Viking Survival Game Valheim an Early Access Hit

With the immense success of base building survival games like Rust and Ark, it seems like you can’t open the Steam store without tripping over a new entry in the genre. Swedish developer Iron Gate Studio’s freshman release Valheim has managed to set itself apart from the crowd, however, thanks to its unique theme, tight combat, and focus on co-operative play.

Although the game released in Early Access February 2nd with relatively little buzz or press, it has quickly garnered a large player base on Steam. At time of writing, Valheim had nearly 120,000 players in the last hour, and a 24-hour peak of just over 130,000. Not bad for the first game from a small developer, especially in a fairly saturated market like multiplayer survival. A glance at Google trends reveals that a lot of interest in the game is coming from Nordic countries — no surprise given the Viking theme.

Valheim Sleeper Hit Graphical Texture Differences
Check out the difference in texture quality between the standing stones and the chains

It’s not just the Vikings that make Valheim distinct, however. The game’s graphical aesthetic is interesting: not quite low-res Minecraft or retro 16-bit graphics, but edging towards it. Some textures look straight out of the 90s, while others have much higher polygon counts, which is an interesting design choice that ends up working well. The game also utilizes modern lighting and post effects to give the old-school graphics a modern polish.

Valheim’s visuals walk the line between readability and beauty effectively, resulting in an exploration experience that gives both a sense of wonder and of control. Resources are easy to spot, as are the animals and enemies that populate Valheim’s numerous biomes.

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Combat is smooth and straightforward, with a stamina meter that depletes as you attack or block. The enemy AI is nothing special, but the sheer variety of enemies leads to an interesting combat experience. The bosses are definitely the highlights, with each one having unique powers and weaknesses. Teamwork, patience, and clever planning are needed to take down the behemoth bosses of Valheim.

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Running away may not feel very Viking, but it’s usually a good idea when up against Valheim’s bosses

Unlike other multiplayer survival games, PvP is not a major part of the game. Players can turn PvP on from their inventory screens if they so choose, but only 10 players can be in a world at a time, and the game design is focused on players working together to gather resources and defeat enemies.

Valheim’s future looks bright, and the developers have released a roadmap that promises some exciting content updates in the future. You can grab the game for $19.99 on Steam right now, and the developers have stated that “it is likely that the price will be increased over the course of the Early Access period,” which is set to last at least another year, or until Odin is satisfied.

What do you think about Valheim? Let us know in the comments!

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Unabashed FromSoftware fanboy still learning to take his time with games (and everything else, really). The time he doesn't spend on games is spent on music, books, or occasionally going outside.

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