Review: Terraria

Game: Terraria
Made by: Re-Logic
Published by: Re-Logic
Available for: PC, Mac, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Wii U, Switch, 3DS, iOS, Android

According to Steam’s statistics, I’ve spent 697+ hours of my life playing Terraria.

With over 20 million copies sold, Terraria is the second best-selling PC game of all time, beat out only by Minecraft. Six years after its release, Terraria regularly maintains tens of thousands of concurrent players on Steam, an impressive number for a game you probably picked up on sale for $2.50.

Numbers aside, Terraria is something special. Born at the start of the voxel-based creative survival craze spawned by Minecraft, Terraria’s style and success is often attributed to its titanic progenitor. While similarities and homages between the two certainly exist, Terraria and Minecraft are fundamentally different games. Where Minecraft is largely a creative game with adventure elements, Terraria clearly sets itself up as a complex adventure game with elements of creativity. Terraria allows you to mine, change, and shape the world around you however you’d like, but where the game really shines is in its combat and exploration.

After you’ve created your character, Terraria puts you into a bright new world with no one but a guide to talk to. Your mission from here is whatever you’d like, but the game gives you some fair guidelines: defeat the game’s many bosses and acquire every NPC villager available. In achieving both of these goals, the game is pretty straightforward; bosses generally increase in difficulty, and the game maintains a fair balance between time spent adventuring, looting, and preparing and time spent battling bosses. Acquiring NPCs encourages you to build some sort of dwelling or village for their housing, but how you do so is up to you. On these simple premises, Terraria expands outward to lead you through a thoroughly entertaining game.


Random Generation: Each world in Terraria is randomly generated, giving meaning to the game’s partial focus on exploration. While some games use random generation as a means to create the illusion of additional content, Terraria’s world generation comes packed with a variety of unique and interesting dungeons, biomes, and locations, and the game’s diverse loot table keeps discovery interesting.

Sandbox Building: With the proper equipment, you can destroy anything and everything you find in a Terraria world and use it to create whatever you’d like. Creativity isn’t the focus of Terraria, but the game does little to limit your creativity. From dirt houses to ornate, world-spanning palaces, the choice is yours.

Cooperative Multiplayer: Using Steam, Terraria’s multiplayer is seamless and simple — create a character, create a world, and your friends will be able to join with their own characters. Characters and inventories are kept independently of worlds, so you’ll be able to bring everything with you to your friend’s world if you’d like.

Sidescrolling Exploration: Even Terraria’s smallest worlds are expansive and filled with hidden secrets in a variety of biomes, dungeons, and caverns. From hidden temples harboring dangerous bosses and houses in the clouds to NPC villagers hidden deep underground, Terraria has enough content to fuel hours of play on a single world.

Progression: Every hour in Terraria takes you mining a little deeper, fighting bosses a little harder, and finding loot a little better. Each step in the game feels appropriately rewarding and left me interested in what was next.


Lots to See: Since its original release in 2011, Terraria’s received a number of updates that both add content and simplify the game’s mechanics. As it stands, the game is filled with features, from an expansive number of blocks and pieces of furniture to build with to an equally impressive variety of weapons and items to a wide array of deadly bosses to fight. Each game of Terraria easily offers hours, if not days of gameplay, and each game is different enough that multiple playthroughs, even six years later, offer a very new experience.

Fun With Friends: While I’m sure I’ve spent over a hundred hours in Terraria alone, the bulk of my playtime is owed to the experience of playing with friends. It was playing with friends that sold me on Terraria, and it’s playing with friends that continues to bring me back. While the game now offers a number of options for players interested in Player vs. Player combat, the game really excels in offering a cooperative experience that’s fun for all involved.

Feature-Filled: In my Terraria sessions, it’s not uncommon that I’ll be exploring underground with one or two friends while another works on building our communal dwelling and another is elsewhere fishing, only for all of us to come together at night to battle one of the game’s bosses. From building and mining to exploring and fighting, there’s a lot to enjoy in Terraria.

Steady Progression: Terraria is all about upward mobility. Each hour of play has you feeling more and more powerful in an increasingly challenging world. Terraria’s progression system allows you to move at the speed you’d like and rewards you for exploration and conquest with fun advances in mobility (going from walking around the map to grappling to flying), combat, and equipment. Upgrades in Terraria are spaced far enough apart that they feel like accomplishments, but not so far apart that you start to feel the grind.

Replayability: I’ve started and joined countless Terraria worlds. Random generation makes each game completely unique, and no two worlds are exactly alike. A bountiful variety of unique weapons and equipment items allows for unique playstyles over multiple playthroughs; whether you’ll be a defense-focused swordsman, an agile gunman, a minion-wielding wizard, or something in-between, is up to you.

Cheap: Terraria retails for $9.99 on Steam and regularly goes on sale for $2.50. If you get even half my playtime out of it, that’s less than a penny per hour. Not bad at all.


Learning Curve: Compared to competitive strategy games and behemoths like Dwarf Fortress, Terraria’s learning curve is nothing to worry about. That said, many players, myself included, may experience difficulty understanding how to play the game without outside help. When I first bought Terraria, I gave the game a few tries alone and always found myself quitting a few hours in. It wasn’t until I played with a group of friends that I began to get a feel for the game.

Potentially Grindy: In my experience, the necessary work required to move forward in Terraria is fun and rarely requires any real grinding, but completionists may find that acquiring every item or earning every achievement requires a definite grind. Some of the game’s rarer items have incredibly low chances of dropping from enemies, but enough of these items exist that, in any given run, you’re sure to encounter a few rare items just by playing. Players interested in acquiring everything, though, may end up frustrated by low drop rates.


Overall, Terraria’s experience is one that caters well to individual groups of friends looking for a fun, lighthearted adventure with a great deal of content. A good way to unite builders and fighters, Terraria has something for most players to enjoy. That said, those searching for a purely competitive experience may consider giving Terraria a miss; while the game includes the option for PvP combat and even a built-in “Capture the Flag” mode, the game’s focus is far from competitive. In single-player, Terraria can be played in either long or short bursts, but Multiplayer matches work best given at least an hour, so players searching for quick, drop-in, drop-out multiplayer experiences may find Terraria too much of a commitment.


From Steamspy unless otherwise noted.

Average Playtime*: 82 hours
Average Cost per Hour**: $0.12

Median Playtime*: 25 hours
Median Cost per Hour**: $0.40

* Playtime rounded to the nearest half-hour
**Costs calculated using a price of $9.99


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