What is Valheim? The new Viking survival game that’s taking over Twitch

Jonathan Lee
·4 min read
what is valheim
what is valheim

What is Valheim? The Viking inspired survival game is making major headway into Twitch. Here’s what you need to know.

Who made Valheim and what is it?

Credit: Iron Gate AB
Credit: Iron Gate AB

As the name suggests, Valheim is heavily inspired by Viking culture and mythology. In Norse cosmology, the universe is split into Nine Realms which flow from the great world tree, Yggdrasil.

As a slain Viking warrior, you are carried by Valkyries to Valheim, a tenth realm created for the video game. In this new purgatory, you’re tasked with fighting monsters, slaying Odin’s enemies and carving out a home in this untamed afterlife.

Valheim is the first game from fledgling developer Iron Gate AB. According to the company’s fact sheet, Iron Gate AB is an indie outfit founded by “two industry veterans” based in Skövde, Sweden.

And the company has already made quite a splash. In just 13 days of releasing on Steam as an Early Access title, Valheim has already sold 2 million copies.

Not too shabby for a freshman release.

How does Valheim work and what sort of game is it?

Credit: Iron Studio AB
Credit: Iron Studio AB

Valheim is a survival game, which means you’re plopped into a massive open world with your starting clothes and not much else. The six pillars of the game are Explore, Build, Conquer, Craft, Survive and Cooperate, as listed on Valheim’s website.

After you spawn into the world, you’ll have to gather resources and build everything you need from scratch. That includes food, drink (mead, of course), weapons, armor and buildings.

Basically, think Minecraft or Rust with Vikings. Players can host their own servers and every map is procedurally generated, which means each server’s world is unique. Valheim’s world features a diverse ecology which includes towering mountains and fetid swamps along with a day and night cycle.

You can go about all this solo or in co-op mode with up to 9 other players. While the game features a light, totally voluntary PvP mode, the real focus is on the PvE.

Why did Valheim blow up on Twitch?

Credit: Iron Studio AB
Credit: Iron Studio AB

Valheim is a genuinely great game, even before the big streamers such as CohhCarnage got to it.

For one, it deftly elevates the enjoyably difficult mechanics in survival games while getting rid of a lot of the tedium. If you die, you’ll drop all your loot (including your equipment) and respawn in with nothing.

Sounds brutal? Welcome to survival games. The combat system is challenging, fair and satisfying, but if Valheim is your first survival game, you will die.

Succeeding in survival games is all about managing and accounting for risk. You’ll do well to plan ahead and craft a stash of back-up gear in a secure area.

But on the other hand, if you’ve crafted an awesome set of gear, you can hang on to it indefinitely thanks to how cheap it is to repair items in the game. This is a welcome change to the punishing repair mechanics found in some other survival games, where the best gear isn’t always the most reliable.

And astoundingly, all this comes at an install size that’s barely 1GB and the low, low cost of $20.

Alright so how do I play Valheim?

Credit: Iron Studio AB
Credit: Iron Studio AB

You’ll need a computer with Windows or Linux. Unfortunately, Valheim is only on PC and the developers have no intention of releasing it for consoles.

However, thanks to the tiny installation size and low hardware demand, most computers will be able to play Valheim without any issues. Valheim’s minimum system requirements cite a GeForce 500 series, 4 GB of RAM and a 2.6 GhZ Dual Core processor.

In layman’s terms, even an ancient potato PC from 10 years ago will be able to run Valheim at a comfortable setting.

If you’re interested, you can head over to Steam and purchase the game for $20.

Good luck out there. Skål!

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