‘Terraria’ Preview – Digging Deep, One Pixel At A Time

It’s true that gamers can unite around a common passion for interactive entertainment, but that doesn’t mean that we can agree on where we like to enjoy it. While the divide can trickle down to specific platforms, the overarching separation occurs at the top level, splitting apart PC and console gamers. While the games we enjoy on both platforms are many times the same, there are some that are developed with one of those groups in mind, neglecting the other one entirely. Since the most obvious source of this division falls onto how players control their games (using a traditional controller versus a keyboard and mouse) it’s usually console gamers that miss out on the PC games, since their controllers can not accommodate some of the complex activities that a keyboard can. However, every now and then, a PC game comes along that is so wildly successful, universally loved, and just plain enjoyable, that it graduates to being ported over to a console. This is the scenario that indie devs Re-Logic found themselves in when they got the call from 505 Games who were looking to port Terraria. The indie darling and Steam mainstay is looking to make the jump from keyboard to controller when it debuts on Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network this spring.

Making the jump from PC to console is never an easy proposition, but since Terraria launched in 2011 over two million copies of the game have been purchased, so there’s clearly an audience for the game. The game is a two dimensional open-world, platformer, that has its roots firmly in exploration and crafting. It’s hard to talk about the game without comparing it to Minecraft, because it is in a very similar vein, yet the differences are wildly divergent. The 2D art style and gameplay set Terraria apart, by setting your customizable character in a fantastical world, where almost anything can happen. You just need to dig in.

Fortunately for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners, their release of Terraria isn’t a straight port, and instead it comes with a handful of additional features that Re-Logic, Engine Software, and 505 Games have included making it a more natural experience. Obviously, updating the controls was the most important item on the agenda. 360 and PS3 gamers will be using a modified control scheme, built to accommodate their controllers, that features both fine and gross targeting. In other words, you can recreate the PC experience by digging block-by-block, or you can take advantage of the “auto pilot” mode, and just hold down the trigger and go. All of the other necessary controls have been mapped out on the controller as well, making everything from item swapping to grappling hooking feel natural.

Next up was adding in a tutorial. If there’s one thing that console gamers have become accustomed to, it’s tutorials. While the original PC release was a bit of a mystery to its players, if you pick the game up on Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network, 505 Games have made sure that you will know what you’re doing. While the world of Terraria might not be too difficult to understand, the tutorial will take you through the finer points of the game. Hopefully these instructions will help players fully grasp all of the varied concepts introduced by the game, and at the very least it will help you get the basics out of the way, so that you can get your house set up.

In addition to those improvements, the console version will also feature a robust multiplayer experience as well. You can play two and four players locally via split screen, or you can go online with up to eight people. So, if those massive monsters deep in Hell are too hard for you to take down by yourself, you can employ the skills of your friends, and mutually reap the benefits. It’s not just co-op either, you can take on all comers in PvP if you think you’re up to it. Just make sure you’re careful who you play with, since anyone that drops into your world can steal all your cool (and maybe not so cool) stuff if it isn’t locked up.

And they didn’t stop there – there are all kinds of new things that are being thrown into this release. From new enemies to new armor and weapons, even PC players that have invested tons of hours into the game will have a reason to revisit and explore Terraria again. Heck, there’s even some new pets too. They’ve even gone so far as to include new music from the game’s original composer, helping to round out the experience for both old and new fans.

Clearly a lot of work is going into bringing Terraria to a wider audience, and it shows. Even after spending just a few minutes poking around the game, it’s clear just how vast the world is, and what kind of potential it holds. It doesn’t seem like the essence of the game will be lost when it makes the jump to consoles. On the contrary, with of the additional content, online multiplayer, and controls, the Xbox and PlayStation releases may end up being the definitive version of the game.

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