By now, you might have heard something about Valheim, a fast-selling multiplayer Viking survival game on Steam. Iron Gate, the small developer behind this huge success, proudly announced a week ago that it surpassed 3 million downloads, then a week later, the team announced another million on top of that.
If you’re part of the tidal wave of new Valheim players or if you’re still on the fence about it, you might have a few questions about the gameplay mechanics, especially early on as you set out on your Viking adventure. Valheim helps you with the basics using the crow Hugin as your guide. If you see the bird, talk to it to learn something useful.
Before long, Hugin stops showing up and it's up to you to figure things out from there. This leaves many of the game’s mechanics unexplained, which could leave you doing things the hard way for several hours. To some extent, Valheim wants you to discover the world and its rules on your own, but if that’s not your style, or if you just still can’t figure something out, these pointers should prove handy, even for seasoned Valheim explorers.
Eat food to heal and increase your max HP and stamina
You don’t regenerate health unless you’ve eaten food. And even then, you regen very slowly. Eating not only refills your HP, but it also increases the capacity based on the value of the food. Simple berries provide a small HP boost and regen while cooked meat provides a lot more. You can eat three different food items at a time, so if you can manage to eat three cooked meat items, your max HP and stamina bar will more than double.
Thankfully, you can’t starve if you don’t eat, but you’ll be capped at a minimum of 25 HP. It’s easy to forget, even for players with many hours on the clock, to eat some food before heading out the door and getting into a brawl with a 20-foot troll.
Don’t forget to repair at a workbench, it’s free!
Tools, weapons and armor degrade and become useless over time. However, they can always be repaired for free at the same kind of workbench that made them. This process is completely free and costs no resources. It's also worth keeping in mind that nothing ever breaks permanently.
If you’re not sure where to go or what to do next, craft everything
Valheim gives you some pointers by showing you what to craft next. If you pick something up for the first time, you learn all the possible recipes that item can be used to make. Crafting something, as well as workbench upgrades, will often reveal the next thing you need to do. Aside from crafting, killing bosses will reward you with special items that let you get new resources. If you’ve ever played Terraria, this progression loop should feel familiar.
Double click the map to make a waypoint
I played for more hours than I care to admit without knowing this one. Double click a spot on your map to make a waypoint using one of the pre-selected icons on the right, then type to add text to that marker. Left-click the marker to draw an X over it or right-click to remove it. In multiplayer, only you can see your own markers.
In Valheim you can, and probably will run into enemies that are too tough for the gear you have on. Or maybe you just got swarmed by enemies when you were low on health. Don’t feel obligated to kill everything, just get the heck out of there. Keep calm, be smart about using your sprint stamina, and know that just walking away from a fight (literally) is often enough to keep enemies out of striking distance. Eventually, they will just give up and go away. This tip is really only for the early game, though, as later enemies are more than capable of outrunning you.
Build bigger bases by using support beams
When you build a wall or a roof, the color of the building piece turns a certain color when you look at it. Blue indicates the piece is at maximum stability, while green, yellow and red indicate increasing levels of instability. Eventually, your building pieces will break if you try to place any more. To keep building higher or to build across a big gap, you need to place supporting beams that touch the dirt to provide structural integrity to your bases.
Build a roof to prevent rain damage to your buildings
If you notice your house is slowly taking damage and constantly needs repairs, that’s because parts of it are being exposed to the rain. The only building pieces that can protect your structures are, at this moment, thatch roof pieces. You may need to build thatch awnings or other overhangs to protect your house’s walls, as well.
Check your buffs and debuffs
To check what positive and negative status effects are enabled, open your inventory menu, click the crow icon, and, on that screen, you’ll see a list of what each status is doing for you. Valheim has a lot of them and they all play a big role in your survival.
Get the Rested buff as often as you can
Building a base with a roof provides you the Sheltered status and lighting a fire gives you the Comfort status. On their own, they don’t do anything, but if you wait for a few seconds you’ll get another status: Resting. Then, shortly after, you’ll get Rested. You achieve that state by being sheltered and near a fire for about 10 seconds or more, and that provides a massive boost to your health and stamina regen for several minutes.
As you build up your base and craft improvements to your work benches, your level of Comfort goes up, which extends the duration of the Rested buff after you leave your base.
Save your valuables
Save all your coins and other items the game calls “valuables.” You can trade these with a merchant located somewhere in your game world for items you can only find at his shop.
Use your ship’s paddle when sailing into the wind
Once you get a raft or a boat, you will quickly learn to hate the wind in Valheim as it has a nasty habit of blowing away from the direction you’re trying to sail toward. At least you’re not totally stuck. Tapping up once while controlling a raft or boat will move you forward using just the paddle, regardless of the wind direction.
Use the Corpse Run buff to help get your items back when you die
When you die, your items are left in a little totem on the map. These never disappear, even if the marker on the map goes away (the game only tracks the most recent death). Touching this totem gives you all your items back instantly. That’s when the Corpse Run buff kicks in, and it’s easily the strongest buff in the game. You receive a massive bonus to health and stamina regen as well as to damage-type resistances.
Once you grab your items, eat some food to start regaining health at a super-fast rate and just sprint away from the danger. You’ll notice your stamina barely decreases while the buff is active. You can combine it with the first boss’s reward buff for infinite stamina while sprinting.
Keep your skill levels in mind, but don’t fuss over them
As you play, you’ll notice nearly every action has a skill level attached to it. You can check your skill levels by opening the crafting menu and clicking the triangles. If you hover your mouse over a category, the game will tell you how improving that skill will help you. If you die, these skills are reduced. You may be tempted to grind out these skill levels or, even worse, get discouraged if you die a lot and find your skill levels have reduced significantly. Don’t stress about it.
Valheim tells you what each skill improves but it doesn’t indicate how much improvement is made. In the current build of the game, skills cap out at level 100, death penalizes you by approximately a 15% reduction in skill points, and each skill point only increases the effectiveness of that skill by a fraction of a percent. Bear in mind, this game is still in Early Access and many balance changes can and likely will occur.
Bottom line: Treat skill levels as a bonus for not dying and not as a make-or-break factor in your survival. Getting better weapons and armor will keep you alive and deadly more so than any difference in skill level.
Stun enemies more easily in the water
In combat, you may have noticed the parry system which works by blocking an attack at the exact moment of impact. This stuns the enemy and opens them to a critical hit from you and your allies. You can also stun enemies simply by hitting them repeatedly. If you’re fighting a difficult foe, try luring them into the water and firing arrows at them. You’ll find they become stunned with just a few arrow shots and then open to a salvo of critical hits. Just be aware that enemy loot drops don’t float and there isn’t any way to dive down and get them if the water is too deep.
The dodge roll has invincibility frames
While blocking, you can press a direction and the jump input to perform a dodge roll. This makes you invincible for a few frames of animation during the roll. If you’re feeling brave (and if you’ve played a lot of Dark Souls) this move should prove quite useful.
Build huge dirt walls with a fraction of the stone you normally need
If you craft a hoe, you can raise the dirt up a bit as long as you have stone in your inventory and you’re inside the crafting radius of a workbench. You can make huge dirt pillars and walls this way, but this takes lots of stone. If you wanted to make a large dirt wall (which enemies can’t break down or jump over), you’d need to spend a ton of time collecting enough stone.
But there’s an easier way. Use the hoe to raise the ground underneath you. Click to raise the group up about two or three times. You might notice the ground rises in the shape of a square. Stand on that square and point your crosshair right at one of the edges of that square and use the hoe to raise up some more ground. The dirt in front of you will rise up to meet your current height using just one set of stone. Keep going and you’ll make a huge ramp upward with a solid, impenetrable dirt wall under you. Most enemies in the game will be completely unable to break through or get over this wall. It’s also useful for creating safe transit across dangerous areas. However, you can’t raise dirt this way over open water. I definitely tried.
If you’re playing with PvP turned on, one good pickaxe hit from another player will make a hole in this wall in no time, so this isn’t a useful defense against other players.