Valheim: A new game that is currently in Early Access on Steam since 2 Feb 2021. It’s currently a buzzword in the right circles, having sold more than 5 million copies since its release. If you haven’t played it yet, seriously, what the fuck are you waiting for?
Read on for my take on this game up to where I’ve played and some Valheim tips, with as few spoilers as possible.
It’s been described as a ‘brutal exploration and survival game’ and yes, that’s exactly what it is.
Basically, you start as a Viking with little to nothing on you. Your first mission (once you watch the intro scene) is to gather enough supplies to make some tools. Mainly a hammer and an axe.
You do this by navigating around the very, very expansive map (which, like most open-world games is only displayed as far as you’ve explored) picking up branches under trees, flint by the water’s edge, and rocks scattered around the terrain.
Once you’ve crafted some basic tools, you progress to chopping better wood, building a base, upgrading your equipment, and of course, fighting monsters.
There are a bunch of biomes, or environments, you will come across in your exploration. Each come with their own perks and monsters. I won’t disclose much about the monsters, you’ll just have to find those out while you’re playing! Keep an eye on your mini-map as it shows what biome you’re currently in.
The first, which is the one you start in, is the Meadows. This is your ‘safe haven’ of sorts (at least I usually breathe a sigh of relief here after an intense trip through the BF). Usually, these have nice open fields, surrounded by Birch, Beech, and Oak trees. In this biome, you’ll also find raspberries and mushrooms to sustain you on the fruit/veg front, and boars and deer on the meat side.
The second one you’re likely to encounter (unless you’re a bit unlucky as they’re very dangerous early-game) is the Black Forest. Beware, only enter this once you are ready. (You will know when you are ready. Caw.)
In here you will find different wood like Pine and Fir trees. You will also find copper and tin ore sites dotted around, as well as caves and dungeons (enter at your own risk!). This biome also contains Core Wood, which will unlock some upgrades and blueprints, as well as blueberries and carrot seeds.
The third will be the Swamp. (I’ve read that you may have to sail if you don’t find any after quite a bit of map exploration.) I’ve yet to come to this biome, and I’ve also heard it’s pretty deadly. Eep. Like I wasn’t anxious enough in the Black Forest!! (yes, that deserved TWO exclamation marks.)
The fourth biome is the Mountains. I ran into these quite early on in my first map, but honestly, it looked cold and I figured I’d probably die up there in the snow. I’ve played Kings Quest enough to know that at least. I do know, however, that in this biome you get wolves. And they’re dangerous. And they hunt in packs. Run (if you’re not ready of course, otherwise, Viking away!).
The Ocean is another biome, of which you (technically) come across very early on. Like I mentioned before, on the coastline is where you find flint. However, the Ocean itself is its own biome. You’ll have to make a raft, or later, a ship and sail those Seven Seas, matey! But beware what lurks beneath the deep, dark waters.
To be honest, this Biome already makes me nervous. I made a camp along the coast in my current game, and at night and especially during storms, those seas look terrifying! My thalassophobia has already started screaming at me and I haven’t even ventured into building a raft yet!
The next biome will be the Plains. I haven’t traveled here yet, but again I’ve read they’re even more dangerous than the swamp! (I’m just going to go ahead and assume each biome is more terrifying than the last.)
I’ve also read that food becomes less of a problem once you’ve found this biome, as I think farming becomes more of a thing here.
There are a few biomes in progress that you may come across, but these will be undeveloped and devoid of most things. They are the Mistlands, Deep North, and Ashlands. I’ll leave you to Google those if you want more information or just click here (warning spoilers).
I’m not going to give away too much on the Bosses, as I don’t know much myself, having avoided looking anything up beyond what I’m battling at the moment (which was Boss One).
What I can say is there are 5 Bosses, and after defeating each one, your character gets a special ability (ie quicker running/chopping/jumping, that kind of thing), which can be invoked when needed.
There are strategies to each Boss, and what help I’ll give with the first Boss is that you have two methods of fighting him (which by the way, I found really sad each time I struck him and he cried out in pain – the audio in this game are everything!): you can kite him with your bow and some flame arrows, or you can use a spear/flint knife and a round shield and parry him. Keep reading to know why to choose the round shield over the tall shield.
(Side note on this: for some reason, my bf loves the tall shield despite all the information on the internet that suggest otherwise, so you can totally use the tall shield, you just lose the ability to parry, and can only block with this shield, as well as a 20% reduction in speed.)
A few things I wish I’d known when I started…
I went into play blind, as they say. I knew nothing more than what I’d seen from my bf playing the game. I started as a single player in my own map, and went about figuring out how this game works. The in-game tutorial is a little vague, but just vague enough that you don’t feel like it’s holding your hand the whole way through. However, there are things I later read up on and wished I’d known beforehand, so I’ll try to explain without spoilers.
- Food – two meats and one fruit/veg is a winning combo in the beginning. At night, one meat and one fruit/veg are enough to sustain you while nothing exciting is happening.
- Repairs – as I mentioned earlier, you can repair your tools at your workbench. See the image to the right.
- Rested buff – your health and stamina regenerate faster if you have this buff. Before entering any dungeon or cave, or before fighting a Boss, make a campfire and sit next to it for 30 or so seconds until you get the rested notification. This will have a timer (I think it starts at 8 minutes minimum) that counts down until you’re no longer rested.
- Building – don’t waste your deer hide making tons of rugs. One by your fireplace is enough to raise your home comfort by 1 point. I made 3 and it never raised it further and I just ended up wishing I’d saved my deer hide for something more useful.
- Building – your workbench needs to be sheltered, so place it inside your house (or build your house around it). I’ve read that if monsters see your workbench, they will attack your base but if they don’t, they’ll just wander around harmless until you get close to them.
- Pathen – once you’ve made your hoe tool, you can right-click to bring up more options, level ground, raise ground, and pathen. Level ground levels it to the height it is at your character’s feet. Raise ground of course raises it higher, but pathen removes all greenery. This is useful for a couple of reasons:
- your cart (when eventually you get the blueprint), rolls better on cleared ground than not.
- apparently, monsters don’t spawn on pathened ground, so pathen your base and if the rumors are true, you’ll be a bit safer.
- Green clouds – without getting into detail, these are nests. Destroy these and the monsters stop re-spawning.
- Armor – the round shield is better than the tall shield as it has the option to parry. If you parry correctly, you have the chance to stun the enemy giving you an extra chance to get in some critical hits.
- Multi-player – the game DEFINITELY becomes more fun if you can play it with a friend or few. The game itself says it’s for 1-10 players, so recruit some fellow Vikings and go forth and conquer!
Onward to the Swamp!
So that’s it from my side about Valheim so far. I definitely recommend this game, even while it’s in Early Access. It’s not that expensive, and I look forward to the replayability as new biomes get completed.
As it stands I’ve only beaten one Boss, and have a long way to go to the end (I think/hope), but I am getting countless hours of enjoyment from this game which is worth it.