Grounded Guide: How to access the Koi Pond secret lab

Grounded Pond Update Bubble
Grounded Pond Update Bubble (Image credit: Obsidian Entertainment)

Grounded, the massive survival adventure game from Obsidian that shrinks the player to the size of an ant, has finally launched out of early access. A series of updates have brought along plenty of new enemies, materials, a whole underwater biome which serves as the campaign’s third secret lab. The two previous labs are the one in the Oak Tree where you meet "BURG.L," and the other can be found over in the hedge bush. Additional labs were added throughout the early access period, as well.

The journey to the secret lab in the hedge isn't all too dangerous, as long as you keep your balance. The secret lab in the koi pond is a bit of a different story, though. Here is the best way to go about accessing the underwater lab, as well as grabbing the Koi Pond "BURG.L" chip.

Grounded — Where is the Koi Pond?

For those unfamiliar with Grounded and the landscape layout, there is one easy way to keep track of where the Koi Pond is and where to find it. Look to the horizon and gaze at the Oak Tree, as the koi pond is behind the tree. Setting up a base camp somewhere between the oak tree and koi pond can allow you to craft necessary equipment and store precious resources you collect in the area. 

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Once past the Oak tree, head to the North edge of the pond and look for the "Frankenline" toy that is the ground. It's a giant, green, Frankenstein looking drawing contraption reminiscent of an old school etch-a-sketch. This is a great area that can provide enough materials to get you established and ready to tackle the koi pond but be wary of dangers like bombardier beetles and orb weavers. There are many spiders along the inner edge of the pond, specifically on the oak tree side along the fence line. Thankfully, we have a handy guide on how to kill the spiders in Grounded that can help you out here.

Preparing for the dive

While you can freely collect lily pad wax with no issue, you will need a few other items you will want to discover and craft before you leave in order to make your dive to the underwater lab a bit easier. These items and the materials needed to craft them include: 

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  • Pebblet Dagger: Pebblet x2, Crude Rope x2, Lilypad Wax x2.
  • Fin Flops: Water boatman fin x4, Eelgrass Strand x4, Lilypad Wax x2.
  • Gill Tube: Lilypad Wax x2, Eelgrass x4, Silk Rope x2 - Eighty seconds of oxygen.

Once you gather your first lily pad wax and analyze it at a field station for Raw Science, it will unlock the recipes for a pebble knife and fin flops, both of which are both essential for dealing with the koi pond. You will also need the tier one rebreather, called a Gill Tube, to breathe longer underwater. It is important to note that you only have thirty seconds of oxygen without any help from additional equipment. Use your time wisely and move quickly. 

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Between the two new recipes you've just learned, you will have to craft the pebble knife first. This tool is key to progressing further into the koi pond. In order to make the fin flops needed to progress further into the pond depths, you will have to hunt down four water boatman bugs and attack them with the pebble knife to harvest their fins. They are large, swimming insects that have two large legs propelling them through the water. They primarily swim around a little under the surface of the water. The bugs are tough and swim quickly, but they do not retaliate or attack. You will need to still be mindful of your oxygen level while you are hunting them. Not all of the Grounded creatures under the water are as tolerant of your antics as the water boatman, however, so you’ll want to keep an eye out for the aggressive diving bell spiders as well as the rumblings of the massive one-eyed koi fish that can take you out in one fell swoop. 

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Once a pebble knife is in your possession, you can collect another underwater resource called Eel Grass. This is found at the bottom of the pond and essentially looks like long strands of seaweed. Hacking at the eel grass with the pebble knife will cause it to collapse into little curly bundles of grass chunks much like chopping at normal grass does. Once you've gathered at least a single stack of ten, you will be able to make those fin flops and swim around the pond faster. Don’t forget to analyze the eel grass at the field station, as well, in order to unlock two additional recipes for the Gill Tube and the Slime Lantern.

If you’ve progressed enough to have a smoothie station, or even an oven in the later stage of the game, you’ll find that there are recipes for meals and smoothies that can be crafted that extend your time underwater. Smoothies can be crafted fairly early on, and the recipe for Liquid Gills requires only a few easy to obtain ingredients: Raw water flea meat, eelgrass strand, and raw tadpole meat. This smoothie imparts the Veteran Diver perk, which allows for 20% less oxygen consumption and allows you to stay underwater longer. In addition to Liquid Gills, the Fluid Flippers smoothie can be crafted to give the player a 10% boost in swim speed. Fluid Flippers can be mixed at a smoothie station using water boatman fin, eelgrass strand, and lily pad wax. 

As previously mentioned, access to an oven can allow the crafting of more complex meals with longer lasting effects. While this is more of a late game mechanic, it does provide the player an opportunity to return to the Koi Pond lab and caves in order to explore and find collectibles, resources, and other intel. Tadpoloca Pudding — which players can craft in an oven using tadpole jerky, lily pad wax, and mint shards — can give players the Veteran Diver boost (bolstered to 70% by using an oven) and improved swim speed (up to 40%) while also quenching hunger and thirst for a longer duration of time. 

There’s only one mutation that’s particularly helpful with the underwater aspect of the Koi Pond Lab, but thankfully that mutation has two bonuses attached to it. Merteen adds an extra 10% of oxygen time and boosts the player’s swim speed by 15%. It can be unlocked by locating 5 landmarks in the Koi Pond and equipped from the player’s SCA.B menu. 

Grounded — Koi Pond Secret Lab Entrance

Now that you are equipped to handle the pond, it's time to figure out how to get to that secret lab. You've grown familiar with what's in the first area of the koi pond, but now it's time to go even deeper. There is another area below the koi pond called "The Depths" that you will have to traverse. There are two entrances into this deeper area, but there is only one safe way down; unless you actually feel like fighting a few diving bell spiders.

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Let's go the safer route down since it is also the fastest way to open the secret lab door entrance. By now, you may have noticed black plastic tubing that travels along the bottom of the pond. There are some gashes in this tube that allow for air to escape, which is a great way to refill your oxygen meter quickly. Follow this tubing straight to the entrance of the depths; just make sure to top up your oxygen along the way. The character location on the map above shows exactly where the hole will be.

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Start diving down the deep, dark hole the tubing is traveling down in, and move quickly. There is one final gash in the tubing when you get near the bottom of the hole that provides oxygen. It is vital that you use this before going any further. This sits right beside the giant toy T-Rex you've just run into. Make sure to save your game as well. This next segment is a little stressful. Welcome to The Depths!

Grounded — How to open the Secret Lab Door

As soon as you are topped off on oxygen, swim towards the light lamps and follow the tunnel. You will see a large cavern a little way down the tunnel, with the secret lab door being at the top of the chamber. Before you set off down the tunnel towards the doorway, there is something very important you will need to do on the way to the lab door. There are three timer dials in the area, and these are used to activate and open the secret lab door.

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You will see the first one on the right side of the tunnel near the far end. Look towards the light lamp nearest to you, and take the airstream to boost you down the tunnel. When you activate the first dial, look above it and find the vent spewing out air bubbles.

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This is turned on when you activate the dial, and it will help quickly propel you through the water. It is much faster than simply swimming, especially if you are short on oxygen. Take the jet stream to the next dial, activate it, then repeat the process until you have activated all three dials. Once they are all turned on, the lab door at the top of the chamber will open, and you can enter the secret lab!

Grounded — Opening the Secret Lab Dome

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Once you've made it into the lab, rest easy knowing that the hard part is officially over! There are now just a couple of quick, easy steps to activate the power in the lab, and open the dome. Take a look around the room you just entered, grab some items in the area, and head into the power grid control room.

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Flip the switch, then head back out. Interact with the computer in the secret lab bay room, and it will open up the locked door and give you access up the ramp to the dome. Head up the ramp and enter the large dome room. Climb the spiral walkway, and activate the controls on the computer you will find at the top.

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The dome will open, and the koi pond secret lab will finally be up and operational. Don't forget to grab the koi pond BURG.L chip that is right beside the biodome computer. This will unlock floating foundations and a science-based sign set. You will also have unlocked a shortcut passage to the lab from the main koi pond area. No need for those lengthy dives anymore if you don't want to risk it.

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Think you can survive the backyard while being no bigger than an ant?  Grounded offers up to four player coop survival and exploration on an all-new scale.

Available now: Xbox | Amazon

Jared Eden
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