Valheim is a co-op PvE-minded survival title of conquering a Viking purgatory – and it’s already sold 1M copies


Oh look, another survival sandbox! Before you close the browser tab, though, it would appear that this one has some genuinely unique hooks that have seen it leave some overall favorable impressions on players. It’s called Valheim, and right out of the gate this one is different because it’s built specifically to be co-operative and PvE-centric instead of conflating FFA PvP with “brutal” survival gameplay.

“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.”

Bringing order to Valheim will involve players building weapons, armor, food, drink, ships, and houses, and will let them summon and defeat primordial bosses to collect trophies and create powerful items. Combat promises “punishing” dodge and block mechanics with a variety of weapons, while gameplay takes place within a procedurally generated world that can be explored by land and sea. The game can be played solo, but the Steam page notes that it’s best played with three to five players.

Valheim has arrived with a great deal of fanfare, netting it an “Overwhelmingly Positive” user review aggregate on Steam; many of these reviews tout its lack of bugs despite being early access and a wealth of things for players to do. In fact, just this morning the studio sent ’round a press release announcing it’s sold 1M copies already and leaped to the top of the Steam top sellers list as the fourth-most-played game on Steam with 160K concurrent players.

On the subject of Valheim’s early access, the game expects that to take about a year. The devs at Iron Gate AB appear eager to work on new features as a recent post outlines a roadmap for 2021 that promises four different updates and additional features like a sandbox mode, moon phases, combat improvements, more multiplayer interactions, and more unique locations. You can get a look at the roadmap and watch the game in action in the trailer below.

source: Steam (1, 2), thanks to Arktouros for the tip!

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David Goodman

I’ve got a few days in and I can easily give this a thumbs-up. It’s PVE and not PVP. (there’s a PVP toggle, off by default, and generally seems more designed for you to RP tavern brawls than engage in any traditional PVP combat — with a max of 10 players on a server, that seems about right.)

Combat-wise it’s simple and satisfying. Stamina management is important, timing your blocks to parry and knowing when to dodge out of the way is important. Feels impactful – when you hit something with a 2h hammer, you can feel it. When you get hit… you remember not to get hit.

What sold me on the game was watching someone chop a tree down, which fell down on them, and killed them. They then died to smoke inhalation because their house with an indoor fireplace didn’t have a chimney for the smoke. That’s a level of detail that I appreciate and figured it was worth the $20 then.

Exploration is meaningful – while the game is procedurally generated, it does a good job in creating dynamic areas. The low poly graphics are completely overshadowed by the amazing lighting effects to create a great atmosphere. You spend less time staring closely at a rock or tree to notice the pixels, and more looking at the ocean during a storm.

The deer sound like deer. No, seriously, deer sound !@%ed up. They’re forest rats that sound like they’re sick all the time. That’s what deer sound like, and they deserve to be run down and beaten with a club. (Michigan born opinion.)

Building feels good. It’s more piecemeal than games like Ark and Conan Exiles; you have building blocks that you stack to create your plans. You can build a square building, but you can also create rounded structures by placing foundation beams that gradually rotate into a semicircle or even circle. (still working on a tower.) Support means everything and you’re given feedback in the build menu on what pieces have strong support, or bad support.

Even though the game is described as brutal, it’s more forgiving than you would think, in particular with building. If your house gets destroyed, you are not out all of the materials that you gathered — you recover 100% of the mats in an item when either you, or a troll, breaks it. Rebuilding may be a pain, but you won’t have to clear out a second forest necessarily for it unless you want to move to a less troll-heavy area.

It’s not all amazing – it’s in early access and it needs some development. The menus in game are…. basic. The information you get from items isn’t always helpful. There’s a wide variety of creatures overall, but in any given area it still doesn’t feel like it’s enough, so you end up seeing the same things over and over to the point where it seems tedious after you’ve clubbed your 1,000th boar.

Character creation is very lacking, and you won’t really be able to make a unique-looking character, and male and female both kinda look like hunched over Warcraft Orcs without the green skin. Armor looks good, but there’s no ways (that i have found) to really customize what YOU are wearing compared to someone else. Shields have some variations in painting you can do, but your leather armor will look exactly the same as someone else’s. Hoping for a dye system.

… BUt in general, it’s an early access title. it’s an AMAZING early access title, it’s worth the $20 Right now as-is, you will get $20 worth of entertainment if not more. But it’s not done, and there are areas that shows.

Hopefully the huge influx of money won’t paralyze their currently exceptional direction; they’re a small team (5 people I think?) and i’ve seen a lot of indie studios get overwhelmed when vast fortune is dropped on them.

But, if Odin wills it, they will be triumphant.


As mentioned, the “PVP” is just if your group for some reason wants “friendly fire” during boss fights. Player structures are pretty resistant to damage from other players. One person I watch sometimes on Youtube was playing it – he sometimes does PVP sort-of-seriously (mostly RP stuff with friends, not-quite-machinima stuff.) And he was apparently a bit annoyed that they couldn’t have a big “just for fun” siege of a wooden Viking fort because the houses are more or less immune to fire arrows.

From my point of view, PVP being barely implemented is a plus. But there’s only one of me, and 20 million people playing Fortnite. In this case, I hope the devs stick to building for PVE first though, and put any additional PVP stuff at the very bottom of their “if Odin wills it” stretch goals.


Seems to be only through Steam, so I can’t play it. -shrugs-

Dug From The Earth

Its a great game

Its got horrible optimization though. Which isnt uncommon for an early access game. I just HOPE its because they plan on optimizing later, and not because they lack the skill/ability to do so.

The number of game that had crap performance in alpha/beta/EA, and STILL had crap performance at launch (and long after) is so long that its a joke that player will still defend bad performance by saying, “EA bro, chill”


I always said to my best friend man I would love a game like Conan exiles or Ark survival but with a Viking theme and based in Norse mythos. And hells yeah my wish got granted. The game has been good fun and great so far and has allot of content even being early access.

Sure it may not have the graphics of the other to games I named but it has it´s own graphics that makes the game charming and looks great in it´s own right.

Now I want one in Greek or Roman or Japanese mythos or all 3 and I would be happy.


Read all the comments! It’s really that good. Going to be nominated game of the year, I’m sure of it. It’s a well thought out and surprisingly deep game when you begin to figure out it’s mechanics. The road map looks promising.

This game puts Conan/ARK on alarm as the up and coming standard for the genre. Valheim is the real deal.


It is definitely an amazing game for PVE fans and well worth checking out if you have ever been a fan of games like Minecraft, Terraria, Raft or even Stardew Valley.


It really is something special (as many commenters have already pointed out). Another thing I love is that the co-op progression just works. I’ve played too many games that seem to punish playing together by locking your progress to one server/world, or just plain making it difficult to play on your own and then jump in with friends.

Also, in Valheim, your character is persistent through any world or server you join including your own private games – this gives it a much more MMO-ish feel. As someone who has played Conan/Ark but never really got into those games (mostly because base-raiding, full loot pvp is not my thing), Valheim is what I always wanted out of those experiences.

Kickstarter Donor

The game can be played solo, but the Steam page notes that it’s best played with three to five players.

Does the difficulty scale based on players? I heard things like pickaxes were gated behind boss fights, so I’d hate to go in to something solo and be screwed on progression.


It seems like there’s some amount of scaling going on. I’ve seen a video by someone playing solo who fought the first Deer God thing, and barely scraped through on the second try. (First try was “It’s the first boss, how hard could it beOH GOD IT HAS LIGHTNING ANTLERS!”) I’ve also seen a group of five friends fight it, when two of them were dealing with “We’re from Australia” levels of lag. The group had an easier time, but not complete cakewalk easy.

Part of it is that the game doesn’t *seem* to have MMO health scaling where a level 1 character has 10 HP and a max level has 10,000,000 HP. It *looks* like your health is actually more or less a byproduct of the buffs from eating “balanced” foods. They don’t have to design the boss as an infinite HP sponge because an attack that does 50 points of damage will always nearly kill an unarmored player.


It’s kinda like Terraria in these regards with multiple players. Most of the early game gets pillaged as people expand outward making it difficult to get things and the world starts introducing new dangers. Someone does a bunch of bosses it can scale things like base attacks and other events pretty high.


I love it. It is a great time and fairly difficult going solo.


“Early access survival sandbox” Those 4 words in any sentence in context to gaming has for years been a recipe for disappointment. If people are having fun and enjoying themselves thats a positive, and 1m copies is nothing to sneeze at. It looks fun, for a week or two maybe a month.

Hoping it continues to grow, will check back in 3-6 months see if its still in “early access” and if there is a plan to fully release it. Thanks for the article I will keep it on my radar for sure.