Since releasing just over a month ago, Valheim has become a smash hit selling over 5 million copies and earning overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam. This praise isn’t unwarranted, Valheim creates a unique experience that is unlike any other game in the survival genre today. It’s this uniqueness that can make getting into Valheim a little challenging. Even after 80 hours of playtime, there are still a plentitude of mechanics and systems I’m just now figuring out—ones I wish I knew at the beginning of playthrough.
Here are eight tips to help you get started in your Valheim viking journey from a guy who wishes he knew this stuff sooner.
You’ll spend a lot of time gathering various resources in Valheim, but before you have any tools, chopping trees and breaking rocks won’t be an option. Instead, look around the forest floor for fallen branches to pick up. Loose stones can also be found near larger rocks and scattered about and flint can be found on the ground near rivers and the ocean. Most resources have a place they tend to spawn in, so be on the look out wherever you go. These resources also respawn over time, so don’t be afraid to comb over a place you’ve previously picked over.
When you open the crafting menu in Valheim for the first time, you may be shocked to see that only a few options are available. In order to get more crafting recipes, you have to find one or more of their crafting components. The game does a pretty good job of handing you recipes when you need them, so don’t worry if it feels likes you’re behind. Chances are, you’re right where you need to be.
Scattered all about the starting meadows biome are abandoned huts, shacks and longhouses. Instead of launching right into your mansion, consider getting some practice on one of these shacks. Building in Valheim is a very resource intensive process, and that dream longhouse you’ve been envisioning will probably take a lot longer than you think.
In addition to allowing you to build, the hammer tool also lets you repair existing structures at no cost when a workbench is built nearby. Finishing off the walls and roof of one of these homes will take far less wood than building a new one from scratch, and gives you a great launching point to map out the rest of your viking adventure.
Even if fixer uppers aren’t your thing, deserted homes are a quick way to get a decent amount of wood. Just place down a workbench nearby and deconstruct everything in sight.
Depending on how far you’ve played into Valheim, you may have noticed a “rested” status effect in the top right corner of your screen with a counting-down timer attached to it. Having the rested status effect on your viking makes their stamina—you know, that stuff you use to fight, run and build—regenerate at twice the normal rate. This makes tasks like mining ores and chopping trees far less of a chore, and it’s surprisingly easy to maintain on your viking.
In order to get the rested effect, your viking needs to be inside a shelter and near a fire. You’ll see a “resting” status effect pop up, along with a “comfort level.” Putting a variety of different furniture around your home will increase your comfort level, which in turn increases the amount of time your viking is rested for.
The game is pretty lenient on what it considers a shelter, and in a pinch sitting between a few walls and near a fire can replenish your resting timer.
One of the biggest differences between Valheim and other survival games is the way it handles food. Instead of your viking constantly needing food to stave off death, food simply offers increased health and stamina. While there’s no punishment for not eating food, having a hungry character means you’ll be working with a measly 25 health. That may be fine for your first few fights against wild boars and greylings, but by the time you’re taking on the first boss you’ll want some food.
You can eat a total of three foods at once. Each type of food will increase your health and stamina by different amounts and last longer in your stomach; a raspberry will raise your health by 10 points, stamina by 20 and last for 600 seconds. You can only eat one of each type of food at a time, so be sure to keep a variety on hand. Hunt boars in the open fields, necks near the coastline, and gather raspberries for a great early game meal.
The first thing my viking crew and I craft when we get our hands on some new ore isn’t the latest swords or pickaxe—it’s shields. Having a shield in Valheim puts you on an even playing field with the game’s brutal enemies. Holding your shield allows enemy hits to drain your stamina rather than your health. Keeping your shield constantly raised does slow down your stamina regeneration, but having a rested viking can alleviate this.
Once you get the hang of blocking, it’s time to try out parrying. You can parry enemies by blocking just before their attack hits you. A successful parry stuns the enemy briefly and opens them up to critical hits. Finding the rhythm of an enemy’s attack pattern and switching between parrying and attacking them can make short work of any you come across—even bosses.
While Valheim can be brutal, at other times it’s pretty generous—especially when it comes to repairing broken tools. Bringing one or more damaged tools to a workbench or forge will highlight the repair icon near the crafting menu. Clicking this button will repair a random tool that needs repairing in your inventory, free of charge. Later, your tools will need upgraded workstations to be repaired, but those upgrades are one-time costs.
Valheim, despite being in Early Access, has a lot of content squeezed into it, and it may be tempting to run through all the different biomes right when you spawn in. But this approach is nothing more than a death sentence. Your progression through the game is directly tied to the number of bosses you’ve killed. Chances are, if you feel underprepared for an area, it’s because you are. Take your time, upgrade your gear, and tackle the next boss before moving on to the next biome.
Nicolas Perez is a freelance writer and opinion co-editor for the New University. He’s rambling about videogames or something on Twitter @Nic_Perez__