Enshrouded vs Valheim: Which co-op game is the survival king?

Enshrouded vs Valheim: Which co-op game is the survival king?
Enshrouded vs Valheim: Which co-op game is the survival king? (Image credit: Keen Games, Iron Gate Studio)

Enshrouded vs Valheim: which one of these suvival games should you check out first? If you’re looking for a survival co-op game to play with your friends, both titles should be at the top of your list. Maybe you tried one but aren't sure if you'll like the other. It's a tough comparison since both are great games. 

Enshrouded is already one of this year’s hits, gaining 1 million players in just 4 days after its January early access launch. Valheim has been around a bit longer, but the developers continue to add exciting new content. 

These two games have a lot in common – they’re both early access, about the same price, and include similar gameplay mechanics. Valheim supports co-op for up to 10 players while Enshrouded allows up to 16. 

Which survival game is better for co-op, though? This guide breaks down all the major differences you need to know. 

Enshrouded vs Valheim: Price and availability

Enshrouded and Valheim are both early access games, meaning they are technically still in development but open for anyone to play. Both are similarly priced with Enshrouded for $29.99 and Valheim for $19.99. 

The early access version of Enshrouded is only available on Windows, but the final version will be available on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, as well. As of 2024, Valheim is available on Windows, Linux, and Xbox Series X/S. 

Enshrouded vs Valheim: Difficulty

Fighting a troll in co-op on Valheim

Trolls WILL attack your base in Valheim (Image credit: Iron Gate Studio)

Difficulty is one of the most glaring differences between Enshrouded and Valheim. After spending dozens of hours in both games, I can confidently say that the level of challenge is a deciding factor between these two titles. 

Overall, Valheim is a much more challenging game. You can take two steps into the wrong biome and end up immediately swarmed by unforgiving enemies. Even non-combat tasks like mining often require fending off trolls, wolves, or hordes of other enemies, making it at least a two-person job. 

Enshrouded isn’t nearly as brutal. You’ll still die, of course, but not nearly as often as in Valheim. You also keep some of your inventory when you die, including equipped items like armor. Most enemies stay in specific spots or areas, making them easy to avoid if you’re low on HP. Plus, you can fast-travel back to your base at any time. 

Exploring the first shroud zone in Enshrouded

Watch your timer when exploring shroud areas in Enshrouded (Image credit: Keen Games)

The shroud is one unique element of Enshrouded that can take the difficulty up a notch. Certain areas of the map are ‘enshrouded’ in a toxic fog that you can only withstand for a short period. A timer on your HUD shows how long is left before you have to either leave the shroud or die trying. You can end up in serious trouble if you get lost in a shroud area when your timer runs out.

Even with the shroud timer mechanic, Enshrouded is still much easier than Valheim. If you mostly want to play solo, Enshrouded is the way to go. However, Valheim’s difficulty makes co-op a must (unless you’re up for a seriously hardcore single-player experience).

Enshrouded vs Valheim: Combat

A well-defended base in Valheim

You're going to need a well-defended base to stay safe in Valheim (Image credit: Iron Gate Studio)

Combat is one of my favorite aspects of Enshrouded, but Valheim has its advantages, too. Generally, Valheim’s combat is more challenging, which lends itself well to co-op play. In contrast, Enshrouded’s combat is more fast-paced, yet manageable for one player and typically very easy for a group. 

Fights in Valheim tend to take a bit longer, especially for high Hit Point (HP) creatures like trolls, stone golems, abominations, or bosses. In Enshrouded, fights are usually over in just a few well-timed moves. 

For example, the first boss in Enshrouded is a Fell Thunderbrute you need to defeat to clear your first Elixir Well. That boss fight is shorter than a typical fight with a troll in Valheim. For context, trolls aren’t bosses, which should really tell you something about the difficulty in Valheim compared to Enshrouded. 

With that said, combat in both games is a lot of fun. While Valheim’s boss fights are brutally challenging, you feel a huge sense of accomplishment when you and your fellow Vikings finally emerge victorious. Enshrouded’s combat is more satisfying for those who like to quickly take out strings of enemies in short, snappy fights, rather than longer encounters.

Enshrouded vs Valheim: Magic

Fighting using a wand in Enshrouded

Wands give Enshrouded an edge in this co-op game showdown (Image credit: Keen Games)

One of the big differences in gameplay is magic. While Valheim does have magic, you can’t access it until pretty late in the game (you need to get to the infamous Mistlands biome first). In contrast, you can get your hands on a magic wand within your first hour of playing Enshrouded. 

A wand or staff can make a world of difference in combat. You can jump between both in battle to deal a ton of damage without ever getting into melee range. This makes solo gameplay in Enshrouded not only manageable but a lot of fun. In co-op, melee-caster teams are practically unstoppable. 

This touches on one feature where I think Enshrouded has a significant advantage over Valheim: classes and skill trees. Enshrouded has a skill tree that allows you to build your character in line with a variety of classes like battlemage, tank, or assassin. Valheim has skills that upgrade with use but lacks a traditional skill tree or this level of character customization.

Enshrouded vs Valheim: Crafting and exploration

Portals help with travel and exploration in Valheim

Portals help with travel and exploration in Valheim (Image credit: Iron Gate Studio)

Crafting and exploration differ significantly between Enshrouded and Valheim. Enshrouded features the same sprawling open world map in every game, so exploration effectively peaks with your first playthrough. In contrast, Valheim gives you an entirely new world to explore with every new game. The sheer variety keeps exploration fresh in co-op games, especially on long ocean voyages. 

When it comes to crafting, both games have their advantages. Valheim has a structural stability mechanic, which makes construction more challenging. The risk of your base getting frequently attacked also influences construction, so you often have to build defensive military outposts to survive in hostile biomes. However, the crazy physics in Valheim can make for some pretty hilarious situations in co-op. 

Chatting with an NPC in Enshrouded

You can summon NPCs to your village in Enshrouded, like Oswald the blacksmith (Image credit: Keen Games)

In contrast, Enshrouded creates a safe zone around the Flame at the heart of your base. Building has no structural stability mechanic, either. So, construction is much easier than in Valheim.

Enshrouded also has NPCs you can awaken around the map and bring to your village like a blacksmith, a hunter, and an alchemist. These NPCs allow you to access new crafting recipes and items. They also give quests and snippets of lore. There are similar NPCs in Valheim, but they’re harder to find and can’t be relocated.

Bottom line

Enshrouded and Valheim are both a lot of fun solo and co-op, but Valheim has a slightly better co-op experience. Its worlds are procedurally generated, which provides plenty of variety every time you start a new game. The combat difficulty also motivates you to work together with your fellow players and makes boss fights an exciting, rewarding experience. 

Enshrouded is better for people who mainly want to play solo with the option for co-op now and then. It has more of a story than Valheim and the world and gameplay feel like something out of a “Zelda” title. The lower difficulty and more relaxed atmosphere make Enshrouded more welcoming to solo players than Valheim, especially with features like recruitable NPCs, a skill tree, and magic. 

Stevie Bonifield
Freelance Writer

Stevie Bonifield is a freelance tech journalist specializing in keyboards, peripherals, gaming gear, and mobile tech. Outside of writing, Stevie loves indie games, photography, and building way too many custom keyboards