Terraria struggles, even now, to escape its comparisons to Minecraft. Where Terraria built its success alongside Mojang’s smash-hit indie success, now it appears to be porting over to consoles in much the same fashion.
And, just like Minecraft, Terraria has done a fantastic job of arriving on Xbox 360 almost intact. Controls have been reworked, enhancements have been made and a tutorial has been added.
Yet the core gameplay remains untouched. Almost, anyway.
For those not aware, Terraria is a 2D, randomly-generated dungeon explorer. While many of the game’s features are reminiscent of Minecraft – mostly the gathering and utilising of raw materials – it is still a game all its own.
It arrived during the peak of Minecraft’s popularity on PC and that, combined with a fairly low entry fee, made Terraria a huge success for the indie developer behind it.
It’s ostensibly a PC game, however, so there could easily be fears over the Xbox 360’s lack of a mouse and keyboard.
Worry not, though, the controls have been reworked to fit a controller and it’s surprisingly well done.
Just A Port To Xbox 360?
A tutorial has been added to the Xbox 360 version, something of a blessing when there isn’t immediate access to the fountain of knowledge known only as the internet.
It does a good job of explaining the basics to you, about what is required to make a habitable home and the most important information you’ll need to survive Terraria’s harsh (but decidedly pretty) world.
After that you’re on your own, though the in-game Guide – an NPC who will join your world when you first spawn in – will help keep those looking for a bit of direction on the right track.
Controls-wise the game has been ported to analogue sticks and triggers surprisingly well. Not only are menus simple enough to navigate (after a little practice, anyway), but the mining and combat is surprisingly adept.
It’s surprising because unlike Minecraft – which works well due to its nature as a first-person game – Terraria’s 2D plane and point-and-click controls are so heavily reliant on a mouse it’s something of a revelation to have it work so well.
It uses two methods. The first is a simple, contextual cursor that picks the best option relative to your position or your currently selected item. It’s erratic, it’s not always manageable but perfect for when you simply have to mince up all the terrain around you.
Press the right stick in, however, and you’ll have the cursor mode – a precise tool to provide more finesse to your creations, excavations or combat.
It’s not quite as ideal as a mouse and doesn’t fully replace the ease and precision of the PC input, but it more than suffices and rarely frustrates. If Terraria on console should be praised for anything, it’s this.
You’ll be thankful for it as you delve further and further into the abyss too. The deeper you go the harder Terraria’s world will try and stop you, and if you were struggling with the controls it just wouldn’t seem fair.
First it’ll be timid green slimes, then skeletons, then giant mother slimes, then burrowing worms, then demons and lava and brimstone and… well, you get the point.
The Xbox 360 version of Terraria comes alongside a slew of content either already seen on PC (it’s already been updated and updated and updated) as well as a few pieces of exclusive content.
Everything else about Terraria remains untouched. On Xbox 360 there are a few noticeable drops in frame rates as you explore quicker than the game can load in non-visible terrain data, but even this is forgivable and never proves a nuisance to the game.
If you’re a fan of Minecraft – whether on PC or Xbox 360 – then you owe it to yourself to try Terraria. There are similarities in some ways, but as mentioned earlier Terraria is a game all its own.
Compared to the PC crowd, indie games are a hard sell on Xbox 360 and it’s true that elements such as the combat and platforming might feel a little clunky to those not already au fait with Terraria.
As such it takes a bit of learning to adapt, but once you do you’ll find a compelling game regardless of if you play it alone or with friends – which is highly recommended.
Is Terraria Better Than Minecraft?
It’s more RPG than open world explore-‘em-up. A large part of the game is iterative progress into the depths of the world, but all the while you’re improving.
Whether it’s gathering the necessary resources to craft a new piece of armour or special equipment for your home, finding a chest with some unique and entertaining piece of weaponry or simply searching that little bit further into hidden caverns and dungeons, there’s always something new to experience.
And this is why you should play Terraria. It’s not better than Minecraft, and it’s not worse – it’s just different. It’s equally absorbing and just as rewarding.
There are few games on Xbox Live Marketplace that are safe purchases, and with the hours of content, unique approach to discovery and the originality of Terraria’s gameplay this is easily one of them.
Sure it’s not quite as manageable as the PC version and it doesn’t have the immediate appeal that Minecraft has, but by bringing something new to the table Terraria remains its own beast that needs to be played.
Version Tested: XBLA