Hands-On With the First Hour of Terraria on iOS

Terraria, like its inspiration Minecraft, is a huge game with a lot to do. From the moment you’re dropped into this retro 2D world, you’ll have to start collecting supplies and build a shelter to survive the long nights ahead. If you don’t, you could find yourself torn apart by zombies or eaten by a giant underground worm. Here’s our beginner’s guide to the first hour of Terraria.

When you download Terraria, the first thing you should do is check out the tutorial, which will teach you the basics of the game’s movement controls and how to interact with the environment. You’ll start with three tools– a copper ax, pickaxe, and sword. The ax is for chopping down trees, the pickaxe is for digging dirt and mining minerals, and the sword is for fighting enemies like slimes and vultures.

We were impressed by the way Terraria’s controls allow you to move precisely or quickly, depending on the task at hand. For example, you could just swing your pickaxe in the general direction of a vein of ore, and quickly harvest the whole thing. Or, you can pinch out to zoom, then target a specific pixel for a more careful approach.

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Once you’ve taken an axe to a few nearby trees, you’ll have a pile of wood, which you can use to make a workbench. Your workbench is where you’ll spend a lot of your time, viewing recipes that can be completed using materials found in the world. Your next creation will probably be some wooden walls, a door, some furniture (for inviting over NPCs and letting them take up residence in your house), plus maybe a few wooden platforms to make it easier to climb around.

After a bit of crafting, collecting, and exploration, daytime will eventually turn to night. At night, the bright blue skies give way to a more foreboding darkness, and strange creatures start to come out that aren’t around in the daytime. On our first night, we were visited by zombies, vultures, and a floating demon eye. By then, we had placed a shelter around us, but in order to collect rarer items, you’ll have to fight these monsters with your copper sword. We ended up creating some well-placed “murder holes” directly above and below the entranceway, so we could hit the creatures with a sword before they were able to approach our character.

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When the danger of the first night passed, we were able to resume our construction project. The house gained a forge and anvil, for crafting weapons, but we needed a lot more iron ore to make the bars necessary to craft a full suit of armor. Our house was located right on top of a rich vein of materials, so we started digging straight down into caverns full of silver, gold, and emeralds. While we were happily collecting resources, we discovered we were not alone– our character was soon attacked by a giant worm who looked a lot like Wojira from Super Mega Worm.

Wojira was able to tunnel through the stone like it wasn’t even there, and his flying attacks were too fast for us. We lost our first character in those caverns, surrounded by precious gems, like the dwarves in Lord of the Rings who delved too greedily and too deep.

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Before we knew it, an hour had passed and we had barely started unlocking new items. Terraria starts you off with the most basic objects and skills, but no matter which direction you set out in, you’ll find unexpected depth. Whether you head east to the deserts to collect sand and cacti, west to chip blocks of ice, or straight down to get eaten by a giant cave worm, Terraria provides seemingly infinite freedom to explore and create.

There’s a giant wiki that you can use to learn the secrets of the game, since discovering them on your own will easily take dozens of hours. Collecting resources can be a bit of a grind, but it’s worth it to uncover new surprises and slowly shape the world around you. You can download Terraria¬†here for $4.99, and we highly recommend if if you’re looking for an unscripted, free-form adventure.

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