Hell of a spring gaming season! There’s a pile of stuff I’m quite interested in that’s coming out shortly. And really, the last few months have been just as amazing. Really hard to find any issues in terms of entertainment.
MArch 26 was the launch day for Monster Hunter: Rise on the Switch. I put in more than 100hrs into Monster Hunter: World, on both PS4 and PC. That is a game with barely a flaw, and the Iceborne expansion was just superb. The reviews so far all indicate the same level of quality. And they refer to the same issue when World launched – the cliffhanger ending and lack of future progress. Capcom has a history of this, and the DLC for content has always been free. I get why they do it, making sure the core is functional and pace out the end game. No different than any MMO on the market delaying the launch of raids, or adding content over time.
I don’t have a Switch, I game almost exclusively on PC. I bought a PS4 really late in the cycle and only because Horizon Zero Dawn was out. That worked out for me, as I did get to play God of War, Monster Hunter: World, Spider-Man, Read Dead Redemption 2, and Ghost of Tsushima. And it makes a decent media center in the rec room. Kids still use the Wii more though! I don’t play more of it primarily due to the costs for online gaming. I get that for free, and the whole Steam/EGS model just plain works better.
Switch… well, that’s a tougher sell. The ‘best’ Switch games are PC games, with the exception of Zelda, Mario, and Animal Crossing. It’s not a good media center. It barely scrapes by at 1080p. It’s gone through one iteration already, and is likely to have a 4K variant this year. The mobility is cool, but I have a tablet with a BT controller that does a better job in almost every regard. The Nintendo Online part also isn’t an easy sell. $25 for a year isn’t the problem – it’s that it doesn’t seem to work consistently. Clearly for cost reasons the Switch is a compromise on multiple fronts.
And all this time I really hadn’t been pushed to even consider it as a viable option. Monster Hunter though… that’s a game I’d LOVE to have as a mobile option. And I’ve saved more than enough in parking fees working remotely to afford it.
Seems Nintendo is aware of this fact and has a Monster Hunter edition Switch, which costs less than the base console + game combined. So let’s see what arrives in the mail in a day…
How Valheim and Loop Hero came out at the same time, and are both early contenders for GOTY is quite interesting. Lucky gamers!
I generally enjoy rogue-lites, or games with an incremental gameplay loop. I really like the strategic aspects, where you are provided some level of control in the starting conditions, then the tactical implications of the RNG in the moment-to-moment parts. Even more pleasant when there are complex systems that build off each other, and you are given the opportunity to learn from mistakes without complete failure.
I have a dozen posts on Hades that cover this in more detail.
Loop Hero is a more passive game, where you impact the world rather than the player. It’s a balancing act of building a challenging world, where the player takes frankly as long as possible to complete a loop, while still surviving. Taking longer means that you get more loot and experience (which gives some passive traits). The loot is used on the strategic layer (home base) to build improvements for the next run.
There’s nothing fancy in that description – almost every idle game on mobile uses this same model. Actively run, collect things, go home, upgrade, and do another run. There aren’t a whole lot of these on PC though. Darkest Dungeon may be the closest comparison, yet that’s much more active than Loop Hero.
I’m not far in the game. I’ve beaten the first boss a few times now, and unlocked the supply depot. In the ‘building tree’ it’s just under the half way mark, and I’m told there are 4 bosses. Far enough to understand the basic mechanics, and not far enough to have all the tools available to me.
I will say that pretty much everything up until the point you take down the first boss feels like molasses. It may be that the costs of the initial buildings are simply too high for my tastes. They have a large impact on gameplay (healing potions!), yet there’s a lack of information to help with explaining what’s a useful choice. Once I unlocked the Supply Depot though… that’s when I really started paying attention.
I got through the intro part of Kingdom Hearts 2, so I do have some level of patience for ultra long tutorials. But I can also recognize them. It’s not a killer, obviously, but it will prevent a larger demographic from getting to the good stuff.
The game is enjoyable, and a good way to spend some time. I would enjoy this a WHOLE lot more if I could save mid-run – right now I’m stuck pausing for hours. Think that’s coming in a future patch …
My kids really love making stuff in Minecraft – I can lose them for an hour or more with ease. They have only fading interest in survival mode, creative really lets them focus on possibilities. They started with the infinite Legos thinking, and have move into more thematic living environments – animals, people, redstone and so on. It scratches that itch of pure build, and there are very few limits to what you can make. Infinite blocks, simple building rules, the sky is the limit.
Most other games that have tried to find a spot that focused on restrictions. Nearly all of them focus on the world trying to kill you – either through hunger, cold, or some animal trying to take you down. The very best of them (like The Long Dark) spin this further by focusing on some underlying story, rather than just a playground. Yet they fundamentally apply the concept of scarcity to move you forward. You always need more and that means you need to continually move out.
Valheim works for me because it doesn’t have scarcity. You can’t die of hunger, cold, or sleep. If you’re low on crafting resources, take down a wall and use that. It has rather simple constructs that can be used in interesting ways to achieve some really amazing things. And these constructs tend to build upon each other, so the content you see in the very first few minutes are still relevant all the way at the end.
While I often gripe about the workbench needing shelter, this sole item is really the fundamental part of building anything in Valheim. Shelter is not just a wall, or a roof, it’s a combination of those things. The broken down huts strewn across the Meadows give you an idea as to what a build could look like, and it only takes a few extra wood to get those stable.
Early you learn about the benefits of fire – it dries you quickly, gives a rested bonus, can be used to cook food, goes out if it’s raining, and if you don’t vent the smoke it can kill you. You learn that doors keep bad guys out, that storage containers are essential, that flooring dramatically helps in any construction. You learn that falling from a roof is just like in real life: it hurts a lot. Same with a falling tree.
Your first real home is the real treat. You need enough room for a bed, some stuff for comfort, chests, and crafting stations. You’re going to have a real roof, and likely learn about overall stability constraints. And given your toolsets (regular wood), the restrictions actually force you to learn what’s possible.
When you do get to portals, remember that being wet and entering the Mountains is a bad idea. Your frost resistant gear doesn’t work while wet. Keep at least 1 portal sheltered.
When you’re in build mode, you’ll see that items come in various colours. Blue means that it’s touching the ground and fully stable. From there, you will get green to red tones, depending on how far you are from the ground, that indicates if the item is stable. Wood is the least stable of all items, and also the largest amount of craftable items. You can stack them to about 6 pieces away from the ground before it crumbles. So a double wall + 3 roof pieces is the limit. Often more than enough for a basic abode. If you’re just stacking as high as possible, it’s 16m.
As you move into the Black Forest, you gain access to Core Wood. Since the benefits are per piece and Core Wood is longer than regular wood, you get more benefit. A full vertical stack of poles goes 24m (6 pieces).
Stone doesn’t have pieces higher than 2m, so it is just as tough to use as wood – max stack of 16m. It’s why you often see stone as the base of a building, not the walls.
Now it gets interesting. Wood iron poles are 2m high, but can stack up to 50m (25 times!) before it fails. They are insanely strong, and allow for some quite ridiculous builds. The obvious downside here is that they take 1 iron per 2m length. But 1 iron is easy! A 2 story building is going to be 4 posts high, and you’re probably going to need 4 of those. A larger settlement may need 50 or more iron if you need any large open spaces or verticality.
A roof that’s 26 degrees is technically shorter than a 45 degree roof. This can save you a lot of headaches if you need to cross long spans with minimal pieces.
A quick note – you can dramatically raise the ground if you click on the very edge of any piece of land. So if you want to build a dock on solid ground, just walk in a straight line, while only clicking once to raise the ground. I’m not sure where the limits are for this but I’ve gone out 3 boat lengths with this method.
I haven’t even talked about trees yet, which always count as the ground. Plant a couple pines, wait 4 or 5 in-game days, and you have a house on stilts.
Durability and Decay
Wood structure have no true durability. A solid swipe from your weapon, or a sneeze from a troll and the thing comes down. It’s cheap to build and lasts just as long. Stone has massive HP, and a 1 stack wall will protect you against everything but deathsquitos. Trolls, Lox, and Golems can eventually break through – I’d have to test Fuling Beserkers. A 2 stack wall just means deathsquitos can’t get to you. That’s a good trade.
Another note is that wood decays if it is exposed to the sky OR is touching water. It will turn greyish and fall to 50% max HP. The only way to prevent this is with a roof – and roofs are only the straw-looking kind. You’ll know when it’s working if the game gives you the ‘sheltered’ buff. You can build an entire stone castle and not actually be sheltered. This is the largest reason that docks fail, they do not have a roof. Oddly, the rain effects of the swamp do not seem to incur decay, but only a madman builds in the swamps.
Any fire object generates smoke. Too much of it, and it deals damage. You’ll need to think about ventilation, and it could be as simple as raising a roofing tile. If you leave the fire exposed, then the rain will put it out. For smaller buildings, this isn’t too hard to figure out, you have a lot space to extend, maybe with a chimney. In a larger building, say 3 floors, ventilation is a heck of a challenge. Stone in particular is a pain to manage to that it both looks nice and stacks properly – a hearth-sized hole in the roof won’t burn.
If you’re building with wood, then you’re going to need trucks of it. Core wood too, most likely. Get a portal, a workbench, the Elder power and find a meadows or black forest to plow through. When you are filled up, make wood piles near the portal. You want a LOT of stacks. With all the Beech seeds you end up with, I do suggest you plant a new forest in an open meadow. You want them about 4m apart from each other.
Mountains are great for stone. If you dig under a giant rock, eventually it will fall to pieces. If you planned a bit while mining silver, you probably have a lot of stone piles around anyhow.
Now a neat bit. While you can’t jump while over-capacity, you can use a portal. Load up ALL the stuff in your inventory (manually click) and you’ll be closed to 900kg. Go through the portal and lay down the stacks again. Wood isn’t too bad to build with – but any walls made of stone are going to eat through your stock like crazy.
Thinking it Through
Like most large projects, you need to plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and because the pieces themselves are relatively small an uniform, almost any shape will work. I’ve made some UGLY attempts, but no matter how much I try, I’ve never mucked it up so bad I couldn’t put a roof on it. Knowing how space is utilized is quite important.
A workbench requires 3x the space to have all the upgrades about (and close to a wall). A forge needs 4x the space (and a wall). You probably want a kiln, smelter, and blaster all close to each other – along with a chest for coal storage. Windmills need wind. Spinning wheels need a roof. Your comfort bonus extends in a 5x5x5 area – so a 2nd floor if it’s 2 walls high. You’ll probably want a wall of stacked chests too! And close enough to the crafting stations.
And importantly, you’re going to want to build a safe space to construct. Most enemies cant get through moats that are ‘YOU’ deep. Dig a square/circle around your building area and you’re good. Deathsquitos will cross in the plains though, so a wall 2 high is usually enough – wood is fine if you have a moat.
Oh, and you’re going to need a bed and sheltered workbench to get through the days/repairs of any construction. Either have a portal to that, or build it in a small spot out of the way.
Putting it Together
My technique is to put a floor and door down first, then add flooring for the rest of the building, with my big pieces laid down as I go. I’ll have a crafting section, a place to eat, a place to store, a pace to cook/ferment, and then a place to sleep. Outdoor crafting is obviously outside, as well as my portals. I only make it ground level to start, then imagine the verticality of a 2 wall high floor (3x chests fit easy).
Alternatively, you could just lay down floor and make stuff fit. Most roofs can cover 10 floor units of width without too much trouble, so a 10×10 floor is a great starter.
The last option is to build rooms that branch out. A 6×8 main hall can fit most key items, including a hearth. Then have some side rooms to cover the rest of your needs.
I opted for a seaside castle in the plains. I started with the walls, then dug a water filled moat (until I was forced to swim) all around. I laid down stone flooring, then a 4 corner tower structure 3×2 floors high. The hardest part was putting up a roof, since it was so far from the ground. Iron posts got that done. The dock was fun to make, in particular making a roof high enough for a longship mast to fit through. The end result is a practical abode that took about a week in-game to construct (and multiple deaths from fall damage). It’ll take me twice as long to tweak the design to have sufficient lighting, division, and practical use.
When I’m a tad happier with the overall design, I’ll update the pictures. The wall-o-chests needs a tad of prettying up, and the main dining hall needs a higher roof to allow for braziers. It is impressive how dark this place can be, so there’s finally a need for the 400 resin I have stockpiled!
This was an incredibly fulfilling process. Well beyond what I expected.
After the fall of Moder, I figured I was entering the unfinished part of the game. You know, the long tail where stuff is sort of just there and you make do. Well… Yes and No.
The Plains are a death trap, simply put. You cannot survive there if you’re not always rocking 100+hp. Deathsquitoes come from nowhere, fulings can crit for 90+, and lox are really bulldozers. Everything out there is out to kill you. And to continue Valheim’s penchant for punishing nights, you’re going to get fuling patrols at night, which are hella hard to see.
The twist here is that of all the stuff that drops in the plains, you need an artisan table to use. And you can only craft that at base. So it’s entirely possible to farm all the mats as soon as you start the game (which is insane, but you could), and yet without that table you’d just be filling chests. The part I think isn’t working is the amount of Iron you need to craft the armor. Somewhere around 110 for all of it, and after you’ve come down from the mountains you aren’t looking to go back to the swamps. I wonder if they will use the Black Metal drops instead in the future.
Anyhow, I decided to build myself a nice abobe – more on that in a future post – and really try to figure out how the plains work.
Each biome has a place you need to raid to get stuff, and the plains are similar. You raid villages, and these are full of, well, fulings. They come in a bunch of flavors, with the ranged spear throwers the worst of the bunch as they hit at weird angles. Shaman are annoying as they shield everyone. Beserkers are smaller trolls, but hit harder. These villages come in different sizes and makeups, though most have 12 or so fulings to clear. You’ll get flax, barley, and black metal here. Used to make armor, food, and weapons respectively.
The challenge with villages is that a) they are uncommon, b) they are insanely dense in enemies, and c) these enemies hit fast. Melee is not going to be an option as you’ll get swarmed. Bow it is, and you will come to appreciate a high (>40) bow skill.
You will spend most of your time in a ship, scanning the coast for villages, taking shore, putting up a portal, eating a buffet, and then going to work clearing out a village. All that’s missing here is mead and it really is the stereotypical viking raid!
And one extra bit worth mention, the fuling shamans shoot fireballs and sometimes you get hit by a torch – so get used to being on fire. At least there are potions here – but you should be able to avoid nearly all of it anyhow.
I am going to just put this out here, but this part stinks. It stunk for Moder and it stinks here. You need to find a tiny runestone in massive biomes that you are scanning from shore. You’re looking out for stone structures similar to Stonehenge to have a chance to find one. I found quite a few stone structures in my travels. It turned out to be a single arch that had a stone right next to it… nearly impossible to see if I hadn’t died to a damn mosquito next to it.
Fine. Yagluth was due north from my base.
This part wasn’t clear to me as even with killing the villages I couldn’t see what it was I should be using. For the other bosses it was super obvious – either it dropped like candy or flashed (Moder’s eggs). Here, not so much. It took a while but I did eventually figure out it was Fuling Totems. I thought they were shaman trophies at first, since that’s when I got my first one. But I eventually noticed in another camp that they put the totem on a stick and it emitted an eerie light. One I found Yagluth’s area, it said I needed 5 of these things.
Of course even after 10 villages I only had 3. Instead of taking out the village for the fun of it, I started being super selective and only bothered attacking if it had a clearly visible totem. 5 in hand, I headed back to the altar.
You can’t see it here, but where that big tree is on the left there? Yeah, that’s a huge fuling village. More on that in a bit.
I showed up to the altar with max Frostner, Porcupine, Draugr Bow, Black Metal Shield, fire resist potions, medium healing potions, and having just gulped Lox Pie, Blood Pudding, and Turning Stew.
Yagluth is a damn cool looking boss – feels like it’s straight out of a JRPG. A half corpse skeleton that shoots fire. He has 3 moves and no real cooldowns.
Lifting his right (your left) hand, he smashes down for a blast of fire damage and then some blue fire on the ground. You can avoid the blast, but you’ll need to be in the fire to damage him.
Lifting his left (your right) hand, he summons meteors that deal substantial fire damage. You need to run in a straight line as they home in on your location.
If you are too far away, he will shoot a fire beam at you that tracks your location. Easy enough to dodge, and it eats through stone.
If you’re just you vs him, then it’s not too painful. Use Frostner (since it deals extra damage to undead), avoid the meteors and fire beam. Face tank the rest, if you have decent food. But ya know what? Life don’t work that way in the plains!
About 15% of the way into the fight, an ENTIRE fuling village joined in the fun. Shamans and all! I needed to run circles around Yagluth while I used his AE fire attacks to whittle down the fulings. That worked until I hit a stone that was cracked and stumbled. Long enough for 3 fulings to spear me to death together.
Corpe runs to bosses are stressful enough. Corpse runs to a boss and a dozen fulings is just another level. I took a nap, fed myself, put on my old mountain armor and took a shield to town. Sleeping had caused half the fulings to leave, but caused 3 deathsquitos to show. Ugh. Corpse run then back to the portal – chucking the black metal on the way so I could actually use the portal.
Reset all my gear, psyched myself up and went back to town.
I took nearly 30 minutes from start to end, death run included, to take him down. It is really hard to explain the sense of joy that comes from taking down a boss that was hard to find, hard to summon, and hard to kill. And a boss that you can’t cheese (Bonemass archery towers, or Moder’s really bad pathing). If you aren’t going in with the best food, best armor, a good weapon, and some fire resist, you’re just not going to beat this thing.
And with another boss down, there’s only 1 thing left to do!
Steam says I have 91 hours in here. It doesn’t feel even close to that, as I never felt a minute was wasted. The devs are working on the home crafting for the next big patch. That makes a lot of sense. I love my castle, but some more tools to improve it would go a long way. Including some terraforming processing improvements. My FPS can drop sometimes, and the autosave takes nearly 4 seconds. Which it did while fighting Yagluth no less!
While all the bosses are down, I’ve got a few more bits I want to flesh out around my home base.
You can build anywhere in Valheim. Flat floors, over the water, in caves, up in the trees. Some folks are insanely creative. Now whether it’s practical or not is a different matter. I wouldn’t build in the swamps if you paid me, and the mountains require some crazy engineering feats to make it all work. Looks amazing all the same.
For practical reasons you’re going to build either in the meadows or the plains. The meadows has the simplest enemies, nearly every food grows there, and it’s often quite flat. The plains are great too (2 key things only work here), yet you have to deal with some rather deadly natural enemies, and sloping terrain. But just building in a biome isn’t helpful. You want to be near the ocean for your ship, and hopefully close to a few biomes for some more farming. Swamps in particular – however much iron you think you need, triple it.
With that in mind, my original homestead had served it’s purpose. I was forced to take long trips to mine, and wasn’t really well situated in terms of shoreline. In my travels to find the vendor, I happened upon a nice piece of coast, with a nearby stream, and right next to all the biomes. Time to get prepped to move!
Portals are great. More than great, they are true lifesavers. But they don’t let you bring metals, meaning you need a ship to make the trip. Good news first – the longship has 18 slots and metal stacks to 30 each. That’s 540 pieces I can move! The bad news was that I had 40 stacks to transport – and had no interest of making 2 trips.
I’d have to dig again, but I found a blog that had the neat idea to put a cart on a ship. Heck, they had put 2. Since carts have 18 slots, that was more than enough to bring all my metal in a single trip.
Build It First
Here’s a lesson I learned quickly. Don’t move stuff before you have a place to put it. I sailed all the way over, figured I could build something quick, and then get going. Nope! The spot I selected had a Draugr camp, and was a stone’s through from a Fuling tower, a herd of Lox, and obviously Deathsquitoes. And as poor habits have me, I tend to sail without food on the ship. Sure enough, I land at night and get my butt handed to me. At least it was after I put down my portal!
I took my time to clear it all out and then took my time laying out a spot to make camp. My prior “practical” abode was a simple box to hold all my stuff. This time, I really wanted to take advantage of the space to try some stuff out. I knew I wanted more comfort (to increase rested time), more than enough space for crafting kiosk + upgrades, and enough room for some fortified chests (18 slots!), a decent sized farm, and a portal room. I needed to think stuff through!
Taking it Slow
I started with my hoe to level out the terrain, then laid out some 2×2 flooring to get a decent base. I wanted something more akin to a natural house, or an A-frame. Building in Valheim requires thinking, since items need to be connected to the ground by other items. You see this through the colors of items connected together – green is good, red is bad. It took way more time than I want to admit to get even a basic roof going. Had to remember to put in a running chimney up top for the fire inside.
With the walls up, I was able to transport all my junk stuff in batches through the portal. I had so much resin it felt like Jurassic Park. A bunch of fortified chests and I was good enough to put a bed and call it a day. More like 4 in-game days.
Oh, and while I was building, I had 4, yes 4, troll attacks. 2 of those attacks I lost everything.
Adding As I Go
The beauty here is that it’s easy to add to existing buildings or correct mistakes. The main reason I dislike survival games is that you can’t make mistakes – put something in the wrong spot and you lose the materials. Valheim is awesome since it let’s you experiment for no real cost. It’s great in that you just keep progressing forward.
With that in mind, I wanted to change my entryway, and redecorate inside.
I’ve cleared a few plains camps now and have some things that only work in the plains. And I’m seriously short on iron and chains (ugh, these thing are a pain to find – Wraiths at night are best). So while I have a decent abode here, I’ve come to realize that I’m going to have to move again. It won’t be far mind you, not much more than 5 full power shots from my bow. Enough to be on the plains, yet still close to the Meadow/Black Forest biomes.
I’ll use the lessons learned from this build to really make a solid final base, and this time, with moat. Trolls won’t cross that!
Elder and Bonemass taught me that preparation goes a very long way in a boss fight. Not only in making sure I am ready, but that the world itself is ready. Boss fights in Valheim are really attrition rather than tactics. Do you have the stamina/hp to survive a drawn out fight, and one that likely will other enemies join in.
Prep work focused on a few areas:
Making sure all my gear is prepared and that the items I will use are relatively well upgraded.
Base frost armor is 20, and every increment add 2. Aside from Golems, the damage in the mountains is manageable, rank 1 for me.
The Draugr Fang bow deals pierce/poison damage. The damage increase is 3/5, which isn’t a whole lot. But the durability increases are massive (100/150/200/250). Rank 3 for me.
The Silver Shield has strong block power (75/80/85) which is incredibly powerful. Rank 2 at least.
Making sure I have consumables!
6 medium healing potions. These things have long cooldowns, so you want it to be BIG when you do use it.
3x meat based foods. I don’t have Lox yet, so it’s sausages, cooked meat, and cooked neck for me.
200 poison arrows. Same cost as obsidian arrows + 2 ooze (from slimes) per craft. Poison seems small, but it’s always active. It’ll probably be 20% of your total damage on a long fight.
Probably a good idea to use Bonemass’ power for any boss fight. It allows for you to make mistakes at the start.
Making sure the world is ready
My portal cabin is close, without being too close. This makes sure I can run away if needed, but far enough that the boss wont accidentally crush it
I clear the general area around the boss summon so the ground is relatively flat (pickaxe + hoe) This includes trees.
Do not, ever, fight while Wet or without the Rested bonus. The stamina regen penalty will kill you.
Get a good night’s rest so you have a full day of sunlight. Night creatures as super deadly.
3 eggs (200kg each!!) and then an extra click to summon Moder. It’s clear from the altar that she’s a drake, and sure enough she spawns in the air. By this point, you’ve probably killed a few dozen drakes and Moder is just a steroid version. She gets extremely close to you and shoots large ice bombs that will leave residue on the ground. Getting hit by one is close to 60 damage, so you want to avoid it as much as possible.
She generally shoots 2 times in the air, then comes down for some melee bits. This part seems buggy to me, as she both moves extremely slowly, and isn’t aggressive if you keep your distance. Golems chase you more. Anyhow, she has 2 other attacks here – one is a very (very) long-reach melee attack, and the second is a straight cold beam she shoots from her jaws. The swipe hits really hard, and the beam has a sort of ticking damage depending on how long you’re standing there.
From this, it should be pretty clear that you should not be in melee range with Moder.
With trusty bow in hand, I shot arrow after arrow into this dragon’s hide. While Moder is certainly LARGE, arrows have physics applied to them, so you really need to plan the shots in order to not waste stamina shooting into the air. I fully expected some Drake to show (they always show elsewhere), or some wolves… heck, there were no nearby golems either. Nothing though, so it was just me vs the dragon, and in any 1 vs 1 setting in Valheim, that is a massive advantage to you.
12 minutes later, Moder dropped. In mid-flight, from a poison tick no less.
After having taken down Bonemass, I have to say that Moder was a mile easier. The pathfinding portion certainly helps, but without a near permanent DoT and tons of adds, this is only slightly harder than the Elder. Now that I have some Dragon Tears I can make an Artisan Table. First though…
It is hard to describe the feeling of accomplishment (EA could learn something!) when looking at these altars. Looking at Elkthyr, it’s a great reminder of how far I’ve come in this world.
My only real gripe with Valheim today is the breadcrumbs, or I guess the RNG relating to seeds. I really enjoy the exploration aspect, sailing my ship and finding new locations. I even like the limitations on what you can bring through a portal – pretty much forcing you to explore. If everything could be portaled around, we’d be no further than WoW Garrisons. Plus, you can portal around stuff to upgrade crafting stations, so aside from exploring with a few copper on hand, it’s fine.
The challenge is moreso related to the knowledge to that something exists. You’ll never know about ships if you don’t make nails. The odds of finding the in-game vendor are pretty low unless you’re even aware he exists – there’s no reason to go island hoping, and he’s often deep in a Dark Forest. Just finding a boss is it’s own adventure.
Finding the first boss is usually pretty simple – it’s a few metres from your starting point. The second boss’ location is found while you’re exploring tombs for loot/cores – and there are plenty of them. The third boss’ location is provided why exploring crypts for iron – again, multiple crypts per swamp.
The fourth boss, Moder, requires a similar runestone that randomly spawns within a specific dark tower structure in the mountains. There’s nothing in these structures except for skeletons. And these structures themselves only appear to spawn once (if at all) within a given mountain biome. Perhaps its my bad luck, but it also appears that most mountains are surrounded by plains.
I’m rather impressed by the randomization logic applied to any given seed. Biomes appear to have a tileset minimum size in order to spawn a given item – be it a tower, a cave, or even a small village. There’s this sort of magic number that you eventually get a grips on, that will tell you if a Biome is rich in options or not. This won’t matter much until you hit the swamps, but makes a big difference in the mountains (for silver), and plains (for fuling villages).
The beauty of swamps and plains is that they are coastal biomes. From your ship you can get a general sense of what’s in the biome, and from the map, the general size. Mountains, not so much. They never really reach the shore, and you often have no idea how big a biome is because of it. Due to multiple learning sessions (i.e. deaths) I’ve come to the habit of building a portal on shore, and then hauling up the resources to build another on the mountain, if need be. I run up that hill (Elkthyr power!), take a quick look at how big the place is, then plop down a portal if it’s going to take a bit. I need to be full health to bother exploring, cause a single quick hit from a golem, or a tandem of wolves can be an unlucky end.
To find the Moder runestone, I need to find a big enough mountain biome to have a black stone ruin. And I need to luck out that the ruin itself has a runestone. I don’t really need the silver anymore, I’ve mined / upgraded my gear enough and still have 200 to spare – this is just exploration.
It may not be obvious from the map, but there are 9 mountain biomes on that list that were explored. 4 of which had a black stone ruin, none of those had a runestone. I ended up finding the summoning location by pure accident, after 2 real-world nights of exploration. To sail from the Moder location (north) to the home base (south) would take slightly less than 3 in-game days.
In any other game, I’d say that this time spent wasn’t fruitful. That’s not really the case here.
I learned much earlier that you don’t enter any swamp biome without poison resist potions. There are swamps everywhere – I avoid them entirely
Troll caves tend to be near the coast. Bhagpuss‘ experience reminded me of this fact. While I won’t avoid them, I will take time to explore the coast a bit to make sure there are none nearby.
You cannot take a single hit on the plains on an empty stomach. Deathsquitos are extremely aggressive and quite hard to spot. Oh, they attack over the water too. Play with music on, and have the ability to block 80 damage. The first thing you must do when beaching is build a workbench and put up a portal.
Elkthyr’s power + a full stomach = you can climb most mountains in 1 go
I ended up with some extra loot from Fulings (plains) and Deathsquitos (plains). Also now have a full stack of wolf furs, and 2 new drake trophies (which have very small drop chance). Oh, and another 1,000g from various chests.
I found a few plains (I should have put markers!!!) that had Fuling villages I will explore later.
I am coming to the conclusion that I should have left portals on ALL the islands I visited. I have more than enough materials to support this.
Knowledge is never a waste, and I learned a whole lot from this larger trek. Things that even a guide would not have done justice. The question is, would I have acquired this knowledge had I had a map marker pointing to Moder? Some of it, certainly. Not all. I learned a ton from the swamps, even though I found the runestone real quick. I’d still advocate for an earlier runestone… I’d have learned all of this exploring the plains anyhow.
Taking down Moder of course! The beauty of this particular mountain location is that it’s relatively open and flat. I built a portal shack a decent ways from the summoning spot, and have already found 2 eggs. Before I start the fight, I will want to prep a tad.
Make some more medium healing potions
Get my Draugr bow to level 3 (I need some extra Guck, which is annoying to collect)
Get 200 Poison arrows (Obsidian are good for single shot attacks)
Once Moder is down, I think it’s time to think about a new home base. I have more than enough space, but I’d certainly enjoy being closer to a triple biome (plains, mountains, swamp). I could easily leave a portal somewhere to cut down some trees. For another time!
With Bonemass down, it’s time to find some mountains. Or at least, that’s the suggestion you get from Hugin. Since I had a longship, I knew I could transport a whole whack of iron back home (8 stacks I think it was), but also wanted to take a detour before the next step.
And here we enter my only real issue with Valheim, and it’s the breadcrumbs, the small bits of information that lead you from one area to the next, or that options even exist in the first place. It could be an item that you can only craft once you’ve found all the potential items, no matter how rare. It could be a nuance to a given zone that just isn’t really explained. And importantly, it could be the ability to just find a boss. It’s really cool in terms of exploration, no question. Yet you can hit some rather painful walls and finding the solution may simply require luck.
The detour was to find the world vendor, Haldor. I knew he existed from other blogs, but I had never found him on my map. He had 2 key items I was looking for, most importantly an item that increases carry weight by 150 (50%!). When you first enter the Swamp, you’re more likely to lose durability on the pickaxe that be full-up on items. When you finally get an Iron Pickaxe… well storage starts being a problem. Long runs between the mining spot and the smelter are not fun, and more carry weight is super helpful. His second item was Ymir Flesh, a rare crafting material (only from him) that allows crafting some neat items.
The trek to Haldor starts back at home base with a new portal, then collecting the items needed for its partner (and wood for a bench). The search for Haldor took me around quite a few large islands. I’d heard that his icon showed up on the map at a decent distance, but in order to make sure I was maximizing my chances I had to go extremely close to shore. It took nearly 90 minutes of sailing to find a decent landing spot. One portal at shore, then a trek across the plains (and the deadliest mosquitos since Fallout: NV) to finally find Haldor! I sold all my treasure, bought what I needed, and still have about 4000 gold to spare. Maybe there’s a way to trigger finding his location (stone or the bird), rather than this crazy large trek. Even an item that had an arrow for direction would be a neat exploration tool.
More storage on hand, I took a long trip back to home base, and started prep for the mountains.
It’s Darn Cold
I had found some nearby mountains early on, and noticed that I took cold damage – close to 1hp/sec. When you have 25hp, that’s a death clock. Now that I was a bit stronger, I could take the hits a bit more. A Frost Potion will protect you from the cold for 10 minutes, which seems like a lot, but really isn’t. Mountains also come with 3 main enemies – wolves, drakes, and golems. With Iron gear, all 3 can kill you in 2 hits. Which they did.
Back to breadcrumbs again. The Wishbone you get from Bonemass “finds secrets”. The odds of you finding any secret are quite low, so even with it equipped you probably won’t know how it works. And it works differently depending on the zones – it either points to graves, points to muck in swamps, or points to silver in the mountains. And in the mountains, you need a decent sized biome to even spawn silver. If you figure the typical open meadow size, you’re looking at something 4x that size to spawn 1 silver node.
I explored 3 mountain biomes with no luck. Well, maybe bad luck is the better statement. I died 4 times. I did finally find a biome on my main island that had silver, and proceeded to head down the hill to set up shop. Recall that any smelting shop has 4 requirements – a workbench, a portal, a smelter, and a forge. You probably want walls and a chest, but that’s easy enough. You can use the portal to transport all of that stuff – except the copper needed for the forge. Preparation is super important! Also of note, silver requires a level 2 forge – and the only non-metal upgrade is a bellows. Long story short, if you are setting up ANY smelting shop –have the material for a portal and at least 6 copper.
Mining the Nodes
The fun part about silver is that the nodes are massive, 3x as large as the typical copper one. It’s shaped as a sort of elongated Y, and you will probably mine close to 500 stone before you get all the silver out. Once you’ve got a bit ready, you want to craft any silver armor (chest, legs, helm, or cape). Just one will make you immune to mountain cold (and night time cold too!) The small downside is that this protection does not work while you are wet – so make sure it isn’t raining before entering the mountains.
My personal order of priority tends to be be as follows:
Wolf Fur Cape
Wolf Armor Chest / Legs
Frostner (which deals blunt/frost damage, which golems are super resistant)
The mountains are quite a bit different than other biomes, primarily because you can’t really hide, and moving often requires running up hills. Wolves attack in packs, and very quickly. Parry timing is hard because of this, and further drains stamina. If you can, pluck them with a bow. Drakes will show up with little warning, you’ll hear a scream, and then get pounded with ice shots. You need to take them down with a bow while they are hovering, then dodge after your shot to avoid taking damage. When you have 2-3 at the same time, you really should focus on one at a time.
Golems. Ugh. Think tolls but super resistant to all damage except a pickaxe! You can shoot them with about 30 arrows, or you can dip/dodge/dive your way to hit them with a pickaxe. The downside is that it has a very small range, if you miss you’ll make a hole in the ground, and you can’t block. Even in full silver gear, you’ll take 50-60dmg from a golem hit.
You’re going to die in the mountains. Less than the swamp, way less, but getting your corpse is a lot harder. Depending on where the corpse is located, you may need to take a frost potion to avoid cold damage before you can re-equip your gear. And if wolves did you in, they will be there when you get back. Naked you + wolves = another corpse. And gosh forbid you died while having MORE than 350 weight, you won’t automatically loot your corpse.
I’ve now mined 2 nodes of Silver and have level 1 items of pretty much all I need. I now need to find another mountain biome for more silver, and at the very least find a stone that will tell me where the Mountain boss is located. I could use a bit more upgraded gear too…a shield most of all. Getting my block to 85 would be awesome.
My adventures in the swap progressed quite a bit! Rather than take the same approach as the Black Forest, I opted to take the environment before tackling the goals. Bhagpuss certainly pointed me in the right direction.
The swamp is, uh, swampy. There’s water everywhere, and in nearly every puddle is a leech. Leeches are painful enough in terms of damage, but they also poison. And poison in the swamp deals about 100 damage. It’s also always dark, so you’re near guaranteed to step into water at some point. Prevention is the big one. And the hoe tool is amazing! It will level any ground for no material cost, so you end up making road through the swamp and just entirely avoid water. You’ll still be wet all the time (reduces stamina regeneration), but your feet will be safe. Of note, never be in the swamp if you are WET, COLD, and NOT RESTED. Your stamina regeneration is practically nil.
If the floor is no longer lava, then you can start worrying about the other stuff. Draugr and Skeletons abound, and in groups of 3-6 at a time. You just don’t have the stamina to take them all on at the same time. There are some large respawn areas too, where you’ll have a large mass of them come at you non-stop. The archers are the worst, especially those at level 2 or 3… they can kill you in 1 hit. Then there are slimes and oozes (who spawn slimes when killed) who spew poison. Get hit by that, and you’re going to die. Finally, there are Surtling who spawn near fire geysers and shoot fireballs. Water kills them, and a bow is a great tool for them. They are annoying more than deadly.
Most things in the swamp will hit for as hard as a frost giant, either directly or as a DoT. You need a LOT of HP, 120+ to be safe, which means 3 pieces of quality food. And if you’re planning to explore at all, you’re going to want a Poison Resistance potion. For 10 minutes, your poison damage drops to maybe 20pts total and you become much more resistant to even getting hit by it in the first place.
So all that in mind, you’re 100% prepared, you’re still likely going to die.
Building a Base Camp
Since you can’t transport any metal in raw form (ore or bars), you need to build a base camp. You’ll want to put up a portal for easy access to home base material + when you’re gonna die. I first created a portal on the shore until I found a nearby crypt. At the crypt, I leveled a wide swath of ground and fenced off the front door. I built a smelter, a forge, and then leveled up that forge with some tools (level 2). The forge is the problem – it requires copper which can’t go through a portal. I was lucky and found a nearby forest and mined some up. You’re going to need a LOT of coal, so the kiln at home base is effectively running 24/7, and there’s an actual use for the Elder power!
Each crypt has a junk pile you need to mine through, with a small chance to get iron scraps. You may luck out with a chest that has more! Crypts are chocked full of Draugr and Slimes, and your #1 best friend is the Stagbreaker. This is a 2hnd mace that does large AE attacks. The damage is tiny (like 20% of a normal weapon), but it causes knockback and goes through walls. It is amazing, and should be used before you step into a new room to just make space.
As with all new material, you now get a ton of new recipes. What do you need to build?
A new mining pick is the most important tool you have. Only need rank 1 for now, since the forge can repair it quickly.
Shields are super powerful, not only in preventing damage but in being able to parry, which doubles damage to the target. Get an iron shield – upgrade to 2 for reasons.
Everything in the swamp is vulnerable to blunt damage – get an iron mace
Iron armor isn’t terribly useful. It costs a lot, and nearly all the damage you take will be from poison.
You gotta build a boat! The longship takes 100 iron nails (10 iron). Why? It has 18(!!) storage slots, compared to 4 for the Karve. You want to mine until you have at least 300 iron ready to transport back to base. A fully upgraded forge requires a ton of iron.
A giant flaming green skull in the ground. Sure does look like it’s going to go poorly.
I set up a nearby portal (after having put a new one at home base) and took my time to level as much of the ground around the spawn as possible. I didn’t want to fall into any water. Went back home, slept for the night, and filled up on food (sausages, cooked meat, and royal jam), took 6 poison and 6 healing pots and headed out.
Bonemass is something else. A giant walking slime demon with 3 attacks. His melee strike deals a truckload of damage if you get hit (you can block with a level 2 shield, or dodge). He, um, regurgitates a massive AE poison cloud. And he will throw some goop out that spawns 2 skeletons and 2 slimes. This last one isn’t so bad, as long as there are no archers. Get our the Stagbreaker and you’re a-ok for that spawn. Bonemass is vulnerable to blunt, so your iron mace is mint here.
Bonemass himself has a ton of hitpoints, and you’re going to be darting in for a bunch of attacks, then coming out to get extra stamina. He also heals if you need to go back home and recharge. I did manage to take him out, two deaths included, over a period of 30 minutes. It took all my poison pots and healing pots to get through it.
I got a trophy and a wishbone. The trophy unlocks the Bonemass power, which is a major damage reduction, figure that’s useful for starting a new biome or a boss. The wishbone, I don’t quite know. It says it finds secrets. Hugin says something about heading to the mountains as a next step. I need to go back and transport my iron home, then find a good spot in the mountains to start exploring. I do know that I take cold damage in the mountains, so frost potions are brewing up.
I’ve been around enough to see some very strange patch notes. Square-Enix has some for March 18th that are really a head scratcher.
Extending the Leveling Process
The single player campaign gets you to around level 15 of 50. From that point forward, you need to play repeatable missions (e.g. grind) to get to 50. That process is linear today, so 1-2 takes as long as 45-46. That entire process is pointless, as it’s not possible to have the best gear drop until you’re 50. If you’re actively grinding (I had a post on this), you can do 1-50 in about 2 hours.
The patch notes indicate that the time to level between 25-50 is going to increase. No idea what the value will be, but certainly more. Why? The levelling experience is nearly identical to the one at 50 (minus Hives), so what? The explanation is that new players get skills too quick, which is a business twist if I’ve ever seen one. If the process is mindless, it’s effectively impossible to have any player groups form, this seems more like it will reduce player retention. Very odd. Or not…
Replacing the Cosmetic Reward Structure
Currently, cosmetic rewards come from leveling, lockboxes, and random drops. Once you’ve hit 50, there’s no real way to target a cosmetic aside from gambling or outright buying it on the store, which itself appears random. Avengers is a weird game where there is no partial cosmetics, it’s an entire player skin with no customization. I get why, the IP needs to be protected, but it’s also a horrible model when you end up with 4 hulks who are identical. The good news here is that cosmetics have zero impact on power levels, so there’s no link to gear drops and your look.
There’s no real clarity at what the end goal is here. However, they are stating that all random drops and leveling rewards are being removed and added to the cosmetic vendor. So read into that I guess.
Combined, these types of changes remove interest in people who have bought the game already. From that, I would bet dollars to donuts that Avengers is going to convert to F2P before the summer. Hawkeye will be the last ‘free’ item provided to the player base, and from then on, everything will be in the F2P mode.
If you’ve been following Avengers, then this really is the only logical conclusion. The single player experience is still frankly amazing, and then after 5 hours or so, it’s done. A F2P swap won’t really change that, just make it more accessible I guess. Until there’s a serious effort to put in content with value at max level (Mega Hives are not that), then there really isn’t any long term view here. It’s similar to Anthem, just a different set of problems that are going to end with the same conclusion.