On top of the traditional survival game tropes, Valheim has masterfully integrated RPG elements that put the cherry on top of the cake. Consequently, this has been attracting players who usually don’t even bother playing this genre. Amongst such new players are those who prefer to play alone and considering the cooperative/multiplayer nature of this beast, does it even provide value to solo players?
In a nutshell, Valheim is definitely a fun game even when you are playing it solo. Playing this game as a single-player RPG does provide a lot of enjoyment.
What makes it a fun experience as a single player is the point of this article, so read along and find out.
Valheim is a game that took Steam by surprise even though it’s been in early access to this day. It managed to gather a huge player base and overwhelmingly positive reviews on the platform and is still going strong.
Valheim is a lot more than just another survival game as it has some meaningful RPG elements, an amazing open world, and understated unique aesthetics. The game is in early access and you would probably never even notice that as it runs flawlessly and a lot of the features in the game feel polished.
Survival games usually lack a proper single-player experience and even when they have the option to play solo, it becomes evident that the game’s mechanics weren’t designed with that in mind. Valheim does allow you to play in single-player mode and is quite enjoyable even if you’re going at it alone. When you start the game you do have the option to play and co-op with your friends or online with up to 10 players on one server.
The world map in Valheim is procedurally generated each time you create a new world and it is hard to believe this at first simply because the map in this game is really well designed and it doesn’t feel like it’s as random as it should be. Generally whenever you hear procedurally generated it immediately to comes to mind of some painfully generic open world map but the world map in Valheim is far from that.
You have the option to create a new world and play it with any of your characters. Hopping between new worlds with a new character, it is quite visible that the world/map was completely different in each case. The terrain and the object placement are completely different but it’s technically the same map structure in a sense. You always start the game in the middle of the map in the same zone or biome. The way the map is designed is perfect for creating a strong replay value as you will be encountering different things in different worlds.
You will have to manually mark the locations on your map because the game only shows you some major locations, so for example if you find a dungeon or an interesting place it’s best to mark it as soon as possible. It’s really simple to do and it makes the exploration a bit more rewarding.
The world map has a fog of war which means that you won’t be able to see the terrain on the map until you explore it. The size of the world map is insanely huge and exploring it is not an easy thing.
What this game has are great visuals. Valheim has a cartoony pixelated art style with low polygons but is highly stylized. The game looks absolutely stunning most of the time and it is hard not to stop every once in a while to take a screenshot of the beauty that surrounds you.
While the art style is pretty good in general, the lighting and different weather effects push the envelope even further, the same place on the map can feel completely different depending on the weather and time of day.
The game has a day and night cycle that is very breathtaking when it is experienced. The nights are not completely dark like in some other survival games as you can still see where you are going most of the time even without a light source. The sunset is probably the most beautiful time visually in the game and is also a good reminder to prepare yourself for the night and its many dangers.
On top of this, the game has a great soundtrack which makes the atmosphere even better. Although after a long play session it can get repetitive as there is not a huge selection of tracks in the game. But when all of this comes together, the atmosphere that this game creates is absolutely amazing.
Valheim has a lot of survival features that you would expect to find in a game in this genre but it tries its best to avoid potentially annoying mechanics. It’s not a game where you can die of starvation (a very common feature in survival games) but you will still want to eat and stay warm because of the negative effects or rather the buffs you get from those actions. Overall, the survival mechanics don’t feel burdensome and are quite manageable.
Starting The Game – Objective
As soon as you start the game, you will get a brief history and the overall setting lesson about the world and how things work here. Valheim is obviously inspired by Norse mythology. There will be a crow at the start that will appear to explain how things work each time you discover something new.
Your main goal is to eliminate the major threats that roam this world in order to be granted access to Valhalla. That basically means that each major zone in the game has a big boss fight that awaits you and this gives you a nice dose of motivation to actually work towards something instead of just trying to survive in the game. Taking down those bosses is the ultimate goal but as you would imagine there is a lot more to do in the game besides that.
You obviously start off with nothing but it won’t take long before you learn some basic crafting recipes by simply picking stuff up. One of the first things you are going to learn is chopping trees, unsurprisingly. Even this mundane activity can be pretty fun to do as there is some nice attention to detail here. If the tree falls on a nearby tree, it has the chance to bring it down as well, which looks and feels really satisfying, it can also do damage to your character or nearby enemies.
It is really important to make these repetitive activities as fun as possible in a game like this and fortunately, Valheim seems to do a good job when it comes to this. These activities become a lot more enjoyable when your skills are increased.
RPG Elements And Progression
Valheim uses a skill improvement system which means that almost every activity in the game has a skill behind it and you can improve them by simply performing those actions repeatedly. Running, jumping, using different weapons, and similar activities in the game all work like this and it’s done really well. The sense of character progression is really decent in Valheim because of this and it’s not something that you would expect to experience in a survival game.
The other side of the progression system in Valheim is the technical advances that you work towards, this includes gathering all kinds of resources, crafting, and improving your base and your equipment. The game does a good job when it comes to teaching the player how to improve the tools they need to progress further while not trying to hold your hands.
The game presents this feature with a step-by-step approach for example you start off with a workbench that you have to improve in order to make certain items and it’s really easy to figure out how to improve it as long as you have the appropriate materials, for which you will have to explore the world and gather material.
When it comes to building your base you can basically do it anywhere on the map or you can also frequently find abandoned houses which usually need to be repaired. So it is up to you to decide whether to stick with these places and improve them or you can build your place from scratch.
The individual parts snap on mechanic of base building is reliable but it can be a little janky in some situations. The base building mechanic is very robust and you can go crazy with your base design as long as you have the materials. As a side note, just remember not to build your roofs too low.
The combat in Valheim uses the stamina system for basically everything like melee and ranged attacks, dodging, blocking, running, swimming, and sneaking. Although this is not extremely aggressive because regenerating your stamina is not that hard and you can simply walk around without performing any actions for a few seconds and your stamina bar gets filled up pretty quickly.
The combat in general feels decent and fun even though the animations are not that great and attacks can feel a bit stiff. There’s a good amount of different weapon types and you will find at least one that is to your liking, the bow is really fun to use.
There are also stealth mechanics in the game making you harder to detect when you’re sneaking which can be really useful in some situations. Even with the low stealth skill, enemies will have a hard time detecting although sneaking also uses stamina so it’s a balanced tradeoff.
All the enemies explode (it doesn’t hurt you though) after a few seconds when you kill them releasing a confetti of items which is very satisfying. The game also rewards you for timing your blocks which is like a parry mechanic, it’s really useful to learn as you can’t always rely on spamming your dodges.
The combat is quite enjoyable and provides room to experiment with different weapon types. If you’re having trouble with a large pack of enemies then you can pick a weapon with high knockback stats or go with a long-range weapon. Fighting weaker enemies can feel like you’re playing a hack-and-slash game, while some stronger enemies and bigger monsters will require more attention from the player.
The death mechanic in this game is similar to other survival games whereby you will drop everything you have in your inventory and you can get your stuff back if you return to your place of death and recover your tombstone.
However and luckily if you die again then your previous tombstone won’t be lost but the map marker will shift to the new location of your death. You can simply go back to your initial death place and recover your items. Your character respawns in the last bed that you slept in. This should motivate you to always be careful.
The quality of the UI does feel a bit lacking. The crafting UI is decent at best, the inventory UI is really basic, and the game doesn’t have a separate screen for the equipment you are carrying. The whole user interface in general feels like it needs a bit of a facelift.
You can find a lot of satisfaction in experiencing Valheim alone especially if you are an avid RPG fan. We can recommend this game easily to anybody be it solo or co-op. Players who have shunned survival games from their life can also find Valheim up to their liking. So you can start Valheim and get lost in the vast world it presents with even more stuff being added overtime.