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Valheim: An in-depth look at the Viking survival game

by kevin varner 12 months ago in action adventure
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Longboats, axes, and mead

It’s no secret that since the dawn of Minecraft survival games have gotten increasingly popular. In fact, it is the best-selling game of all time with approximately 200 million copies sold.

It paved the way for success for games like Terraria, Stardew Valley, rust, and most recently Valheim. In the first month of release into early access, Valheim has sold over 5 million copies, making it one of the most successful steam launches ever according to vginsights.com, with good reason too. It feels fresh, interesting, and most of all extremely addicting, in just a couple of short weeks I have logged well over 100 hours into the game myself, and that's with all my other daily duties getting in the way.

CRAFTING

I want to begin by speaking on the wide variety of items that are craftable in the world of

Valheim, from swords and armor to arrows and tankards this game knows how to keep you busy grinding out supplies to build your base and outfit your vikingr. Currently, there are only 5 metals used to craft gear and only 4 decent sets of armor excluding troll leather. But with the game being so early in development it is enough to keep you and your friends grinding for the next set, to take on the new string of enemies and bosses. That’s not to mention the fact that on top of materials needed to craft the gear itself you will also need to upgrade that same gear and your workbenches along with it. Forges for metal armor and weapons, workbench for leatherworking and woodworking, kilns to make charcoal, and furnaces for smelting out the raw ore you collect from one of the six biomes. On top of all the equipment you can build, you also have to make sure to keep a healthy supply of food with you for those enemy encounters. Food ranges from simple cooked meat and basic health meads to more complicated lox meat pies and serpent stews. Each food will give you a bigger boost in either stamina or health, so choose what you will need based on where you are exploring and what you are fighting, in the mountains for example it is best to keep a supply of food that will give you a bigger boost in stamina whereas the plains it is best for a bigger health bar. As you play you will get more familiar and more comfortable with the different types of food so don’t let that daunt you from this experience.

COMBAT/ENEMIES

Whether you choose to take on your foes with a sword, hammer, spear, or bow the combat of Valheim is pretty straightforward. It uses a simple ‘point and click’ style of engagement. So, just walk up to your enemy, hover your mouse cursor over them and click, that simple. Bows are probably the most complicated you can use because it involves a little more, you have to hold down the mouse button to fully draw back your bow and, if, the enemy is far enough away you have to account for the arrow drop and if they are moving you have to lead off to account for the movement. Even with that extremely complicated (insert sarcasm) combat system it still rarely gets boring chopping down your enemies, except of course when you are trying to harvest materials.

BOSS FIGHTS

Boss fights are certainly not in short supply in the world of Valheim. So far in early access, there are 5 bosses, Eikthyr, The Elder, Bonemass, Moder, and Yagluth. Each boss coincides with a specific biome and they are ancient being that controls them. Technically, there are 9 biomes in total so more bosses will be added later in development, each having its unique look and attacks. Typically the items and food you find in the biome that coincides with the boss are what you are going to want to use during your boss encounter. Fully upgraded armor and the best food you can craft will always be needed along with health and stamina meads are useful, especially if you are taking them on solo, which isn’t always the best idea. Especially considering that once you spawn the boss in it does not despawn until you defeat it, so if you die you will lose any armor or items you are wearing and have to either use back up equipment or run un-armored back to the boss area without being killed and try to grab your things and re-equip everything without being killed. But the reward is definitely worth the risk, each boss drops a special item used to further advance your character, whether it is a crafting material or an item to help you in your journey. On top of the physical drop, you can mount your trophy back at the original spawn for a special ability. My biggest issue with this system is that you have to return to the spawn if you want to change from one boss’s ability to the other. So typically I just have one that I use the most and deal with not using the rest. I do hope that “iron gate” makes some sort of fix for that before the final release of this game.

BIOMES

Like i previously stated there are 9 total biomes in the game, meadows, black forest, swamps, mountains, plains, oceans, mistlands, ashland, and the deep north. Currently, only the first five biomes are fully fleshed out with the rest to be completed in future updates. That’s not to say that players cant go and explore the other biomes there just won’t be much for you to see there except for a few basic enemies. The oceans for example are a huge part of even the early game considering you will have to sail around to new islands to find the bosses and ore you need to upgrade equipment, and sometimes you will have to spend a long time on your boat to get there. There is a natural progression that you will go through starting in the meadows, moving on to the black forest, swamps, mountains, and plains respectively. Beyond that, I am unsure of what the next step will be so we will have to wait and see. Not to worry though there is plenty to do in each with farming items for upgrading your camp and equipment. And if you make it through the first five you can just build your camp bigger and better until the next big update.

Story

I saved this section for last because currently there isn't much to the story beyond the introduction tidbit. Basically, Valheim is viking purgatory in a sense. In between Valhalla (the afterlife) and the realm of the living. You were sent there by Odin for him to observe and train to fight his enemies, who of course is “gaining in strength and numbers.” It is not a very well laid out story but I don't think it is needed for this type of game. Admittedly though I do hope in the future there is more added to it to make it a little more immersive but if not I don’t think it will hinder the success. If there is more added however I will edit this portion of my review to include new developments or make a separate article.

Final thoughts

All things considering this game is fantastic. It is really easy to sink your teeth into and spend countless hours on, and the fact that everything is so intuitive only helps that. In the first two weeks, I spent near 100 hours in the world of valheim and I don’t intend to stop anytime soon, there is still just so much to do. If you enjoy crafting, exploration, grinding of supplies, and have an extra twenty bucks to spend there is absolutely no reason to skip this purchase. You can look at it as an investment too since by the time the game is fully fleshed out I’m sure it will be a bit more expensive, so buy it now and establish your self get your bearings for the world and as more updates roll out you will be ready. I've spent a lot of money on steam and few games have given me the casual gaming experience and still have enough draw to keep me playing for as long as I have. I don’t always want to play a competitive multiplayer and this allows me to just hang out with friends, build something cool and feel like I accomplished something awesome. I am eagerly awaiting anything new added to the game and will be checking back often on news updates, I suggest you do the same.

action adventure

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kevin varner

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