Between State of Decay, Battleblock Theater/Theatre and Ascend: New Gods, I'm not sure I'm going to have time to play anything that isn't an Xbox Live Arcade game this year - and that's before you consider 505's port of Re-Logic's Terraria, which launches today. It's an enormous 2D world builder, comparable to Minecraft in terms of the editing tools and multiplayer, but with a far more extensive combat and dungeon-crawling side.
We've taken receipt of review code, but it'll take us a while to lay a verdict on this one. Rome wasn't built in a day - and Rome, don't forget, wasn't chock-a-block with hideous flying eyeballs. I do, however, have a few starting tips to share from my time with the preview code, bolstered by insights from the gentlemen and lady editors of the magnificent Terraria PC wiki. If you've just taken the plunge, consider what follows essential reading.
Build a shelter
Like Minecraft, Terraria follows a day-night cycle. Also like Minecraft, monsters spawn in greater quantities at night. Accordingly, your first act once you've set foot on a virgin world should be to throw together a shelter. This can be as simple as a hole in the ground with a lid on it, but the righteous will want to build themselves a house - specifically, a 7x6 block chamber with background walls, a torch, a table and a chair. Oh, and you'll probably want to include a door. They can be useful.
Fortunately, the starting equipment includes a Copper Pickaxe and a Copper Axe, and the basic materials are easy to find - you'll need a decent supply of wood from nearby forests, plus gel for the torch which can be obtained by killing garden variety slimes. Don't forget the background walls, as they'll stop monsters spawning inside your crib, and try to build on open terrain, as you'll need to expand your base later to accommodate NPCs.
While you're striking the firmament and building a new Eden, take a moment or two to experiment with Terraria Xbox 360's overhauled controls. The default option ties the reticule in front of your character - you can aim it with right stick as you would the crosshair in a side-scrolling shooter, which makes for speedier resource gatheration. Usefully, the cursor auto-highlights the next object in a group while mining. Click the stick, and you'll be able to wield the reticule as you would a mouse cursor, which is ideal when moving and placing items during construction.
Get yourself a bow
Got a little wood to spare, after erecting yourself a shack? Bolt together a work bench, the most elementary of Terraria's crafting stations, and assemble a wooden bow and some arrows. That Copper Sword you're carrying isn't particularly deadly, so fighting at range is definitely the right way to go about combat early on. One simple but effective trick when defending a dwelling is to dig pits around, or even within, your house - zombies can only jump so high, and once they've fallen into your trap you can pick them off at your leisure.
Start gathering resources
You can scoop up a fair bit of stuff by just exploring on the surface - pots and chests containing money and treasures can be found in caves, and there should be plenty of Daybloom and Blinkroot - both potent potion ingredients - around the spawn area. Here's a recipe you'll want to memorise, once you've converted your work bench into an alchemy station - bottled water plus a mushroom and some Daybloom equals a regeneration potion.