Have you ever dreamed of being a Viking warrior in a mythical world full of dangers, wonders, and mysteries? If so, you might want to check out Valheim, a survival game that has taken the gaming world by storm since its release in early 2021. It is a Viking-themed game that combines the elements of exploration, crafting, and combat with an emphasis on cooperative multiplayer gameplay.
In this article, we will take a look at how Valheim became one of the most popular games on Steam in less than a month, what makes it so special compared to other survival games, and what we can expect from its future updates.
Valheim’s Meteoric Rise to Fame
Valheim was developed by Iron Gate Studio , a small indie team based in Sweden, and published by Coffee Stain Publishing. It was released on Steam Early Access on February 2, 2021, for Windows and Linux platforms. The game was made with the Unity engine and has a pixelated graphics style that resembles old-school games.
Despite having little marketing or hype, Valheim quickly became a huge hit among gamers and streamers alike. Within a week of its release, it sold over one million copies and reached a peak of over 160,000 concurrent players on Steam. By the end of February, it had sold over five million copies and reached a peak of over 500,000 concurrent players on Steam. As of January 2022, it has sold over 10 million copies and remains one of the top-selling and most-played games on Steam.
Not only did Valheim achieve impressive sales and popularity records, but it also received critical acclaim from both users and critics. It has an overwhelmingly positive rating on Steam based on over 300,000 user reviews, and an average score of 84 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 25 critic reviews. It has been praised for its immersive world, satisfying gameplay, and cooperative fun.
How Valheim Sold 3 Million Copies in Less Than 3 Weeks
Word-of-Mouth Marketing and Positive Reviews
One of the main reasons why Valheim became so popular so fast was because of the power of word-of-mouth marketing and positive reviews. The game did not have a big budget or a famous studio behind it, but it had a loyal fan base that supported it since its early development stages. The developers also released frequent updates and communicated with the players through social media and Discord.
As more people started playing Valheim, they began to share their experiences and opinions with others through various platforms such as Reddit, Twitter, YouTube, Twitch, and Steam. The game generated a lot of buzz and curiosity among gamers who wanted to see what the fuss was all about. Many streamers and influencers also played and promoted the game to their audiences, exposing it to millions of potential customers.
The positive feedback and reviews from both users and critics also helped Valheim gain more attention and trust. The game was praised for its fun and addictive gameplay, its beautiful and diverse world, its challenging and rewarding combat, its creative and functional building mechanics, its cooperative multiplayer mode, and its overall polish and quality. Many reviewers also compared Valheim to other popular survival games such as Minecraft, Rust, Ark: Survival Evolved, Terraria, The Forest, and Subnautica, but noted that it had its own unique charm and identity.
Procedural Generation and Replay Value
Another reason why Valheim sold so well was because of its procedural generation and replay value. The game features a huge open world that is randomly generated for each new game session. The world consists of nine different biomes: Meadows, Black Forest, Swamp, Mountain, Plains, Ocean, Mistlands, Deep North, and Ashlands. Each biome has its own terrain, weather, flora, fauna, resources, enemies, bosses, events, structures, secrets, and challenges.
The procedural generation ensures that no two games are exactly alike, and that players can always discover something new and unexpected. The game also encourages exploration by rewarding players with valuable loot, rare materials, ancient runes, hidden portals, legendary weapons, mythical creatures, and epic boss fights. The game also has a day-night cycle and a weather system that affect the gameplay and the atmosphere.
The replay value of Valheim is also enhanced by its difficulty level and progression system. The game is not easy to beat; it requires players to survive harsh environments , craft essential items, build shelters, hunt for food, fight enemies, and defeat bosses. The game also has a progression system that is based on the Norse mythology of the nine realms. Players have to find and activate mystical stones that summon the guardians of each realm, and defeat them to gain their powers and access to new biomes. The game also has a final boss that awaits the players in the Ashlands biome.
The replay value of Valheim is further increased by its sandbox nature and emergent gameplay. The game does not have a linear story or a fixed goal; it lets players create their own adventures and stories based on their choices and actions. The game also has a lot of emergent gameplay elements that result from the interactions between the players, the environment, the enemies, and the physics engine. For example, players can chop down trees, set fire to buildings, lure enemies into traps, ride boats, tame animals, and more.
Co-op Gameplay and Modding Support
A final reason why Valheim sold so well was because of its co-op gameplay and modding support. The game supports up to 10 players in a single game session, either online or locally. The game also has a dedicated server option that allows players to host their own servers and invite others to join them. The co-op mode allows players to cooperate or compete with each other in various ways, such as exploring, building, fighting, trading, and raiding.
The co-op mode also adds more fun and variety to the game, as players can share their experiences and resources, help each other out, or prank each other. The game also has a friendly and active community that organizes events, tournaments, contests, and role-playing sessions. The game also supports voice chat and text chat for communication.
The game also has a modding support that allows players to customize and enhance their game experience. The game has a modding API that enables modders to create and install various mods that add new features, content, mechanics, graphics, sounds, and more to the game. Some of the most popular mods include quality-of-life improvements, user interface enhancements, gameplay tweaks, new items and weapons, new biomes and enemies, new music and sound effects, and more.
What Makes Valheim So Special?
Now that we have seen how Valheim became a huge success in a short time span, let us take a closer look at what makes it so special compared to other survival games. What are the unique selling points and strengths of Valheim that set it apart from the rest? Here are some of the aspects that make Valheim stand out:
Valheim’s Art Style and Soundtrack
Pixelated Graphics and Beautiful Lighting
One of the first things that catch the eye when playing Valheim is its distinctive art style. The game has a low-resolution stylized 3D graphics style that resembles old-school games from the 90s. The game uses pixelated textures, low-poly models, simple animations, and minimal details to create its visuals. However, this does not mean that the game looks bad or outdated; on the contrary, it looks stunning and charming.
The game uses beautiful lighting effects, dynamic shadows, realistic water reflections , and atmospheric fog to create a fairy tale ambience. The game also has a vibrant color palette, a high contrast ratio, and a soft bloom effect that make the game look like a painting. The game also has a dynamic weather system that changes the lighting and the mood of the game. The game can look bright and cheerful, dark and gloomy, or anything in between depending on the time of day and the weather conditions.
Atmospheric Music and Sound Effects
Another thing that enhances the immersion and the emotion of playing Valheim is its soundtrack and sound design. The game has a moody and immersive soundtrack composed by Patrik Jarlestam, who also worked on the music for Goat Simulator and Satisfactory. The soundtrack consists of various tracks that match the theme and the tone of each biome, as well as the events and the situations that occur in the game.
The soundtrack ranges from calm and soothing ambient music, to epic and dramatic orchestral music, to tense and suspenseful electronic music. The soundtrack also features some Nordic folk influences, such as the use of traditional instruments, vocals, and chants. The soundtrack also adapts to the gameplay, changing its tempo, volume, and intensity depending on what is happening in the game.
The game also has a realistic and detailed sound design that adds to the realism and the immersion of the game. The game uses high-quality sound effects for various elements, such as the environment, the wildlife, the enemies, the weapons, the items, and the actions. The game also uses spatial audio and 3D sound to create a sense of direction and distance for the sounds. The game also uses environmental audio and reverb to create a sense of space and acoustics for the sounds.
Valheim’s Combat System and Skill Progression
Stamina-Based Combat with Action Elements
One of the most important aspects of Valheim is its combat system. The game has a challenging and rewarding combat system that requires players to use their skills, strategies, and reflexes to survive. The game uses a stamina-based combat system that limits how much players can attack, block, dodge, or sprint. Players have to manage their stamina carefully, as running out of it can leave them vulnerable to enemy attacks.
The game also has an action-oriented combat system that involves different weapons, attacks, blocks, dodges, and parries. Players can use various weapons such as swords, axes, spears, bows, hammers, daggers, shields, and more. Each weapon has its own advantages and disadvantages, such as damage, range, speed, weight, durability , and special effects. Players can also use different types of attacks, such as light attacks, heavy attacks, charged attacks, and special attacks. Each attack has its own damage, speed, stamina cost, and animation. Players can also use blocks, dodges, and parries to defend themselves from enemy attacks. Blocks reduce the damage taken by using a shield or a weapon, dodges avoid the damage by rolling or jumping, and parries deflect the damage and stun the enemy by timing the block perfectly.
The game also has a variety of enemies that have different behaviors, abilities, and weaknesses. Players have to face various enemies such as wolves, trolls, skeletons, draugrs, leeches, blobs, wraiths, dragons, and more. Each enemy has its own attack patterns, movements, sounds, and resistances. Players have to learn how to fight each enemy effectively by using the right weapons, attacks, and strategies.
Skill-Based Leveling with No Classes or Restrictions
Another aspect of Valheim that makes it unique is its skill progression system. The game does not have any classes or restrictions on how players can develop their characters. Instead, the game has a skill-based leveling system that lets players improve their abilities by using them. The game has 15 skills that cover various aspects of the gameplay, such as running, jumping, swimming, sneaking, unarmed combat, clubs, axes, swords, spears, bows, knives, hammers, shields, polearms, and pickaxes.
The skill system is flexible and realistic; it allows players to customize their characters according to their play style and preferences. Players can level up any skill they want by performing actions related to that skill. For example, players can level up their running skill by running around the world, their swimming skill by swimming in water , their sneaking skill by sneaking behind enemies, and so on. The higher the skill level, the more benefits and bonuses players get from that skill. For example, higher running skill means faster movement speed, lower stamina consumption, and longer sprint duration.
The skill system is also balanced and challenging; it prevents players from becoming overpowered or bored by the game. Players can only level up their skills up to a maximum of 100, and each level requires more experience points than the previous one. Players also lose some skill experience points when they die, which adds a penalty and a risk to the game. Players can also reset their skills by using a special item called the Sacrificial Stone, which allows them to redistribute their skill points.
Valheim’s Crafting System and Building Mechanics
Item Crafting and Weapon Upgrading with Materials
Another important aspect of Valheim is its crafting system. The game has a deep and streamlined crafting system that lets players create and improve various items with resources they find or harvest in the world. The game has hundreds of items that players can craft, such as weapons, armor, tools, food, potions, furniture, decorations, and more. Each item has its own recipe, stats, effects, and appearance.
The crafting system is simple and intuitive; it does not require players to memorize complex recipes or use complicated menus. Players can craft items by using a workbench or a forge, which are structures that players can build and upgrade in their bases. Players can also access their crafting menu by pressing the Tab key, which shows them all the items they can craft with the materials they have in their inventory. Players can also see the required materials and the crafting station for each item.
The crafting system is also satisfying and rewarding; it allows players to improve their equipment and performance by crafting better items. Players can craft items with different quality levels, such as crude, fine, superior, exceptional, flawless, perfect, and legendary. Each quality level increases the stats and effects of the item. Players can also upgrade their items by using more materials and higher-level crafting stations. Upgrading items also increases their quality level and stats.
House Building and Settlement Customization with Pieces
Another aspect of Valheim that makes it fun and creative is its building mechanics. The game has a creative and functional building mechanics that let players construct and decorate their own viking strongholds with pieces they craft or find in the world. The game has hundreds of pieces that players can use to build their houses and settlements, such as walls, floors, roofs, doors, windows, stairs, pillars, beams, furniture , and more. Each piece has its own shape, size, color, and function.
The building mechanics are easy and flexible; they allow players to build anything they can imagine with the pieces they have. Players can place, rotate, snap, and stack pieces on the ground or on other pieces. Players can also use a hammer tool to modify, repair, or destroy pieces. Players can also use a hoe tool to level, raise, or lower the terrain.
The building mechanics are also realistic and challenging; they require players to consider the structural integrity and the environmental effects of their buildings. Players have to support their buildings with foundations, pillars, beams, and roofs to prevent them from collapsing. Players also have to protect their buildings from weather damage, such as rain, snow, wind, and fire. Players also have to provide ventilation and insulation for their buildings to maintain a comfortable temperature and avoid smoke inhalation.
What’s Next for Valheim?
Valheim is already an amazing game that offers a lot of content and features for players to enjoy. However, the game is still in early access, which means that it is not finished yet and that it will receive more updates and improvements in the future. So, what can we expect from Valheim in the coming months and years? Here are some of the things that the developers have planned for the game:
Valheim’s Current State and Early Access Status
Five Biomes Out of Nine Completed with Bosses and Events
As of January 2022, Valheim has five biomes out of nine completed: Meadows, Black Forest, Swamp, Mountain, and Plains. Each biome has its own unique environment, resources, enemies, bosses, events, and secrets. The bosses are powerful creatures that guard the portals to the next biomes. The events are random occurrences that add more challenge and variety to the game. For example, players can encounter a troll attack, a wolf pack hunt, a meteor shower , or a blood moon.
Performance Issues and Bugs to Be Fixed
However, Valheim also has some performance issues and bugs that need to be fixed. The game can suffer from low frame rates, stuttering, lag, crashes, and glitches, especially when playing online or with a lot of players. The game can also have some graphical errors, such as clipping, flickering, popping, and tearing. The game can also have some gameplay errors, such as missing items, incorrect stats, broken quests, and more.
The developers are aware of these problems and are working hard to fix them. They release regular patches and hotfixes that address the most urgent and common issues. They also listen to the feedback and reports from the players and try to improve the game accordingly. They also ask for the patience and support of the players as they continue to develop and polish the game.
Valheim’s Upcoming Updates and Roadmap Plans
Ashlands Biome with New Enemies, Materials, and Fortresses
The next major update for Valheim will be the Ashlands biome update, which is expected to be released in mid-2022. The Ashlands biome will be the sixth biome in the game, and it will be based on the land of the dead in Norse mythology. The Ashlands biome will have a volcanic and barren landscape, with lava flows, ash clouds, and scorched earth. The Ashlands biome will also have new enemies, materials, and fortresses to explore.
The new enemies in the Ashlands biome will include fire imps, fire giants, fire dragons, fire wyrms, and more. The new materials in the Ashlands biome will include obsidian, sulfur, iron, and more. The new fortresses in the Ashlands biome will include ancient ruins, lava castles