At first glance, you may think Valheim to be as simplistic as its graphics, however, this survival game is anything but. Valheim is a hardcore survival game that heavily focuses on building so you can shape the world to your benefit. The major driving force in the game is defeating bosses to access new building materials, so you can craft better gear or make sturdier structures.
This game offers landscaping, farming, epic boss fights, and dungeons that can leave you sweating as you barely scrape through alive. All the mechanics in this game can be quite daunting to a newcomer. But fear not, young Viking, for I am here to guide you through this wonderful world you’re about to be lost in.
Before You Begin
Before your journey begins, you should be aware that Valheim can eat up a lot of your time. This is easily a 40-50 hour adventure through all of the game’s boss fights. Your time is mainly spent building and venturing out for supplies, finding dungeons for precious recourses, or finding and preparing for the next boss. Though there are countless things to do, I’d say your biggest time dump will be in making your house your own.
Once you get the hang of things, you probably will find yourself watching countless YouTube videos discovering new and interesting building techniques; I know I sure have. I mention the time commitment not because a casual player can’t experience the fun of the game in the first few hours of play, but because Valheim quickly grabs hold and won’t let go. So, maybe clear your gaming schedule for a bit.
Another thing to consider before playing is that Valheim offers multiplayer for you to play with up to 9 other players! If this at times brutal game seems just a tad bit too daunting to play alone, try to get a few friends to help make a wonderful Viking village with you.
This is also a great way to speed up your progress through the game as each player can have a specific job to do if you so choose. For instance, one player could be dedicating their time to hunting deer to cook and stock chests up with food.
Someone else could have the extremely important role of a miner, as they spend their days collecting copper and tin. If you can’t find any friends to play with, there are active communities that you can join as well, so you can enjoy Valheim with fellow Vikings across the globe!
Hit The Ground Running
Once you create your character and name your world, you will literally be dropped into the game. Seriously, a giant bird carries you in to your world and drops you at the starting point. Although Valheim is procedurally generated, you’ll always be dropped into a circle of stone pillars.
These pillars correlate to the bosses in the game and once that boss is defeated, you’ll bring their trophy back to this location in order to gain a special ability, each of which drastically helps you on your journey.
Upon your arrival, you’ll want to immediately forage for berries and mushrooms. You won’t starve to death without food, but you won’t survive long without sprinting. You see, the food you eat (up to three different kinds) affects your stamina and overall health. The better quality of food you consume, the more stamina and health you will have at your disposal.
Once you’ve gathered your woodland treats, open your inventory with the tab button and right-click to eat a particular food. You can only have three different kinds of food in your tummy at any given time, and they must not be the same food. In other words, you cannot eat three berries at once; it must be a diversified meal.
With your belly full of berries and shrooms, you’ll next want to pick branches up off the ground in order to collect wood and make sure to grab the stones you see littering the ground as well. You’ll use the two ingredients to create your first tool: the axe.
Afterward, you’ll want to make your way to a body of water, preferably a vast one like an ocean or lake. Needing to keep your character hydrated is not a worry in Valheim, but starting your first base near a body of water is a huge advantage.
In Valheim, there are enemies galore, and they will always spawn near you in some capacity. If you build with your back to the water, that’s one flank you don’t have to sweep enemies away from. Building near the water will also come in handy later in the game once you’ve unlocked and built a raft or boat.
So you’ve found the perfect beachfront property to start your Viking afterlife on, now it’s time to start building. You’ll first need wood – and lots of it – so chop chop! Swing that new axe of yours at some trees a handful of times to chop it down, but make sure you or a friend are not in its falling trajectory. Once you’ve got all the wood your Viking legs can carry, you will need to craft a hammer to then equip and use to build a workbench.
Make sure to place the workbench close to where you wish to build structures; the dashed large white circle that appears after you lay it down is the radius in which you can build. Once your house or temporary shack is built and roofed, make sure to place a bed down to fast forward the terrifying night and also set your spawn point. You’ll also need to place a fire near your bed before you can sleep in it.
At this point in your journey, you are sure to have been attacked by a boar or seen a deer hopping through the woods. If you’ve already partaken in your animalistic instincts, you’ll most likely already have some meat in your inventory. But to consume the food, you’ll first need to cook it.
If you bring out your trusty hammer, in the build options (bring up this menu by right-clicking while your hammer is equipped) you’ll find a cooking spit. This will have to be placed over an open fire and you will have to manually cook your meat with it. Make sure to watch your cooking carefully, if left on the fire for too long it will burn to coal!
What’s The Loop?
As I previously stated, the bulk of your time will be spent building out your home. Because of this, the core loop of Valheim is mostly building with the resources you have and then going out to gather more so you can continue building your desired structure. Gather, build, repeat.
And let me tell you, the building system in this game surpasses any other I’ve encountered in the survival genre. The sheer amount of customization this game offers is profound, plus the developers are constantly adding new items to the game.
In order to build a wider array of items and building materials, the bosses in this world will have to be found and conquered. You’ll face the deer god, Eikthyr, first in your journey. In your adventuring so far, you’ll most likely have come by his Forsaken Altar (aka boss summoning location).
If you haven’t found his location yet, you can wander around in the Meadows area until you stumble upon a stone table surrounded by other large boulders. To summon him, you’ll have to present two deer trophies, which are dropped randomly with slight rarity from – you guessed it – deer!
The other bosses will be summoned in similar ways with differing trophies. Each gives you access to something you weren’t able to get before, thus opening your range of crafting ingredients. Eikthyr, for example, will drop the ingredient “hard antler” which you can use to make a pickaxe to gather copper and tin ore.
Things I Wish I Knew
With everything, hindsight is 20/20 and there are plenty of things I wish I knew when my Valheim time was in its infancy; the most important being smoke ventilation. When building your house you’ll have had to place a fire close to your bed in order to sleep the night away. I personally destroy a floor panel and put the fire on the bare ground in order to bring warmth to my home.
There’s one flaw in this plan and it makes perfect sense in real life: fire produces smoke and smoke can kill you. If you have nowhere for the smoke to go, you’ll fill your house with unbreathable air. To remedy this, a chimney will need to be placed over your open fire, but make sure to put a roof over the top of the chimney with an opening facing out the side of your house, without your fire will be extinguished when it next rains.
Something the player should learn and master as fast as possible is building with weight-bearing structures. In the real world, you need beams or rafters to keep things structures from caving in on themselves and the world of Valhiem abides by these same principles.
You can tell how sturdy each structure is by its color: green is stable, yellow is less so, and red is moments away from falling to pieces. I wish I would have known this early on so I could have mastered it right out of the gate.
Another item I wish I had made my priority early on was the immensely useful cart. With it, you can store loads more supplies than you can carry on your person, which makes that loop of gathering that much easier.
You or your friends can also hop into your cart and be chauffeured like the fancy Vikings you truly are. To get the cart, you’ll first have to defeat the deer god and have already collected some copper and a smelter.
This brings us to the next key thing I wish I would have known are the tiny rare cubes known as surtling cores. After defeating Eikythr, you’ll be able to mine copper and tin, but you won’t be able to do anything with that ore until you have wiped out a dungeon or two.
Defeating dungeons is absolutely crucial if you hope to build out of stone or other materials. Within those dungeons, you’ll come across surtling cores, which are little red cubes that you need in order to make a forge, a teleporter, or pretty much any midgame mechanic that can propel you into the late game.
Things to Avoid
One crucial thing to avoid if you wish to survive your time in Valheim is swimming. Just don’t do it – not even once. As soon as your body touches the water, your stamina starts to decrease.
I mentioned earlier that your stamina is connected to the meals you consume, but even with the best meals in your tummy, you’ll quickly find yourself without a paddle and at the bottom of a river.
Crafting a boat or raft is an excellent remedy to this, but just make sure not to fall off or you’ll be helplessly floating until your stamina is depleted.
Also, I’d like to add that in any situation you should apply a healthy amount of caution. Valheim is a hardcore game and just like others in the survival genre, you’ll drop everything in your inventory if you die. I was once on my little raft floating across the sea and I found a peculiar island.
I made landfall and gathered some resources and as I did so the land vibrated violently and began to sink to the bottom of the sea, taking me with it. I swam desperately for my raft, but couldn’t make it in time. Heed my warning: if you have anything of value on your person, do not go looking for adventure – or let it find you – otherwise, you could lose everything.
Long Term Goals to Consider
If you really click with Valheim‘s building, your main long-term goal should be defeating all the bosses so you can use more building materials. At the very least, you should focus on getting stone building blocks as that’s easily the most fun (and sturdiest) of all the materials.
Glancing at any Valheim media on the internet today, you’ll see loads of amazing builds, most of which use stone blocks throughout the build. Don’t even get me started on all the giant and intricate castles people have made.
Another key goal to focus on is being able to live off the land. If you find yourself spending more time hunting and collecting berries or mushrooms than actually building or dungeon crawling, then you will definitely want to start farming.
To get started, you only need to defeat the first boss so you can unlock the cultivator tool. With the cultivator tool, you can plant seeds and farm the land so you’ll never have to go foraging for berries ever again! To really take your farm to the next level, you can also tame and raise boars, wolves, and lox.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Why can’t I use the workbench?
Answer: Just like the bed, a workbench will need a roof over it in order for it to be used. This can be annoying if you are trying to repair your hammer, which you need to use in order to build. When you notice your hammer’s durability is getting low, or before you start building any other structures, you should place two vertical wood beams on top of each other at the sides of the workbench.
Then place two double-sided roofs over the beams in order to have a make-shift workbench shed. You may also need to place walls on backside of the shed if you are being prompted that the workbench is still too exposed.
Question: How do I chop down Birch trees?
Answer: There are several different kinds of trees in Valheim and two different kinds specifically in the Meadows biome. The larger Beech trees can be chopped down with the first axe you can craft and are the dominant tree in the starting area.
You’ll also see the skinnier white Birch trees that gives you “fine wood” once chopped down, but this requires a sturdier axe. You will need to defeat Eikythr so you can start acquiring copper to make the bronze axe. This axe will be able to chop down Birch, Beech, Oak, Pine, and Fir trees.
Question: What’s the best way to defeat Eikythr?
Answer: Eikythr is the first boss you’ll summon and can be quite challenge if unprepared. You’ll want to make sure you have a full belly of cooked deer, neck, and boar meat. In hunting deer and boar, make sure to grab the deer hide and scraps in order to make a full set of leather armor.
Eikythr primarily does charge attacks and AOE damage, so the best coarse of action is to stay far away and pelt him with arrows. Flint arrows do the most damage, but wood arrows are the cheapest to make and you will need a large amount of arrows to take the deer god down.
Valheim was a breakout hit in early 2021 for good reason; there is so freaking much to see in this amazing Viking survival game. All the basics are here, laid out before you, but with all the great games you can dive so much deeper.
I am confident this Valheim Getting Started guide will serve you well in your first playthrough – just remember to be mindful of your surroundings and build smartly! But above all else, make sure to have fun. The all-knowing Viking god, Odin, would want it that way.
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