Valheim : An Old Friend

Al’s comment: Obviously, this game has been gaining momentum and this is my cents on discussing why.

Due to its recent growing popularity, Valheim has been the talk of the town and for a good reason. Comparable to Dying Light, Valheim is a mix-mash of mechanics from the survival genre mixed that hits the sweet spot for a broad variety of players. To pseudo-quote videogamedunkey: “It’s like making a pizza, and there is no cheese on there, but now they want to go ahead and add a bunch of crazy toppings that nobody wants to eat at the end.”

The mistake he made was that very few people do not enjoy pizza.

The vast explorable ocean, Source: PCGamesN

Valheim follows the same logic but is further simplified. There’s procedural generation like many survival games (not to the extent of Minecraft or No Mans Sky, but similar ideas), biomes (now like Minecraft), monsters and bosses (like Terraria), crafting, hunger (almost every survival game), base building (like Rust), combat and leveling (like RuneScape). Not only is it all there, but all the working elements of those mechanics tuned to a level of satisfaction. Biomes determine resources, monsters and difficulties, base building is inconsequential and though simple, players can build elaborate buildings and settlements. All of this in a PvE server environment so players do not have to worry about having every fruit of their digital labor be taken while they live their lives beyond the game (unlike Rust and Ark). There is a solid mix of hand holding and rewarding players for creativity and discovery.

Furthermore, Valheim successfully hits a note that one can only dream about when embarking on a coop journey with many of your friends. You can create a cohesive narrative, almost like an adventure with your friends using the minimal “plot” that Valheim presents to you:

“Kill the beasts inspired from Nordic Mythology to earn your place in Valhalla. But we do not give a shit about how, when or with who you decide to do it with.

An insane fortress built using Valheims building systems, Source: RockPaperShotgun.

Something that has been most successful with Minecraft. Though it was attempted by various other titles (The Forest, No Mans Sky), the overwhelming mechanics or difficulties of basic survival often distracted the player from that goal. Even to the point where they would abandon it to just be able to play the game normally and unencumbered by status effects.

Valheim’s success here is why it is an old friend. Before the era where AAA franchises and games were popped out annually, games were hard to come by and good games were even more difficult. Imagine trying to put those two together with the inclusion of a solid multi-player experience to have with your friends. Very few did, that is why they are memorable, and well revered. They do not need to be technically perfect, visually stunning, detailed to the pixel or spanning with hundreds upon hundreds of hours of content. They just need to be tuned, cohesive and streamlined enough to be enjoyable.

Al’s comment: Valheim takes me back to Minecraft on the Xbox 360 or Halo 3/Reach. The pre–Xbox One, PS4 era which was the peak of gaming. Games were of perfect size and scope for people living their lives. I find that I cannot enjoy modern games as much because (oh god this is going to sound gross) they have too much to offer. If I work for 30 hours a week and then do school for another 30 hours, I do not have time to sit down and sink the 5 hours I need to into Assassins Creed: Valhalla to stay updated and in sync with the game. But that is another topic.

Brave the biomes of Valheim, Source: GamesRadar+.

This ability to allow for players to create adventure in a scope that seems endless but with marked targets (like Breath of the Wild) is the beauty in Valheim. You grab a seat and go on an adventure with your friends learning the lay of the land, fighting monsters, the wild and if you want each other. Taking away all notions, fear, and stress of micromanaging your character and your items for when you play and log off. None of the semantics and mechanics directly affecting your sense of wonder and exploration you had when you first picked up an Xbox/GameCube/PS2 controller, or when you made your first RuneScape account. High level monsters tread in fantastical biomes around you as you build the gear and courage you need to explore. Not good enough? The vast ocean beckons you to get on a raft and find the next coast and continent as you brave the seas. All best enjoyed experienced with your friends.

The wandering trader awaiting your arrival, Source: TechRaptor.

Valheim is lightening in a bottle, and the only reason why is that it eliminated the flaws of mechanics introduced by other games. Its fantastical environment is complemented by the moody bloom of Peter Jackson’s Lord-of-the-Rings-esque dreamscape visuals. While appeasing the wonder and dynamic adventures to be held. Whether it is fleeing from Gargantuan trolls, fighting mythical beasts, or even hunting. Valheim is an experience not to be missed.

Al’s comment: It is also a prime example of early access. The game itself is nearly complete with all the mechanics and content in not only a presentable but a playable state. I can only imagine there is minimal content to add and more to fine-tune as Valheim nears completion. However, it is very choppy visually and will dip in frames. Honestly, optimization is the only issue anyone should expect in early access.

More Stories
Wonder Woman 1984 – Review
Wonder Woman 1984 – Review