Returning to Valheim

When Valheim launched in February 2021 it was possibly one of the greatest adventures me and my friends have shared online since MMORPGs stopped being good. It was a nearly perfect game and I remember being completely immersed and absorbed by the beautiful world, the great building features and well-balanced mechanics and progression. It was probably also the last time I’ve experienced the famed “running and screaming in terror” that gamers like to refer to with some nostalgia when talking about the good old days of gaming. There’s no doubt that Valheim ranks as one of my top favorite games of all time (overall, not just within the open world survival genre). Games such as this are very rare.

And yet after arriving in the Plains after the initial launch frenzy, things came to an almost screeching halt. Valheim’s indie dev team, Iron Gate Studio, were clearly taken aback by their success. It took them 1.5 years to release the next biome Mistlands and almost the same amount of time to drop the Ashlands expansion this May 2024. Not discounting smaller additions to the game like the Hearth & Home features or Cult of the Wolf optimizations, that is an awfully long time to release new content.

The inevitable happened for me and my group of five – everyone lost interest after the Plains were bested in spring 2021 and most of the gearing and crafting had been optimized to the max. The dedicated server save on which our build had been running was lost by someone’s mistake or other, much to my chagrin. Half a year later, nobody mentioned Valheim anymore. It was as if all memory of it had indeed passed on to the afterlife of Valhalla and only Huginn and Muninn remained to tell the tale.

Home base

It’s hard to come back from such a long break, yet whenever I’m reading Valheim posts by other bloggers I feel it pulling at me something fierce. Now Wilhelm reported that the Mistlands biome was a very mixed bag and often more odious chore than epic adventure. And apparently the developer’s plan for Ashlands is to be as unforgiving and tedious as possible…to slow player progress? Not the greatest prospects. To echo Bhagpuss, I’m not interested in playing Elden Ring Valheim. I’ve no idea what the developers real intentions are but I certainly never thought of Valheim as a particularly difficult game. It was tuned just right to keep your attention, sometimes frustrating but never joyless. I cringe at the idea that they’ve gone and overtuned things in Mistlands or the more recent biome which according to many forum discussions is an endlessly respawning mob rush.

Will I still find Valheim enjoyable when I reach the new biomes? It’s hard to say. Difficulty is often relative, as I have found when playing games that other players consider too easy or too hard. I’m no sucker for punishment for the sake of it, yet I can certainly sink my teeth into a more hardcore title. The question is always: is it hard but motivating? Is it well paced and rewarding? Does the difficulty make sense? And if not, do the devs listen to player feedback?

I guess I’ll just have to find out for myself. A brand new server is running anyway, this time our own. Me and the better half have just downed the second boss and the sunrise over our little hut is as poetic as ever. I miss our old base but this is another afterlife we must explore. Here we go again, Valheim.


  1. I will say that the mod that turns off the mist in the Mistlands, mentioned in the post I linked, made my Mistlands experience 100% more enjoyable. With it, the Mistlands are an interesting and pretty zone, and it is a client side only mod so you don’t even need to mess with the server.

    The Ashlands though… we’ll see if Iron Gate relents at all on their hardcore bit. They ended up dialing back the Mistlands some after users complained that they went over the top on difficulty.

    1. Yea, I will definitely look into that mod once I arrive in the biome and tire of the mist gimmick. Thanks for pointing it out!

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