Valheim: Vicious Vikings, Mighty Monsters, and a Fight for Survival
Voracious Vikings bravely battle for survival in a beautiful open world.
An Early Access Game Enters the Big Leagues
Valheim is a Viking-themed survival game created by the Swedish independent development studio, Iron Gate AB. Released on February 2, 2021, the Early Access game is Iron Gate's first official release. Valheim is taking over the internet and getting an overwhelming response from the gaming community. Having sold two million copies in its two weeks of Early Access, the game has become somewhat of a sensation. The question is, what sets Valheim apart from other major titles in an overly saturated genre?
What Is Valheim?
Tasked with completing Odin's bidding and bringing peace to the Tenth Norse Realm of Valheim, players are dropped into a vast procedurally-generated world filled with ancient enemies and harsh environments. Whether you choose to play solo or in an online co-op of up to 10 friends, there is so much to explore and experience in this multiplayer exploration game.
Concept Rating: 4/5
Pixelated-Goodness With Synchronized Tunes
You don't need an appreciation for music to enjoy the Valheim soundtrack. Patrik Jarlestam, the extremely talented composer for the game, has created a sound design that synchronizes the classical melodies and gameplay perfectly. The background music is relaxing and the jump to a more hardcore guitar riff in the combat scenes is exhilarating, fluid, and complimentary.
While anyone with any knowledge of music will appreciate how the overall sound sets the mood for this game, the visuals are just as good. The graphics are the result of a unique art style -- a blend of simple rendering and pixel art. It is simultaneously both refreshing and old-school familiar.
That being said, it’s more than the graphics that have gamers singing Valheim’s praises.
Graphics & Audio Rating: 4/5
Surviving the World of Valheim
Valheim begins when you, a Viking warrior, are dropped in the wilds of the Tenth Realm by a flying raven. Players must start by gathering resources to craft weapons and armor to survive both the harsh elements and terrifying enemies. Players have the option to play in single-player mode, however, one of the highlights of the game is the fact that it's a multiplayer co-op. Iron Gate recommends that although any given team can have up to 10 players that each team should try to scale back to 3-5 players for the best results in Valheim’s PvE servers.
You will be immersed in the game gathering resources such as beehives, boats, and other materials in your attempt to progress.
If you are a fan of Norse folklore, you are sure to appreciate this game. While you're scavenging for resources, crafting weaponry, and building ships you will be forced to battle ferocious mythical monsters along the way. From trolls to giant stags, the Norse mythos truly comes alive in combat. With each battle victory, players can level up their skills and have better odds of surviving.
Players have the opportunity to level up in a variety of ways not just winning battles. For example, if you cut down a tree with your fists it increases your unarmed skill. This component of the game is the perfect blend between Runescape, Oblivion, and Mount and Blade because it’s significantly more intuitive than the standard complex skill tree.
Each world is also procedurally generated, meaning players will face new challenges and new experiences each time they play.
The game is only in Early Access and yet you can already see the scale of Valheim is impressive. Indeed, this becomes apparent even before you vanquish the first of nine bosses. For a game with a download size of only 1GB, it also features quite a sizeable map to explore with a total of 5 biomes (so far!). Each world is also procedurally generated, meaning players will face new challenges and new experiences each time they play.
Valheim also shares similarities with other popular games such as the 3D base building of Minecraft and the mechanics of Rust. It also has the boss-fight mechanics and the material grind of Terraria and combat reminiscent of Dark Souls.
You will like playing the game solo at first to get the lay of the land. Eventually, though, you will want to play with friends because that is undoubtedly the best way to play the game.
Gameplay Rating: 4/5
A Bright Future
Overall, Valheim is a unique, fun, and affordable survival game to play with friends. The developers have already reported it will be in Early Access for another year to get more pertinent data from the gaming community, so you know Iron Gate will pay attention to any shortcomings early users report. For example, performance begins to drop in high activity areas such as the Black Forest and there is the occasional glitch or two, and even a "world-destroying bug". Although, these issues are not unheard of for an Early Access game -- just keep this in mind and backup your data.
Iron Gate has already released a detailed road map and notes that there will be several new features such as new biomes to explore and potentially a sandbox mode. The Viking simulator has adopted the qualities of other survival games but has a variety of features that makes it stand out in an overly saturated genre.
The bottom line, Valheim is only in Early Access and seems to have the ability to be one of the best survival games ever.