Preview: Terraria on XBLA and PSN will probably take up hundreds of hours of your time
Terraria has managed to regale individuals with countless hours of unbridled entertainment since 2011. Over the past two years, the game has offered incredibly rewarding, ridiculously satisfying exploration and building gameplay. After being exclusively available on PC, Terraria is now headed to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network for a whole new audience to enjoy. This version of the game will remain largely unchanged as far as its theme and visual style are concerned. However, it will offer new content, console-friendly controls, and some welcome multiplayer options.
I had the chance to check out the console version of Terraria, and as a fan of the original, I was quite impressed with what I saw and played. The first thing to point out is the addition of a tutorial mode. This component will offer the basics of Terraria to newcomers, teaching you some simple crafting, combat, and navigation skills. Part of the fun of Terraria has always been about discovery, so it makes sense that the tutorial doesn’t spoil anything. Instead, it serves merely as a means to prepare you for the sandbox world.
Just like in the original PC version, you can play alone or team up with other players. Terraria offers four-player split-screen multiplayer and eight-player online multiplayer. This includes both cooperative and versus play, which should be quite interesting should you wish to make some wagers and bet your prized loot, which is pretty much up for grabs when others enter your world. If you do decide to play alone, though, and you find yourself struggling, you’ll be glad to know that Terraria’s pet system will allow you to employ the help of guinea pigs, werewolves, slimes, bats, and even zombies. All you have to do is consume an item, and a friendly character will appear to aid you. Yay for pets!
The PC version of Terraria featured 603 items for you to discover and utilize -- the upcoming console iteration will include all of these items and more. This entails new weapons and armor, as well as other artifacts. You’ll also encounter a variety (over 100!) of friendly NPCs and hostile enemies. There will be a total of nine bosses, including the brand new Ocram end boss. Fun fact: This boss is crazy tough, and even with some cheats enabled, I was only able to chip away about 20 percent of its health before it destroyed me. Not bad for a guy who predicted he’d only take away five percent of the boss’ health, eh?
It would be impossible to discuss Terraria on consoles without mentioning its new controls. If you’re worried that the game won’t translate well on Xbox Live Arcade or PlayStation Network, fret not (Seriously, stop it; you’re making me nervous). I spent some time exploring (and getting beat up by Ocram), and I found the controls to be incredibly functional and nicely polished. I was able to select and equip items using the Xbox 360 controller’s bumpers, health items were mapped to the D-pad, aiming was made easy using the left stick, and so on. Auto mode will allow you to target the nearest block, item, or enemy, while a manual option lets you aim the cursor freely with the left stick.
One of the most useful additions to Terraria on consoles will likely be the new world map. Pressing the Select button will cause an opaque map of the entire game world to pop up on the screen. It’s a useful tool that shows you the different areas to explore, and it’ll also come in handy when you’re playing the game with other people. Say goodbye to the days when your directionally challenged co-op buddies wandered off on their own. Well, maybe that’ll still happen, but at least you’ll be able to find those goofs now!
In addition to the pets, Ocram boss, map system, and console controls, Terraria will also include some neat bonus features. Leaderboards will allow players to see how they stack up against others, and there will be rankings for items crafted, combat, and so on. There are also Normal, Difficult, and Nightmare settings. In case you’re wondering about that last one, it’s pretty much a perma-death option where you’ll lose your character forever while the game world remains for you to explore.
What will likely keep you playing for hours upon hours is the fact that this game is Terraria. Yes, it’s on home platforms now, but its spirit remains intact. 505 Games looks to give console fans a true sandbox to jump right into and play around with. The game will be available for 1200 Microsoft Points -- or $14.99 -- and it is expected to launch sometime around March. If you’ve yet to play Terraria, or if you already have and want to play with some of your console gaming buddies, keep a lookout for this version.
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