Terraria: Dig, Fight, and Build Your World

Terraria for PC has long been a favorite of mine, but the kick in the pants is that I don’t actually own a PC. You can imagine my excitement, then, when Terraria for iOS was finally launched and I got a chance to play it. I’ll let you know how well Terraria transfers from PC to mobile and whether it stands up against the original.

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Dream It, Build It

Terraria is a side-scrolling and, before long, vertically-scrolling world in which the player chops, collects, mines, and builds just about anything and everything. It’s an incredibly customizable experience, and though I began with just a few basic tools that served both practical and defensive purposes, I’d managed to choose from among dozens of skin, hair, and clothing colors, and create exactly the creature I wanted to represent myself running around my Terraria world.

Not only could I create my own world, but I controlled everything about my avatar, too.

Not only could I create my own world, but I controlled everything about my avatar, too.

Dropped in Terraria, my first priority is always to kill a few slimes, so I can use their slimy residues to fashion torches that will be useful when I start mining, and to quickly build a house to protect myself. The world of Terraria seems innocuous enough during the daytime, but as soon as the sun goes down, all sorts of hostile creatures come out to play or, more accurately, to feast on still living flesh. Zombies and flying eyeballs are favorites, but there are lots of other unspeakable horrors lurking in the darkness of Terraria.

A guide will wander the hills and valleys, offering advice, and he’s got some great hints for players who are new to the game. The guide’s not the sharpest tool in the box, though, because he also wandered in and out of my small shelter during the dark hours, leaving my front door open and letting all manner of monstrosities into my home. In that way, he was sort of a jerk.

Building a shelter is my first priority.

Building a shelter is my first priority.

I didn’t hold it against him, though, because I didn’t spend a lot of time in my house after dark. I was usually digging deep into the earth. That’s where most of the really great stuff can be found. Gold, silver, copper, and minerals even more exotic are usually only found with lots and lots of digging. Not only did I mine for materials to upgrade my tools, weapons, and armor, but underground houses all sorts of other mysteries, like secret chambers, treasure chests, and lots of monsters to defeat.

There are lots of different environments, or biomes, to investigate and explore.

There are lots of different environments, or biomes, to investigate and explore.

PC vs. iOS

I’d played Terraria for PC and loved it, but the thing is that I don’t actually have a PC. I had to run Windows on my Mac and then play Terraria from there, so I was really excited to see it finally hit iOS. This Terraria isn’t the same game I played for PC, though. There’s no multiplayer option, which is a bummer. The world felt smaller, too, and whereas I would dig and dig in the PC version for what seemed like forever and still come up with very little, just below the surface I hit upon so many rare items, I was dumbfounded. Suddenly, Terraria was almost easy.

That’s more than just my video game masochism talking, though. After defeating the Wall of Flesh (I know guys, ick!) in Terraria for PC, the game enters Hardmode. That’s not (yet?) available on the iOS version. While you may be reading this and thinking that’s a win for the player, it’s just not. Along with Hardmode comes lots of bonuses, too. Items that were indestructible before no longer are, and the player has access to all new ores. New biomes, the different climates of Terraria, appear and open up for the player to explore. None of this is available in the iOS version of Terraria, and for longtime fans of the game, it will be missed.

You've got to fight to stay alive.

You’ve got to fight to stay alive.

In Control

Going into Terraria for iOS, I was most concerned with the controls. It’s hard enough to get my gal going in the right direction, slamming into the right block of ore, and keeping her from falling off of whatever precarious ledge or outcrop on which she’s perched when I’m using a mouse. How’s that supposed to work with a touchscreen? Not too badly actually.

The left joystick, controlled with the left thumb in bottom left corner, moves the character around but also focuses on objects. The right joystick, on the opposite side, controls tools. I also found that if I tapped on the square, the screen would zoom in and I could more accurately control the character’s actions. One way the iOS version has it over the PC is that I was given a sort of circle of effect, highlighting on the screen where I could perform a given activity without having to move around, really useful when I was stuck on single step with a deep chasm beneath.

Terraria was a lot better looking and everything was easier to control than I'd expected.

Terraria was a lot better looking and everything was easier to control than I’d expected.

Not only was I concerned with the controls, but I’d also worried how Terraria would look on my much smaller iPad screen. My fears seemed to be unfounded, though. While there was a small adjustment moving from computer to iPad, the screen was absolutely large enough to accommodate the tiny sprites of Terraria. I was playing on a full-size iPad, though, and while I’m positive the game would be fully playable on an iPad mini, the experience would lose something in transition to the smaller screen.

Final Thoughts

I absolutely love Terraria. I loved it before on PC and I still love it on iOS. I can’t recommend it without reservation if you’ve already got it for PC and are happy, though; for you, there’s no reason to download it on iOS. If, however, you’re a neglected Mac user like me or Linux adherent and have been waiting for a version that works for you, Terraria for iOS is a nice stop-gap to keep you happy in the meantime.


This is Terraria built for iOS, but if you're happy with your tiny world on the PC, there's no reason to switch.