Valheim has now become a household name for gamers. In just a few short weeks, the game has crossed the 2 million users mark and is fast becoming one of the most successful releases Steam has ever seen.
It would be natural to think that the Viking-based co-op would find its roots in its survival predecessors like Minecraft, DayZ and Starbound. But in reality, other survival games did not have much to contribute in the ‘inspiration’ department.
In an interview with PCGamer, when asked if the team (which is just five people) at Iron Gate plays a lot of survival games and is inspired by them, co-founder Henrik Törnqvist said,
“No, not really.”Henrik Törnqvist
He also went on to state that single player RPGs like Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Skyrim have inspired the development of Valheim more than other survival games.
“We wanted to have more of a feeling of an old school, single player adventure game, kind of like the older Zeldas, I guess,”Henrik Törnqvist
“where you get new equipment from defeating the bosses. And we thought it would, or we hoped that it would, mesh well with the survival aspects of a game. And, yeah, it seems it worked out.”Henrik Törnqvist
This rings true as fighting the bosses in Valheim dictates a player’s progression in the game. The first boss, Eikthyr, drops antlers when he dies, which is the only way players can craft their first pickaxe that is used for mining tin and copper. The second boss, The Elder, must be defeated to gain an item that allows players to start collecting iron. Such interactions in Valheim give the game an almost campaign-like feel, like finding your way to battling bosses like Dodongo or Gohma in Zelda.
Additionally, players find themselves hooked to Valheim because it subverts many familiar tropes that are known to exist in survival games. For instance, repairing weapons, tools, and armor has no resource cost attached, and if you build something you can tear it down for a full refund of the resources you used in construction, which is rare in the genre. Overall, this makes the game much more forgiving, and thus, more enjoyable.
This simplicity harkens back to the roots of the game right to when Iron Gate CEO Richard Svensson, who had been working on a much more complex open-world simulation game, decided to take things in a different direction.
“He soon came to the conclusion that an open world simulation that simulates things for no other reason than to simulate them is pretty redundant,” Törnqvist said. “So, that’s when he started developing Valheim, which he wanted to be much more gameplay focused, where the simulation helps the gameplay experience of the player, rather than hinders it.”Henrik Törnqvist
Anyone who has stopped exploring or building to replenish themselves in a survival game will know how annoying such hindrances can be. But while nourishment is important in Valheim, it never forces players to stop playing. A simple mechanic but quite essential to the overall experience of the game.
Valheim takes open-world exploration, and mixes it with simple survival mechanics and boss fights to pay homage to all the amazing RPGs of the past. And boy, does it do it well.
Developed by Iron Gate AB, Valheim is an online open-world Survival craft co-op game. Here, players will control dead Vikings and fight Odin’s ancient enemies and monsters.
In order to enter paradise, players will have to please Odin and prove their worth to the allfather.
The journey will not be easy as at every step, the danger of supernatural entities will loom. Players will have to venture out, explore various landforms, craft, and get stronger.