It’s the need to explore that gets you. Terraria’s worlds are seemingly endless canvases built of dirt, stones, trees and treasures, and the tools in your inventory are the brushes with which you can shape the landscape in front of you. Whether it’s exploration of the surface, from grassy knolls to dark, gloomy forests, or expeditions into the earth, discovering hidden caverns and mysterious pools, you are constantly nudged into testing just how far you can go.
In light of exploration, survival feels like the secondary objective. You don’t survive for survival’s sake, you survive so you can dig that little bit deeper and uncover that little bit extra piece of map; for me the ultimate goal wasn’t slaying bosses and monsters, but simply filling in my map and trying to touch every edge of it, discovering the most hidden of treasures as I did so.
|Terraria is fun as an isolated experience, but you can also invite other players to your world
If you were just trying to survive, you’d simply build a house and never leave. That’s what I did the first night, except it wasn’t really a house. Building a house in Terraria
requires you to mine stone or chop down trees, before using the blocks that crumble from them to assemble the frame of a house. From there, you need to build a work table that allows you to construct more complicated objects out of more specialised raw materials, of which include tables and light fixtures, and add in a back wall that turns your shelter into a full-blown home.
I didn’t do any of that, as in my haze of exploration, night snuck up on me, and when faced with multiple zombies lurching towards me, I simply holed myself into the simplest structure I could build in last-minute panic mode. Bricks surrounded me, and I had barely the room to turn, but it didn’t matter; I was safe from the darkness and the threats it contained.
I could’ve waited out the night in that shelter, safe from the enemies so desperate to hurt me (there are enemies during the day, too, but the ones at night are far stronger). However, the urge to explore was still kicking. Instead of playing it safe and waiting it out, I simply dug down. And down and down. Laying torches along the way so that I could see in the darkness and assembling wooden platforms so I could navigate my way back up, I was a consciousness and sensible miner; I was just one whistle short of a Disney sequence.
Eventually I broke into a cavern. I didn’t allow myself to simply fall - there’s always the sense of fear when you're digging that you're going to drop into water and find yourself drowning (water being one of the major irritants in the game, at least early on), or into a pit of monsters that you just aren’t prepared to fight - so I built a rudimentary flight of stairs that allowed me to navigate down. In the cave I was rewarded for my exploration, finding potions and coins and monsters that - while difficult to fight - were killable. Unfortunately, I hadn’t accounted for the fact the cavern had a mouth at the entrance, and as zombies descended downwards, I was a sitting duck, forced to swing my sword wildly as my face got munched off.
|The environments start simple, but there's plenty of interesting surprises along the way
That’s when I stopped playing on hardcore mode. Hardcore mode sounds like the perfect way to play Terraria
: it’s permadeath, meaning once you pop your clogs, that’s it, there’s no second pop for you. It makes you appreciate just how careful you need to be, and all the resources you gather, all the treasure you find and all the objects you’ve crafted feel much more precious as a result. Unfortunately, Terraria
is at times very difficult, especially at times when your exploratory nature gets the better of you, leading you to venture outside of your character's comfort zone before you've got the tools to deal with greater threats, meaning you inevitably end up at death’s door.
Playing on normal, or even hard difficulty - you drop items when you die, but can reclaim them later - is a much better approach. The fear is lessened, but you’ll still approach new areas with some trepidation, simply because it feels much more rewarding to not die. It’s much easier to make progress when you keep what items you’ve crafted, and while on permadeath mode I was always swimming against the tide. In normal difficulty my character and his home slowly started to improve, meaning I was able to be a bit bolder with my curiosity.
To anyone who’s played the PC version, they’ll be familiar with stories like that. They’ll know what a fantastically absorbing game it can be, and that you get out of it what you put in. Progression lacks a spine, and it's up to you to force it along simply by advancing your crafting; you start with a workbench, but can soon craft furnaces and anvils and other creation structures, allowing you to produce better weapons and armour. It's cyclical in nature; you explore which allows you to gather materials and improve through crafting, which allows you to explore harder areas and repeat the process. Eventually harder monsters and bosses spawn, making progression feel natural, even you feel lost at times.
There’s not as much room for creativity in Terraria
as in Minecraft - but it’s more about surviving and exploring than block-based artistry. It’s now come to 360, and it’s much of the same, just looking a little sleeker and controlled just as smoothly. You can flick between two methods of aiming; one is grid-based, allowing you to select any block in your range with a cursor, whereas the other is built around more of an eight-directional approach, allowing you point in one direction and dig/chop/attack the nearest blocks in that direction.
|Expect to see 'You were slain...' plenty of times, making permadeath mode a terrifying prospect
The dual-system works fantastically, allowing you precision when you’re carefully digging or building a home, while the alternate one allows for rapid digging of tunnels and is also better to use in combat, especially with a bow. There’s also better visual communication with the 360 version. Enemies have nice, bright health bars, and this means it’s much easier to interpret how much damage you’re able to do them, and whether this is a fight worth having or one you should be running away from. Terraria is a fantastic game of exploration and survival. You can occasionally feel lost in its open-world that lacks any real signposting, but the simple joy of digging and crafting means you’ll keep playing to discover the naturally-occurring progress. The new version is in no-way half-assed, and it sits on the platform as if it was crafted for it from the very beginning. Terraria was a great PC game, and now it’s a great Xbox 360 game as well.
Terraria is a fantastic game of exploration and survival. You can occasionally feel lost in its open-world that lacks any real signposting, but the simple joy of digging and crafting means you’ll keep playing to discover the naturally-occurring progress. The new version is in no-way half-assed, and it sits on the platform as if it was crafted for it from the very beginning. Terraria was a great PC game, and now it’s a great Xbox 360 game as well.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Surviving your first night. It’s simple and unchallenging, but sets your mindset for the rest of the game.