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Valheim is the world’s hottest PC game — everything you need to know

Valheim
(Image credit: Iron Gate AB/Coffee Stain Publishing)

Valheim, an open-world viking survival game on Steam Early Access, is doing well. Really, really well. After launching on February 2, it hit a million sales in just eight days, before doubling that on Feb. 15. As of Feb. 25, Valheim has now sold more than 4 million copies, and it doesn’t look like letting up any time soon.

Hitting 4 million players in less than a month is pretty much unheard of. As PC Gamer explains, previous viral hits like Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds took months to hit these kinds of sales figures. Even Minecraft — once an obscure indie title and now a worldwide phenomenon — didn’t have this kind of initial sales velocity. 

So what is Valheim and why has it captured so many hearts and minds? Here's everything you need to know.

Valheim: What’s the game about?  

Valheim screenshot

(Image credit: Iron Gate)

A survival game, on paper Valheim may sound very familiar to anybody who’s ever collected materials for crafting in a seemingly never-ending open-world map. Yes, you will spend time scavenging for parts, but it’s nowhere near as rigid as it is in other titles, with recipes for new items appearing just as soon as you acquire the materials. Building is quick, easy and satisfying, and even beginners can make fancy looking forts in no time. 

The key here is simplicity. The ultimate aim is to take down all of Odin’s enemies, each of which occupies a different section of the procedurally generated realm. Alone, or with up to nine friends, the game takes on a familiar pattern: visit a new area, farm it for resources, make new gear suitable for the boss, kill it and then move on to the next target.  

The key here is simplicity. The ultimate aim is to take down all of Odin’s enemies, each of which occupies a different section of the procedurally generated realm. Alone, or with up to nine friends, the game takes on a familiar pattern: visit a new area, farm it for resources, make new gear suitable for the boss, kill it and then move on to the next target. 

This could quickly become tedious and routine if the combat wasn’t up to scratch, but fortunately developer Iron Gate has learned from the best with an action-RPG feel to Valheim’s battles. Attacks and combos vary based on the weapon type and weight, and there’s blocking, parrying and dodge rolling to master as you chop, slice and dice your way through various mythical Nordic nasties.

Valheim: How do you get it?

Valheim

(Image credit: Iron Gate AB/Coffee Stain Publishing)

If you want to jump in and play Valheim, it’s available for under $20 in early access on Steam.  

Valheim roadmap: What new features are coming soon? 

Valheim screenshot

(Image credit: Iron Gate)

The five-person development team certainly has its work cut out for it keeping up with demand from players for more viking content. Fortunately, Iron Gate has big plans, and revealed the immediate Valheim roadmap in an interview with PC Gamer

The first update is called ‘Hearth and Home’ and, as the name suggests, it will be all about improving your base “with more building pieces and stuff to do in and around the house,” reveals Henrik Tornqvist, co-founder of Iron Gate. 

Next up is an update intriguingly titled “Cult of the Wolf." This will focus on “exploration and combat with hopefully some new fun and different encounters for the players,” Tornqvist says.

Anyone disappointed by the comparatively empty sea areas will want to keep an eye on the “Ships and Sea” update which, Tornqvist says, will “try to flesh out the ocean biome a bit more.”

Rounding out 2021 will be “Mistlands”, which will bring “new enemies, new items, a new boss, new resources, everything.” 

Valheim roadmap

(Image credit: Iron Gate)

There’s also a bunch of potential things the team would like to add, including tar pits, moon phases and a sandbox mode, but these are very much in the 2021 stretch goals column for now.

Will Valheim come to consoles? 

Valheim

(Image credit: Iron Gate AB/Coffee Stain Publishing)

So no Xbox, Switch, PS5 or PS4 version of Valheim then? Not right away, but it’s possible in the long run. “There are no plans to release on other platforms as of the time of writing but we won’t rule out console versions in the future,” the game’s FAQ reads. 

The game already supports gamepad play, so that part is done, and the system requirements are relatively modest, too, so there’s no reason it couldn’t be ported easily enough to PS5, Xbox Series X and other consoles.  

But Iron Gate is a small team, and while the game is clearly raking in the cash at the moment, it would certainly make sense to ensure that Valheim’s popularity is sustained over the next few months before hiring up for console ports.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.