Valheim Review in 2023 – a Viking sandbox

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Valheim Review in 2023 – a Viking sandbox

Re-embarking in the massively popular Viking sandbox: Valheim in 2023 in our Valheim Review.


Since its release in February 2021, Valheim has remained one of the most captivating open-world games ever. It's striking retro aesthetic and endless possibilities gives players the opportunity to live out the Viking fantasies of their dreams. Valheim's mystical biomes and all of its perilous dangers has earned the indie breakout success. The game got 5 million unit sales in the first month, a humongous feat for Iron Gate Studios, who originally started with a dev team of 5 people. And now that the mythical sandbox is set to leave Early Access this year, let's take a look at Valheim's current state to see if it holds up in 2023.

Valheim

 

Procedurally-Generated Purgatory

First and foremost, Valheim is a survival game that emphasizes exploration, resource management, and combat. Players start in a procedurally generated world that is filled with monsters, wildlife, and useful resources. As you progress through the game, you'll encounter new biomes, each with their unique challenges and rewards. Throughout the game, you'll need to gather resources like wood, stone, and food to build your shelter, weapons, and armor. As you advance, you'll face increasingly difficult monsters that will require new strategies and weapons to defeat.

In the game, you are tasked by Odin to explore Valheim's landscape to find and defeat the All-Father's sworn enemies. At present, there are six main bosses that players must find, each one secluded in their respective biomes.

When I got dropped into Valheim's shining Meadows, I was floored by how nostalgic everything felt. The simplistic graphics and the cozy soundtrack joined forces to reel me in. And despite the obvious kinks in Valheim's rudimentary crafting system, my friends and I fully enjoyed building our first base. As time went on, we ventured past familiar territory and explored Valheim's different biomes (and subsequently got our butts kicked.)

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Without getting into spoilers, every biome feels completely different from the last. The music score (shoutout to Valheim's composer Patrik Jarlestam) changes in every ecosystem and contributes so much to the immersion. Furthermore, the game adds just enough challenge so that you get your fill before moving on to the next level. The Norse sim still finds ways to keep you on your toes though. In my case, five other friends and I foolishly settled into the comfort of our full armor sets, believing that the next biome would be a walk in the park. A few minutes later we were down two men and were chased out by exactly two Viking zombies, crying for the peace and quiet of the Meadows.

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Vikings Together Strong

Valheim's strongest point is undoubtedly its multiplayer experience.

From the outset, players can freely run game servers for their other friends to join in on the glorious fun Valheim offers. The Valheim experience has become more immersive and enjoyable, and it's all owed to the playerbase. Since it's 2021 debut, the developers have been hard at work at improving its servers, and has given millions of players smoother and more stable gameplay than ever before.

The community around Valheim has also continued to thrive, with active player communities and events hosted by both developers and fans. Stack online collaboration on top of that, and you've got a banger of a modding community that has enriched the social experience for everyone. Whether you're looking for a casual co-op experience or competitive PvP mechanics, Valheim's got something for everyone.

One of the best moments of my playthrough was when we installed mods onto our community server. At the very beginning our goal was clear: to augment our Valheim server with cooler weapons, and to get better inventory management. This was the vanilla version's biggest area of improvement. Currently, you're only given 32 equipment slots, 4 being reserved for your protective gear. In Valheim's expansive world full of collectible plants, food items, build materials and mob drops, players are going to want more options to carry stuff around.

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Far Over the Misty Mountains

You can't talk about playing the Valheim in 2023 without mentioning its biggest expansion.

Released at the tail-end of 2022, Valheim's “The Mistlands” update was the game's largest expansion yet. It introduced a whole new biome, and offered new crafting stations as well as new monsters to fight. The Mistlands is covered in a thick sheet of oppressive mist that blinds players as they travel. Here, thick rock structures pierce the veil to offer some respite from the mist-covered floor and the tough monsters below. Lastly, the Norse sandbox update introduced us to “The Queen”, Valheim's sixth and deadliest boss.

Newer players won't have to worry about entering the Mistlands before the endgame. However, be warned. The new biome's unique monstrosities and signature blinding fog is a challenge to even the most hardy Viking. But you don't have to face Valheim's many dangers alone.

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Conclusion

Valheim is a highly enjoyable Viking sandbox that continues to captivate players in 2023. The game has come a long way since its release in 2021, with multiple updates and a chunky expansion that have added new features, enemies, and challenges. The visuals have been improved for the better, and the game now offers smoother gameplay and better performance. Valheim's cooperative multiplayer mode remains a standout feature, allowing players to work together to explore, build, and survive its beautifully crafted world. Overall, Iron Gate Studios' Valheim is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a fun, challenging, and immersive gaming experience with friends.

Valheim is available to play on PC, Xbox One and Xbox X/S.


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Valheim Review in 2023 – a Viking sandbox
Paul Goño
Paul started writing for ESTNN in 2022, the same year he beat his first Souls game. An avid fan of RPGs, his all-time favorites include Baldur's Gate 3, Assassin’s Creed and Kingdom Hearts 2. Besides being a professional nerd, he still struggles to get over the broken PS2 memory card that stored years of his save files.