Terraria is a game full of customization. Building a house from meteor or magic wands from diamonds; this game gives you a lot of diversity.
One thing it doesn’t do is give you a lot of time to craft anything without dealing with monsters.
Not only does it bring slimes, zombies, and flying eyeballs crashing into wherever you’ve made home above ground, it brings giant bosses. Each biome brings new dangers; each layer you dig lower carries wonders and troubles.
If you make it to the deepest parts of your map, you can even fight demons and the Wall of Flesh. Eventually, going into Hardmode.
With all the many things to come, we’re here to help. This Terraria getting started guide will set you down the road to prepare for the many dangers ahead and keep you alive long enough to get the skills you’ll need to survive them.
So, let’s get you crafting.
Before Getting Started
- Quick Bar: On your screen, you can see up to ten items at all times and even swiftly move through them for use(such as potions), placement(such as blocks), or weapons/tools(such as hammers or swords). You can choose what is in your quick bar by moving them into it when you open up your inventory(pressing ESC. on the computer).
- Crafting: You’ll see a crafting option when you open the inventory. To open up a larger crafting menu, click the crafting icon(shaped like a small steel hammer). There you can see everything you can craft. If you open up a treasure box, you will be able to use anything inside for crafting along with all that is in your inventory.
- Blocks: This refers to every one piece of area, as you see when you mine. You may see something like 50 blocks wide and think it is a big distance. It isn’t. You can mine nearly 8 blocks wide by standing in one spot with a basic pickaxe (some will give more space a few less). So, even 100 blocks get mined fast.
- Biome: An area of the world where the monster encounters will change. Such as a desert area, snow, and underground areas.
- Equipment: When you open up your inventory screen, you can see your equipment slots under where your map is. You’ll have a head, body, and legs slot for armor and five slots for accessories.
- Combat: With whatever active weapon you have, just click on the space you wish to attack, and the attack will happen. With a ranged weapon, you don’t have to click far away, you can just click in the general direction.
- If you have an Active item and Left Click on the keyboard instead of Right Click, you will throw it and have to pick it up again.
First Days in Classic Mode
Create a small map for your first playthrough. A random seed and a random selection are fine. Crimson or Corruption won’t matter much at the moment. Make sure to choose a Classic world for your first time.
Choose a Classic character when you get to the character creation screen. You’ll lose money when you die but not your stuff–this is very good.
I chose a Medium core character the first time. I was forced to go back and collect my stuff so often and wasted many hours cursing at my screen and losing sleep instead of progressing in the game.
Why? If you leave things on the ground and exit the game, they disappear forever.
Yeah, that means if you die on Mediumcore and don’t collect your stuff, that stuff is gone for good. Suppose you only had one grappling hook or went too far into the dungeon without knowing a skull would insta-kill you for not fighting the boss first. In that case, you will find depths of rage in you that you did not know existed.
This may have benefited me in learning the ropes to writing an article like this, but it has no other purpose. Anything besides Classic is very much unneeded. So, choose a Classic character, name them, make them look however you like, and load them into your map.
When you begin Terraria, you will start next to The Guide. You’ll have basic tools and no real advice. Here’s a little bullet point order of things you can do right out of the gate.
- As quickly as you start, click on your ax and cut down some trees. Make sure to cut them from the very bottom of the tree.
- Some space should be cleared up, so use the wood you got to build a small wooden house. You can put the wood in your quick bar and place enough blocks to make two walls and a roof.
- The house should be at least four blocks high and eight blocks wide. You can set blocks from your quick bar or inventory like any item. Hover your selecting arrow where you want the block to go and hit the action button. (Left click on the computer, same for attacking).
- Open up your crafting menu and craft a workbench.
- Place the workbench on one side of your first house. This will keep you safe when night comes around, but you should still have some time before that.
- Your pickaxe should still be in your Quick Slot. Make it your active tool and pick out 3 blocks from the ground up on both walls. Three blocks only. (Read: Comprehensive Pickaxe Guide)
- Make sure you’ve got a weapon active if you haven’t killed some slime, and go and kill some slimes for gel and get more wood. Once you’ve reached a different Biome or it starts to get dark, turn back around.
- With your extra wood and gel from slimes, you can now finish crafting a complete house.
- You can craft two doors and a chair on the workbench. You can also craft wooden walls.
- Open your inventory and click on the doors to select and place one on each side of the house where you removed the blocks earlier.
- Begin setting the wooden wall. You can do this by selecting any piece and placing it near the ground or a wall. Fill it all in, and maybe leave a small square window in.
- After you finish this place a chair inside the house. If there is not enough space, take out your pickaxe and remove the wood and door from one side.
- If it’s night, you may want to wait. You can skip ahead to the next steps and return to this one when daytime is up. It’s better to avoid zombie fights for now.
- Use your crafting menu to create a torch with gel and wood. You may notice that your crafting menu has more options when you’re near your workbench.
- This is how the game works. Any item that helps with crafting will need to be set on the ground. Once on the ground, you’ll need to stand next to it to craft certain items. The workbench is the primary item needed for simple crafting.
- You can make a Tiki Torch near your workbench with a torch and some wood. Place this inside your house, and it will count as a light source. (A house must have a door, walls, a roof/ceiling, a flat surface like a table or dresser, a chair of some kind, and a light source or they don’t count.)
- Open your inventory and look at the part of the screen where your equipment and map are. Under the map, an icon of a house will show. This will let you assign an NPC(non-playable character) you find to the home you want them in.
- Assign this house to The Guide, and you’ve got a safe starting point.
All that was listed above can be done before nightfall. So, what you can do next is make some wooden planks from any wood in your inventory. This is one of the few things you can craft without a crafting station. These blocks can be placed and walked on like other blocks. However, they can also be jumped through.
Pressing down on them will let you drop right through them. Setting these planks as you dig down can make it easy to get back up. Here are some more steps to follow.
- Dig a hole directly under the house you’re in and set wooden planks to work as a floor so The Guide doesn’t fall through. Make sure to have your pickaxe active to dig.
- You’re now looking for stone and ore. Don’t dig too deep, but spend a good amount of time exploring. Your pickaxe won’t break, and once you’ve got a few dozen pieces of stone and basic ore, you’ll be good to upgrade.
- Basic ore would be tin or copper, depending on your world seed. You may get lucky and find iron or lead and even a chest, but if you encounter a big cave underground, remember that your weapons still suck. Monsters are in caves.
- With stone, a torch, and some wood you can craft a furnace. Place the furnace in your house to craft ore into bars. Then, go hunt some more wood to make a second and third house. Townspeople will start to show up.
- I suggest crafting and using a bow as an early weapon. A bow keeps you at a safe distance while killing early-game enemies with ease.
- Make plenty of arrows with your extra stone and wood. Place the bow in your Quick Bar and the arrows in the tiny boxes next to your inventory when you open it up.
- Make sure to start putting acorns in the ground. You’ll want trees nearby for emergency(you can easily craft wood armor if it makes you feel safer).
- You can now head into the underground again in search of Iron or Lead. You can also search the surface Biomes(if you feel good about your basic combat skills). Sometimes, easy ore is lying right near the top.
- Mine/dig until you have a few dozen of one of these ores and go back up to make bars.
- Craft an anvil out of the iron or lead bars while in your house.
- Place the anvil. Your anvil, furnace, and workshop must be near one another. This will allow you the most extensive options for crafting when you open your Crafting Menu.
There is only one more thing you need to know outright, how to use The Guide.
When you talk to The Guide, you’ll see a small option for crafting open up on the screen. By selecting any item in your inventory and placing it in this box, The Guide will show you every possible thing that can be crafted with it.
Scrolling up and down through the options to see the possibilities. When you find one you’re interested in, hover your pointer(mouse) over it. It will show you what items are needed and what Crafting Stations(such as an anvil or a workbench) you will need to be next to when you choose to craft it.
Use this to make all the new armor and weapons you need to move forward. Do explore more of the map, too. Many good weapons/items are lying in chests or dropped from enemies.
Long Term Tips
- Remember digging is essential. Upgrade your pickaxe to the next strongest ore as often as you can, or you may not be able to dig out the stronger ores and blocks in the game.
- Make sure you collect a lot of cobwebs. You can craft a Wooden Yoyo at a workbench early on with wood and cobweb. It has a good range and is still good in close quarters.
- Make a loom. The loom can be placed to let you craft cobwebs into a white string which will increase your Yoyo’s range when equipped.
- Looms also let you turn cobwebs into silk. Silk is needed for beds. Placing a bed allows you to set where your spawn point is.
- Take treasure chests you find underground instead of building them in the early game to store things.
- Store all of the plants you find. They will be handy much later in the game for crafting potions. Crafting Potions will make a lot of boss fights and fishing easier.
- Store the seeds to grow your plants later on, too.
- These are long-term game tips. For the most part, you’ve got a good start. I think you’ll do fine. When the Merchant joins your village to buy the Sickle from him, though.
- The Sickle is a GREAT early weapon, and it makes hay.
- Attacking grass with the Sickle turns the grass into hay. This becomes hay blocks.
- Most importantly, hay blocks make an excellent Sky Bridge because they don’t spread the badland Biomes in Terraria.
- You can start building a Sky Bridge at any time. Just make sure not to go high enough that harpies are attacking you. Also, make sure to use wooden platforms now and then so it is easy to get down from your sky bridge.
- You only need 3 NPCs living within 20 blocks of one another to count as a town. A town spawns fewer enemies. This is important when you check happiness because not all NPCs like each other.
- Making your villagers happier will mean they sell you their items cheaper and give you more money when they buy things from you. Ask them about their happiness for hints on what biome they like and who they want to live next to.
- Then, make more than one town around your map. Also, make sure to plant a Sunflower on each side of any town you make. Not only does it lower monster spawn, but it also stops Corruption and the like from spreading past it.
Some Core Knowledge
- Vanity Slots: You’ll notice a vanity slot next to your equipment. Putting anything here makes it look like you are wearing it, and you will receive no bonuses. I always keep my Diving Helmet in this slot, so I can put it on if I end up in some literal, deep water.
- Ink Slots: The last slot next to the equipment is where you can place inks to add color to whatever you are wearing.
- The Map: You can open the large form of the map by clicking M on a keyboard if you’re on the PC. Or turn it off with TAB.
- The little chain icon above the equipment area lets you equip some unique items you’ll get later in the game. Clicking it opens up a new set of slots. One row is for ink. The others are to equip a pet, a grappling hook, amount, and a minecart.
- Grappling Hook: I won’t get into how essential this item is, but there is a guide to help you with them. (Press E when you have one on the keyboard for instant use.)
- Pets don’t do much, but some provide a little light, and others are cute. Most minecarts have little effect, but you’ll find some neat ones in the late game.
- Mounts: Mounts come in so many forms and can be super helpful. Make sure to keep an eye out for any mount items you pick up and equip them so you can try them out (pressing R on a keyboard).
- Flying: When you get wings pressing the jump button will let you fly. Some mounts can fly.
- Health: The hearts on the screen are your health. You can increase them by finding and consuming life crystals underground in the early game. Life fruit much later into Hardmode.
- Mana: Magic attacks may yield high ranged damage or enormous AOE damage, but it takes mana. The blue stars on the screen can be increased by Crafting Mana Crystals from multiple falling stars. Collect the Falling stars at night, and you can max out this mana pretty fast. Suppose you plan on being a magic user. In that case, you may also want to look into crafting equipment that increases mana and mana regen.
- Eating: Eat food. It boosts all your stats for a certain amount of minutes, and it should say how long under its description. Often forgotten by players, this boost can be handy, especially during raids of Goblins, Pirates, or Boss fights.
- Fishing: Cast a fishing pole into any water by setting the fishing pole in your Quick Slots and selecting it as your Active Tool. You cast it just as you would attack an enemy. Target the water and hit the action button. (Left-clicking on the PC). Click the action button again when the line pulls to reel in your catch.
- Bait: Fishing without bait will lead you to nothing. Pick up a Bug Net from the Shopkeep to catch worms and butterflies and so on for fishing. Bait can be placed in the same tiny slots next to the inventory where your money sits.
- Ammo: Ammo counts as arrows, bullets, or anything a weapon uses to shoot. It can be placed in the same area as bait and money on the inventory screen.
The Other Modes
If you are trying to do Journey Mode, you can still use the above method as a starting point. I still suggest running Classic Mode first until you get the hang of the mechanics.
You can toggle the world you create in this mode between Classic, Expert, and Master. This lets you increase or decrease the difficulty of monsters and bosses and even affect their item drops by doing so.
Journey Mode lets you control a lot of other things as well. You can lower monster spawn, for instance. It can be used entirely just to build stuff. You can duplicate items and play with the time of day to affect what you are fighting. It allows you to manipulate things for your amusement. You can even enter God Mode to practice fighting or have fun murdering the highest-level bosses.
You can only enter a Journey Mode map with a Journey Character. They will start with extra equipment. Still, you won’t be able to take them into the regular game modes.
The enemies hit harder and have more HP, and the Bosses get big upgrades and more aggressive attack patterns. It’s not new-player-friendly.
Why would you do Expert Mode? The Bosses in Expert Mode drop unique and powerful equipment items.
Once you’ve entered Hardmode in your normal map and acquired some Hardmode equipment, I suggest starting an Expert Mode map with your character.
Use your upgraded equipment to challenge some of these Bosses for their Unique Item Drops. The Eye of Cthulhu drops a specifically good shield.
Okay, you’re brave. This is the upgrade in difficulty to Expert Mode. Yes, it does have unique item drops. You should never start fresh here unless you are a top-tier dodging, combat-ready, with no fear of rage quitting gamer.
Hard mode is not selectable. It happens in a world when you defeat The Wall of Flesh. It can occur in all of the above Modes. Hardmode on Master is the most challenging combat in Terraria.
Yes, you can play with friends or strangers. You can fight friends or strangers (PVP aka player versus player). You can share items and help take down bosses with friends or strangers. Multiplayer mode is pretty great in Terraria, but none of the mechanics change. Some things won’t work against a player(like critical hits) if you’re fighting them, but generally, it’s the same game.
OH! A fun thing to do is Team PVP. You can see your team’s health bars and their locations on the mini-map in team mode.
You can also play Capture the Gem mode, which is pretty much the same as Capture the Flag. I find a lot of joy in this. You try to steal the large gem of one team and bring it back to your base to score a point. If a player holding a gem dies, it falls next to them.
You won’t drop any coins if you are killed by a player in PVP.
Related reads: Can You Play Terraria Cross-Platform?
Things I Wish They Told Me
When I first played Terraria, I knew nothing. I tried every weapon, learned to craft the hard way, and was completely blind. I finally caved in and looked at a Guide when I couldn’t mine Hardmode ore. So, let me save you my stress now that you’re here, or at the very least, help you with your current struggles.
- Practice combat underground or during a Blood Moon with different weapons to learn which you are better with, and get good at switching between weapons for optimal damage.
- Combat is not just attacking. Jumping, running, and using your grappling hook to escape and move around will be part of advanced combat.
- Always check with The Guide when you grab up a new item to see its crafting options.
- Get a Molten Pickaxe crafted before you kill The Wall of Flesh.
- Build a Sky Bridge before entering Hardmode.
- Set up bomb statues and Heart statues with wires and timers.
- The Heart Statues on the Sky Bridge for when you fight Bosses, they will produce hearts while you run back and forth in combat to help with the potion delays.
- Bomb statues near a treasure chest on the ground. Constantly fill that chest with those bombs.
- Make sticky bombs with gel and bombs.
- Use bombs and sticky bombs to dig faster once you have a grappling hook. Make large holes going down to the Underworld(Hell).
- Crimson, Corruption, and the Hallow can’t spread across large holes.
- Making these before entering Hardmode will save you money and time.
- When you kill the Wall of Flesh, Hallow, and either Crimson or Corruption spread out in a V from its death across your whole map.
- Once this happens, they will all begin spreading over the map. Deep Underground, the forests, the jungle, the snow, and especially the desert will be consumed.
- Magic-users who don’t keep a lot of mana potions will die often.
- Summon units no matter what weapons you like using. Keep your best summon staff in your inventory, not your hot bar, and summon whenever you load in on your game.
- Use mob events as often as you can when they are easy for you to score a lot of money. You will need a lot of money in the late game to clean the world or for some good purchases.
- Keep items that show enemy count, time, ore types, and similar things in your inventory to get their effect. No need to equip them.
- Buy the Tinkerer’s Workshop crafting station from the Goblin Tinkerer as soon as you get him.
Question: Is Terraria Hard?
Answer: Yes. Follow this guide to start, and it will be less hard for you than it was for me, I promise.
Question: Is Terraria like Minecraft?
Answer: Very similar. I prefer Terraria’s battle mechanics, and I like the 2D world-building as I can see more of what I make. Terraria also has a broader array of enemies, weapons, tools, blocks, and bosses.
Question: Is Terraria easy to learn?
Answer: Yes. I hope this getting started guide makes that the case for you.
Getting started in Terraria is mostly about getting a move on shaping your first town and building your primary crafting stations as fast as you can.
It is all about speed and keeping safe. Learning combat can come after you’ve made a safe space. Moving deeper underground and throughout the many other biomes can begin once you’ve got a weapon you’re doing okay with.
Get ready, this game pretends to be boring because of all the digging, but it will not be boring. It will get your heart rate up, and you’ll be a crafting master before long. Not to mention a slayer of giant bosses that travel through blocks. That’s right, you won’t ever be safe from a boss. Did I forget to tell you that?
Good luck and good gaming.
Continue reading related Terraria guides:
- Dryad Guide
- Queen Bee Guide
- Wormhole Potion Guide
- Hellstone Guide
- Solar Eclipse Guide
- Meteor Guide
- Terraria Classes Guide
- Destroyer Guide
- Magic Weapons Guide
- Empress of Light Guide
- Zoologist Guide
- Love Charm Guide
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