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Game vs Glory: Starbound vs Terraria


2D Sandbox Trials: Starbound vs Terraria

Starbound vs Terraria 1

With the rise in Minecraft’s popularity, there have been a rising number of games that focus on open word exploration and crafting, with a focus on low-resolution ‘pixel’ graphics. Two such games that have been rising in popularity are Starbound and Terraria, both of which are 2D sandbox games that focus on similar concepts. Starbound, developed by Chucklefish Ltd, is based in a sci-fi universe, where players can take the role of one of several races as they fly their ship from planet to planet, seeking refuge from an unfortunate fate. Terraria on the other hand, which is developed by Re-Logic, drops players in a large generated world, teeming with all sorts of biomes for the player to explore. Unlike its competition, Terraria is a fully fleshed out game, which is available on iOS, Android, PSN, Xbox Live, PSVita, and Windows Phone.

While the two share similar roots, only one can be deemed victorious. So which 2D sandbox game is better? Let’s find out!


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- Players travel across worlds versus one map per game

– Different biomes exist underground depending on depth

– Hazardous blocks and traps exist through dungeons and caves (with the latter being salvageable)

– While there’s only one dungeon per planet, the vast number of planets allow for greater numbers.

- Some biome boundaries are unusual (snow next to desert)

– Only a few dungeons per generated world

– Backdrops are much nicer in comparison

– Terrain has a much greater amount of destructible ‘scenic’ objects, such as grasses and vines (which vanish upon breaking)

Advantage: Starbound

Rather than starting off going into detail with the graphics of these games (as the sprite artist from Terraria apparently was the lead designer for Starbound), I decided to focus on the environments that both Starbound and Terraria offer . Each give a great variety when it comes to the different environments they allow players to travel through, making this a close call. What Starbound has over Terraria though, is the ability to travel to different worlds. Instead of traversing great distances to encounter one type of biome, Starbound allows players to jump between different worlds which have 1-2 biomes. In rare cases though, players will start on a planet which supports no wood-granting plants, at which point things become more challenging (as no wood means no torches or pickaxes to make mining coal easier). Many dungeons are also accessible from the surface, making spotting them easier. And as a minor preference, I do find entering and exiting caverns easier to do in Starcraft, as many I have encountered in Terraria involve a steep drop, which require quite a bit of work to get out of.


Starbound vs Terraria 3






- Necessary survival equipment can be built without crafting table, including healing items

– Tools can be upgraded, which restores durability

– Players can cook using raw food items and a cooking table

– Crafting menu shows what players can build without needing all items, and can be filtered based on what the player has available

- Some ore is only available in hard mode

– Crafting, smelting, etc. is all instant

– Much greater variety in tools than Starbound

– Many different types of arrows can be crafted

Advantage: Starbound

Since only Starbound has a storyline to it, I decided to focus on the aspect of crafting rather than story plots between the two. While the fact that smelting ore into bars is instant in Terraria, I found it nearly impossible to get past the layout of the crafting menu given. There is no way to search through possible recipes, or even see what materials are required while in the game to build certain things. Rather, players are forced to scroll through a potentially massive list of different craftable items. Starbound cleans things up in a nice little UI, which shows everything available to craft at the time. If players don’t want to scroll through the whole list, they can sort the options based on the type of recipe, and even filter out recipes that don’t have all the necessary items.


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  • Mark Barbeau

    I don’t really feel like reading the whole thing but I noticed that you wrote Starcraft instead of Starbound. Also I found it a bit odd that the majority of points for Terraria are not pros but cons, at least in my opinion. Also in my opinion most of the backdrops in Starbound are at least as good if not better than those found in Terraria.