the process, but it was totally worth it.

There’s an argument to be made for this being Subnautica’s scariest Leviathan. It definitely takes the top spot for me. I can handle most of Subnautica’s Leviathans after having played the game for years but this one still gives me the willies. That said, there are two others that I think most people might find even scarier.

2. Reaper Leviathan (Subnautica)

Subnautica Reaper Leviathan
Image Credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Next up we have Subnautica’s poster boy, the Reaper Leviathan. This is arguably the meanest-looking Leviathan in Subnautica and is responsible for more jump scares than most of the other Leviathans combined. The Reaper was used extensively by Unknown Worlds to promote the game before its release. And it’s easy to see why. It’s a truly iconic monster.

One of the main reasons why the Reaper Leviathan leaves such a strong impression on the player is because it’s the first truly terrifying creature you’ll encounter in the game. Presuming you stick to the main story of course.

Reapers are more numerous than other types of Leviathans on 4546B and can be found in both deep and fairly shallow waters. You’ll definitely run into one of these big boys sooner or later. And the encounter is guaranteed to be a memorable one.

Featuring a demonic face complete with a giant horn and four even bigger clawed mandibles, the Reaper Leviathan looks like something out of a survival horror game. Its appearance is terrifying enough, however, its roar is even more blood-curdling.

Despite possessing not one but two pairs of large eyes, Reaper Leviathans are actually blind and rely on echolocation to track their prey. And, for some reason, its echolocation sounds like one of the most horrifying things ever heard in a video game. Seriously, if you’re new to Subnautica just the roar of this thing is often enough to send you running back to base in a heartbeat.

Later on, you’ll become confident enough to hunt Reapers and exact your revenge on them for scaring you in the early game. That’s unlikely to happen with the number one spot on our list.

1. Ghost Leviathan (Subnautica)

Subnautica's Leviathans Ghost Leviathan
Image Credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Last but not least we have the Ghost Leviathan. A truly nightmarish sea monster that caused more than a handful of players to uninstall the game. The haunting screeches of these spectral horrors give even the Reaper Leviathans a run for their money while their appearance is like something out of a Stephen King novel.

Coming in at around 110 meters (360 feet), Ghost Leviathans are twice as large as Reapers. And almost as big as Sea Dragons. There are a bunch of these Leviathans scattered throughout 4546B, but you’re most likely to encounter one in the Crater Edge. And the variant found there is even larger than the regular one.

Much like the Void Chelicerate, Ghost Leviathans are designed to deter players from venturing too far into the open ocean. They do a much better job at it, though.

Exploring the pitch-black waters of Crater Edge only to see one of these monsters emerging from the depths while howling like a banshee is liable to give you a panic attack. Or, at the very least, a mighty good scare.

The translucent form of these creatures is extremely unsettling, especially against the blackness of the Crater Edge. The Ghost Leviathans found here will constantly attack you until you leave the area, or until you die. The second outcome is more likely since their bite is powerful enough to end you in one or two hits.

If you somehow manage to kill one, don’t celebrate just yet because they respawn endlessly while you’re in the Crater Edge. But killing one in the first place is quite a challenge since Ghosts have more health than any other predator Leviathan in Subnautica or Below Zero. If you spot one, just do yourself a favor and run.


Written by Jason Moth

I'm a classic jack-of-all-trades author who loves to write about most topics, though gaming has always been my strong suit. That said, I definitely won’t turn down the chance to cover some juicy news involving superhero movies, Stephen King novels, or space travel. Or robots. Or space-traveling superhero robots disguised as Stephen King.

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