Valheim Review

Having completed your Viking warrior duties in life, you died.

Luckily, Odin himself has deemed you worthy of a few more Viking chores before you grace the halls of Valhalla. Namely, eradicating the forsaken beings that have refuted Odin’s rule in the 10th realm, Valheim.

Selling over a million copies in its first week, developers Iron Gate AB have hit the ground running with their flagship title Valheim. A Viking-themed PVE survival crafter, focusing on small ten-player servers.

Lords of the beasts, woods, undead, skies, and magic await your challenge, but to find them and challenge them on their turf, you’re going to need equipment and turf of your own.

The Valheim starting area

Valheim sets out a rich survival crafter gaming loop that has taken many cues from survival crafter games that have come before it. Gathering materials in the early game is intuitive and lets you start setting up your first in-game home.

Before you know it, you’ll be looking to expand your little shack into a Viking hall, equipped with furnaces, farms, and livestock. The more complex your home becomes, the more difficult it is to acquire the materials needed.

Fortunately, even the mundane tasks in Valheim, such as chopping wood, are grounded in enjoyable gameplay loops. Each tree you cut falls in the forest, knocking over other trees, nearby structures, and if very unlucky, landing square on you.

The realized physics on all in-game objects can trigger a domino of falling trees, and once you have some more experience, you’ll be doing it on purpose.

Mining stone teaches you that you are not limited to clearing the landscape of pesky boulders, but you can alter the terrain even more so once you create garden and landscaping tools.

These tools are conducive to giving you control over the environment and effectively allowing you to stake your claim on the world and shape it to your needs.

A Valheim base in development

Base building is an intuitive system of snapping and freeform object placement. Using a blueprint building system akin to RUST, or Seven Days to Die, you need only to carry the materials you need, such as wood or stone, and a building hammer.

With the hammer in hand, you right-click to open a building menu and choose a piece. Each piece has a weight based on its size and material. You can choose to follow the snapping grid, quickly aligning floors and walls to make precise architecture.

Alternatively, you can disable the snapping by holding shift and placing the object wherever you like. This hybrid system permits ease in building, letting you create perfectly symmetrical structures or free-form wonky buildings.

It also lets you place objects where they’re needed when they just won’t snap quite right into place. Either method obeys a set of stability rules. Look at your base floors and walls with a hammer equipped, and you’ll see how stable it is.

Inside a base using the Valheim building system

On a spectrum from blue (stable) to red (unstable), you’ll see how much more that component can support. The lower floors of your base are always blue and green, but once you’re reaching the third or fourth floor, you’ll start seeing a lot more yellow and red.

Once you see all red, you’re going to have to add support downstairs to hold everything up. While it sounds daunting, the system is quite intuitive and does much to let you know where stability is solid and where it’s lacking.

On top of a fantastic survival crafter is a combat system. Combat and Valheim are similar to many action RPGs and are comparable to Darksouls in their stamina management. You can block, roll, parry, shield, or go on the offensive melee weapons and bows.

You’re capable of equipping an extensive array of weapons and armor, each piece of which will dictate how you fight.

Pick up the heavy two-handed axe, and you will move much slower, forcing you to roll out of the way of damage. Pick up a tower shield and mace, and you’ll always be at the frontline of the fight—warding off enemies that would hit your squishy teammates.

Enemies are soft at first but will become more difficult as you explore further out into the world. The monsters of Valheim will also increase in difficulty and aggression as you make your way through the world boss progression.

There are currently five major world bosses in Valheim waiting for you to find them. Once you locate each altar and decrypt the tablets, you’ll need to gather the right sacrifices to call them forth. Each boss is unique, and their difficulty scales to your preparedness for the fight.

Eikthyr, the first of five Valheim bosses

If you’ve farmed up the right foods, crafted the right weapons, and donned the proper armor, you can defeat each boss. However, you will suffer much for unpreparedness in any category.

Not that they’ll be impossible, but everyone struggles with Bonemass. He’s got a weakness, and it’s a weapon type.

Most bosses obscure a new tier of equipment for both you and your base. As you progress, you’ll find yourself needing more and more complicated tools and armor to get by. The procedurally generated maps are gigantic and can take days to explore.

And explore the map you shall, on foot, by boat, and magical portal, you will have to explore the islands of Valheim to find the resources you need to fulfill your obligations to Odin.

Valheim's scenery and environment

Valheim has successfully condensed everything that feels good about survival crafters into a tight, well-designed package that satisfies old veterans and newcomers to the genre. It is currently blasting off in sales and taking the lead of the steam charts, consistently rising in concurrent players since its release.

Be sure to pick up a copy of Valheim sooner than later and if you want to really maximize your experience, consider setting up a Valheim dedicated server to play with friends!

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About Digital Ghost

Dg is the founder and co-owner of Corrosion Hour, a niche gaming community established in 2016 focusing on the survival game RUST. He is an active and contributing member of numerous other RUST communities. As a community leader and server owner for over 15 years, he spends much of his time researching and writing guides about survival games, covering topics such as server administration, game mechanics, and community growth.

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