The lighting mode determines the way light from all sources renders in the World. It is set from Terraria's settings menu, in the "video" sub-menu. There are four different lighting modes available, which can also be cycled during gameplay by pressing ⇧ Shift+F9 key.
The lighting mode also dictates whether the game will utilize certain performance-intensive visual effects, like the smoothing of liquid flow, along with the following shader effects (most of which were introduced in 1.3):
- The reddish lighting and vignette applied during a Blood Moon
- The distortion effect around Celestial Towers
- The heat distortion effect in the Desert and The Underworld
- The amplified background dust effect seen during Sandstorms
The effects above will only be applied in the Color or White lighting modes, and are deactivated in Retro and Trippy modes.
The chosen lighting mode will have an effect on the performance of some computers. Refer to the table below for each mode's performance requirements (lower means better performance on worse computers).
Color mode is the default. It determines light levels using pixel clusters that are smaller than tiles, which means that light transitions more smoothly. White mode does the same, but all light is white, regardless of the color of the source.
Retro mode renders light levels per-tile, producing a more "blocky" or "pixelated" look, and also renders all light as white-colored. This mode reproduces Terraria's look from before its 1.1 update. Trippy mode does the same, however, allows colored light, whose colors are similarly determined per-tile.
|Color||New / Color||High||Light transitions smoothly, and can be colored, depending on the light source.|
|White||New / White||Mid-High||Light transitions smoothly, but all light is white, regardless of the source.|
|Retro||Old / White||Low||All light is white, and light level is set per-tile, producing a more "blocky" look.|
|Trippy||Old / Color||Medium||Same as Retro, but with color. Light level and color are set per-tile.|
- Light-producing animations become more active in Retro and Trippy modes. Torches and other spark-releasing light sources produce sparks more actively. The same is true for the sparkle effect from Gold Chests and other sparkling items, as well as the bubbles released by Lava. This is most likely due to the difference in load.
- On older systems, it is suggested to use Retro and Trippy modes, as these can easily increase framerate.
- Desktop 126.96.36.199: Fixed lighting related crash with non-color mode
- Desktop 1.1: New lighting engine that allows smooth sub-tile light transitions instead of per-tile, and colored light instead of all-white light. Lighting options added.