• For issues you find with the Switch and Console releases, please follow this link and give as much detail as possible. This is the speediest way to get info to Pipeworks and get a hotfix in the works.
  • 1.4 will bring many changes to the PC version. We strongly advise making plans to back up your worlds and players prior to updating your game. More details here.
  • Begin your search for Journey's End information here and here. Please report bugs and issues for Journey's End here.
  • For issues you find with the Mobile 1.3 update, please follow this link and give as much detail as possible. This is the speediest way to get info to DR Studios to look at your issue. Also, some troubleshooting hints here.

Brixtan's Expert Hardcore Guide

Brixtan

Terrarian
Greetings Terrarians ~

After 600+ hours of gameplay and countless expert softcore playthroughs over the years, I thought I'd try my hand at an expert hardcore playthrough. Hardcore has always appealed to me, but I've always given up and rage quit after my first HC death in any new playthrough. The death of losing a hardcore character stings a lot in Terraria - more so than in other games that have a hardcore feature (Diablo 3, I'm looking at you). This game punishes you for not knowing mechanics, being under geared, or rushing into biomes prematurely. Needless to say, I died...a lot. So many deaths...oh my God! But there are some things I've learned after downing the Moon Lord today on my latest hardcore character (with 71 hours logged - he's still alive!). If you've ever thought of doing a hardcore playthrough, I would highly recommend it. It will make you a better player and give you a deeper appreciation for each small improvement you make as you're gearing up (that first jump to full iron armor in pre-hardmode is nice in a hardcore run). Each item will have intrinsic value - every weapon and armor upgrade will feel like a huge sense of victory (and relief). Knowing that one death can result in a loss of all your hard earned gear and effort is extremely exhilarating - and terrifying.

I had scoured the internet trying to find guides to help me plan my progress when I finally decided to give a hardcore playthough another go a month ago without any help (or guides) from the internet. Benchmarks for boss progression and gear from a softcore perspective don't really apply 1:1 for a hardcore character. 100% of this guide was done by trial and error (save for the input and guides around various farms where noted). At times, I wasn't exactly sure I could (or should) take on a specific boss with the gear/weapons I had. I had no frame of reference for how viable and survivable my character was when doing a hardcore run, which was nerve wracking at times. Often, it would take me dying to teach me how far I could push when progressing through the game. While there are some parallels between when you should kill 'x' boss for both softcore and hardcore, I found that I had to adjust my play style (and thirst for pushing fast through content) once I made the transition to hardcore. It made me approach the game differently. Certain bosses became immediately more intimidating in a hardcore run (hello, King Slime). I become more cautious. Nearly 71 hours later on this current hardcore character, I also realized that playing hardcore actually made me a better gamer.

Enough rambling. I couldn't really find anything of value in my cursory googling, so I thought I'd sit down and write-up a brief guide of my own for players interested in tackling a hardcore playthrough. Forgive me if there is already a hardcore guide that's been written up. I couldn't find one when I started out on this journey.

Without further ado, let's get started!

DISCLOSURE:
  1. I played with a few quality of life mods for this hardcore playthrough (see below). None of them were game breaking but I found the quality of life mods made my inventory management far less tedious than normally. For the purists out there, this guide can be applied fully to a vanilla, mod-free playthrough without needing to make any adjustments (at least that's what I think).
  2. I played in a Corruption world (for obvious reasons...the worm scarf).
  3. My character build was mostly ranged with occasional melee weapons depending on the situation. All of my accessories were reforged to warding (for the +4 defense).
  4. I avoided killing any bosses until I had well over 300 HP and either meteorite gear and/or molten armor. Before that, I just found you never quite had enough damage output or defense to sustain yourself long enough against a boss (for my preferences). Most of, if not all of my deaths were due to engaging in boss before I was sufficiently (overly)geared.

MODS:
The mods I used are as follows:
  1. Yet another boss health bar v1.1.3 - helps to have a visual indicator on boss hp at a glance at all times to help you gauge how well your doing
  2. Maxstackplus v3.2 - inventory management heaven. Allows for most items to stack to 9999. I used this primarily for storage reasons (dirt, blocks, walls) to cut down on inventory management.
  3. Auto Trash v0.1.2 - sped up exploration at end-game once I no longer needed every gem/ore/drop as I was searching for elusive items underground. Allows you to auto trash items as you pick them up.
  4. Magicstorage v0.4.1.1 - used solely for storing all of my fish/fishing gear/herbs and potion crafting mats
  5. Wingslot v1.2.9 - the only marginally game-altering mod, however I chose not to allow my wings to be reforged with any modifiers since it freed up a 6th accessory slot.

About my play through (random tips not otherwise mentioned within this post)
  1. I play a melee/range hybrid. Sorry magic users, but I'm just not a fan of mages in a hardcore run. I'm good, but I'm not THAT good. No magic items were used other than summons for extra support. All of my gearing choices are aimed at beefing up my defense so that I can eat the occasional dmg. You do not want to forsake defense for dmg under any circumstances unless you're a Terrarian Hardcore Savant (which in that case, why are you reading this anyway!). Too many mobs, traps and bosses will 1 shot you if you wade into battle undergeared (or unbuffed). I don't risk it.
  2. I am constantly buffed (ironskin, regen, swiftness, endurance). My character drank buff potions like they were going out of style.
  3. Find a gravitational potion ASAP in order to get a lucky horseshoe from the Sky Islands. Deaths from fall damage is a very real threat pre-hardmode.
  4. Whenever I was exploring, I either had a danger sense potion or a trap on my hot bar to spot environmental traps AT ALL TIMES. Boulders and geysers will end your runs very quickly in the beginning. Even at end-game, they still deal hefty damage even if they no longer one-shot you. If you die to a trap, you have no one to blame but yourself.
  5. I never used safes for storage. When you die in hardcore, your entire safe storage is gone. Learned that the hard way. Play it safe and keep your hard earned loot and coins in chests, not safes/piggy banks.
  6. Keep an extra set of your gear in storage just in case you die (whenever possible). Barring things like Ankh shields (which are a chore to craft), I always strove to keep backup accessories of whatever I was wearing in a chest at all times.
  7. Build an arena outside your town lined with lava once you are able. Blood Moons are frightening when you are undergeared. Later on into hardmode, you'll be glad you've made one when Solar Eclipses start happening.
  8. Speaking of which...Solar Eclipses nearly killed me. Nailhead's ranged attack and Mothran were extremely touch and go at times. Throw in a random Eyezor laser and it's easy to bite the dust if you're not paying attention. Don't head into battle without being fully buffed and topped off. Your arena will make or break your run here. Ditto for Martian invasions (which I didn't do until just before I faced Duke Fishron).
  9. Pirate Invasions were uneventful and yielded no upgrades, thus I'm not mentioning them here. While I did run a frost moon event, I still haven't done a pumpkin moon or The Old One's Army invasions yet. As such, I've left them out for the purposes of this guide.
Pre-Hardmode:

I found that the majority of my deaths occurred pre-hardmode, believe it or not. Looking back, the large majority of my deaths occurred before I had even progressed to meteorite or molten armor. Don't get discouraged - Terraria actually has a reverse difficulty curve which you will especially feel in a hardcore playthrough. Not new information, but it's worth reiterating. The thing I found most important was to remember that when playing hardcore, you're in a marathon...not a sprint. Don't push beyond what you can handle (this includes rushing bosses or exploring the jungle, caverns, or dungeon too soon). Take it slow.

  1. Weapon + Gear progression
  • Gearing up pre-hardmode is incredibly straightforward, but tedious. In essence, you want Meteor armor ASAP. All other armor before that is pretty much garbage. Get to the corruption with a few sticky bombs/dynamite and blow up a few corrupted hearts to get a meteorite to (eventually) spawn. If you're feeling extra adventurous, you can bypass this and go fish in the ocean for a Reaver Shark. Then go directly to the underworld and start farming hellstone. The choice is yours. I preferred to go slow and steady, as making the trek across the world in pre-meteor armor was always a bit risky for my tastes (although I've done it both ways).

  • Once you have Meteor armor + space gun, you can and should make a beeline for the underworld and farm hellstone for Molten armor.
    • At this point, the only other thing you need is The Bees Knees (bow) from the Queen Bee. With this + Molten Armor, you are basically setup until hardmode gearwise.
2. Accessories (everything is reforged with warding for +4 defense) Since you will be replacing everything except your worm scarf after transitioning to hardmode, I'm only listing the accessories that I found useful.

    • Worm Scarf (from Eater of Worlds) for the 17% dmg reduction (this is best in slot - you'll never not have it equipped)
    • Lucky Horseshoe - from sky islands, will negate fall dmg (a major threat pre-hardmode) Becomes obsolete once you have wings.
    • Band of Regeneration - for the extra life regen
    • Royal Gel - nice for the slime immunity
    • Shield of Cthulu - inherit +2 defense plus a shield charge that you can use to avoid attacks if timed correctly
    • Shackle - dropped by zombies but they have an inherit +1 defense.
    • Bezoar - useful when exploring the jungle, not much else.
  1. My Boss Kill Order
    1. Eater of Worlds - make this boss a priority as soon as you are able for the much needed worm scarf that will reduce all dmg by 17%. This accessory is best in slot (BiS) and I never took it off after I had it. Meteorite armor + space gun or my personal favorite (molten armor + fiery greatsword) will make short work of him. As with every boss, I made sure I had a proper mini-arena area to fight/move around in with a heart lantern, bonfire + honey pit.
    2. Eye of Cthulu - I only killed him once (he doesn't drop anything useful in my opinion. The shield is interesting, but short lived).
    3. King Slime - I found his dmg and teleportation to be extremely dangerous. More than any other boss, this one would kill me more often than not if I wasn't overly geared. For that reason, I never fought him until I had 400 HP + molten armor.
    4. Queen Bee - Once you have meteorite armor + space gun (or molten armor + fiery greatsword if you're daring), she should be next on your list for the stupidly overpowered Bee's Knees bow + Hive Pack. After you get these, you're golden until hardmode.
    5. Skeletron - Whatever you do, don't fight him until right after sunset. I forgot that he enrages after sunrise and one-shots you. A standard arena will work fine but I chose to kite him along a sky traintrack clear across the map just to be safe. I've done it both ways.
    6. Wall of Flesh - I've never had a problem with killing this, but I've always used the Bees Knees. I made sure to build a hellbridge halfway across the entire underworld just to make sure I wouldn't run out of room.
  1. Farm's to build before hardmode
The reason the playthrough took so long was that I spent a great deal of time building multiple farms (in pre-hardmode gear) before killing the wall of flesh. You don't want to be building these once you're in hardmode. It's painful in softcore, but definitely not something to risk in hardcore. I'll list out the farms I built (jungle/plantera bulb farm, glowing mushroom farm, mimic farm/underground ice farm, desert farm the obligatory herb farm), but would suggest you simply watch this youtube guide by The Secret Level. Guy's a genius and basically helped me solidify my world building as a gauge to tell me when it was ideal to flip the switch and transition into hardmode.


Hardmode Progression (in a nutshell)

  1. Weapon progression - I'm simplifying things greatly, but in essence the weapon benchmarks I used to gauge how fast I could progress (and what bosses I could comfortably kill) are listed below.
    1. Once the wall of flesh is down, my #1 priority was obtaining an ice sickle. Until I got this drop, killing even blue slimes was tedious and painful. Once I had the ice sickle, I set my sights on downing The Destroyer.
    2. After killing The Destroyer, I made a Megashark and never looked back. It carried me pretty much until post-Golem, it's that good. I messed around with several other weapons (the Death Sickle, dropped by Reapers, is a solid choice) but the Megashark has always been my go-to.
    3. After Golem is down, I made it a point to farm the dungeon for a couple of side-grades and context-specific drops (the paladin hammer and, more importantly, the sniper rifle).
    4. I used the sniper rifle with chlorophyte bullets to bring down Duke Fishron - extremely scary but doable.
    5. After getting the Flairon off of Duke Fishron, I went to task and downed the Lunatic Cultist and the pillars.
    6. Priority one at this point was getting a vortex beater from the vortex pillar, followed by the Solar Eruption from the solar pillar.
    7. After building a somewhat cheesy, but effective Moon Lord arena, I took him down. Even with a crab engine and two heart statues and around 124+ defense, he still brought me down to <100 hp at one point in the fight. And that was with me standing there tanking him without moving.
  2. Gear Progression
    1. Make it a priority to get Adamantite (or Titanium) armor ASAP. With that, you can adequately take on the mechanical bosses.
    2. With the mechanical bosses down, you should be in full Hallowed armor although you won't stay in this very long. Just long enough to farm a metric ton of chlorophyte ore.
    3. Chlorophyte armor is garbage in hardcore at 56 defense. Things can and will still hurt you. What you want are the bars and turtle shells to make Turtle Armor for a total of 65 def.
    4. After farming Golem for beetle husks, upgrading your turtle armor to beetle armor (for a total of 73 defense) will make you into a verifiable tank. Other than the crazy one off mobs (crimson/corrupt mimics and red devils in particular) the Lunar Events and a few bosses, not much will be able to deal enough damage to drop you quickly from this point on.
    5. Your final upgrade will be from beetle armor to full Solar Flare Armor for 76 defense. However, since you can't make this until after killing the Moon Lord, I consider Beetle Armor end-game for the purposes of this guide.
  3. Accessories (FYI - because of my modded playthrough, my wings were in a designated 7th slot)
    1. Worm Scarf - reduces dmg by 17%. BiS - never take it off.
    2. Ankh Shield - 4 def + a bunch of debuff immunities makes this essential. Fully craftable after gaining access to the dungeon post-Golem.
    3. Paladin Shield - 6 def + warding makes this stupidly good for survivability. I never took it off after I grabbed it in the post-Golem dungeon.
    4. Celestial Shell - gives a significant boost to all your stats at night. Fully craftable post-Golem. (Alternatively, you can use the Star Veil, which grants temporary immunity after being hit. Useful until you can forge a celestial shell.)
    5. Charm of Myths - regen + potion cooldown is essential
    6. Frostspark boots/Destroyer Emblem - Alternated between the two depending on whether I was fighting on foot or in the UFO mount.
  • A few notes about the accessories. Everything was reforged to Warding for the extra +4 defense. With all six equipped, it added an additional 38 defense. Wearing full Beetle Armor and no buffs, my defense was 111. After eating + ironskin, my defense would hit 121. When fighting at night, I would top out at 124 defense. Coupled with an endurance potion for an additional 10% dmg reduction, I was virtually unkillable by anything other than Duke Fishron's final form, the lunar pillar mobs and the Moon Lord, of course. I could basically tank everything else without blinking. Eating a bolder trap would deal about 80 dmg. Lava would tick for 1 dmg per sec.
  • For the vanilla purists out there who cry foul at my using a wing mod to free up an accessory slot, I would likely have substituted the Celestial Shell in its place. It's nice, but not mandatory. If doing so, I would reforge the wings with warding for the +4 defense. As for the other 5 accessories, I just can't see giving any of them up. They're each too essential to go without in my opinion. Because I was using the wings mod to free up an accessory slot, I purposely decided against reforging my wings with any modifiers.
  1. My Boss Kill Order
    1. The Devourer - make a little sky box arena and whittle him down with an ice sickle. There are ample youtube videos depicting this strat.
    2. The Twins - using the megashark + ichor bullets, they're fairly doable. Focus fire Retinazer down first, then finish off Spazmatism. The green flames are easier to dodge than the lazers.
    3. Skeletron Prime - actually found him easier than his pre-hardmode form, likely due to my gear at this point (full hallowed armor + megashark). Focus fire his appendages down in teh following order: Laser, Cannon, Saw, Vice. After the laser is destroyed, he's extremely manageable.
    4. Plantera - I made a jungle biome arena below my base where I could safely spawn plantera bulbs. I found plantera to be extremely easy to deal with in the arena I built for it. Just continue to circle strafe around the middle bonfires in a clockwise fashion and you'll be golden. (enclosing a pic of my arena: http://imgur.com/DwqeGux )
    5. Golem - Farmed him for the eye, picksaw, sunstone and beetle husks
    6. Duke Fishron - I tried several arenas but eventually settled on two flat asphalt runways about 200-300 blocks long (one above the other) where I kited him in a circle while pelting him with the sniper rifle + chlorophyte bullets. I found I wasn't able to dps him down fast enough until I had a Destroyer Emblem equipped. By far the scariest boss up until this point.
    7. Lunatic Cultist - Easy enough with the Flairon. Just make sure you are avoiding the lightning and other ranged attacks when you can.
    8. Lunar Pillars - stardust, vortex, nebula, solar (in that order). Other than facing off against Duke Fishron, this is the only other boss encounter than really scared me. I've listed the pillars in terms of easiest to hardest. Again, this is just my opinion. However, I will say that the solar pillar nearly killed me each time I faced it (I farmed the lunar events twice only). When in doubt, teleport back to town, heal up and then head back into the fray. Slow and steady is the name of the game with the pillars.
    9. The Moon Lord - enclosing my face tank arena. Note that this is not AFK viable, as he nearly killed me each time I faced him (dropping me at one point to around 75hp). However, I decided that I didn't want to try and fly around and fight him (I'm good, but I'm not that good) and opted for a safe, reliable arena. http://imgur.com/nTXdwf0
Closing Thoughts

First and foremost, I'd like to thank the developers for making this amazing game. Having played it since it initially launched back in 2011 (when the endgame then was considered killing Skeletron), Terraria remains one of my most beloved games of all time. I hope this guide has given you some inspiration to begin (or finish) a hardcore play through. It's worth doing at least once, if for no other reason than to experience Terraria from a completely different perspective. Playing through the game in hardcore is a completely different beast, as I've learned over the last month of finishing my play through. Feel free to leave comments (or questions) below and I'll try to answer them in a timely fashion. Alternatively, you can hit me up on Steam if I'm on.

Be safe - and don't die!
Brixtan
 
Last edited:

Lawura

Terrarian
thank you for sharing your experience, I surely will refer some of it in my future play throughs. Some of your choices I find questionable, especially the modding part for wings. Imho, thats a sure cheat, as in vanila flight is not a default mechanic, and you have to trade it for other options, such as grapple, double jump, rocket boots. The Eye and Worm aint challenging at all with any piercing weapon, be it magic (considering massive star farm + speed buff on a long flat arena), or any other (surikens, bomerang, jester arrows, grenades, goblin mines etc).
Also would question choice of charm of myths. Avoiding damage is not that difficult with some skill, but I guess its a good cover for low reflexes. Would rather use there fire gauntlet and extra rejuvenation mechs on arena, such as honey bubbles/heart lanterns/camp fire/heart statue... wait... no, not heart statue, mob statue, sinse they drop hearts AND mana stars at higher rate than heart/star statues AND without a limit.
Didnt see you mention sunflowers either, even they give a MASSIVE speed boost. Must to use in arenas.
In general, good guide, much to learn, much to improve too.
Thank you very much =)
Keep up a good work, and good luck with your progression. HaGG!
 
Last edited:

Brixtan

Terrarian
thank you for sharing your experience, I surely will refer some of it in my future play throughs. Some of your choices I find questionable, especially the modding part for wings. Imho, thats a sure cheat, as in vanila flight is not a default mechanic, and you have to trade it for other options, such as grapple, double jump, rocket boots. The Eye and Worm aint challenging at all with any piercing weapon, be it magic (considering massive star farm + speed buff on a long flat arena), or any other (surikens, bomerang, jester arrows, grenades, goblin mines etc).
Also would question choice of charm of myths. Avoiding damage is not that difficult with some skill, but I guess its a good cover for low reflexes. Would rather use there fire gauntlet and extra rejuvenation mechs on arena, such as honey bubbles/heart lanterns/camp fire/heart statue... wait... no, not heart statue, mob statue, sinse they drop hearts AND mana stars at higher rate than heart/star statues AND without a limit.
Didnt see you mention sunflowers either, even they give a MASSIVE speed boost. Must to use in arenas.
In general, good guide, much to learn, much to improve too.
Thank you very much =)
Keep up a good work, and good luck with your progression. HaGG!
Thanks for the feedback. What I liked about the wing slot mod was that it does free up an accessory slot once you do gain your wings. I also refused to reforge the wings once I had them (have 7 modifiers would have been broken). As I said, I could have done without the mod, I mostly found it was a quality of life bonus.

And yes, thanks for pointing out the arena setup. I didn't go into detail but, yes, each of my boss arena's had a bonfire, honey (in a bubble for duke), heart lantern.

Thanks so much for the input - I hope you found something useful. Let me know if you have other questions/comments.
 

DeinAlptraum

Terrarian
A few thoughts on this, though I gotta say I haven't really played hardcore much, I just finished the game on softcore expert.

The Ankh shield, I can't really see this being worth an accessory slot. Debuffs were annoying sometimes, but I don't think I've ever died to anything, except maybe poison in hardmode jungle.
Also, consider the Valhalla Knight breastplate from the Tavernkeep. It has 30 defense and most importantly, gives you a passive 8 health per second regeneration. I even wrecked my armor set bonus just to wear this against moonlord.
Lastly, after killing the Stardust pillar you could craft the Stardust Dragon. In my opinion the single most powerful weapon in the game, passively kills almost anything on- & off-screen, getting a DPS of >2000 on slow moving enemies. Even though you don't play with summoner armor or accessories, you can always have one minon, or even three of them with the Bewichting Table buff & summoning potion active, without altering your loadout at all.

  1. I never used safes for storage. When you die in hardcore, your entire safe storage is gone. Learned that the hard way. Play it safe and keep your hard earned loot and coins in chests, not safes/piggy banks.
  2. Keep an extra set of your gear in storage just in case you die (whenever possible). Barring things like Ankh shields (which are a chore to craft), I always strove to keep backup accessories of whatever I was wearing in a chest at all times.
And just for clarification, does this mean that when you died you actually started with a new character, but in the same world? So you just restocked your equipment from what your previous character had collected in your vault?
I thought when you play hardcore you would also create a new world when your character dies, so that you *really* have to start from scratch
Just curious, I'm still not sure how to actually set the 'rules' for my own hardcore playthrough

Thanks for your effort on writing this up!

Edit: Just now noticed this guide was from last year, so some of the things I've mentioned might not have been in the game back then, sorry ^^
 

Shu-jico

Terrarian
I may have finished Terraria normally on expert [~100 hours] but this inspires me to do a playthrough on expert hardcore.
Very useful stuff.
 
Top Bottom