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Preview: Valheim – Prove Yourself

Since Assassin’s Creed Valhalla I have renamed myself a Viking and my love for history, according to Bram, was the perfect reason to throw Valheim in my digital inbox. In general, I am never very pleased with Early Access games, it happens all too often that they stay in them for years or in a half beta phase the Early Access income. Valheim does not give that impression, but can it prove itself to me? I can tell you that I have found the answer to the question of why Vikings are always so muscular.


When starting Valheim you first have to deal with choosing a server and creating your character. This immediately shows that Valheim is focused on the online aspect and you can check in the menu whether or not you want to be attacked by other players. Since I had access previously, I started a server on my own. You can therefore play Valheim alone, which is often my preference. Creating your character is quite a setback for several reasons. As usual you can choose between male and female. You also get the option to choose a skin color. Furthermore, you only have to determine which hairstyle and beard style you want. The choices are quite limited, but the setback is mainly in the character itself. The model looks rather peculiar and this is also the case with the animations later on. This is especially noticeable when you compare it to the world, where differences can also be seen. The sky and tree of life look very good, while in the meantime the stones are not of the same level. The 3D models are therefore not of a high quality graphics. The graphics style of the world doesn’t diminish the fun of the game, but you have to have the right expectations.

After your character is created, you will be notified of the events that have taken place. As a warrior you have proven yourself and you have been brought to Valheim by one of the Valkyries. Do not expect cutscenes, because you will just see a piece of text. When we talk about Vikings, Odin cannot be missed of course and he plays a role in the story. To get more clarity about the story and what exactly is happening with Valheim, you have to find and read the Runestones. Your job is to summon and defeat the Forsaken. The summoning of the Forsaken is done by solving a puzzle around an altar. The first puzzle was not difficult at all, but it does take you better into the story. When you just arrive in the world you are also supported by the raven Huginn. A quick lesson in Norse mythology for anyone unfamiliar with it. Huginn is one of Odin’s ravens, they keep Odin informed of everything that is happening in the nine worlds.


It’s all very well that you died as a warrior and then have to take down the Forsaken again, but the first hours you are mainly concerned with survival. Valheim is a survival game, which mainly focuses on the hunger system. This system is interesting, by the way, because your character cannot keep eating the same food. So you will always have to make sure that you have different types of food with you. The only downside to this is that a berry equals a piece of meat. Especially in the beginning you are dependent on berries and mushrooms, so they can do something about this. They don’t know thirst in Valheim, but the cold is something you have to combat. Your character gets wet after swimming or when it rains and the temperature drops in the evening. This has a negative impact on your stamina, making it useful for making fire. Your character is already in bad shape, so you want to avoid barely running anymore. During the game, your character will become stronger through the level system. The more you perform a certain activity, such as running, the higher your level eventually becomes. However, dying does cause you to lose some of these abilities.

Another part of survival is building your own shelter. You can easily make a number of weapons from the menu, but if you really want to get started, you need a workbench. That workbench only works when it is dry, so building a hut is necessary. Especially since the bed only functions as a spawn point when it is covered. There are several dilapidated huts in the world, so you can also choose to repair them. You guessed what you need to do to get all this done, chop wood! I am convinced that all those muscles come from here, because you need quite a bit of wood. With the help of the workbench and a hammer you can easily hammer the walls and roof together. It is just a pity that leveling the ground is very annoying. This is also something that still needs improvement, because the house still floats all too often and it is difficult to see when the ground is even in all places. I’m not very far into the game yet, so I haven’t been able to build everything the game has to offer according to the trailers, but the crafting system is already well put together. The unlocking of new weapons and objects happens when you find or receive new resources from the animals and monsters.


Let’s come back to the Forsaken for a moment, mainly the combat system in Valheim. There are various animals in the world that you can hunt for food and hides. Some of these animals are aggressive and some are not. In addition, there are also several creatures in the world, such as the weak Grenlings. The combat system in Valheim is simple and rather clumsy. With an ax or mace you can knock down enemies and if you want to avoid attacks you do this by jumping or rolling. Nothing wrong with this simplicity, the combat system does not have to be extensive, but the animations make sure that it feels very wooden. For most of the animals and creatures I’ve encountered, that’s not a problem until you start summoning the Forsaken.

I was definitely not prepared for the fight with one of the Forsaken and of course I only found out during the fight. Let’s just say that these beasts do quite a bit of damage and can take a lot of damage too. You learn from mistakes, the only problem is that the Forsaken just stay in the world. This caused my server to actually fail already. Each time I just managed to run to my gravestone and pick up my things and then die in another place three minutes later. My fault? Sure, but the contrast is suddenly very big and the clunky combat system doesn’t really help. Add to that the fact that your stamina bar is draining quickly and the frustrations quickly build. What is really nice, during these fights, is the hard rock music that is suddenly played. This ensures that the fight immediately feels serious. An advantage of this experience is that I found out that your character is linked to multiple servers. When I started up a new server, I no longer had to do the introduction and I still had all the levels that I had passed.


Valheim hasn’t let my suspicious feelings for the Early Access disappear, but my experience with the game has not been negative at all. Yes, there are areas that still need to be worked on, but on the Steam page, the studio says they want to stay in Early Access for at least a year. This should give them enough time to improve on a few points here and there or even add new things based on the feedback from players. What I always find very important with Early Access games is the amount of content they offer at the start and the workforce of the studio. Valheim offers a large world and a nice crafting system. I haven’t seen many of the biomes and recipes of the crafting system yet, partly because I had to start over. The basis is therefore already strongly present. In addition, I have seen dozens of patch notes since I got the game. So the studio is hard at work fixing bugs or balancing the world. This gives me a good feeling for the future of Valheim and it is certainly a game to keep an eye on. Whether you already buy the game or wait for several updates to appear is a question that you have to answer yourself. In any case, I will return to Valheim, to see if I can beat the first Forsaken this time. Whether you already buy the game or wait for several updates to appear is a question that you have to answer yourself. In any case, I will return to Valheim, to see if I can beat the first Forsaken this time. Whether you already buy the game or wait for several updates to appear is a question that you have to answer yourself. In any case, I will return to Valheim, to see if I can beat the first Forsaken this time.


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