Terraria Quick Impressions

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Bartlebe's house off of the hotel. NPC's move into your house when you make it livable enough.

I received several requests to give you guys my quick thoughts on Terraria.  I bought Terraria for $9.99 on Steam Tuesday and have been enjoying it every day since.  Terraria is a 2D sandbox with graphics like something out of the Super Nintendo era yet souped up just a bit for today’s standards.   What is the gameplay like?  As their own description of the game says: “Dig, fight, explore, build!”  It’s very, very similar to Minecraft in many ways.  You dig dirt which yields dirt, chop trees for wood and acorns to plant more trees, break rocks to get rocks, collect ores and precious metals, but where Terraria departs from Minecraft is in the combat and action side.  Beneath the sandboxy ‘build a house and live’ stuff is a hardcore platforming world of world bosses, crazy monsters, levels of hell, dungeons, and certain death awaiting you.   Collect rare world drops, craft weapons and armor from either harvesting your own materials or finding them off monsters, cast spells, and explore.

Right now I’m enjoying the explore and build gameplay.  I found an island in the sky with a lot of precious minerals in the soil and a chest with a balloon that lets me jump higher.  I decided to build my own castle in the sky.  As I’ve been building stuff and finding new areas of my 2D world to colonize, Graev and others on the server have been finding rare loot and bringing me back cool trinkets.  They’ve even summoned a world boss on top of our spawn-point hotel (build by us), where we all collectively have beds and rooms to store stuff.

For $10 this is totally worth it.

The Goods
* Sandbox elements let you play however you want. Build a house and never go beneath the surface or dig down to the lava pools of hell and find that flaming sword and armor.
* Crafting is fun. Gather materials and see what you get to make. Place an anvil to work on metals, an oven to smelt, a crafting table, etc.
* 2D environment makes building simple yet at the same time complex as you think of new ways to make a house, castle, base, etc.
* Lots of monsters that are difficult. World bosses are a lot of fun.
* Host your own server (I do).
* Your stuff carries over from your world in singleplayer to mutiplayer and any server you play on.
* Goblin armies invade and attack you, breaking into your house and stealing stuff.
* Night time has a chance of being a blood moon which spawns a lot of door opening zombies. Scary!
* NPC’s actually move into your house when it becomes livable enough with lights, beds, doors, etc. They sell you things.

The Bads
* Eventually you’ll have every item that can be found. If you push hard enough you can get the best stuff in a few days. This diminishes replayability for those interested in the ‘get items and be cool’ gameplay. However, the ‘build a house’ players can get far more enjoyment.
* A few multiplayer glitches. Some mobs bug out. Sometimes a bazillion mobs spawn and freak out.
* When you get strong enough, things aren’t as scary. At the start a zombie scares you. Once you one-shot them they become a minor annoyance.
* Server operators could do with more controls. Right now all we can do (that I know of) is change the time of day.

  • So Bart’s house was so awesome some random blonde chick moved it? Bravo Bart, Bravo!

  • Sounds awesome,your review has finally made me purchase it. Any chance your serve is public or ever will be? Would love to play around with some people I know(ish) from this site 😀

  • It’s sad all those sandboxes have utterly crappy graphics 🙁

    Well, with their success, we can hope that some bigger company will try to get a part of the cake and make something similar but more modern someday soon.

  • @The Merovingian: The graphics are actually of no consequence to me. If this were MMO and Isometric I would still be all over it.

  • I had been thinking about buying this game one day, but you, sir, have just sold me on it. To steam!

  • @Keen: you should give Ultima Online another try then 😉

    Let’s be fair, graphics have their importance, as well as the polish of a game. The time when we were immersed in 8×8 black and white sprites is over. And yeah, I played all the old Ultima games back then, on a Commodore 64 and later an Amiga.

  • Addendum: for me, all those “smaller” games (Terraria, Minecraft) are nice job from independent developers (thus the low quality graphics) which deserve praise because they show the way to go. The fact that despite the crappy graphics, those sandbox games have huge success, says a lot. Despite when some regularly claim in their answers in this blog, the sandbox genre is NOT dead. All we need is a company less stupid than those who made Darkfail or Mortal Online to take over and release a quality product.

  • The graphics are part of the charm, in a way. The simplicity of the graphics lets them focus on complexity of gameplay. Had they tried for more it would have diminished the focus on the gameplay and been way too big a task for them.

    Now, if we could have a game of this nature in a 3D world like WoW then I would be in heaven. SWG was close to this. UO was isometric and I loved it — I’d play it again if there was a reset on servers and they were available as they were in the pre-trammel era.

  • i watched a video and then i had a maplestory nightmare all over again.. i’ll pass.. thanks though

  • It’s not like Maplestory other than the 2D. Do you have maplestory nightmares when you see Mario games?

  • Hate to say it but: it’s this kind of game design (copy another game blatantly, change a few things, remove others – such as a whole dimension if you’re feeling lucky – and resell it for a quick buck) is what’s ruining MMOs at the moment.

    I’ll pass.

  • It’s not a MMO. Are you referring to it being like Minecraft? The creator of Minecraft admits openly to taking the idea from another game.

  • Ugh, so many misconceptions about this game. Its not an MMO.

    Its like mixing Minecraft and Diablo.

    That’s what this game is.

  • yes keen i do actually.. 2d side scrolling= nightmares of maplestory! but hey for 10$ you cant go wrong but not for me..

  • I know it’s not an MMO, and I know Minecraft took ideas from Infiniminer (and expanded upon them), but the situation seems to be pretty much exactly the same as the current MMO world. Infiniminer was the original gem, and had strong if niche appeal, but gradually faded away and was closed (which, up until the closing part, sounds like Golden Age MMOs.) Minecraft rebooted it, polished things up a bit, is an outstanding game with a lot to do and made a lot of money.

    This just seems like the Champions Online of Minecraft; fairly nifty but just with a lot of stuff taken out of it and a bit more combat added in. And I hate 2D games that are anything more complex than Metal Slug, since by and large the lack of a third dimension begins to really bother me.

    So, yeah, but no thanks.

  • It can’t be said enough: Terraria’s similarities to Minecraft are, when actually playing the game, superficial and unimportant.

    Terraria feels more like a Metroidvania game with a little building and a lot of digging than it does a Minecraft clone. Terraria’s digging is primarily a mode of exploration and character advancement – “I hope this tunnel opens up into a cave with a chest, or a health boost, or gold so I can improve my weapon and move on to the next stage”. Even the building is driven by progression and gaming the system, ensuring NPCs have rooms to live in, and designing your house to confound the monster AI during attacks.

    In contrast, at least for me, Minecraft’s digging is mostly tied into the need for resources – to realize whatever you’ve decided to build. And in Minecraft construction is primarily a Lego set, focusing mostly on creativity and self-imposed rules.

    Personally I think Minecraft is the more interesting and important game, and will be remembered longer. However, Terraria is an excellent entry in the “procedurally generated dig-n-build adventure” genre, and while its component parts are all found in other games, it achieves a totally unique experience through some very clever and creative mashing-up of these familiar ideas.

    I truly wish MMOs were built with the level of passion and intelligence that Terraria displays. I’d be ecstatic.