There are four different classes of weapons in Terraria. It used to be five, but throwing weapons have been revamped to be ranged damage, at least in the PC version of Terraria. There are all kinds of weapons and their usefulness can change throughout your playthrough. Many weapons can be upgraded to deal more damage, or be used faster. While you do not have to limit yourself to one type of weapon, your armor set will give you an increase to a certain class of weapon.
You will find all the weapons that you hold in your hand and swing with in this class of weapons. There are also a few oddball melee weapons such as yoyos. Of the melee weapons there are swords, yoyos, boomerangs, spears, and flails. Despite being called melee weapons a lot of melee weapons come with ranged attacks.
The melee class is the bulkiest of all the weapon classes as their armor grants the highest defense point rating. Armor set buffs can increase your base damage, the swing speed of your weapon, melee weapon critical strike chance, and move speed.
Ranged weapons are one of the highest DPS classes in the game. They are relatively straightforward and you will find bows, guns, and cannons in this weapon class. There is not much variety, as many upgrades simply increase the damage or speed of the weapon, but the trade-off of simplicity in weapon types changes with your ammo variants. Some arrows can explode, spawn stars, inflict burning, and many more.
Ranged weapons boast some of the highest DPS damage in the game as their armor sets with buffs can grant nearly 100% critical strike chance and the damage from your projectiles includes both the type of projectile as well as the weapon itself.
The most versatile class in Terraria, magic weapons will equip you with virtually every combat tool in the game. However, they are by far the most fragile class in the game. Even late game armor sets it is difficult to reach close to fifty points of armor rating. Their damage is dependent on their mana usage and mana potions have a debuff which lowers your effective damage output for a few seconds.
It is by far the most expensive class to play as you constantly need mana potions to function, but they have the widest arsenal of weapon choices available.
Summoning weapons are unique as just about every class will want at least one summon weapon, but allocating your resources into the summoning armor and weapons allows for an interesting playstyle. Summon weapons will summon a friendly monster, friend, tornado, and many others to attack hostile enemies for you. This is widely considered the easiest class to use as you do not have to focus on damaging bosses and you can focus entirely on dodging.
Summoning class is the hardest class to get started, but a rewarding class that allows you to step away from your computer easily as your summons will not despawn and you gain access to sentries that will protect you.
For this list I wanted to consider weapons that are not just end-game weapons as they are practically only useful at one point in the game. I wanted to cover staple weapons that are helpful throughout the game and can find a home in your hotbar, not just the biggest weapon/gun/staff that does the most damage.
First weapon on the list is the water bolt. This is a magic weapon that is a personal favorite of mine. It may use a decent chunk of your mana, but it is so versatile and can keep you safe while still dealing a lot of damage.
The waterbolt is also incredibly useful as you can potentially get it right when the game begins. Traveling deep into a dungeon is dangerous and downright impossible due to dungeon guardians, but if you are lucky enough you may find a water bolt near the entrance of your dungeon giving you a weapon that can carry on all the way to the Wall of Flesh.
Next weapon is for the summon class. This weapon requires getting into hardmode, but this staff can keep you well protected for the majority of hardmode, especially if you are looking to play as a summoner. The spider staff can be made with sixteen spider fangs at an iron/lead anvil. Hardmode spiders are not easy and they hit hard, but luckily you can hunt them down safely with some creative block placement.
The summoned spider will relentlessly track enemies and inflict them with venom. They are much more useful near walls where they can travel incredibly fast and lock onto enemies.
For the Ranged weapon, it has to be the star cannon. Stars are relatively easy ammo to obtain after building a skybridge and the star cannon deals high damage for an easy-to-obtain weapon. You can craft this pre-hardmode and annihilate any enemy that comes across your path. The star cannon even functions in hardmode as its base damage is incredibly high to account for stars not actually coming with a damage modifier.
The star cannon is made with a minishark which you can purchase from the arms dealer, five fallen stars, and twenty five meteorite bars. The meteorite bars are a tall order to ask for, but you can switch between worlds to gather more meteorites if needed.
The melee class was difficult to consider as many of the pre-hardmode weapons have you simply swinging a sword. I decided upon the Ice Sickle as it is a melee weapon with a ranged attack tied to it.
The Ice Sickle will launch a spinning ice shard that lingers and deals damage to enemies as it flies and spins. It does a decent amount of damage and can pin enemies into corners constantly dealing damage to them. The Ice Sickle is a rare drop from hardmode ice biome enemies coming in at less than a percent per enemy. If you are lucky enough to find one of these it may become a strong addition to your sword arsenal.
The final item is another magic weapon, but its inclusion is due to its utility, not its impressive damage. The Ice Rod is a builder’s best friend, as it uses some mana to create a temporary block. This block can be broken or will shatter after fifteen seconds. This weapon is incredibly useful for simply climbing higher, or more importantly being able to place a block anywhere without worrying about if there is an existing block already.
You can place a block in the sky with an ice rod and begin building something in the sky without having to start all the way from the bottom. The ice rod can be bought from the wizard NPC for fifty gold.