While survival games are a dime a dozen right now, new Viking survival title Valheim has managed to break away from the rest of the pack and provide and experience not quite like any other. On the surface level Valheim looks like a pretty standard survival affair. The player must travel around an open world collecting reimgs, take the time building shelters and tools, and must fight off hostile animals and enemies. These are all mechanics and concepts players will find in games like Rust, Stranded Deep, and The Forest.
There is something else going on with Valheim. though, something which has led to the game taking and holding the number three spot on Steam for almost two weeks, and why there are nearly 400,000 players currently logged on while this article is being written. The reason that Valheim has captivated millions of players around the world though is that, despite its pretty brutal difficulty, it gives the player an outlet to blow of steam and ignore the survival elements whenever they wish.
Whenever dying against the hordes of Greydwarves in Valheim’s Black Forest biome, slowly perishing due to some kind of poisoning effect in The Swamp, or having the third raft in a row get sunk by a Sea Serpent becomes too frustrating for the player, they always have the option to just step away to work on building up their home base instead with no repercussions. Building is easy, requires only simple tools, and is a much faster process in Valheim than in most games of this genre, which means that it becomes an excellent outlet for funneling player frustrations into.
Since Valheim players don’t have to worry about typical survival game mechanics like hunger, thirst, or temperature, they have free reign to build to their heart’s content. There is nothing stopping the player from building a complete fortress in Valheim, complete with a moat and defensive walls, all in one sitting. They won’t need to take breaks to find food or water, tools can be repaired with zero cost at a nearby crafting station, and one button click will remove any mistake made and return the reimgs right back to the player’s inventory.
The best part is that even the player decides to spend ten hours building a home in Valheim to ignore the whatever was stressing them out, it will always still be there when they wish to come back. That Burial Chamber or Sunken Crypt isn’t going to go anywhere, and none of the enemies inside will respawn. The player’s fallen corpse will also stay right where it was forever, so future Valheim excursions can see people finding and reacquiring their loot.
This ability to ignore Valheim’s survival elements and focus solely on building and crafting is one of the many reasons that it is such an addictive and engaging game to play. Rather then rage quitting when things become overwhelming, calmly and peacefully constructing a new house or tilling a carrot garden are great ways to regain composure before jumping back in the fray.
Valheim is available on Steam in Early Access.