Some more Valheim thoughts as I cross 100+ hours played according to Steam. This is all based on playing consistently with a small group of friends. I think everything overall would be less fun/interesting solo.
The boss fights are very well done, having seen 3 of the 5 so far (number 4 will be this Saturday). They remind me of oldschool MMO raid bosses in that when you first attempt them, you go through a learning curve of their mechanics and need to bring your best consumables to help with the odds. Then as you further progress in the game, those bosses, that once seemed so difficult, feel far more manageable in the event you need to kill them again. Adding more bosses and big monsters to the game will go a long way.
Each of the biomes feels very different. The meadows are calm and easy to navigate. Black Forest really captures the sense of being surrounded by trees and tougher terrain, with woodland creatures/enemies around. The swamp is hard to navigate because of all the shallow water and the leeches that occupy it. It’s also dark and always feels dangerous because of the many poison blobs and draugers. Mountains, after you gain protection from the cold, are more open, but the verticality and the need to sprint/jump around can leave you without stamina to fight back. Finally, plains, the current end-game zone, are open and seem inviting while being populated by deadly insects and goblin cities + patrols. If anything I feel swamps and plains should switch places in terms of progression. Goblins aren’t scarier than the undead. As with the bosses, more biomes will be very welcome.
Finally crafting feels about right in Valheim. Gathering resources does take time, especially metals, but it also feels rewarding. Getting a new tier or type of weapon or armor feels like a big deal, and with each type of weapon having a different feel in combat, switching is a noticeable change. Another important aspect of advancing is being able to go back to earlier biomes and actually feeling significantly stronger. It feels good to one-shot enemies that tormented you in the past.
I believe our current plans are to finish the existing content of Valheim, meaning beating the Plain biome boss, and then wait for more content to be added. If the content addition is soon and significant, we will likely play it right away. If not, we can always return for a fresh run at a later date, perhaps when the game leaves Early Access.
I think the thing that impresses me the most here is the pacing. I never feel like I’m waiting on anything to complete, and there’s always one more ‘interesting’ task to complete. The simple act of discovery, knowing its entirely possible to die around the corner…feels great.
For a survival game to not feel menial is a hell of an achievement.
Yea, in our game I do most of the collecting for food, and even that never feels like a massive grind. It’s nice to go for a stroll in the Black Forest, one-shotting things as you pick berries and whatnot.
I think a lot of the stuff that could feel grindy doesn’t because of the pacing. Chopping down trees takes three or four hits, splitting them into logs three or four more. Same with mining. Gathering is a single click with no progress bar. It all feels very zippy, moment to moment, which makes the fact that it takes hours and hours in total far less noticeable.
Also the crazy physics of everything bouncing and rolling and exploding helps to make things that could feel like chores feel more like playtime.