The Norse/Viking genre continues to throw up exciting new games, with Valheim from the Iron Gate Studio development team giving players another chance to do battle. What do we know about this game that was recently released on Steam?
The Story of the Game
You play a Norse warrior who was killed in a battle. The Valkyries have now transported your soul to the tenth Norse world, where you need to explore and do battle with ferocious beasts. The settings include forests, swamps, and mountains, while among the gameplay features you can build castles, create new weapons, and sail Viking longships. Anyone trying the new NVIDIA RTX 3080 Ti should enjoy seeing how it shows the intricate details on the screen.
The trailer videos show a beautifully detailed world with music that switches from haunting to thrilling as the game progresses. It provides a variety of challenges, as players need to survive in tough environments and also take on the fierce creatures that roam the land. While it is based on Norse folklore, the creators have added in some of their own ideas. For instance, traditional mythology states that there are only nine realms in the Norse world spreading out from Yggdrasil, while they have added a tenth.
A raven named Hugin takes the role of tutorial NPC, and the developers recently shared a video in which the unfortunate bird gets destroyed in a variety of creative ways. They shared the video on Twitter, and players were generally on the side of the raven, as he wasn’t really interrupting the gameplay in most of the examples.
The game was put on early release in February 2021 and an update is expected soon in the shape of a Hearth & Home pack. While an exact date for this hasn’t yet been confirmed, it looks like we can expect to find some relatively minor changes to some of the characters and mechanics in it.
How Has It Been Received?
The initial reaction to the release of Valheim has been positive. An early access review from IGN mentioned the beautiful, deliberately lo-fi graphics and the satisfying control methods for handling the longships that you build. The images should look great on the first HDMI 2.1 monitor to be released by ASUS, or it could be an ideal game to play on an Alienware gaming laptop.
The Polygon review called it similar to early MMORPGs rather than looking like more recent games in this genre, pointing out that it is possible to spend more time looking for food and resources than fighting the game’s different beasts. Two to ten players can work on a cooperative basis as they explore the huge world and attempt to survive all of the dangers.
In the Washington Post’s extensive review, they confirm the complexity of some tasks and the satisfaction that comes from doing the job well. It also mentions that the temptation of searching online for tips is something that players might find hard to resist.
Overall, the reviews are very positive and it seems as though this might soon be regarded as a classic game. Of the negative comments so far, some players have noted a few stability issues. However, this is perhaps to be expected with over three million users joining up in the first few weeks after its release. Valheim reached as high as number three in the list of the games on Steam with the most concurrent players, although it sits outside the top ten at the time of writing.
Where Else Will You Find Vikings and Norse Gods?
The presence of Norse mythology and Vikings in pop culture shows no sign of slowing down. Filming was completed on Robert Eggers’ The Northman movie in late 2020, although no release date for it has yet been published. This Viking film stars Alexander Skarsgård as a Nordic prince, with Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe, and singer Björk also in the cast.
Also due out soon is the spin-off that follows on from the hugely successful Vikings series on the History Channel that started in 2013. Called Vikings: Valhalla, it is set about a century after the original series. This new program was announced in 2019 and will appear on Netflix, with famous characters such as Erik the Red, who founded a settlement in Greenland, set to appear in it.
We can also find Norse mythology in several slot titles available on online casino sites. ThunderStruck II from Microgaming is a good example of the genre, as it shows various legendary characters such as Thor and Odin spread over its five reels. This has helped cement the Nordic theme alongside existing slots themes like Ancient Egypt and leprechauns.
Why Is Norse Mythology Still So Popular?
In terms of why this culture is so fascinating to so many people, it seems clear that we love the image of a fierce warrior seeking out new lands in a longship. Viking movies have been popular for decades, with some of the best films of this type including 1958’s The Vikings starring Kirk Douglas and Valhalla Rising from 2009.
Modern technology means that the world the Vikings lived in can now be shown more effectively to create an immersive setting. It is also fair to say that many of us know enough about the culture to be intrigued, but are aware that they are some things we still need to learn. For example, we can see that Vikings were renowned for having excellent hygiene and that they spent most of their time farming.
With several new Viking games and films out soon, we can expect to see even more interest in this period of history. For the moment, anyone who is interested in Norse mythology will find a lot to keep them occupied by playing Valheim.