“Oh, you should try Terraria! It’s just like Minecraft! And who doesn’t love Minecraft?”
** Insert me giving a childish but enthusiastic raspberry here with a bobbing thumbs down **
OK OK simmer down I don’t hate Minecraft, but I also by no means love it. I play it pretty regularly with my son in fact. He favors Creative Mode though and honestly I consider Survival Mode to be “playing Minecraft”, but my unpopular opinions on Minecraft are for another post… maybe… probably not… stop judging me!
My wife, on the other hand, does indeed love Minecraft and has played it, much to my befuddlement, many many times. So, when I saw Terraria pop up on our Xbox 360 game list, I shamefully regurgitated the first part of the above opening statement to her and asked if she would like to give it a try for me and report back. She happily agreed and I quickly turned heel to go play something more to my taste, knowing I’d never have to slog through another Minecraft-ish game without being coerced by 5 year old, puppy dog eyes first.
Then the unthinkable happened! I sat down and watched my wife play a bit. “Hmmm… these graphics are kinda sweet. Big bosses you say? Tons of treasure and craftable items too?” So I watch some more and uncontrollably spout, “Sooooooo you want me to help you fight that boss? I’ll play just a little longer to see what’s in that big dungeon over there…..” And now my wife and I have our own world in Terraria that we play two player together. *Sigh*
Terraria has a huge online community and fanbase. Not quite to the scale and severity of Minecraft, but it’s still definitely substantial. It was at its peak popularity in the first few years of release and I recall seeing all the toys and blind bags next to the Minecraft stuff at Toys R Us. I distinctly remember thinking that the Terraria plushies looked way cooler than the Minecraft ones. I mean what’s not to like about a giant Eyeball with bloody tendrils in adorable plushie form? Hmm, I wonder if you can still get those, but I digress? Thinking about it though, I might have to fight my son for ownership on that. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to weird plushies I tell you.
I totally dig the cover art for this game. There are a ton of different variations for each system, region, and generation and honestly I love them all. Firstly, I’m a straight up sucker for all that is 2D pixel art. Throw in some vibrant colors and cool looking monsters and I’m down like a clown in circus town. I personally like the current gen cover with the Twin eyeball boss and Hallow biome. I showed all the variations to my wife as well and she agreed with me on the Xbox One/PS4 cover. In fact, upon showing her that particular cover her eyes went wide and she whispered “Unicorns” and promptly pulled up her Amazon app to see if Terraria unicorn plushies existed. Kindred spirits, my wife and I.
Secondly, I love when you can look at a game cover and get at least some idea of what you’re in store for with the game; be it story or gameplay or even just graphic style I personally think it’s a major credit to the developers/publishers. Honestly, I don’t know why I was so resistant to this game. Probably the Minecraft hype and the fact that sandbox games are so not my thing, but you live and you learn amiright?
Terraria is not really a game you can “finish” per se, but you can certainly fully experience all that it has to offer in a fairly timely manner. The first world my wife started was just a small world, so it only had a few different biomes and resources were pretty limited. Once you beat a particular boss your world gets automatically thrown into hardmode where a ton of different things get added.
There is no shortage of things to collect, craft and fight in pre-hardmode, but it honestly pales in comparison to what gets added in post hardmode. This is where I find the comparison to Minecraft unfair. Short of playing Minecraft on the PC and downloading one of the plethora of available mods, Minecraft is fairly limited in its “vanilla” state. All the collectables and crafting items are fairly straightforward and few in number, as are the bosses and enemies. Terraria offers a phenomenal crafting and loot system with biome specific treasures, dungeons, enemies and collectables. All the weapons and tools you craft have the potential for random buffs and debuffs and *insert joyous harp music* no durability!!! I must have uttered the phrase “Well that’s pretty cool” about forty seven times in just the half hour I sat and watched my wife play before I decided to join in initially.
Terraria also has a ton of replay value since the maps are all randomly generated. Even starting a large world, which we eventually did, you might still encounter only a few different biomes, but they could be all completely different than the ones you had in another map. Space and the Underworld are always a part of each map, but their content changes. While there will only ever be two dungeons generated in any size world their proportions and content will be varied depending on your chosen world size
One major complaint I frequently hear in regards to Terraria is its lack of tutorial. You get tossed into a random biome with a few basic tools and an annoying “guide” NPC that will tell you a few beginner tips and crafting recipes. He likes to wander around in front of whatever you’re trying to build or access so you end up locking yourself into a redundant conversation. Luckily he has a higher purpose of being your sacrificial lamb for a demon summoning later in the game and doing so will prompt the game will call you a “terrible person”. Like I didn’t already know that from the countless penguin and bunny corpses lying around.
Honestly, though I didn’t have any trouble figuring things out for myself for the most part. It’s an action, adventure sandbox game so your goals are pretty cut and dry. The controls are simple enough and laid out nicely for you on the HUD depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. There are few secret bosses and events that might require a quick google in order to complete but really what’s a game like this without a little mystery to add to its allure.
The creators of Terraria have been teasing for a while now not only about a Terraria 2 but also a sequel that’s not quite a sequel called Terraria: Otherworld which supposedly drops the player into another dimension in the Terraria universe. My understanding is that it’s a kind of re-imagining of the original, but gameplay is “taken in a new direction” whatever that means. Both games have been unfortunately put on hold as Re-Logic ended up scrapping all that was Terraria: Otherworld and started over with Pipeworks Studio as its new developer. I’m definitely looking forward to both games, but it doesn’t look like they will be gracing us with their glory anytime soon.
It’s not often that I end up completely shocked at how much I’m enjoying a game. I was originally so resistant to playing it but Terraria pleasantly proved me wrong. And that is totally OK by me. I will gladly continue to explore the depths of Terraria, happily tossing Guide Voodoo dolls into lava and needlessly slaughtering adorable wildlife while I wait for whatever Re-Logic has in store for me next.
What do you think of Terraria? Is it truly any competition for the behemoth known as Minecraft?
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