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What is Making Valheim so Great?

by Zaraki Kenpachi

Valheim was released on February 2nd, 2024, almost out of nowhere. A small game development studio Iron Gate AB released a new title on Steam. The name of the game was Valheim! It took the gaming community and the internet by storm surpassing everyone’s, including the developers’ expectations. Fast forward to today. Valheim has sold more than three million copies on steam in its early access format. It appears that it has no intention of stopping there! Let’s rewind a little because we are moving too quickly and take a closer look at what exactly Valheim is and why so many people are playing it.

Valheim and Its Different Playstyles

Valheim black forest

Valheim in its essence is an exploration survival game. It is set in the fictional Nordic universe in which players are free to explore their surroundings. They fight various beasts and mythical monsters, and craft houses and camps while they forage and hunt. They must do this in order to survive the harsh weather and numerous threats that dwell within the shadows. So far sounds like any typical survival game, but there are a few things that separate Valheim from other similar games. Such as Minecraft or Rust with the first being the different playstyles.

Those who wish to explore and conquer the world of Valheim can do so all by themselves or with up to nine other players. This Is depending on their own preference. That is exactly the main thing that makes Valheim stand out from the survival crowd. While regardless of whether you are solo or in a party. You will be placed in the same world. Depending on the size of your group, your experience will likely be very different. Those who choose to tackle Valheim alone will have the option to conquer every single hurdle. This is done at their own pace. It will need to carefully plan every step of the way and how to pass every single challenge as they will have nobody to depend on for help. Each victory will feel well deserved and earned through hard labor. While every failure will likely end up with the player running to recover their gravestone all alone without having anyone to back them and defend them as they do so.

Valheim Group Play

On the other hand, those who choose to play in a group are likely to have a different experience altogether. Different people will naturally drift towards specific roles. Roles like builders, gatherers, hunters, and warriors depending on their personal preferences and playing style. Each of them will be to a bigger or smaller degree dependent on the others. Gatherers will have to collect enough materials for the whole crew. While warriors will have to focus on protecting them from wandering beasts of the lands.

Though each of these playstyles offers a unique experience and has its own pros and cons. It is recommended that you play Valheim in a crew of at least 3 people for the most optimal experience. It is important to note that at this stage in early access. The PvP feature of the game is just for fun and is not at all flashed out, although it might become something bigger in one of the future updates. We will just have to wait and see.

Keeping It Simple

Valheim buildings

Another thing that makes Valheim so appealing to such a large number of people. Is the fact that the gameplay mechanics are extremely simple to understand and self-explanatory. Even those who are not fans of survival video games can pick it up and just start playing. Explore the zone and gather resources. Make a base and craft some cool gear. Summon and kill a mythical boss, and then move to the next zone and do it all over again. Extremely simple to understand, extremely fun to experience. There is even a crow to guide you with some helpful tips if you get stuck along the way.

When it comes to the environment in Valheim, there are many different biomes. Such as the Meadows, the Black Forest, the Swamp, etc. Each one is harder than the last and requires an equipment upgrade that is gated by the boss. While players can freely explore and navigate these biomes as they see fit. Exploring one without the required gear will likely end up dead. With your corpse running multiple times to the same location in order to retrieve your gear and running away from the creatures that inhabit that specific biome.

Punishment and Rewards in Valheim

valheim play

One thing that is very interesting about Valheim is it incentivizes players through rewards instead of punishment. While some players may find this kind of approach underwhelming. The system is done with a balance in mind. While the rewards do feel extremely satisfying and worth the trouble. The system doesn’t lack punishment, it just doesn’t directly inflict it on the player through damage. After all, going through the treacherous landscapes of Valheim can be detrimental to the player if he or she chooses to wander unprepared.

Simple survival things like eating food get their own twist. For example, eating food will increase your maximum HP for the duration of the food buff. Eating different kinds of food will also increase your stamina. Making your traverse the landscape and dispatch your enemies easier. However, not eating will not drain your HP any lower than normal or outright kill you. This type of system will allow you to focus on exploring, building, and fighting. It does this without constantly being burdened by thinking whether your last meal will sustain you throughout the next fight or an event. A similar system is applied to the weather conditions. While being wet and cold will make your journey somewhat more difficult. It will rarely drain your HP and kill you for not being able to find shelter in the huge world of Valheim.


Valheim appears to be a mixture of all the best things from various survival games baked into a single Viking universe. It is no wonder that the game has gained so much popularity in such a short span of time. The world is beautiful, the biomes are unique and diverse, the boss battles are epic and the overall challenge is definitely there. Valheim is definitely living up to its hype and offers tons of fun. However, as it is in early access, it does have a few bumps that need to be ironed out. Overall, the game has huge potential! Judging by the number of sales, there is definitely a huge interest in the game. Hopefully, those sales provide enough support for the developers to keep adding new things and shaping the beautiful world of Valheim into something even greater. Time will only tell.

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