Carried by the Valkyries to the tenth realm, you must work alone or cooperate with other fallen warriors to best the challenges of a beautiful but dangerous land and prove your worth to the gods in open-world survival action — Valheim.
Valheim tasks players with adventuring and proving their worth across massive randomly generated worlds whilst learning to survive through the collecting of resources and the crafting of new weapons, armour and a construction system to build complex buildings & villages.
Played in the third person, gamers have the option of either keyboard and mouse or gamepad. Based on a voxel based engine it’s not the greatest looker and has a low fidelity feel to it but the complexity of the gameplay and crafting mechanics more than make up for it.
It’s the detail in the “lack of detail” that keeps players exploring the northern European forests. The dynamics waves on either rivers or the sea, the way the sunlight casts through the foliage and how the moonlight bathes your Viking lodge in the deep night. Even down to the deadliest trees in gaming (Seriously you will die to a tree before you complete a few hours).
As with other survival games like Minecraft or Subnautica, your success lies in the collection of materials with which you can further improve your character or buildings. Killing enemies, knocking down trees or mining ore can all contribute to this but in Valheim most tools needed to progress your crafting catalogue are locked behind progression / ability gates.
Crafting is easily accessed with a single button on the pad or keyboard with an inventory style menu showing what’s available and what’s needed to actually construct it. Item placement is simple with multiple options for players to snap to existing buildings or items and moving or altering items is very very simple. Even ripping items down gives players most of the component items back to use again so there is little wastage as you progress
Landing in Valheim most players will immediately investigate the stone circle in front of them with each stone monument representing one of Valheim’’s mighty boss enemies. Not only a challenge to beat but each one both unlocks additional tools to progress your craft catalogue in addition to a trophy that offers your character a useful boon.
It’s possible to fast track some of the ability gates however as just picking up an item or resource unlocks the associated recipes or crafting diagrams needed to build them. Take the first boss for example, you need to kill him to gain access to a pickaxe. It’s your first real challenge and a view of things to come in Valheim but another player can just drop a pick axe and you will gain that capability instantly bypassing the challenge. It’s not all bad as it also allows new character builds to progress and gain parity with other players.
Character skills or crafting abilities are not unlocked globally and as such every character you have is unique. That character can transit multiple worlds or servers and gain more skills or crafting abilities whilst progressing your weapons or armour but should you die on a server and it goes offline, you won’t be able to get back to your stash so it’s advised (and the game tells you this as well) to create separate characters for worlds you don’t own or control.
The world of Valheim is generated randomly as you create a new world by a seed entered in the settings. Sharing a seed with another player would allow them to generate the same world layout in terms of locations etc but, obviously, playing together relies on each player joining another world or both entering and playing on the same server and the world’s themselves are vast.
When I say Valheim can be vast; I do mean absolutely massive. A short adventure out for resources can turn into a Tolkien length expedition to defeat a great evil depending on your available time and skill level. Travelling to a far off waypoint on the world map can be very time consuming on foot but could be much quicker if you have the resources and skills to build a suitable boat. Once a destination is reached however it’s possible to construct a portal to teleport your character instantly to a linked portal.
Portal links are cleverly engineered in Valheim given that a set of tags connect any two portals together. Smart and Resource efficient Vikings may just change the tags on their home portal to link to a number of portals out in the wilds but there’s an admin overhead to that and eventually you’ll have enough materials to create them anywhere.
Not everything can be moved by portal though and specific metals can’t just be teleported back. It sounds daft but keeps players advancing their build since it stops you gaining a local portal and just jumping back to base. The adventure is in the journey back whether it’s by boat or foot.
As a sandbox, Valheim gives its players much of the items they need to get by on the basics or the ability to build complex villages and settlements across your generated world. If you invest your time in Valheim it will reward you with plenty to do, see and much to challenge you.
Valheim is available now on PC.