Games of the Year

Valheim

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A battle-slain warrior, the Valkyries have ferried your soul to Valheim, the tenth Norse world. Besieged by creatures of chaos and ancient enemies of the gods, you are the newest custodian of the primordial purgatory, tasked with slaying Odin’s ancient rivals and bringing order to Valheim. Your trials begin at the disarmingly peaceful centre of Valheim, but the gods reward the brave and glory awaits. Venture forth through imposing forests and snow-capped mountains, explore and harvest more valuable materials to craft deadlier weapons, sturdier armor, viking strongholds and outposts. Build a mighty longship and sail the great oceans in search of exotic lands … but be wary of sailing too far... Key features: Huge procedurally-generated world - explore and inhabit mystical lands, from mysteriousforests to imposing snow-topped mountain ranges and stunning meadows, complete with their own creatures of legend to battle and wildlife to hunt. Co-op PvE (2-10 players) - - Whether you want to brave the lands alone or venture with trusted allies, Valheim supports independent, player-hosted servers and unlimited world creation. We recommend playing co-op with 3-5 players. Punishing dodge & block based combat system with a wide range of weapons Build & sail ships - from flimsy rafts to imposing warships, build legendary vessels to conquer the seas and discover new lands.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

For us 50+ year olds who are just learning to game on a computer, this is a great game. My sister and I have played some farming type games on a Switch, but were ready for a bit more. We are having fun with this one.

Review from Steam

In a span of 2 months, I have put 230 hours into Valheim, solo. I would highly recommend this game to anyone reading this review; to play alone or with up to 9 friends. I have not encountered a single bug and, while this is an early access game, this is a full experience. Some key features that drew me in and resulted in my slight addiction are below:
Soundtrack and graphics - The soundtrack is absolutely beautiful and chill af. There were times i found myself working on my laptop with valheim running in the background, just so i could listen to the calming melodies of the soundtrack and the soft crackle of the fireplace in my base. The lighting and atmosphere are really top notch. The low resolution style was almost a turn-off for me when researching this game and watching videos. However, once inside the Valheim world, i saw it is truly beautiful and worth experiencing.
Discovery - The second thing that really drew me into Valheim was this feature where once you pick up a new inventory item for the first time, you will then discover crafting recipes associated to that item. This, as opposed to being awarded items for leveling up, felt very enticing. It made me want to explore to find new items, and to push into more unforgiving lands for the rewards the items there may have. This left me feeling like there was always something more out there to discover. There are items in the game which currently have no function, leaving some excitement to see what they are used for once that becomes available. Even after defeating the 5 current bosses and thinking i had complete the game, there were 2 biomes i had never even seen and more items to discover.
Development - The Devs have a roadmap that is widely accessible and clear on their plans for the future of the game. Personally, I have no social media accounts, but even through steam they post development blogs to keep the community in the loop with their plans. To the prior point on discovery, after seeing what valheim has to offer now, it is constantly changing. Even in the short 2 months i have had my hands on the game they have introduced a new enemy, new armor set, several QOL updates. They have near-future plans to add caves in the mountains and updates for the mistlands biome; with far-future plans for the ashlands and possibly others.
Difficulty - The game is just hard enough. Like Darksouls, once you die, there is a marker left at the location of your death where you must return to get your items. However, this didn't feel too punishing as you can have unlimited death markers with no time limit to recover them. There were some times my items were stuck in a location that i couldn't immediately run there to recover them and knowing they weren't lost forever was enough to keep me from getting (overly) frustrated by death. Furthermore, the amount of resources obtained from a source vs the resources used in crafting felt very encouraging to building. For one tree, you get 10 wood, which is enough to build 5 walls.
1:1 Resource Return - When dismantling a structure, the game returns the full resources used to build it. This means (assuming you had room in your inventory) you can demolish a base and rebuild it somewhere else without any additional grind. Similar games i have played in this genre typically give only a partial return. With Valheim, i felt much more free to try things and then just delete them if they didn't look right or work how i expected.
Building - Lastly, after spending 200+ hours in this world, defeating every boss, discovering and crafting every item, and upgrading all current items to their highest tier, i STILL spend time in this game because the building is fun and satisfying and easy. Chop one tree and you can build 5 walls. Clipping is easy and forgiving, even round walls and roofs look great once constructed. And <spoiler alert> the devs make it very easy to 'cheat' and enable debug mode. This allows the user to fly which makes gathering resources for building awesome structures much easier. They even permit using this in official building competitions.
All in all, great experience. Highly recommend.

Review from Steam

This game is great if you go in blind, DO NOT read the wiki, DO NOT ask anyone how to do something. Play and discover as you go. I cannot stress it enough. JUST PLAY.

Review from Steam

Odin won't let me go outside anymore and I have Stockholm Syndrome
Early in the year 2021, I heard about this game a decent amount of people were talking about: "Valheim"
It appeared to be some sort of Survival Craft / Sandbox title taking place in a Norse mythology setting, and since I love both, I thought to myself: "Hey, let's give this a try!"
Several months later, I'm unable to tell if that grunt I just heard came from some creature in the game or my own stomach because of the pasta I ate raw in order to minimize the time spent on something else than building, slaying monsters and gathering materials.
Social interactions are a distant memory, time is irrelevant and I could swear the other day my cat attempted to speak norwegian while sporting a fake beard in order to try and get my attention.
Now allow me to at least try to explain to you why you should drop everything and make Valheim your new and only religion:
-The game's not good; it's amazing .
At the time I'm writing this, Valheim is still in early access. This is something I genuinely have to regularly remind myself because so far, it actually feels like a finished product.
In my 900+ hours of play time ( shut up ), I could count on a single hand's digits the times I've run into bugs, and all of them were minor things that a simple log out/ log back in immediately fixed, with no consequence whatsoever.
From gameplay to graphics, every aspect of the game is so polished that when you take into consideration the fact that this is a work in progress made by a small team of indie developpers, it's enough to put some of the biggest names in the industry through such amounts of shame that they'd wish they were Activision Blizzard right now.
-Ok, but what is this game about?
Basically, Valheim is some sort of cross between Survival Craft, Adventure and Sandbox set in an open world.
The (pretty huge) map is comprised of several different biomes you'll have to explore in order to find crafting and building materials, fight monsters and eventually face bosses. It is procedurally generated at world creation, which means that no two maps will look the same, thus contributing to a unique experience.
Progression is based on the improvement of your gear through crafting, which requires materials you'll get from various sources in the world; some of which you'll only have access to after defeating bosses.
Recipes are unlocked either by putting said materials into your inventory or interacting with crafting stations for the first time. This means that if you join a world in which the other players have already defeated bosses and stored materials, breaking into their homes and rummaging through the crap they've been hoarding like a real Viking should allow you to catch up on their progression without having to do the exploring and fighting yourself (and possibly ruin your experience in the process, as well as earning yourself the title of Lazy Bastard).
To help you achieve your goals, you have a system of "skills" which are improved through pure practice. For example, the more you sprint, the higher your sprinting skill value gets, which progressively allows you to sprint longer while using less stamina.
In other words: practice leads to efficiency.
-Sounds nice, but what's so special about it?
If you've played other Open World Survival Craft games before, like Ark: Survival Evolved or Conan Exiles (which are pretty damn good in their own right), you might notice some similarities with Valheim in terms of mechanics and gameplay.
What Valheim does that others don't in that regard, is either improving on or getting rid of these elements that happen to mostly cause rectal discomfort in other games from the genre.
Ever spent four hours farming the stone required to build the three missing walls from your crappy shack in hope of preventing your untimely death from pneumonia caused by a sudden summer breeze, only to be on your way home and suddenly die of dehydration because more than three minutes have passed since the last time you drank?
And then you spent two more hours just running to your corpse on the other side of the continent, dying 475 more times in the process because some local flock of seagulls have deemed you the perfect sacrifice to their dark god?
But when you finally managed to reach the location of your body, you only found undisturbed dust and sand as even the scorching sun seemed to laugh at your absolute despair?
No such tragedy in Valheim .
Although you can -and will- die in the welcoming embrace of your friendly neighborhood wildlife, the game is designed in such a way that most of the frustration you'll experience could only be blamed on your own lack of foresight.
Examples of this would be the following:
- You cannot die of hunger or thirst, although eating is necessary to increase your health and stamina in order to survive encounters with monsters or sudden falls from steep cliffs
- The amounts of materials required for crafting and building can be gathered without necessiting to quit your job and survive on potatoes bought on the internet with healthcare money
- Weather only affects your health and stamina regeneration rate (except if you plan on climbing snow-covered mountains in your birthday suit, but I'm no one to judge, we've all tried this IRL at least once)
- Player corpses have no time limit and will never disappear, even after a server restart
- As long as there's four walls and a roof around them, beds can be placed anywhere and the last one you interacted with will act as your next respawn location until you manually disable it
Now don't get me wrong: the game absolutely does not lack anything in terms of challenge, and at times you may potentially suffer flashbacks from that time you tried Dark Souls while drunk with your neighbors' newborn baby howling like a tasmanyan devil in the background.
-Have you considered seeing a therapist?
Don't need to; don't want to.
Plus I don't have to do anything you tell me to since you're not even my real mom.
-Sounds a bit too perfect, there must be at least some downsides
There are, but as surprising or doubtful as it may seem, there aren't many in my humble opinion:
- Technical optimisation isn't the best as of yet. I'm more specifically thinking about the fact that being in an area with several player-made structures can cause severe framerate drops, even on decent computers. This can go to the point of unplayable on lower-end computers, as it happened to one of my chums who eventually stopped playing for now because of it.
Hopefully it will be fixed with an upcoming update.
- The damage dealt to structures by some higher-tier creatures just feels like the equivalent of card castles in a room full of chimps with ADHD.
- (Used to rant about auto-pickup here, turns out I'm just blind)
Keep in mind, however, that the game is still in early access at the time I'm posting this review.
-Final words
Somewhere in-between thrilling and relaxing, Valheim is a very well-balanced game made with love and passion, and it really shows.
The ability to alter the terrain by digging / flattening / raising the ground is pretty dope.
Regardless of what you think about the retro-ish style of the graphics, this game is gorgeous . You'll know what I mean.
From the very first time I got ganged up on by a group of monsters while peacefully picking berries, to when I took a sip of mead as I watched the horizon from the top of my fortress decorated with the heads of their brethren, I enjoyed every second of this journey I'm still far from being done with.
If you are tempted, just buy the game; I promise you won't regret it.
Also, f♥♥♥ Greydwarves.

Review from Steam

Valheim provides an excellent creative outlet. You get to explore, craft, build, and play 'your' way in a visually pleasing environment. In addition, it is an excellent platform for playing with a group of friends. I can't think of any other game that accomplishes all of these things so harmoniously. It does this while occupying less than 2 gigs of storage space on your computer.
I will add that the pace of development has been dreadfully slow. A little slow compared to the typical development speed of similar games, and catastrophically slow compared to the developers' original ambitions. When I first started playing, I was hopeful and optimistic about what the future held for this game. After a long year and a half, the hopeful optimism is gone. The developers are still working on the game, but it is too late for me. I have dutifully squeezed every last drop of distilled fun that I could get from Valheim. My friends and I do not play Valheim anymore, and we may not return to it again, regardless of future updates.
All told, I have to recommend this game, given all of the entertainment it provided me. There are a couple caveats to my recommendation. The first is that you should wait to play it. The development is slow, and I think most people will be done playing the game before they ever see meaningful new content. The second is that you should definitely play with a group of friends. It is a big, lonely world if you are the only Viking on the map. Thank you to whoever reads my review, and happy gaming!

Review from Steam

Very good game, but certainly not for everyone.
Valheim is a survival RPG with a primary focus on crafting elements.
To say it has a lot of grind is an understatement. You WILL be spending most of your time gathering resources, even if you make your base a minimalist design. Not everyone will like this. Some will hate it, and some will love it.
The enemies in more dangerous areas are very punishing and you will find yourself spending days preparing to face them, and the loss of your equipment if you die will result in you grinding more to be able to recover it. Fortunately, you can recover it.
This, however, has an effect that when get to the point you can easily defeat enemies you had to run cowardly from before, you feel a real sense of achievement.
The sailing system is rather well done, although the ships do behave like triangle sail ships, not square sail ships. Still, that is a choice of style over accuracy. A triangle sale ship wouldn't look right for the era, but a triangle sale ship's behavior is better for gameplay.
As of the technical aspects, the game is still under heavy development, and it is clearly not fully optimized. It is feature complete now as of having full gameplay and a good number of bosses implemented.
Performance isn't the best, but most people can run maximum view distance so long as they don't max out the other settings. Max quality lighting seems to hit hard on even high performance hardware.

Review from Steam

My name be Hjalmar, I craft an axe;
I smack the tree, I smoke a rack;
Dwellers come to steal me sacks
of gold and plunder, cannot give back.
First they strong, I run, I shy;
but then I cook from steel and hide.
Hjalmar strong, now kingdom thrive;
Hjalmar stronger;
Now kingdom mine.

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