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Terraria's multiplayer mode is extremely fun and gives players the opportunity to survive with players, right up through the Frost Moon. It gives them possibilities, but also creates a new dimension for the game. It's very important to know how to play each class to the strength of your team.
I've been on two class playthroughs, both times as Ranger (with summoner mixed in the second time), with the following people. I'd like to thank them:
- Freenight, our server hoster and summoner on the first run.
- Squazzil, our melee on the first run.
- Hunited, our mage on both runs.
- SlayerOfTheBad, our melee on the second run.
I will also be using stories and examples from our runs to make points.
So, first, it's important to know each class's strengths and weaknesses. I'll cover them:
- Lacks range
- Can inflict heavy damage
- Usually slower
- Can take lots of damage
- Generally more frail
- Usually faster
- Very fast attacks
- Can attack from a long range
- Can inflict high DPS
- Has to aim well
- Very frail
- Usually faster
- Can attack fast, but not always
- Inflicts very high DPS
- Can attack at mid- to long-range
- Very frail
- Usually more mobile (mounts, etc.)
- Can attack with multiple units
- Does not require personal skill in aiming or attacking
- Can attack at mid range
- Inflicts lower DPS
Using these characteristics, we can separate them into several groups:
- Support: Summoner
- Has little attacking/defending power, and so must provide auxiliary troops
- Sponge: Melee
- Unable to chase after and shoot enemies, but is very durable and is as such a good target to occupy enemies
- DPS: Mage, Ranger
- Can deal rapid and/or powerful hits from medium to long range; are not generally suited for taking the hits
This chart alone tells us exactly how to use each class. I'll start with melee.
On our run against the Twins, Squazzil was left mostly powerless because of her lack of ranged weapons - only a KO Cannon, which isn't that strong anyway. Her job, in that case, was to stay in the center of the arena and try to dodge the Twins' fire. Had this worked, I wouldn't have died, but Spazmatism decided to seek out the most dangerous target - me. Retinazer, however, did focus on Squazz and give Hunt a chance to take it out. In this case, Squazzil let the Twins focus on her ironclad armor and take their hits. She didn't stay absolutely still, but she did assist me and Hunt - the main damage-dealers - with avoiding damage.
At the beginning of the run, we each split up. I babysat the NPCs (I like to start out slow, although I am very capable of starting with next to nothing) while Hunt fought Skeletron, and Squazz and Free went to the Brain of Cthulhu's lair. While they did eventually prevail, Squazz had a low speed and low range, so the faster-moving Brain was not taking enough damage. Free as well couldn't kill it very easily.
Hunt, however, utterly failed against Skeletron twice - dying to it both times within a minute or two. This was because, without basic mobility gear (Hermes Boots, Cloud in a Bottle, and so forth) he couldn't dodge the fast-slapping Skeletron and was such left completely defenseless. Had Squazz been there, he probably wouldn't have died (as quickly).
Melee's job: take the hits. Deal damage where possible.
As a ranger, you are definitely the best class on your own. With defenses enough to take some hits, mobility to avoid the rest, and powerful DPS-dealing devices such as my Dangerous... oh lord, what ranged weapon begins with a D?
Alliteration aside (hue hue), a ranger is very capable and - arguably - works best by their lonesome. They are the middle of all the classes, able to work in most situations. While summoners require most things, tanks require DPS, and mages require shields, rangers have all of those in some quantity.
This makes it very difficult to play as a successful ranger in a team. If you go ranger - as I did - you should be prepared to work on your own in some cases. I actually left the playthrough halfway through because I felt undervalued, but eventually came back.
See? A ranger works best alone, and to be a credit to their team they should:
- Deal high DPS while moving quickly. They shouldn't be on the front lines. At all. A ranger is supposed to be more behind-the-scenes, wrecking enemies.
- Take out farther enemies. A summoner's minions have a set attack radius, a melee has very little range (even while using a flail) and a mage often has slower projectiles that can dissipate after some distance. Not so with the ranger. Bullets don't stop for distance. This way, they're covering the team's weaknesses.
- Remember that rangers are not meatshields. They are still admittedly frail, and should use their increased mobility as such. While some rangers like to have a 100% critical sniper rifle, I like to focus more on using the Pulse Bow, Megashark and Tactical Shotgun (among others) to inflict quick, heavy damage. This makes using boots and wings a near necessity.
- Always make sure to aim correctly. Aiming right is more important for a ranger than any other class. While mages sometimes have homing weapons, rangers actually need to hit their targets. Chlorophyte Bullets home in, but they give up many different advantages (such as venom or ichor debuffs).
- Remember to blow stuff up. As a ranger, you have access throughout the game to various explosive devices, and the Shroomite Armor takes advantage of this. With grenades and bombs early-game, and Rocket Launchers to the mighty Snowman Cannon, a ranger often has a powerful explosive arsenal for horde devastation. Nothing like twenty rockets to the head to stop a rampaging skeletron.
As a mage, you are frail. You are the squishy wizard. But you make up for it by having a massive, devastating DPS count. And I mean devastating. With weapons such as the Shadowbeam Staff, Leaf Blower and almighty Razorblade Typhoon under your creepy, spectre-y cloak, you are the team's main DPS dealer. But should you be caught without a tank to absorb damage or some boots to keep you moving, you are a bug on the palm of Skeletron Prime's saw. You are more deadly than anything else to those enemies. But if they catch you without help or mobility...
- Always keep moving. Never take hits.
- Use the Spectre Hood if you need survivability. It'll benefit your team as well.
- A tank or other damage sponge is very helpful. Your job is to deal damage while not taking damage.
- Always remember to use a faster weapon. Slower ones deal lots of damage, but your focus is DPS.
A summoner is arguably already a team player. A lazy one.
Their minions do the work for them, most of the time, but they must be sure to enlist mobility.
- Keep moving. A caught summoner is a dead summoner.
- Be sure to have as many minions available as possible. This allows you to expand your frontiers.
- Always make sure to stay alive. It is difficult to be a help when you're dead.
- Your minions exist for the purpose of attacking in multiple places at once. Be sure to give them opportunity by moving around.