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Valheim: Is it worth buying?

by Amanda Starks about a year ago in adventure games
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A Look into the Breakout Indie Survival Game of 2021

The Valheim Title Screen from the Official Early Access Trailer

Imagine this: you are a Viking. You've led a very successful Viking life. You've conquered foreign lands and pillaged villages along numerous coastlines. You've raised mighty mead halls where you sang and drank merrily during the long winter nights. You've even sailed the high seas seeking out more territory to explore, settle, and turn into fertile farmland.

One day on the battlefield, you are killed. It is a glorious death, one that every Viking longs for. You finally have passage into Valhalla, and your soul waits eagerly for the Valkeries to take you away.

It is not the shining realm of Valhalla that awaits you, however, but instead you are flown into the 10th world, a world abandoned by the Gods. Who you are: memories, experiences; even your knowledge is stripped away.

You are called here to this mysterious, godless land for one purpose: to kill the Forsaken, a long slumbering race of creatures, monsters, and giants who are now threatening the peace of the realms. Odin needs Vikings like you for this task to bring order to this world.

Welcome to Valheim!

Official Game Art

What is Valheim?

Valheim is a procedurely generated open-world sandbox survival game from Iron Gate Studios. Their tiny Viking-inspired project has overtaken the PC gaming community in the last several weeks, and as of March 3rd, it has surpassed 5 million copies sold on Steam in just five weeks, as well as topped the charts at 3rd place for the most played game in Steam's library.

It is an impressive feat for such a small company comprised of only five game developers, but is Valheim worthy of all this hype? And more importantly, is this early access game worth the $20 price tag?

As someone who has already spent over 40 hours on the game, I can tell you why I believe anyone who is a fan of open world survival games needs to add Valheim to their gaming collection.

Starting Impressions

One of the first things you might notice when looking at the graphics is that Valheim is a low polygraph game. It doesn't have next-gen graphics or high-resolution picturesque vistas, but Valheim really doesn't need it!

A screenshot of my character building at night!

The game designers have done a brilliant job with lighting, coloring, and atmosphere. During my playthrough, I never felt distracted by the art style. I was fully immersed in the world. Personally, I felt the low poly art style gave the game a sort of charm that reminded me of the likes of Minecraft, Runescape, and Terraria.

Upon starting the game you will be prompted to make your Viking character. It's a very simple character creator with limited options, but given that Valheim is still in early access it does what it needs to do with lots of room for improvement. ( Dear developers: give female characters the ability to have beards, or I riot. )

My character creation screen!

Once you are satisfied with your character, you can press start, create your world, and begin the game!

In all honesty, I fell hard for this game as soon as I was being flown into the world by a giant bird. ( I assume this is to be a Valkerie; either way it is badass. ) The attention to detail on this creature alone got me so excited to see what other creatures the developers had waiting for me.

My character being flown into the game!

Once you land, however, the game no longer carries you anywhere. You are on your own. Just your pantsless self with a giant glowing tree in the sky, a couple of pissed-off boars, and a talking raven named Hugin.

The very polite Hugin greets me at the Sacrificial Altars.

This little guy will pop in on you from time to time to give you some guidance on how to proceed in the game. It's a wonderful way to have a tutorial guide while not taking you out of the themes of the game. Many times tutorials can feel arduous and boring, but the Valheim developers decided to give you a polite talking bird instead!

Here, Hugin will tell you to collect wood & stone, but not actually tell you how to go about doing that. This will happen numerous times as you continue to play. Some might find this frustrating, but this hands-off approach to progressing in the game makes it so that every player's experience is unique.

Valheim also has an old, tried, and tested method of leveling up your character's abilities. Much like in older Elder Scrolls titles such as Morrowind or Oblivion, anytime you are running, jumping, cutting down trees; anything skill-based, you will get experience in those areas by simply doing them.

In this way, Valheim ensures that you can play this game however you want without feeling restricted by skill trees.

Leveling up my running skills!

The game becomes outright addicting as soon as you unlock the ability to build your own Viking home. I easily spent half of my playtime just building and experimenting with the tools provided. Certain tools will also allow you to terraform the land to your liking. You can really go nuts and create some magnificent bases!

The building system is a little awkward at times. Pieces of wall or beams won't snap together unless you have a nice flat area prepared by your hoe tool. Creating an extra floor can be a bit of an annoyance as well, but with some practice and ingenuity ( or a quick youtube tutorial ) you will be able to overcome these little hiccups.

Impressions of the Late Game

The base I share with my friend!

After you start leveling up your gear and expanding your homestead, the game starts to get a lot more fun and a lot more time-consuming. Each time you want to get higher tier gear you are going to have to venture forth and gather the necessary materials.

This naturally forces you to explore other biomes with tougher and more numerous enemies, which then in turn encourages you to get even better gear. It's a cyclical cycle that keeps steamrolling you to the next stage!

Throughout this process your main goal to hunt the giant creatures known as the Forsaken acts as a compass and a benchmark with which to reach. If one boss proves to be too difficult to defeat, then it's a perfect time to level up your gear or craft higher tier weapons and armor. ( I won't be showing screenshots of the incredible bosses here; spoilers ruin the experience! )

Valheim's Multiplayer Feature

My friend and I cooking up some grub!

I can't quite put to words how much more amazing this game became when I found out that I could invite up to 10 other people to play with me in my world. Gathering resources, building structures, and taking down monsters became easier, but also a million times more entertaining.

When in the game with your gaming buddies, you can choose to turn on PvP ( person versus person ) and fight with fists like true Vikings. You can even gather everyone onto a designated boat and sail away into the sunset...or into a frightening storm hiding titanic creatures.

My friend and I braving the high seas!

I've only had a few issues with server lag; an issue the developers have taken notice of and will be working to improve. One other problem that comes up sometimes is that I am unable to find my friend's world in the search menu. To rectify this, have your companion send an invite to the game through Steam while they are on their server.


Given my love for Viking lore ( I am writing a fantasy book series inspired by it after all ) I knew I was going to enjoy my time on Valheim. What I didn't expect was how much.

Valheim is a beautiful sandbox survival game that is in early access- meaning it is not a completed product-yet there are hours upon hours of content that can be experienced already.

Is all the hype justified? Yes. Valheim is a fantastic game created by five game developers who have poured their hearts and souls into it. Millions of people like me have fallen in love with it, and for good reason.

Is the $20 price tag worth it? I'd say, for an early access game as good as this: the price is a goddamn steal!

I'm off to conquer the far reaches of Valheim, see you there!

If you have managed to make it to the end of this article, thank you! I sincerely hope you enjoyed the read. If you would like to see more Valheim content: survival guides, funny multiplayer stories, and build showcases; feel free to leave a like!

And of course if you want to help support me financially, share this article with your social circles! Or if you want to be more direct with your support, you can also leave a tip.

Until next time, gamers!

adventure games

About the author

Amanda Starks

Book hoarder, fantasy author, gaming goblin. I am currently working on my debut novel, CASTLING. Follow me on Twitter @Amanda_Starkes and subscribe to my email list at to keep up with the madness!

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