I had to see what all the fuss was about….
I’m very impressed!! The blocky, almost Minecraft-like pixelated backdrop did not bother me nearly as much as I thought it would. Your eyes don’t really focus on it after a while, and in any case there is some smoothness to be seen in parallel. Maybe they’ll sharpen it all up once it leaves Early Access…that remains to be seen, but in any case, I’m not one that finds pixelated textures in a 2021 game “charming”.
This is a game where you basically just make it up as you go along. As such, so far as I’m aware, there’s no quests, as such. You just run around killing stuff and collecting stone and wood to craft and build with. That isn’t nearly as boring as I managed to make it sound.
Now to the whole buzz of the game – the building. Although I was given a vague idea that I could craft this out of that, and other things would then unlock, courtesy of this crow with glowing eyes, I did NOT find anything about what I needed to do obvious at all – to the point where I had to just look up how to build the workstation, then how to repair stuff (this wasn’t a cheat – just the controls). That’s one learning curve I am very happy to skip, thanks, and it would have been nice if I’d have been able to fathom what the hell I actually needed to do in a slightly more intuitive way than that.
But once I got going, ohhh man I was off and running! You just want to build more and more. This is what saps the hours away – finding out you can build more tools, and more tools equal more things you can make, but to actually make much more you need to go back out and gather more resources. Whether this all holds up long term remains to be seen. But it’s a pleasure so far just running around gathering, and levelling up your various skills (increased by chopping, killing things and running and jumping).
The music is lovely, sounding very much like a mixtape of Morrowind, Gothic II and Risen. The “mixtape” is a compliment – I am not saying “they ripped off those 3 soundtracks”, because they didn’t – but if you’ve extensively played all those 3 games as I have, there is no way you wouldn’t be reminded of them all when you listen to the Valheim music.
Combat is fluid, although slightly marred by some dodgy movement whereby you simply can’t turn round efficiently if the enemy ends up behind you and attacks you. The combat controls are as simple as they come and that’s exactly how I like it.
Other controls are a bit of a pain. For example, the only way I found so far to exit the build mode, or placement mode of something you’ve built, was to select a different tool – which involved pressing the number and/or exiting the inventory menu. This is a bit of a faff if, say, you were about to place a bench outside, when suddenly a little imp comes along trying to kill you and you need to quit out of those menus in a SPLIT second. Well, you can’t. Or at least I couldn’t find any other way other than to close the menu then select a tool I could attack with (if you leave it on the hammer, it will just forever think you want to repair or build something else).
When you die, you’re re-incarnated minus all your inventory but it seems you do retain your skill levels. That’s only a minor pain, really. Your house you built is still all there.
All in all, so far so good! It’s been a long time since any game has kept me wanting to play for THAT long at a time. In fact the only thing that stopped me was the pitiful Windows 10 crashing to a BSOD. Again.