Yeah, I didn’t mean to single out Subnautica. (I mean, except in the sense that it’s the game that I happened to be playing, and therefore referring to – but that’s only because I actively avoid the games that go further in the direction I’m complaining about.)
I’m just personally fed up with games that tap into the same brain circuits as a grindy RPG or watch-the-numbers-go-up clicker game, and I found that, in my case, even Subnautica was doing that. Basically, when my primary motivation is along the lines of ‘unlock x’ or ‘upgrade y’, I feel like I’m playing for the wrong reasons. Likewise when I’m spending a significant portion of game time performing repetitive tasks that aren’t intrinsically fun or interesting.
With a game like Subnautica, which wears those elements of its design fairly lightly and does have some more interesting things to offer, the problem is to a significant degree my own: I’m easily distracted by any vaguely compulsive elements, because I know I’m bad at seeing past them (or enjoying them); and I’m easily annoyed by any time-wasting elements, which is partly a matter of impatience on my part.