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Video Game / TerraTech

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Cover artwork for the Xbox One release
TerraTech is a sandbox vehicle-creation and exploration game for the PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PS4. It was officially released on the tenth of August, 2018, after four years in early access.

In the campaign, the player is a prospector gathering resources on a faraway planet and launching them back to Earth from a cannon. They can customise their mining rig, or "tech", with hundreds of blocks and tools that snap together to form just about anything, taking it from a tiny car with a drill on the front to a mountain-sized tank, mountain-sized aeroplane, an entire AI-controlled fleet or a mobile base which can craft when it sets down. Vehicular Combat quickly sets in as rival prospectors drive their techs along to destroy it all.

Six different corporations offer the player membership: Hawkeye, Team Venture, GeoCorp, Better Future, Reticule Research and the Galactic Survey Organisation. As the player fights enemies and completes missions for each company, they level up their licenses and unlock more powerful equipment, but stronger opponents are sure to come sniffing around for their parts.

The game features an arcade-style racing mode, the Gauntlet, where the player can design a custom racing tech and take on one of two racecourses, featuring hostile turrets, ramps, slaloms, jumps through hoops and the occasional explosive wall. Players can try as many techs as they fancy on each course in order to achieve the fastest time, competing on a locally-hosted leaderboard against whoever else plays TerraTech on the same computer. Players can share racing ghosts to take each other on.

A Competitive Multiplayer mode allows players to select from eight pre-made techs and blow each other up in one of three arenas. Players can steal parts from downed enemies and find powerful weapons in crates that fall from the sky to grow stronger. The host for each match can choose between a free-for-all and a team-based battle. Alternatively, up to four players can work together in creative mode or a slightly stripped-down campaign with no crafting.

This game provides examples of:

  • Ambiguous Robots: All of the NPCs are techs made from (mostly) the same blocks the player can use, but humanoid and able to speak. Some of them ask the player to reattach parts to their bodies. They could be AI-controlled, remote controlled by real people or somehow "alive".
    • Better Future's NPC hubl is an exception, as they are clearly stated to be a robot.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Several campaign missions have a unique set of blocks or armour pieces as a reward, such as the Groundhog set you get after beating the Spider King, cab-sized masks from the Better Future Hallowe'en mission and the Wing-Nut parts you can loot from Wing-Nut.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Bertha is the biggest and longest-ranged cannon in the game as well as a great centrepiece for your tank. Nevertheless, it does less damage than the smaller MK-3 Battleship Cannon, ten of which could fit into the same space as one Bertha. It however is meant to be more of a joke weapon from a kickstarter donation. Besides, the real Big Bertha would seem too powerful for TerraTech.
  • Beam Spam: Possible with a tech covered in laser guns. Some of Better Future's weaponry can spam beams single-handedly, with groups of them being able to tear through anything.
  • Beehive Barrier: High-end shield generators project these.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Pyramid-shaped techs aren't pretty, but a simple pyramid or staircase hull offers plenty of space for guns while allowing them all to focus on a target and fire.
    • Most GSO blocks fit this category. They aren't as powerful or as good-looking as things from flashier corporations, but they're accessible and reliable, or at least until you could procure a lot of better alternatives.
    • For a fighting tech, it's hard to go wrong with a tank or armoured car full of batteries, decked out with shields and repair bubbles and covered in cannons. A simple tech like that will outlast and outgun most flashy, agility- or gimmick-based enemies.
  • Bottomless Fuel Tanks: Techs can run forever without having to refuel. Averted with the optional tanks for booster rockets, which gradually regenerate their fuel while not in use.
  • Bottomless Magazines: So long as you hold down the fire button, your weapons can fire indefinitely.
  • Clip Its Wings: Wings in TerraTech are fragile, not to mention hard to cover with shields and repair bubbles, so shooting one off is a valid strategy to disable an aeroplane. Except there aren't many to begin with.
    • Since hostile planes aren't in the game yet, this trope is usually done to the player's aircraft. By trees.
  • Computer Virus: The D.O.O.M Virus is able to take over Better Future's computer systems, including defence grids, robots and at least one building. Its ability to overwrite AIs with its own programming may make it a...
  • Contagious A.I.: The player, oddly enough, but only able to inhabit one Tech at a time.
  • Cool Bike: Two-wheeled techs can be made easily enough with Hawkeye's bike wheels and Venture's fork wheels, although they need a few gyros to balance properly. Bikes can be fitted with guns, missiles and rocket boosters as desired, although resource processing is usually too heavy.
  • Cool Car: The player can easily build one of these. Booster rockets, cannons and anything imaginable are all within reach.
  • Cool Plane: Every corporation has wings and propellers or equivalents. While aeroplanes are hard to master (see below), they can have weapons, cargo containers and even crafting equipment.
  • Deflector Shields: Blocks which generate differently sized shields can be added to the player's tech. They use energy to stop bullets, as well as over time, needing plenty of batteries to be useful in the long term.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Aeroplanes have to be lightweight and properly balanced to fly properly, but a well-made plane can bombard land-bound techs with missiles and bombs without taking a single hit. Drones and helicopters are just as awesome, but twice as difficult.
    • Melee weapons deal heavy damage and can usually forget about shields, but using them requires you to get close to an enemy tech while enduring all its guns, so more often than not your weapons would be shot off before you get to use them.
    • Full Venture builds. Venture blocks are lightweight and have very little health and their wheels are the fastest in the game, allowing for fast, weak techs. A few good shots from a Megaton cannon are usually enough to finish a Venture tech, but a skilled player can use it to run rings around slow enemies.
    • Hover builds and anti-grav builds, in a way. Improperly built, both drift around like crazy, but anti-gravity blocks can provide a stable platform to rain sustained fire from.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Randomly-selected Invaders can contain blocks far above the player's license grade, including the strongest cannons and missile launchers. If the player can take out the Invader without being destroyed or destroying the weapon by mistake, it's theirs to play with.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: The D.O.O.M Virus is named along these lines.
  • Drill Tank: Very easy to construct with GeoCorp's caterpillar tracks and wide selection of drills. While they cannot burrow, drill tanks can harvest resources and shred enemies with ease.
  • Emergent Gameplay: TerraTech's building system and physics engine allow for a lot of creativity. Players have built incredible multi-techs such as walkers, tricycles and tanks, with varying levels of practicality in the campaign.
    • A notable example is the hover glitch. If a tech contains a hover plate facing a wheel, the hover plate generates continuous thrust in one direction and can allow the tech to use ground controls whilst airborne. Players have exploited the hover glitch to build airships, perpetual motion machines and tricycles.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar: Adding a radar to the player's tech lets enemies show up as red targeting reticules on the minimap.
  • Energy Weapon: A handful of laser weapons are available, from the nimble COIL you get at the start of the game to the powerful, long-range Zeus turret and rapid-fire Streamline lasers.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: While some blocks simply fall apart, cabs and AI modules always explode when destroyed.
  • Fictional Currency: "Block Bucks", used to buy blocks from trading stations and gained by firing resource chunks into orbit.
  • Gatling Good: The Hawkeye Auto Cannon is a fairly typical gatling gun, capable of shooting rapidly from six rotating barrels. Better Future has a gatling laser which fires just as fast. Venture offers the Dual Autocannon with two six-barrelled barrels.
  • Green Hill Zone: The grassland biome.
  • Hack Your Enemy: The corrupted Better Future androids TRUBL and BUBL infect their former friend hubl with the D.O.O.M Virus at the end of the Giga Stack mission.
  • Healer Signs On Early: The player is given a repair bubble during the introductory missions, which they'll need to keep their tiny, beaten-up tech going long enough to set up a base.
  • Homing Projectile: Several missile launchers shoot homing missiles, which attempt to fly towards the nearest enemy.
  • Hover Tank: One of many kinds of tech players can build. While capable of soaring over ice, trees and enemies, they suffer from extreme drifting and long stopping distances, making them Awesome, but Impractical.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: The player can carry tens of thousands of blocks in their inventory and pull out a block, or even deploy an entire tech, whenever they want to. Discarded blocks are sucked into Hammerspace by a "Singularity Containment Device".
  • Infinity -1 Sword: The GSO's Bertha cannon. The most powerful weapon the GSO offers takes up more space than the MK-3 (see below), but does less damage and has the same firing arc. It's still the second most powerful gun in the game, but most players go straight for battleship cannons.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The MK-3 battleship cannon from Hawkeye is the most damaging weapon in the game. Although it can only fire straight ahead, dozens of them can be packed into a relatively small space, nuking anything slow enough in one hit.
    • Also from Hawkeye, the cruise missile is regarded as one of the best late-game weapons. It can strike from outside an enemy tech's detection radius to inflict high damage.
    • Also from Hawkeye, the MK-50 naval turret, bringing three barrels of rapid-fire explosive DPS that outstrips smaller cannons with ease.
    • Venture's double-barreled Rapid cannon has among the highest DPS in the game, is lighter and takes up less space than Hawkeye's competing cannons, although it has less health.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: The G.H.O.S.T drones from the Giga Stack facility can't be damaged, but they only fire weak lasers and vanish after moving too far from their spawn point, allowing you to charge past them.
  • iProduct: Better Future's sleek, futuristic eCab. Its big black windscreen and white hull are reminiscent of an iPhone to boot.
  • Item Crafting: Players can craft parts out of the resources they harvest in the campaign for significantly better value than if they just bought the parts. Crafting is fairly physical, needing resources to be refined and moved between storage silos and crafters on conveyor belts.
  • Kill It with Fire: Speciality of the Reaper X-1 flamethrower and the Better Future plasma flamethrower.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The GSO Altimeter's description states that it measures the height above sea level, and then points out that it doesn't say in which direction the sea is.
  • Level Scaling: NPC techs spawn depending on the value of and weapon count on the player's tech, although there is some variance to either party's favour. TerraTech does not have actual "levels" aside from the license grades which determine what blocks are available.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Hive missile launcher shoots a continuous stream of missiles up into the air, launching a few every second for as long as you like. Avalanche launchers and GSO missile turrets can manage this as well. Since techs can be as large and have as many weapons as you like, even the slow-firing Hawkeye cruise missiles can do a Macross-style massacre if you have a couple of dozen.
  • Meaningful Name: Most of the quest NPCs have them. Crafty Mike teaches the player about crafting, Suzie Vroom drives fast cars, Big Pete is big and Sergeant Smash is a tough soldier.
  • Mook Depletion: During the third Almighty Cube quest, after the Almighty Leader has already sent his robot turrets and three increasingly strong cubes after you, he runs out of parts to build more minions and is forced to fight you himself. Then he gets defeated as well.
  • More Dakka: A reliable strategy for mid-game techs. The more guns you have, the more damage you do; the only downside is that your tech needs space for all the guns which can cause conflicts with shields and repair bubbles.
  • Nitro Boost: Booster jets and rockets give your tech a short speed boost.
  • Pass Through the Rings: The Gauntlet and campaign racing missions take this form, both land-bound and airborne. Crashing into the rings is always a fun learning experience.
  • Pop the Tires: While TerraTech doesn't have advanced puncture physics, you can remove wheels from an enemy ground tech during attacks which makes them much easier to handle.
  • Post-Defeat Explosion Chain: Exploding batteries, fuel tanks, and certain weapons can do enough damage to their neighbors to make them explode too, sometimes resulting in a "meltdown" effect, and other times exploding all at once and scattering blocks everywhere.
  • Power Creep: GSO grade 5 has the Megaton Cannon, one of the most powerful weapons in the game. When an update gave GSO the new Gigaton Cannonnote  and the Big Berthanote , they were placed into GSO's highest grade: Grade 5. As a result, all three are unlocked at the same time. They also all have a blast radius large enough to ignore shields. They still have their uses, and usually not over each other.
  • Ramming Always Works: Driving into an enemy tech fast enough will cause damage, both to the enemy and yourself. A selection of drills on the front can tip the balance in your favour.
  • Roboteching: A tech can have upwards- or side-facing missile launchers to launch salvos which will quickly change direction and home in on the target. The Hawkeye missile battery and the Cluster and HIVE missile launchers are pretty much designed for this trope, launching missiles straight up or at an angle so they can swerve down. Unless you have them pointing forwards.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The desert biome. None of the sand actually shifts, but it's there to drive on.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Shotguns deal heavy damage to everything in a short cone in front of them, and no damage whatsoever beyond that distance.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Back to the Future - the intro mission to Better Future.
    • The achievement for a 500 meter unpowered flight in campaign mode is Falling with Style.
    • Ice Climber: Vana and Zozo are named after Nana and Popo. To hammer the point home, they challenge the player to climb an icy mountain.
  • Skippable Boss: Wing-Nut can be cheesed in one of two ways. One would be to pay his toll (an exorbitant 100,000BB), or drive past the line and immediately off the bridge, causing him to follow and self destruct. However, both ways effectively deny most if not all of his valuable materials, such as those HG 1 turrets, Behemoth Wheels and Battleship Cannons. A third risky method is to rush inside his blindspot with a drill, then tear him apart. Those guns will typically survive and are free for the taking.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The ice biome, where land techs without spiked wheels will suffer a significant loss of traction.
  • Sniping the Cockpit: Destroying all the cabs or AI units in a tech causes it to fall apart immediately, no matter how much of it is still intact. Making use of this will allow you to salvage more of destroyed enemy Techs.
  • Starter Equipment: Players start out with incredibly weak Little Trekker wheels and a low-powered ZK-74 machine gun, which are good enough to gather a few blocks but useless compared even to other early-game equipment.
  • Tank Goodness: The game has plenty of tracks and armour to choose from, so the player can easily build one.
  • Timed Mission: The Almighty Cube missions in the campaign give you twenty seconds to destroy a mighty cube.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Missiles are among the most powerful and versatile weapons in the game, but they also tend to be the most fragile, explosive and hard to obtain. Players with only a handful of missile launchers tend to hold them back until they can afford a souped-up combat tech which won't be losing fights any time soon.
  • Vibroweapon: The Reticule Research vibro-blade.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Although they only fire in short bursts, Hawkeye railguns fit the bill. The Reticule Research GIGA PLASMA is a straighter example, albeit with a limited range.