TerraTech promises fun vehicle building action, yet could have used a more time in development, as it just doesn’t do what it promised well on consoles.
TerraTech is a game, on console at least, that is marred only by its original design intent. Originally planned as a PC game, it’s clear this game was designed with a Keyboard and Mouse in mind. While functional on a controller, it just doesn’t work as well as you would want it to, and that can make the experience a bit lackluster, along with frustrating. Although, it does provide some fun, especially for the creative types that are persistent. The massive options provided to fans to create vehicles of destruction, whether beautiful or monstrous, in a vast open world can keep you interested… assuming you play long enough to see it all. What it does wrong though is just about everything else. So let’s dive in.
Fairly Strong Beginnings
TerraTech begins with a pretty well balanced tutorial that doesn’t throw things at you too quickly. It explains how to drive, how to build, how to defend yourself, what to expect, and what you should be looking out for. Each one at a decent pace that doesn’t overwhelm you. The most important thing to remember is that the cabin block is what needs to be protected. Everything else can be picked off with not much worry. Which means you can toss it in the middle of a huge ugly block and have relative safety, who needs to see where they’re going anyway right!? This is where the specific PC design begins to rear it’s ugly head.
The construction part is simple enough, but the controls while building, driving, shooting, and everything else I found constantly got in the way. You connect parts in a cubic fashion, and decide what goes where at your leisure. You just need to make sure the weapons fire where you want, your wheels touch the ground, and your cabin is attached somewhere. Other than that, you’re on your own buddy. Good luck making it happen smoothly with a controller though, you’ll be fighting it every step of the way without the precision of a mouse.
There are an interesting number of blocks to play with, but figuring out which ones to go with, or even which ones are better can be quite difficult. The text that describes each block feature pretty much nothing of value as well. No stats, no bars, no comparison. Just basic info on what it does and good luck to you distant traveler! That is, if you can read the tiny text, get your spectacles handy, you’ll need ’em!
To add insult to injury on clunky PC to Console transition, setting your vehicle up in the way you want can be frustrating. By all accounts, the control scheme they went with is likely one of the best options they could have come up with, given the nature of the game. However, you are liable to press the wrong button to make your vehicle float, drop the piece you are holding, or attach the piece to the wrong surface often. It never really gets much easier either. Sure, you begin to remember which buttons do what, but the floaty design can still make it annoying.
Combat is another place I had trouble. While there is a “lock-on” feature, there seems to be an odd number of weapons that actually utilize the feature or not. Some more useful than others, or, at least, far more common. Trying to turn towards your enemies isn’t as easy as you would want it sometimes, so that lock-on becomes a necessity, but here’s hoping you have more than one cannon…
Other Things To Do
Once you get done with the tutorial, assuming the games captures your attention long enough, the reins are taken off. They show you how to accept missions, where to buy things, and basically tell you the world is your oyster. These missions range from resource gathering, combat missions to take out rivals (who are in over abundance I might add), to building. The game is beholden to the same trope of any game in the genre of “Survival game”, meaning, it’s a HUGE time sink that, sadly, has little payoff other than self satisfaction at what you accomplish to build. I found that, even though these games are hardly comparable, that level of satisfaction wasn’t anywhere near the same level as most others, such as Conan Exiles. Although, that’s likely due to the fact you don’t build epic cities for others to enjoy.
The expansive world, optional quests, and even additional modes for the creative types out there are positives. Do you want to just create something with no limits and show it off? Have at it in creative mode. Do you wish to give yourself a challenge and take on AI gunning for the best loot and items, hoping you can survive? Good luck. But in the end, the game’s poor console port, and the lack of a Multiplayer mode that the other versions of the game have leaves a lot to be desired. Not to mention the frustrating controls that make some of the most basic features of TerraTech unfortunate. Considering how positive the reviews are for the PC versionE, it’s a shame it doesn’t translate as well as you would hope.
Here’s hoping that Payload Studios listens to the fans, and gives the console version some love with future updates. Fine tuning the controls, building, and overall structure to make the game more enjoyable. Adding in extra features wouldn’t be such a bad thing too, at least, so long as they bring the Switch version up to par with the other versions. Overall, TerraTech is a game that I find is for a pretty specific niche of players. It’s not a game I would recommend to just anyone, but I also wouldn’t recommend against playing it. The pleasant price of $24.99 isn’t too much to ask for, so if you’re curious then definitely check it out. On the other hand, you’re probably best off going with the PC version. For now.