TerraTech is the kind of game which you have to get used to & understand before you can really appreciate it. Unfortunately the lack of official documentation isn’t helping and plenty of Steam guides are either outdated or… not very newbie friendly. So here’s a modern guide to help you get started with TerraTech v1.3.4
TerraTech is an awesome sandbox ‘survival’ game where you use vehicles called ‘techs’ to explore the planet you’re on, then harvest its resources to earn money (or craft new blocks) and you’ll also have to fight off hostile techs if you plan on surviving and staying on top. And defeating a hostile tech can even earn you some new blocks as well.
If you look at all the action that’s going on in the main menu then you might be wondering if you haven’t stepped into some kind of Robot Wars type of game. Well, that’s not really the case (but I suppose it can be ;)).
And to add even more confusion the tutorial missions do a fair job in setting you up in the game but it’s not very convincing I think. Why do I have to rebuild my tech several times over? So why can’t I store my excess blocks somewhere? And why does the game mention that you can craft items while all you seem to be doing is plucking off blocks from other (hostile) techs and use those to assemble your own?
Is this really as much fun as people claim it is?
Well, if you’re having such doubts about this game and you don’t know what to make of it just yet then this might be the perfect guide for you! I’ve been there myself and figured that I’d share my experiences in hopes that it might help some of you folks out there to get an honest and good impression of this game.
GSO cab; one of the smallest blocks in the game…
See, the problem with this game is that it’s not really balanced right now. So if you just get started and then pick the “wrong” missions you could end up plain out stuck in having to rebuild over and over again which will become frustrating really quick, trust me on that.
As such… sit back and relax while I take you through the first stages of the game, and I’ll also add some tips & tricks as well. Warning: minor spoilers though!
But for now trust me when I say that this game can be awesome, especially once you know what you should be doing to unlock all the stuff you really need.
Disclaimer: Most screenshots come from version 1.3.3 of the game. I kept most of them because there is no significant difference between the versions in gameplay. So if you play the latest version your GUI will look a bit different, but the stuff you need to do is still the same!
Crash landed & stranded?!
When you first start the game your lander craft makes a descent to the planet but bumps into something which leaves you on a crash course downwards. Uh oh…. Fortunately you manage to survive: one block of you remains. The GSO company quickly acknowledges your misfortune and they send a delivery package with some spare blocks which you can use to somewhat reassemble your craft. Unfortunately your base block (the so called ‘cab’) is heavily damaged but there’s nothing you can do about it now.
So the first thing you need to do is become familiar with how to assemble a tech and build it up some more…
Note the cross icons? Those are the ‘attachment points’…
First you press ‘b’ to call up the “build beam”, your tech will be lifted above the ground which gives you all the space you need to build a vehicle. Note that this isn’t required to quickly add something to your tech, but it can make more extensive expansions a lot easier to do. Then when ready left click on a block and keep the left mouse button (“LMB”) pressed; now you can drag the block around your screen (and around your tech). As soon as you move closer to your tech (or any kind of build which is yours) then you’ll notice so called “attachment points” appear, see the screenshot above for an example of that.
Now comes the fun part: moving the block even closer will automatically attach it to one of the closest attachment points. If you’re happy with its current location then simply let go of the LMB. If not then continue to drag so that it can snap onto other attachment points. Keep dragging until it’s in the right place.
Also don’t forget to use your right mouse button (“RMB”) either: keeping RMB pressed will allow you to drag the camera around your selected tech. This is important if you need to place a block on another side that’s currently not visible. Don’t worry if you’re already dragging a block along: you can easily use both mouse buttons together.
And finally: once a block snaps into position then you can click the RMB while keeping LMB pressed to rotate the block around. This is very useful in this stage of the game because it’ll allow you to position lasers and rocket launchers all around your tech, thus allowing you to fire on enemies from multiple sides (some enemies will try to circle you).
In the first stages of the game there’s not much you can do other than killing hostile tech and harvesting their blocks. Later on you’ll also learn how to mine and harvest resources. So far, so good… Resource gathering is fairly easy: you’ll get to buy a block which collects those spoils then all you have to do is drive over to a collection point such as a trading station to unload. Don’t worry: the game will automatically tell you the details about those trading stations and the right block to buy.
But what about those tech blocks?
Since you don’t have any inventory of some sort there’s only one way for you to take those blocks with you: adding them to your tech. Now, this isn’t always easy (or even possible!) because you have a limited amount of attachment points on your tech.
During the game you’re sometimes given an extra collection of blocks…
So how should we proceed with all this?!
Well…, maybe these “tech rules” which I’m sticking to can help:
- Never leave building blocks or weapons behind! – Simple reasoning really: building blocks are required to create more room on your tech for placing different blocks. So these are very important. And having more weapons will increase your firepower thus giving you a much better chance against hostile tech. If you have to rebuild your tech to create more space then so be it: never leave this stuff behind during the early stages of the game! There will always be more wheels, but it’ll be quite easy to suddenly run out of space…
- It doesn’t matter if your tech looks silly! – Notice my tech in the screenshot above? It has an extra stabilising wheel at the back which isn’t even used. Looks weird, right? Well, it’s not important. What is important is that I actually managed to get that block and take it with me. Remember: you never know if (or when) a block can become useful again.
- Protect your cab! – Your cab, the first tech block you start with, forms the heart of your tech. If it gets destroyed then it’ll be game over: time to start from scratch or load in a save. So make sure you keep it protected!
- Build wide techs to provide more space – It won’t be long before you’ll get a hold of some “base blocks” like the solar generator. To use those blocks you’ll have to plant them into the ground (also known as ‘anchoring’) so that you can attach other blocks to them. For example: the solar generator will expand during the day when it’s placed onto the ground, this makes it generate power. So if you then attach a battery then it will get recharged. But how are you going to set this up if those blocks are somewhere buried within your tech? 😉
Well, this should cover your first tech steps for now 😉
Some mandatory missions
So the only way to proceed (for now) is to continue doing missions. The first missions (like finding more parts and retrieving your battery) are mandatory so you can’t skip them. After you completed those and reached a trading station then you have one mandatory mission left after which you’ll be free to chose but… even then I strongly suggest to play some specific missions first.
First some basics… If you ever feel lost then be sure to take a closer look at your hud, in specific the instructions in the upper right corner and your map in the lower right corner. In this case it shows a round red ‘x’ marker which means that my objective is an hostile tech (as shown in the screenshot above: that little thief stole my battery!).
So when in doubt look at the map!
But what if the map doesn’t show anything specific? Well, then you should open up the mission log instead and read what the game is expecting you to do. You can do that by pressing the ‘L’ key (capital letter isn’t required, I simply used this to avoid possible confusion). The mission log also allows you to cancel a mission if things become to tough for you.
Eventually you’ll reach the trading station. Here you can sell harvested resources (which the game will teach you), you can buy new blocks which you can use in your tech(s) and you’ll find missions to do which can earn you block bucks (“money”) and several random blocks.
Although you’re completely free to do whatever you want I strongly suggest to pay extra attention to some specific missions first:
‘Turret defense’ & ‘Big Yellow’ are important missions!
So what’s the big deal? If you did all the missions so far you might remember having to beat ‘Trade Troll’ before you gained access to the trading station. It was basically a turret which started blasting you. So wouldn’t you agree that ‘Turret Defense’ sounds a bit familiar?
This mission is important because it will unlock another feature of the trading station: the SCU, which stands for Singularity Containment Unit. It’s basically a miniaturized black hole which can suck up all the (tech) blocks around it and send them into another dimension. Don’t worry; they won’t get sent into limbo, you can actually access that dimension yourself and use it as your inventory!
Meaning? The moment you unlock this dimension (also referred to as your ‘Inventory’) then you can access your blocks from any place on the map and just start building whatever you want. Better yet: you’ll also be able to send blocks right back into your inventory which is going to make block collection a lot more easy!
And that’s not all!
You should also pay attention to the ‘mining’ and ‘crafting’ missions because those can be very profitable this early in the game. Mining missions basically require you to collect a certain amount of resources after which you’ll get a reward. Better yet: you can usually do whatever you want with those gathered resources (like selling or storing) which means you’ll actually profit twice from doing these missions.
And then there’s the ‘Crafty Business’ mission series in which you’ll meet Crafty Mike. He will introduce you to building your own base where you can sell, store or use resources to craft new items. Better yet: he’s too busy to mess with this stuff himself so he’ll let you keep the builds as well!
Now, all these missions evolve around the GSO corporation but there’s more to this game than that…
There are many more corporations besides GSO which are also busy with prospecting and looking for resources. You currently work for the GSO, which stands for Galactic Survey Organization. Its blocks are grey’ish and can basically be considered as a core setup for techs. It doesn’t have a specialization or anything like that, it simply forms a solid foundation which you can use in your builds.
Now for a brief sidestep: although I said that you work for them that’s actually not quite true. You have a GSO license which allows you to take on GSO type missions and purchase specific GSO blocks (the block complexity that is available to you depends on your license grade). If you take on GSO missions or do things that benefit the GSO then you’ll earn XP. Earn enough and you will unlock the next level of your license.
So what about those other corporations?
- GeoCorp => This corporation is all about heavy duty mining; the blocks are enormous in comparison to the others and all of them are tailor made for big mining & grinding operations.
- Venture => As its name somewhat implies this corporation is all about speed and exploration, their blocks mainly focus on aerodynamics which automatically results in smooth looking techs.
- Hawkeye => A private military corporation which is fully specialized in building strong, robust, and heavily armored tech. Its block durability outmatches the rest in combat, with the exception of GeoCorp which blocks are also heavily robust.
- Better Future => A corporation which specializes in “consumer blocks” which mean that some blocks only have a cosmetic function, resulting in futuristic and slick looking tech.
Middle: GSO tech, right: GeoCorp (with some GSO blocks) and left: Venture
Although all these corporation are quite different they work in the same way: you can only gain access to their technology and blocks if you have the proper license. So how to get such a license? Well, I’ve already shared one example above (the “Big Yellow” mission?). So continue visiting those trading stations to see what missions are available and what rewards they give you. It might be a new license!
Save your tech: use snapshots!
So saving your game is important. But there’s more…
See, there will come a time when you simply don’t have enough space anymore to expand your tech, leaving only one course of action: remove the cab (and thus break apart the entire tech) after which you should rebuild from scratch, while also using a new (improved) design. At the very least you should create more space for your new block expansions.
And don’t be fooled: even having an inventory does not mean that you’ll never have to rebuild. For example: what if you don’t have enough spare blocks and still need a better graded vehicle?
Of course this also begs the question: what about your current tech? It might be a simple little critter but it was still something you spend time and effort on. Maybe it could be fun to play a bit more with it. So should we create an extra save or something?
Here’s a better idea: create a snapshot instead:
Right click on your tech, keep RMB pressed and select the camera icon from the radial menu…
Making a snapshot will save your tech in its current state, meaning that you’ll also be able to load it later on. Either in your current campaign (though that will cost you a lot of money) but a better idea could be to hop over into a creative game and load your snapshot(s) from there:
Why? Well, first of all a creative game doesn’t have any restrictions (such as money or locked blocks), so if you want to research or experiment with new tech designs.. why not start here?
Another possible advantage is that you can even come across hostile tech in creative giving you all the options you need to test your tech improvements in combat.
Or simply do what I did: dedicate a creative game to store the more impressive campaign techs you designed. So each time you rebuild a tech you’d save a snapshot first which you then later on add to your creative game. This way you can continue playing without having to stall your campaign progress…
Some of my campaign techs…
I hope this guide gave you a good impression of what TerraTech is all about and what you should pay attention to when you start a new game. As mentioned earlier: it can be tricky to get started and thus get a good feel for this game, but once you do, game flaws and all, you could be in for one heck of a good time.
When I re-started playing (I had cancelled my Steam refund request and tried again) I was quickly 5 hours into the game when I realized that this was indeed a solid purchase.
There’s so much good stuff in here.. Build your own tech either in creative or campaign, save them as a snapshot so that you can use them in other gamemodes as well, or you could even upload ‘m to the Steam workshop if you feel daring!
But most importantly: just start the game and actually do something. Get your hands dirty, build something even if it looks utterly stupid. Who cares?! As long as it can move and defeat the hostile techs you should be all good.
Thanks for reading & I hope this was useful for some of you!