Having died on the battlefield, Odin’s valkyries carry you to the made-up “10th” world of viking mythology, Valheim. A viking purgatory, Odin tasks you with slaying the ancient enemies of the gods that lurk here before you are granted access to Valhalla.
Valheim is a one to 10 player open-world survival game by Iron Gate Studio, published by Coffee Stain Publishing. Reminiscent of popular titles like Terraria, Dark Souls, Runescape and Minecraft, Valheim’s gameplay takes aspects of each of these games and binds them together for an exciting co-op experience. With over 5 million copies sold since its Feb. 2 release, it’s no secret that this game is a massive success.
From frozen mountain ranges to beautiful, lush meadows, you’ll adventure through Valheim solo or with friends as you collect resources, hunt for food, build a base and survive. In the procedurally-generated world of Valheim, you can raise the viking longhouse of your dreams and establish great settlements and outposts to make your footprint on the land. There are a vast number of resources available to build your base and improve upon your gear. As you progress through each successive boss, you’ll unlock new resources to harvest and new biomes will be available for you to traverse, thus unlocking better tools and equipment to craft. You may start out with leather armor at first, but pretty soon you can make your way to sporting some hefty bronze armor and weapons.
Bronze armor can be unlocked from mining after defeating the first boss, but Valheim’s biggest issue lies within its grindy resource-collecting system. Mining takes an awfully long time and transporting the heavy tin and copper ores to and from your home base can be an excruciating hassle unless you have carts built or tier 2 boats crafted. Even in the earliest stages of the game, my friends and I struggled to get basic resources because we had to hunt boars by hand in order to get the leather scraps needed to craft a single bow. Once a single bow was created for the group, one person was then in charge of hunting more boars and deer for basic resources like meat for food and leather for armor.
Still, Valheim’s gameplay remains fun, despite the hours of grinding needed to upgrade to the next tier of equipment. The combat is reminiscent of Dark Souls; kiting, dodge rolling and parrying are necessary to defend yourself against more difficult enemies like trolls or draugr. But once you have a good bow and flint arrows, you can kite nearly any enemy in the game. Sadly, the five-person team of developers noticed the sheer strength and necessity of the bow and plan to nerf it in a later patch, as reported by the Washington Post. Speaking of combat, the most common enemy in the game, the greydwarves, are possibly the most annoying and frustrating enemy to deal with. They’re as common and pesky as mosquitos and will often alternate between attacking you head on or running away if you have a torch equipped.
Like many other sandbox games including Terraria and Minecraft, the creativity for base-building in Valheim is limitless. Reddit users have created famous builds within the game and posted their replicas: the Millenium Falcon, Notre-Dame cathedral, the Eiffel Tower and more. For an early-access game sitting at a $20 price point, Valheim offers a great co-op experience you don’t want to miss out on.
Though Valheim is not one of the nine worlds of Norse mythology, the game and lore that Iron Gate Studios has created is a beautiful and daunting one. The world is so big that I am often just a tiny dot on the map, and its soundtrack seamlessly shifts from serene to intense as you adventure through meadows and battle huge bosses. Valheim’s best moments are those in its highest intensity, like in the boss battle against a giant tree creature known as the Elder; and in its most serene, like sitting at the prow of a ship and taking in the sights of the vast ocean or the Norse world tree’s branches looming in the sky. Should you ever have the chance to pick up this game with a group of friends, don’t hesitate.