Terraria Beginner’s Guide: Part 1- First Steps

This guide is the second part of our Terraria guide (read more).

Terraria is a sandbox, sometimes literaly, sometimes metaphoricaly. In the case of many sandboxes it is easy to get lost, lose focus and really not know how to start off to your best advantage. If you think about buying Terraria and wanted to look at a Guide like this one, go ahead! We also have a review for you to munch on.

Update: We now have the second part of the Guide. Click here to read it.

Here you will see screens and commentary from about an hour of gameplay, without the use of previously gained items, which was, in my case, very difficult to get used to! But, I made it, just for you. The general points you will see here is how you start off a game, and the essential first steps which allow to you survive a bit longer (than usual).

Character and World Creation


Your Character choice screen. Do not ask!

Any adventure in an RPG starts off by character creation. You can use characters from your previous games (which would have all the previously gathered loot on his person) or start a completely new one. During creation you do not have the choice of adding skills or abilities. Instead you pick the skin colour, hair style and colour, and the clothig of your character’s starting clothes (which quickly become irrelevant). The important choice is also “Character Mode” selection. There are three. Softcore, Mediumcore and Hardcore. In Softcore when you character dies he drops some of his cash, and respawns normaly. In Mediumcore the character loses all his gear, then respawns. In Hardcore… you die, it’s game over! So if you are a beginner going Softcore is the best option. Money at the start does not play an important role.


Hmmm… what to choose… what to choose…

Then, comes world creation. Your choices are limited, to either picking a world you generated earlier or creating a new… In the case of new creations you can only decide whether you want the world to be small, medium or large. In a way, that influences how much resources, chests, etc. there are. But on the other a Large map could become somewhat boring and lengthy to explore on your own. Here too I created a new “Small” world. Everything rough, and uncut.

Once your world is created and character generated (or was it the other way around?) you can jump head first into your world with your entirely new character! But the beginnings are not as glorious as you might think at first…

Waking up


This is what you will see at first… a lot of trees, grass, dirt, some caverns, and the ever present guide. You will have only a copper pickaxe, shortsword and axe to your name, with only 100 health and no mana… Now what?

Wood, together with Dirt (the brown thing under which you stand) are two essential materials which you will use and abuse untill you can afford better. Wood has a number of uses. With Gel (which you get from enemy slimes) it can be turned into torches (which can be held, or placed to produce light, note, torches do not run out). Alone, it can be turned into platforms, steps which allow you to “build” ladders to travel up or down with ease, or to stop you from falling down a pit. Dirt can be used to build an early bridge over a body of water, or to prepare a flat area for your tree plantation.Whenever you start a new game your start will be preety much the same (unless you use a character from a previous game). You will have three essential tools. A Sword (to fight), Pickaxe (to dig) and Axe (to chop wood). Notice that you also started mildly early into the day (sun is on the left) so you should start off by chopping down some wood, and exploring!


A good look at the different slots at your disposal. At the top left, the blue squares, is your inventory. The brown below it are the content of the chest I am currently looting. On the far right are items I can equip. “Social” items only change my look, but do not grant bonuses (but they do not eliminate armor set bonuses which I actualy wear). Meanwhile below the two inventories you can see “Crafting”. When you are closer to crafting station the list will expand and using your mouse scroll you can check what you can make (if you have the correct materials).

Why explore? When you start the game all around Terraria you will be able to find Chests, Pots and other containers holding very useful items, which will make your life easier. Sometimes it will be weapons, sometimes Bars, sometimes potions. From time to time you will find Accessories which grant small bonuses or abilities. If you take a look at the Terraria Wiki you will be able to see the full list of accessoriesand where they can be found. Do not head off exploring without some wood, or you might end up in a cavern, without a way out! On one hand, yes, you could just die and respawn where you started the game at, but on the other, if you build ladders and passages you will be able to come back to your home, deposit what you found, then come back safely to explore more.


Steady building of a platform, with a ladder, with torches to light the way. The Big Heart is a Life Crystal. If you have a hammer you could break it and use the Life Crystal within it to get an increase of 20 health points. The increase is permanent. But some events are triggered by your health being on a certain level. So do not get carried away!

As you mine away you will gather more and more different resources. The most common things you will find at first are dirt, stone and wood. But among many other highly common things come Sand and Clay. Wood, and Stone are useful for numerous purposes. But what is Sand and Clay for? Sand, has two uses. Firstly, it can be used to create glass, thus bottles. Bottles are in turn used to make potions. At the earliest stage you can already make Light Healing potions. All you need is a bottle with water (stand next to water with an empty bottle in your inventory and “craft” a water bottle), Daybloom (very small sunflowers often hiding in the grass) and Mushrooms (they grow all over the surface). You will need an alchemy station which is actualy, very simple. You need a table, and a vase placed on top of the table (once in the inventory, quickslot it at the top, then press somewhere on the table top).


A highly uncommon sight on the surface. Large Earth Worms often appear underground. They are not dangerous and you can hear them coming toward you. Their heads have very little hp, so if you know the direction the worm is coming from keep swinging your pickaxe. Later on in the game you will have such powerful tools that you will kill them by “accident”.

The other use of Sand, is one which does not immediately come to mind (and it is rather silly). When there is sand next to water (such as you could see on the screenshot some way back) and you mine the sand water will be destroyed due to “falling sand”. Sand, is a mining hazard, since unlike all other forms of materials it reacts to gravity. So if you mine stone from under sand, while you are standing under it the sand will cover you up and constantly do damage to you. So Sand is an efficient way to “destroy” water. And since any mined sand can be placed back you can effectively clear out a lake, with the use of enough sand (sand does not get used up in the process, after all).


Cobwebs… what to make of them. Of course there are no spiders about, but they are useful in two respects. First of all, they can slow down your fall greatly, and second, they can be used for Silk, which in turn can be used to make… clothes. So, if you ever want to try making yourself some “Vanity” items, Cobwebs are the thing you need in large ammounts.

Water, is one of your earliest dangers. Your character can only “climb” when underwater, so if you fall down into a vertical water shaft you are preety much doomed. Later on you can find items which allow you to both swim in the water, and last longer, without the need for air. Do note, torches do not work underwater, but there is another, very useful tool. Glowsticks. These are found in pots and chests, and can be naturaly obtained from jellyfish. Unlike torches, they work underwater, and can be thrown into the depth of a cavern, or when combined with gel thrown at a wall to stick to it. Glowsticks, however, run out eventually. Keep a stack on you to illuminate an area while underwater, or when you want to dig down, throw one under you and keep digging (it will keep falling down as you dig down).


A small Ore of Iron near the surface. Although it is easier to find ore underground you can first check as much of the surface as possible or in shallow caverns.

What you should always mine, when able are ores. Ores is what you need to make better tools, weapons and armor. You start off with copper tools, and anything made of copper is essentialy the “weakest”. The next best thing is Iron, then Silver and eventually Gold. Gold is as far as you can get without having to fight bosses for materials to make even better equipment, with the exception of Meteorite, but before you can get any of it you will have to fight at least two seperate bosses.

It is Getting Dark!

Terraria has a Day Time and Night Time. As much as you might enjoy you first day, killing helpless slimes and finding alot of useful items in chests and pots you will then be thrown into the brutal Night. During the Night Slimes dissapear and instead you will be assaulted by Zombies and Flying Eyeballs. Both of these will come in slightly bigger groups, and you lack both efficient weapons to kill them and armor to protect yourself from them. You have two options, quickly build yourself a house before the night begins, or dig yourself a hole, and cover the top with dirt… I thought I could take on the zombies and eyeball with ease… I was wrong.


Run for your life!

Later on, most creatures you meet on the surface will be easy to defeat. Before that happens you must focus on building yourself a house. By nightfall you should have plenty of resources gathered in your inventory. Wood is the easiet to find and the easiet to build with. A proper house needs not only a “brick structure” but also a wall background. Later on when you have Silk for a Bed you will be able to find yourself to said Bed, and thus, in the future spawn next to it, inside the safety of your house. You have to be careful however. If you miss a spot while building your background wall the house will be deemed “unsafe”, and thus you cannot bind to your bed, but also, creatures will be able to spawn inside your house, even when the doors are closed. Also note, your house cannot be “destroyed”. The only part of your house that enemy creatures could damage, is the door. The exception are underground worms, which dig through your house (but they still do not damage it). I presume, if you are really, really unlucky a Meteorite could smash into it, but I never saw that happen yet.


Steady preperations for a house base, while fighting off a flying eyeball. It is important you do not build your house on the same spot you spawn on by default or you will destroy pieces of the structure by accident as you respawn.

Building a house is not only a method of protecting yourself from night attacks. It is also your base of operations. You can build all the crafting stations you need there and also add a storage when you have to store the loot from your recent scavenging hunt somewhere. When waiting out the night you can then pick up all the Bars and Ores you found and make something useful out of them, or experiment around with potions when able.


A whole day of scavenging, the next night. My exploration trip ending less than gloriously with me fleeing on my last health back to my little house. Lucky me though, there is a Fallen Star! If I gather ten of these I can later get a small Mana Boost… useful, if I had any spells, that is.

You can build a house anywhere you want really. Underground, in the Sky, only sand obeys gravity about here. This also means, if you do not want to stop a trip underground, you can build yourself a small outpost where you will store some of the items and then continue on. All chests are persistant, which means anything you put into them will stay there. In multiplayer games, however, this means any player can look into them too, and take what they want, even when you are offline.


This should keep the thieves at bay!

At the end of my first hour of gameplay I had a small house, plenty of different forms of junk and loot, and I started to make myself some Copper Armor. In essence, when you start off any game your priority should be local exploration and building yourself a simple house. Do not be worried if you get a wall section wrong, or if you place a piece of furniture somewhere you did not want it. The Hammer and Axe can be used to dismantle or move any object, without you losing them (including glass, don’t ask). Chests have to be emptied first before they can be moved, so once you have a hammer collect any chests you find underground, you can use them for storage, instead of making your own.

If you jump ahead, and play way more than this note the following. Most creatures cannot open doors. Only later on in the game do such creatures appear. Gold armor and weapons/tools is as far as you can get without having to defeat bosses. If you dig too deep, you will end up in deeper layers where you will find much more challenging opponents. Remember, you can die from high falls. As time progresses and you complete certain stages in the game more NPCs will appear, merchants of different sorts. Build them houses or they will all congregate in your own. They cannot take anything, but they can be somewhat annoying. If you travel into other types of territory (Jungles, Corruption, Desert) there will be many new different and dangerous creatures. Do not travel there unless you really feel prepared. Lastly, do not panic, or be annoyed when something does not work out. Check the Terraria Wiki when in doubt, or when you have to find a recipe for something.

Stay tuned for more Terraria Guides from myself, and be free to ask any questions below. I will answer them ASAP.


Alex “WriterX” Bielski

This guide is the second part of our Terraria guide (read more).

You can't go any more "sandbox" than this.
Cons:Can get boring quickly.
Best with friends.
Game producer's website:RE-Logic
Official website:Terraria Website
Game available at:

About The Author

Aleksander "WriterX" Bielski
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Student of Psychology, he was identified as a Nut-Job even before he started the course. Having done some small work as a Modder for a number of titles, and worked as a Game Designer part-time, Alex now writes in third person. As Co-Owner and Editor of AlterGamer.com he aims high, while being armed only with a sling. In the future, he hopes to become a fully qualified Newspaper Editor, and purchase Google.

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