It’s a new year, and naturally that means a new survival game is popping off on Steam. The latest hit: Valheim, a Viking-themed survival adventure with a lot of fires, a lot of boats, and apparently, a lot of tiny lizards called Necks.
The game has rocketed to the top of Steam’s player charts in the last week, with 133,000 peak players early Tuesday morning Australian time. That’s enough to put the game alongside titles like Rust, Team Fortress 2, Apex Legends (the Steam playerbase, anyway), GTA V and Rainbow 6 Siege, which is a huge coup for an early access game that’s a week old. Update 15/02: The game’s player count has absolutely skyrocketed, hitting a peak of 367,000 Monday morning Australian time, almost tripling its player base in the last five days.
Like most survival games on Steam, Valheim starts by asking you to select a character and a server. You pick a male or female class with some adjustments to hair tone, colour, facial hair, name and so on.
You’re then popped onto a massive in-game world with a glorious raven called Hugin that just literally drops you into Valheim, like you’re jumping out of a plane in PUBG. You’ll find yourself standing on a rune with a bunch of sacrificial stones, each of which has the icon of a boss that you have to slay in order to reach Valhalla.
There’s 9 bosses in the game right now, and naturally you need to forage, forge and prepare before taking on any of the major bosses. Beating the bosses involves mastering a dodge and block-based combat system, while managing a house and base building system along the way.
At the time of writing, Valheim has a 93 per cent user rating from just over 36,000 reviews, a haul any indie developer would be proud of. (The publishers also have a track record with indie games, being Coffee Stain Publishing, the label behind Goat Simulator, Satisfactory, Deep Rock Galactic and the upcoming HUNTDOWN.)
Because Valheim supports a fairly sizeable co-op party — the developers recommend 3 to 5 players, but you can play with up to 10 people — it’s naturally taken off on Steam. Positive reviews have praised the game’s Viking theme, the game’s relatively low cost, the skill progression system, and surprisingly stable performance on a wide range of systems.
Negative reviews have noted stability issues with the game’s dedicated servers — although that could also be a natural byproduct of the game’s early access stage. Other problems raised include a lack of support for solo players, not enough incorporation of Norse mythology into gameplay elements, a lack of tutorials or help for newer players, and some inconsistencies with the art style. There’s also at least one report of issues with the lighting and rain effects causing an epileptic episode, although I haven’t seen any wider reports of issues like this at the time of writing.
Here’s what users are saying about Valheim: