Terraria is an awesome game that can be very confusing for beginners. The game doesn’t hold your hand, which is part of the fun. When I was a Terraria newbie, I spent hours reading the Terraria forums to find what I was supposed to do next.
In this guide, I’ll give you pro tips that I’ve learned along the way, as well as teach you everything you need to know about Terraria. Whether you have no clue how to play Terraria or you have been playing for a few hours, there is a wealth of knowledge in here for you.
Many of these tips and more are available in this survival handbook from Amazon, which I highly recommend checking out! For now, here is Game Voyager’s ultimate beginner’s guide to Terraria!
Say hello to the Guide
The first thing you’ll notice when you load in for the first time is that there’s an NPC walking around called the Guide. At this point, he’s your only friend in this huge world, so you should build a small box around him to keep him safe.
Quickly mine some dirt or stone to get some blocks, and use those to build a temporary shelter for him. NPCs are able to defend themselves a little, but if they die it takes a little while to respawn. The box is just to ensure that he doesn’t get himself killed while you’re on an adventure somewhere. You could always build a full house for the Guide now, but houses have to be specifically designed for an NPC to move in. I’ll cover that later on in this guide.
The Guide’s only function (for now) is to give you hints about where to go, as well as show you how to craft new items. When you speak to him, select the Crafting option, and you’ll be able to place any of your items in his crafting slot. Don’t worry, you can’t actually craft anything here. It simply shows you everything that you can possibly make with the selected item.
This is incredibly useful for when you discover new ores or special items.
Craft better gear
To put it bluntly, the gear you spawn with sucks. The copper shortsword you spawn with feels like fighting with a toothpick, even against early enemies. You need to make yourself a better sword, along with some armor for better protection.
The first thing you want to do is chop down 5 to 10 trees using the ax you spawn with. You’ll craft your first basic upgrades out of wood, which will make your life much easier at the beginning.
The next thing you NEED to do is get rid of that awful shortsword. Shortswords are used by literally poking the enemy, whereas a broadsword is swung from above your head, dealing more damage and knockback. Craft a workbench using your crafting menu, which will allow you to make many more items.
With the workbench crafted, place it down wherever you’d like. Standing close by to it will automatically unlock all of the new crafting recipes you have. Go ahead and craft a wooden broadsword and a set of wooden armor, and you’ll be all set to head out into the wilderness
Survey the land
The world in Terraria are randomly generated, so it’s always wise to check out what the surrounding area looks like. Head in whichever direction you’d like, and see what you find. When you run into an area that’s purple or red, it’s wise to turn back. All world spawn with one of two evil biomes, which the purple is called the Corruption and the red is called the Crimson.
Both of those areas have some really great loot to find, but you definitely need more gear if you want to survive. Obtaining the loot requires going deep underground, and you won’t be able to get out without the right accessories. We’ll save these areas for later.
Next, you might find some desert or snow biomes. Inside the desert, there is a large hole in the ground, which you should create a bridge over and come back later. Desert biomes also have a chance to contain a pyramid, which is buried underground. Find the entrance as quickly as you can, because these pyramids contain some awesome gear that’ll help you immensely.
Snow biomes are easier to survive in but have annoying ice to watch out for. If you go underground in a snowy area, pools of water will be covered with a sheet of ice, and falling through that could be deadly.
If you manage to make it to either a large dungeon or a jungle biome, you’re pretty close to the end of the world. Dungeons always spawn on the opposite side as jungles, so if you find one you know which way they both are. Also, attempting to explore the dungeon at this point will get you insta-killed by Dungeon Guardians, so don’t even try going too deep into it.
At the ends of the world, there are ocean biomes, which may have a couple of chests at the bottom. Your best bet now is to use a Recall Potion, or a Magic Mirror if you’re lucky enough to have found one. If you haven’t found one of these yet, then either traverse back or take the plunge into the ocean. You may be able to loot a chest before you die, so it’s worth a shot.
A really good tip to know is that exiting to the menu and reloading the world will automatically put you back at your spawn point. You’ll only have to do this when you’re out of Recall Potions, or if you haven’t found a magic mirror yet. Those can be found in underground cabins, which we’ll talk about later.
After a long day of exploring, your first day in Terraria is going to come to an end. Nighttime is going to be very difficult to survive, especially for expert mode players. You can build a small house at your spawn. or head underground for the night. I prefer exploring a cave when night falls because it’s much more interesting than wandering around a tiny house all night.
Better yet, make a small house and then start building a 3 block wide mineshaft straight down. You can cover it with wooden platforms so you don’t fall in, and you can also use those platforms to create a small ladder to help you maneuver it easier. To preserve wooden platforms, only place them on one side of the mine shaft, and try to space them as far apart as you can reach.
Your first pickaxe is very slow, but soon you’ll be able to find some better ores to upgrade with. Just keep building your mineshaft straight down until morning arrives, and then you’re ready to start a new day.
Go deeper into nearby caves
While you were scouting out the world, you probably saw some interesting looking caves along the way. Pick whatever cave you’d like and start spelunking! Make sure you have plenty of torches along the way, as well as a bunch of wooden platforms.
Caves will have small brown pots in them that drop items when you break them. These items can be things such as torches, glowsticks, throwing weapons, or potions. Smash every pot you see, and you’ll have quite a few items to help you explore. Loot any chests you see as well, as they’ll give you some decent starting gear.
Eventually, you’ll get go deep enough to reach the underground layer. This is different from the surface layer in that it has harder enemies, as well as better loot. This is evidenced by a change in background, as well as a change in the music. At this layer and below, underground cabins may be found, which hold a chest with all sorts of loot in it.
There are a few things that you’ll definitely want to find in an underground cabin. The first is a Magic Mirror, which allows you to instantly travel back to your spawn point. The second is a pair of Herme’s Boots, which allows you to run much faster than normal. A Cloud in a Bottle is another awesome movement accessory that gives you the ability to double jump.
Another item to watch out for is called an Extractinator. This allows you to take useless blocks like slush and turn them into valuable resources. You can quite literally turn garbage into gold with it, so definitely grab one to put in your house.
One quick tip is to keep all the chests you find in the cabins. You’ll soon find that you don’t have enough inventory space to store all of your items, so it’s helpful to take the gold chests you find. I like the gold ones simply because they look cooler than wooden ones, but you can grab whichever you’d like.
Mine for gear upgrades
While you’re underground, take advantage of all the ores you see around you. Iron/lead is a great resource to mine since many recipes require it. I don’t recommend making iron armor, because farming for it is a waste of time.
Silver/tungsten and gold/platinum are great resources to find as well. Try to get enough gold to craft yourself a gold or platinum pickaxe, which is strong enough to mine meteorite. Once you have that, your best bet is to try to go as deep as you can, because the better ores become more frequent the further underground you go.
Loot every underground cabin you see, and try to get as many coins as possible. Another great place to go is a spider nest, which sometimes contains a chest with a great starter grappling hook.
Speaking of grappling hooks, try to mine 15 of any gemstone to craft yourself a gem hook. These hooks allow you to grab onto walls and pull yourself to higher places, giving you greater mobility. Diamond hooks have the best range, any of the gem hooks will do for now.
After you feel like you’ve found enough treasure, head back to the surface to stow some of it away. Also, make sure that you don’t have too much money on you at one time because you drop your coins on death.
Build a house
You may have already built a small shelter before, but now it’s time to make a proper house. The basic components of every NPC ready house are as follows:
- A building 10 blocks long by 6 blocks tall
- A light source like torches or lanterns
- A comfort item like a chair or toilet
- A flat surface item like a table or piano
Obviously the house needs walls too. Walls work a little differently in Terraria and confused me when I first started playing. Basically walls are the background blocks of the house. You can craft these at your basic crafting bench, and they can be made out of many materials. You can place things such as torches, trophies, or banners on the walls, so they help you decorate your home easier.
Monsters are unable to spawn in player places walls, so make sure you always have walls on your buildings as well as a light source. To keep enemies from wandering into your home, place doors at every entrance. An event called a Blood Moon can occur, which gives zombies the ability to break open doors. When a Blood Moon happens, simply block off the front doors of your house and go mining in your mine shaft.
Part of the fun of Terraria is that you can be as creative as you want with your house. My houses generally turn out pretty boring, but I’ve seen some amazing examples of what people can build in this game.
Start your own village
With your own home finished, it’s time to get some neighbors to move in. Using those NPC house conditions I mentioned before, build 4 or 5 more houses somewhere close by. I prefer to attach them to my house for easy access, but you can put them wherever.
If the spawn conditions have been met, an NPC will spawn and move into the house. An example of this is that the Merchant will spawn when you have a total of 50 silver coins. There are a total of 25 NPCs in Terraria, each having their own unique spawn condition. If you don’t mind spoilers and would like to see how to get all of the NPCs, check out this article we wrote here.
I recommend making a bunch of houses ahead of time so that you’re ready when new NPCs want to move in. You don’t really have to go out of your way to get them to spawn since their requirements are part of your natural progression. Just keep upgrading, exploring, and defeating bosses, and eventually, you’ll have so many NPCs you won’t know what to do with them all.
Break 2 Shadow Orbs / Crimson Hearts
When you feel like you have enough houses built, wait for the Demolitionist to spawn. His requirement is to have a bomb in your inventory during the way, which is simple to do. When he spawns, buy 20 to 30 bombs and get ready for an adventure!
Hopefully, you’ve upgraded your armor and weapons by now, because you’re headed to the Corruption or Crimson, depending on which spawned in your world. The Corruption has several chasms that lead to nothing, so try to find the one that goes the furthest.
No matter which biome you have, there will be a large underground area that you have to stay alive in. You’ll see these glowing objects called either Shadow Orbs or Crimson Hearts, and you need to break these for a couple of reasons.
When you break them, they drop a useful item for you. Also, breaking 2 will cause a meteorite to land in your world, which you can mine for some awesome gear. Whatever you do, DO NOT BREAK A THIRD ORB. If you do, you’ll automatically spawn the boss of that area, so wait until you’re prepared.
The easiest way to access these is to turn your bombs into sticky bombs using slime, and blasting your way to it. Just be careful not to destroy an extra one, unless you’re ready to fight a large boss.
Harvest the meteorite
Since you’ve broken these orbs, a meteorite will fall into your world once night hits. You probably have a bunch of bombs leftover from your previous journey, so you can use those to mine it faster.
The game doesn’t tell you where the meteor landed, so it’s up to you to find out. If you can’t find it on your map, you’ll just have to run left or right until you find it. It’s unmistakable when you find one, as the music changes and enemies called Meteor Heads start to spawn.
I recommend building a bridge over the entire thing, and throwing your sticky bombs directly onto it. Another thing I should probably mention is that you literally start on fire if you stand on meteorite. Simply use bombs to destroy most of it, then finish it off with your gold or platinum pickaxe.
Once you have every piece, go make yourself a set of Space Armor, along with a Space Gun. This set allows you to have unlimited ammo for the Space Gun, so they’re great to use together.
Explore the Dungeon
With your new gun and armor, it’s time to finally explore the dungeon. You’ve probably seen the old man in front of the dungeon by now, and now you’re going to have to fight him! Well, maybe not him exactly, but you must fight his master that possesses him.
I’m not going to spoil anything here, but beating him grants you access to the dungeon. The annoying skulls inside it finally stop killing you on site. When you get down there, you’ll realize that the enemies are quite difficult. You need to locate an unlocked wooden chest that contains one gold key, and that key is used to unlock an even better chest.
All the keys are the same, but they are one use only. In order to get all the loot from the dungeon, you must find as many keys as there are locked chests. Enemies can drop keys sometimes, so you’re not stuck if you don’t find extra ones in chests.
Reforge your weapons
At some point, you’ll be invaded by a Goblin Army. Beating them will cause an NPC called the Goblin Tinkerer to spawn tied up underground. He will randomly spawn as you explore, so spend some time underground and you’ll find him.
If you have an empty house when you free him, he’ll move in. He provides a great service called reforging, which changes the modifier of your weapons. For example, if your weapon says “slow” in from of it, you probably want to reforge it to make it faster. Some modifiers are better than others, so keep trying until you get a good one. Be warned though, reforging can drain your money faster than anything else in the game.
Create a Hellevator
With all your brand new gear, it’s time for you to craft a Hellevator, essentially an elevator to the underworld. This is a continuation of the mineshaft you started earlier, and will make getting to the bottom of the world much easier.
Keep mining until you come to water or lava, and in that case it’s best to try to drain the liquid to another source. Mine any obsidian you find and turn it into an Obsidian Skull, which allows you to walk on hot substances like Meteorite and Hellstone. Once you reach the underworld, you know that your Hellevator is complete.
Look for floating islands
There are several islands in the sky that have some good gear on them. One item, in particular, called the Lucky Horseshoe, is an item that completely removes all fall damage. You absolutely need this, so I’ll tell you how to get one.
Potions called Gravitation Potions will allow you to reverse gravity, which is perfect for flying around the air. Get enough of these and you’ll find the islands in no time!
Another method I use is to create Meteor Shot for a gun, and walk left or right while firing it straight up. Meteor Shot bounces, so if it bounces back then you know there’s an island.
Fight the boss of the underworld
While in the underworld, you may find an item called the Guide Voodoo Doll. This item is used to kill the Guide when you throw it in lava, but doing so will cause the underworld boss to spawn.
I won’t spoil it for you, but he’s a large boss that’ll probably give you some difficulty. Once you beat him, it’s time for the real game to begin! We wrote an article here about what to do when you beat him, so definitely check that out.