Valheim, a new game developed by Iron Gate, launched last February and has taken its niche by storm. It’s essentially an open-world survival and crafting game that has single-player and co-op PvE mechanics.
There’s a combat system, boss battles, and even a building system that lets you make Viking warships. While these features don’t sound too different from other survival games, Valheim has somehow piqued the interest of thousands of people, selling one million copies by the end of the eighth day of its release.
The rise of Valheim
The first glimpse of Valheim was back in 2017 when CEO Richard Svensson posted a video that seemed to show the infancy stages of Valheim. And in 2018, Valheim was actually released as a 2018 alpha build on Itch.io.
While other video game studios keep their lips zipped during the development process, Iron Gate has a Discord community where they can directly hear what players expect from the game. Their efforts paid off, as The Verge reports that just eight days from the launch, Valheim quickly topped the Steam Early Access sales charts with tons of positive reviews. Sales continued to increase by a million every few days – they were at one million copies by February 10, two million by February 15, three million by February 19, four million by February 24, and five million by March 3.
During Steam’s Lunar New Year Sale, Valheim was number one on the Steam Top Seller list despite having no discounts. By February 24, Valheim was also already the second-most played game on Steam. The game’s trajectory beat even PUBG, which took months to get the numbers Valheim got in just a month. February 21 also saw at least 500,000 concurrent players, with their user base continuing to grow to this day.
Behind the game’s popularity
Norse mythology has become very popular across all entertainment mediums, which has contributed to the success of Valheim. In gaming alone, there are already many titles that take inspiration from Norse mythology: from Oddmar with its cute graphics to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, with its more haunting atmosphere. Even Skyrim, one of the most popular RPGs of all time, is deeply rooted in Norse mythology. This theme has reached online gaming as well, with Gala Bingo offering several Nordic myth-inspired casino games. The Age of Gods series has titles such as King of Asgard, Book of Dwarves, and Gods and Giants, all using iconography that gamers will be very familiar with.
Outside of gaming, there are also retellings of Norse mythology, such as The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris, and Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard. On TV, there’s the popular drama series, Vikings. Finally, in the world of comics, The Marvel franchise includes Thor, which continues to bring Norse mythology to new audiences through their movie adaptations.
How does it compare to PUBG?
Despite battling several Norse-inspired games, Valheim has continued to set itself apart and is becoming a real threat to PUBG. PUBG is a multiplayer battle royale game where you can enter the game solo or create a team of up to four people. This contrasts greatly with Valheim, which is a slow-paced survival game.
While PUBG is more of a ‘trial-by-fire type of game where you eventually get used to the gameplay the more you play, Valheim eases you into the world with an accessible design and simple tutorials to teach you the basics of gameplay – including farming, crafting, and combat.
As for awards, PUBG titles are there mainly to boost a player’s reputation, showing that you have a specific skill set or attitude. In Valheim, however, some trophies can be sacrificed to gain special powers or even to summon a boss.
In the end, despite Valheim’s overwhelming popularity, what players prefer still depends on what they want to play. Valheim is a new and exciting game, for sure, but whether it is good enough to surpass PUBG is yet to be seen.