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An Introduction to Terraria's Gameplay for Newcomers

by: Rob Kentworth ; edited by: M.S. Smith ; updated: 5/25/2012 • Leave a comment

If you're new to Terraria and feeling lost or confused as to what you should be doing upon starting, then this is the guide for you. With this guide in hand, you won't be confused anymore as to what you should be doing at the game's beginning.

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    What do You Need to Know About Terraria Before Starting?

    If you've played Minecraft, you'll probably be familiar with some elements of Terraria. Both essentially sandboxes and have building elements.

    In addition, the game is quite unforgiving to new players as you're dropped into the world with nothing but an axe, a pickaxe and a wooden sword. Due to the game's difficulty and the help system not being too great, this guide is designed to help you get started when you're playing the game for the first time.

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    Starting Out

    When you first start the game, you're dropped into the world with no clue as to what you're supposed to do. In addition, you'll find that you're attacked by slimes. So, what should you think about doing as your first step? You might want to equip your axe and cut down some of the trees for wood.

    Building shelter at the start of the game in Terraria.   Why would you want to do this?

    You'll want to do this because night will come soon. But what happens when night comes and why do you need wood? Firstly, when night comes, some not so nice beasties come out as you can imagine. These are flying eyes and zombies. They also respawn quickly, as do the slimes during the day. So, what is the wood for? You need it to build some shelter for yourself, to keep the beasties out come night time. The shelter will also keep the slimes out.

    To build the shelter, you'll need to equip your axe which can be done by clicking the relevant number key or by clicking it on the quick bar (you can also access the inventory screen by pressing escape). Once that's done, cut a few trees down and you'll need to use the wood you acquire to build the shelter. Again, select it via the quick bar and you'll want to build a 'wall' and a ceiling around you.

    Keep in mind that the 'wall' isn't a proper one. You'll need to build wall tiles from the crafting menu and they're used as a background that prevent enemies from spawning.

    Before moving on, keep in mind that you can knock the walls down by using your axe as well (the pickaxe can be used for the background walls). You can also place a door to save you having to do that. Also, you may want to block the NPC Guide in for now.

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    On Crafting

    A look at the crafting menu in Terraria, where you can build a work bench.   With crafting being mentioned above, now's the appropiate time to discuss it. In order to craft anything beyond the very basic recipes, you need a work bench. In order to create one, open up the inventory screen and look at the bottom left of the screen. There, you can cycle down the list of available recipes. Find the work bench recipe and then click it to create it. Move it to your quick bar and select it, then place it within the shelter you created.

    To access the recipes that the work bench allows you to make, you have to be standing near it. So, feel free to create a wooden wall and anything else you want.

    Also, the only recipes that appear in the menu are the ones that you have at least one item for. So, there's a sense of discovery to be had within the game and there are quite a few recipes to discover.

    At some point, you will want to create an iron anvil as well (plus better ones after that when you have the materials).

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    After Getting Shelter

    After you've got your shelter built and you've explored the crafting recipes available to you, you'll be wondering what to do next. The answer's pretty simple. There's a large world to explore. There are floating islands that you'll need to build towards in order to reach (you can actually use dirt blocks and other types to build, as well as stone and wood) and there are also plenty of areas to explore beneath the surface. The further you dig beneath the surface, the harder the enemies will be, though the rewards are also greater.

    There are also caves to find on the surface and there are bosses you can summon later in the game. Weapons from caves and dungeons are often required to beat these tough opponents.

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    NPCs, Improving Your Character and Misc. Info

    Digging below the surface in Terraria to find ore that'll help craft some equipment when starting out.   NPCs can move into your home. In order to have them move in, you'll have to complete various tasks. Also, they each need you to make a room, which consists of a door, table and chair. The room also needs to be a few tiles high and wide. You should get a room made as soon as possible for the NPC Guide to occupy, so that you don't need to keep him walled in to prevent him from opening doors and letting the monsters inside your shelter.

    Next, your character doesn't level up. Instead, you'll have to collect falling stars at night and turn them into an item that enables you to gain more mana. In addition, you'll need to search for heart containers to gain more health. You also grow stronger by equipping better items. So, it's important that you seek out the best items and don't waste the ore you collect.

    This just about covers the necessary details that new players need to know. The only other aspects of the game that you should be aware of are that you should be wary of sand when digging under it as it can kill you. In addition, if you mine underneath water, it will fall and pool on the surface below. You should always make sure you have torches and wooden platforms (and/or some form of blocks) as well when exploring the underground. Also, the acorns you find from cutting down trees can be replanted on the surface to help repopulate the world with trees. Characters aren't tied to a specific world either, so you can move them between worlds with the items they've collected.