Getting started in Valheim

(Image via Iron Gate AB) Valheim is a good mix of everything that's worked in similar games
(Image via Iron Gate AB) Valheim is a good mix of everything that's worked in similar games

Valheim is the latest in a line of the open-world survival game with crafting and building. It is a formula that has worked for games as varied as Minecraft, Rust, 7 Days to Die, and many much more forgettable games.

Valheim is set apart due to its setting, sense of progression, and emphasis on boss fights. While the exploration, construction, and RPG elements can be fun on their own, playing Valheim means that you always have something to work towards, rather than dealing with the aimlessness common to this genre.

First things first, who is Valheim for?

For anyone still debating whether or not to pick up the game, here are some more things about Valheim that make it stand apart. Valheim has everything players expect, with some notable quality of life improvements. Perhaps the single thing which helps make Valheim accessible is that the game lacks a critical hunger mechanic.

Players will still want to find and eat food for benefits, but the player character can’t just die from starvation. Valheim is not a meter-management game, and players will be able to actually focus on playing the game rather than just staying alive.

Valheim is multiplayer and can support PvP if desired, but the game seems more focused on its PvE features. Combat, crafting, and building are all very simple. Valheim might not be the game to play for those who only enjoy building massive structures or who want a simulation experience, but it’s all great window dressing for the PvE progression and boss fights. In many ways, Valheim plays like Terraria for anyone who has tried that game.

Bought the game. What now?

When Valheim loads up, either solo or in a group, players will want to spend their first moments doing the same thing as any other open-world-crafting-looting-survival game with RPG-elements: collecting resources. It might seem obvious, but the best place to start is getting familiar with the controls, menus, and crafting screens. Players are going to be spending a fair amount of time looking at them after all.

The first thing players will want to build are the basic tools, like a hammer, axe, and hoe. These are used to gain access to many of the game’s core mechanics, such as building a fireplace or shelter, gathering wood, or changing the ground.

Skill leveling in Valheim is done by using those skills. Combat skills can be trained against trees or rocks but will result in damaging the weapon used against them. This isn’t a problem, however, because repairing is free. Just take them to a workbench and click on the repair icon when the weapon is highlighted.

Another thing to note is that Valheim does have a weight system, and carrying too much will over-encumber players. Build chests, leave resources in piles, and practice good inventory management.

Food is still important

Valheim gives players very generous food buffs. It is something that all players are going to want to maintain, even if starvation isn’t something to worry about. Some food items, like berries, can be harvested and eaten right away. The main way food helps is by increasing the health and stamina bars, often by a significant degree. Food also restores health slowly over time.

But berries alone often won’t be enough. Players can hunt animals for meat, but then, they’ll have to cook it. To cook it, build a fire and place a cooking rack over it. Careful placement will allow players to place two cooking racks over a single fire. Interact with the rack to place meat on it.

The meat will cook over time, but it can burn if left for too long, so it’s best to stick close to cooking food. Remove it when it is ready and either eat it or store it as needed. New recipes can be unlocked through playing.

Well-fed, well-armed, what to do next?

At a certain point, players are going to want to start progressing in the game. Look for a stone circle with altars, and pay attention to the crow guide, to figure out what to do next. The first boss is the easiest to activate. Simply bring a few deer trophies to the altar to spawn the boss.

Boss fights aren’t too difficult, so long as players approach them well-armed and prepared for a fight. Most of them can be beaten by taking advantage of their simple patterns. Ranged weapons tend to be easier than melee weapons for this.

Once a boss has been beaten, players can take the boss trophy to the altar and pin it up. Pinned trophies can then be used to offer special buffs to the player, but only one boss buff may be active at a given time.

Valheim is a rare gem of a game that manages to have enough depth to be fun, while having simple enough systems to be incredibly easy to get into. Anyone who likes these kinds of open-world-crafting-survival-base-building games with RPG-elements will almost certainly find something to enjoy in Valheim.

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Edited by Gautham Balaji
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