Posted in Gaming, Valheim

Valheim: Cart Adventures

I interrupt this series of Valheim progress posts for a story about… carts.

Once we got things in place to produce bronze, one of the first things that Amoon chose to do was build a cart. Carts are interesting things in Valheim. You have to stand in the exact right position to be able to hook it to your character, but when you do, you’ve attached a pretty significant travelling storage unit to yourself.

Note that carts can get damaged when they slam up against things. They’re super finicky, too, and not all that easy to pull into hilly or forested areas. I’ve seen a cart flip over (it doesn’t lose its inventory, thankfully) and even once where a cart sunk into the ground until we managed to flip it out of whatever weird void it had fallen into.

They aren’t the easiest things to maneuver, but they do make for good outside-the-base storage even when not travelling. We often use carts to gather stacks of wood and leave them next to the kiln for processing.

But for the first cart, I had better ideas…

My own personal transportation!

As long as the cart isn’t full of storage, you can sit down and have someone else do all the work of toting you around for a while. ๐Ÿ™‚

Okay… okay. So I didn’t really use it for that (very long). I just thought it was funny that you could AFK and travel along with someone else. Proof that this game could do things like horses and wagons. Really!

Amoon’s main reason for setting up the cart was that we’d left much of our inventory back at the Meadows Base. We didn’t have portals set up until much later, so it seemed like a good idea to go back with a cart, fill it up, and transport all of our stuff to the new base. Easier than us all making several trips on foot.

Hearing how the cart could get snagged and tumbled by just about anything along the way, Syn was inspired to begin tamping out a path between the bases to make the return trip easier. I was completely on board with this because it reminded me of all the time I spend in Minecraft games digging up roads between towns that I find and upgrade.

I don’t ever really know why I do this in Minecraft. I just do it. And so it goes.

Absolutely the same vibe

Syn went ahead of me, tamping a very rough path. I came behind smoothing it out, mining up rocks and cutting trees. We only got about halfway between the bases before our hoes needed repair, of course, but it was a fun little experiment.

Amoon did use the path on the return run and it made things far easier, as we hoped. Path success!

Now that we have portals, however, I doubt this little road will ever fully be completed. The world in Valheim continues to grow and expand for us, and that little Meadow Base doesn’t seem like such a priority anymore – I’ll talk a bit about that in an upcoming post!

Posted in Gaming, Valheim

Valheim: Into the Black Forest

One of the things I really like about Valheim is that the game keeps you moving forward on a path without being overly aggressive about it. There’s a set progression you need to go through in order to continue through the game – in the beginning, Hugin points things out to nudge you in the right direction. But that’s become less and less a thing the further we go.

The Black Forest is not just a zone but it’s also a progress check. Coming out of the Meadows, the difficulty ramps up just a bit – enough for the forest to feel dangerous but not undefeatable.

The first time you run across (and away from) a troll is full of dread and excitement. Once you figure out how to light him up as you kite him with flame arrows, you feel the success of moving forward. Walking around in a troll-hide cape is a bit like wearing a trophy of your accomplishment. This is the kind of thing that Valheim does very well.

The Black Forest introduces a number of elements that move the player not just through the zone, but beyond. For the first time, you now have the ability to mine. The forest provides copper and tin, which are the building blocks of new recipes such as the forge, kiln and furnace. From those, you create ingots that convert to bronze, which is a clear upgrade to your first metal weapons and gear.

Bronze sword – Now we’re talking!

Valheim also introduces the concept of burial chambers, which act as mini-dungeons. You need to explore these delves in order to discover the surtling cores you need to build the furnace and kiln for your bronze gear. Cores also craft other nice things… which I’ll talk about another time. Each one of these chambers we’ve entered has been different in size and content – the best of them are filled with treasure, cores and skeletons (as well as a few ghosts).

Found a core!

These chambers are scattered throughout the Black Forest zone, so they’re fun to discover, mark on the map and return in full force to explore as a group. Eventually, we ran across an altar in one of them that gave us the location of the next boss we’d need to fight – the Elder.

Again, this is how the game weaves subtle progression into the content you’re already doing. You’re exploring a cool little dungeon, looting and fighting monsters and then suddenly, your big boss objective is outlined for you – even more to look forward to!

We spent a good deal of time gathering resources and expanding our little outpost into a full blown base. Syn really got into the building aspects of the game (even more than I did) at this point. Seeing that we were using this base far more than the Meadow Base, she built it up into a full hall with walls of chests, supporting beams and a lot of living room.

Expanding the base

It was at this time we also started getting our first base raids. We quickly learned that when the message pops up “The forest is moving,” that meant that the Greydwarves were at our gates. Thankfully, we had strong gates, so they were never really a risk to our base or the structures inside. It’s just a fun random raid element that we were always able to fend off from time to time.

Not to say that the Greydwarves aren’t a challenge – they absolutely are when they come at you in a group when you’re undergeared. But again, they’re a challenge without being impossible to overcome. I’ve done my share of dying in the Black Forest as I’ve explored and hunted down ore, but we’ve gotten braver as our resources have allowed us to continue upgrading our gear.

I even ran across a zone called Mountain. I learned very quickly that I wasn’t geared to move into the biting cold of the zone, and backed out quickly.

Looking up the mountain

As of last weekend, we’re currently at the point where we are taking down trolls with ease and actively searching out the Elder. BUT. I have a number of OTHER stories to write before we get there!

Stay tuned for more adventures in Valheim!

Posted in Gaming, Valheim

Valheim: Building a Raft

I interrupt this post series progression to write a short bit about my raft in Valheim. I don’t know if I’ll ever actually go back and use it, but I learned some important lessons from the experience.

Our very first base was built right on the shores of the ocean. Out the front door was a bit of wetlands that led up to rocks and then the ocean beyond. We had Necks at the gates for quick eating and enough flint to get us started in the beginning.

I got it into my head that because there was water, it was a good idea to craft a raft. After all, I had the materials and our workbench influence stretched out into a bit of the wetlands. I had a pickaxe for digging out a short channel to deeper water, too.

This seemed like a great idea until I actually did it. The water gave the sneaky appearance of being deep enough to sail a raft, but it wasn’t. I also learned that rafts need a wider area for navigation (which is still a mystery to me) than it seemed at first.

Grounded raft

So, here I was with a beached raft. If your feet can touch the ground, the raft cannot sail in that water.

What I should have done from the start was plunk down another workbench at the edge of the ocean so I could build the raft there in water of a proper depth. But I didn’t think about that when I was doing it.

Instead, I stubbornly began to dig out the shallows and make a channel deep enough for my raft to break free. Only, due to the strange stamina usage and swimming in this game, that was also easier said than done.

I learned quickly that not every place on the shore that looked like you could jump up out of the water was actually that. And swimming is apparently hard in Valheim. It must be all the armor.

So this became not just a structural challenge of finding the spots that were too shallow and digging them out with my pickaxe, but also the challenge of staying alive in water. I also learned that you can shove the raft around a bit, which became helpful as I herded it out of the shallow towards the deeper water.

I’m not sure how long I spent digging, struggling to swim and shoving my raft around before I finally got it where it needed to be. I messed around with the sailing controls a little once I had the freedom of movement, but didn’t want to get too far from the base.

At that point, most of the interest had begun to shift to the new outpost we’d built near to the Black Forest. With the growing realization that the original base wasn’t going to be a main home base anymore, I decided it was best to dock my raft for the time being and head where everyone else was going.

So I nudged it up into the shallows of the wetlands and said my farewells to the little raft.

Now that we’ve progressed much further into the game, we have the option to build a larger boat. I doubt that I’ll have much use for the poor little raft that I spent so much effort digging out, but it was still a fun day in Valheim.

Posted in Gaming, Valheim

Valheim: Eikthyr and Beyond

I wanted to write more about our first weekend in Valheim last week, but stuff came up and my topics got changed. While we didn’t play anymore throughout the week, over the weekend we clocked in at about 28.5 hours now.

Some of that, on Sunday, was starting a new game so that Xaa could join us and we could teach him the game. So actual progress going forward hasn’t been leaps and bounds.

When I left off in the previous post, we were about to tackle the first boss, Eikthyr. The stone near the altar gave a cryptic message of “Kill his kin” or something of the sort, so we knew due to the deer imagery we needed to be killing deer for this. In order to upgrade to leather gear, we’d been doing quite a bit of that already!

In order to summon Eikthyr, you have to sacrifice the proper items on the altar. This was deer trophies, which sometimes drop when you kill the deer. Two trophies (per summon) to be exact – we accidentally only brought 1 the first time and had to run back to the house to grab more.

Eikthyr

This was the first really flashy battle we’d seen. It was also the one that taught me the importance of blocking with a shield. I’d crafted myself a tower shield just on a whim, and had no idea how useful it would be until about halfway through the fight.

I didn’t have a bow and arrow (though Syn did), but once I discovered shield blocking, I quickly became the tank and aggravator to the boss. Even the huge lightning bursts and blasts can be mostly mitigated using the tower shield.

Once we figured that out, the fight went much smoother. We even cleared him a second time to have more antlers for the new pickaxe we could make.

And from there, Hugin was nudging us to move on to the Black Forest.

Trollrific!

Syn had already discovered the Black Forest just from exploring around a bit, so we had a good idea where it was located. However, our attempts to mine ore from the forest quickly went south due to one little… actually rather large… catch.

The trolls. I’m not talking Internet trolls, either.

Big and blue, these fellows look like something out of a kid’s storybook. Only they HURT. BADLY! And they chase you forever.

Not to mention the Greydwarf swarms that come at night in the forest. You really don’t want to be there when the sun goes down until you’ve got quite a few gear upgrades under your belt.

We quickly came to the conclusion that our little base all the way across the meadow wasn’t going to cut it. We started to set up a quick temporary location fairly close to the Black Forest, but far enough away that Trolls usually turned back before reaching the house.

We also learned how to use map markers (double-click on the map) now that we had more than one base going on. This is super useful!

See that death out there? It was either trolls or skeletons.

About that time, it was late Saturday night, and Amoon bought the game to join us. So we headed back to the first base and helped him get through the start of the game, including defeating Eikthyr just for the experience of it.

With one more Viking on the roster, we continued to expand the second base on Sunday, quickly realizing that it was becoming the Main Base instead of just an outpost. Everything we needed was in the Black Forest from here on out, so it only made sense.

Next time around, I’ll talk about some of our adventures in the Black Forest! At this point, we’re just on the edge of moving on from this zone and hunting down the second boss. But there’s still a LOT of content within the Black Forest itself to be aware of!

Posted in Gaming, Valheim

First Impressions of Valheim

I call this a “first impression” post, but seeing I’ve put 15.5 hours into the game this weekend, I’m not sure if that’s legit. I’ve heard about Valheim from various bloggers who were trying it out last week, along with a few game sites that reported on it. Seeing how highly it’s rated on Steam on top of that, and for a fairly cheap price, I pitched it at Syn on Saturday and we decided to pick it up. The hope was to eventually introduce it to the Posse if we liked it and they were interested.

While I’ve played my share of survival games, this is the first time I’ve played a fantasy themed survival game, one that’s based on Norse mythology. It’s a nice change of pace from zombies, and also nice that it’s a flavor of fantasy that I don’t usually play.

You may have already heard about this game, but just in case you haven’t, I’d say it’s a nice blend of a lot of different survival and RPG mechanics. It feels a bit Minecrafty with a touch of Landmark, and a smidge of ARK. But on the RPG side, you have a nice skill learning system similar to Ultima Online or Dungeon Siege (oldie, but that name got tossed out there over this weekend). Syn also likened it a bit to Diablo, though less about the hordes of monsters and maybe more about the monster design.

I know that some people rag on Valheim because of its graphics, but I found it quite lovely in its stylistic way. The character model leaves a lot to be desired, but after playing 7D2D for many years with a lower quality character model, I can be patient about such things.

Overall, despite being early access, the game plays fantastic. Not to mention that it clocks in under 1GB in size – which was a selling point to one of our fellow Posse members – and it does so much with such a small footprint. What a huge improvement over survival games of poor optimization and huge download sizes (ARK, I’m looking at you).

I’ll just say… if this is what Valheim’s early access release looks like, I’m super excited to see how this game will continue to develop in the future!

If you’ve played any survival games, the beginning of Velheim will feel similar. You get dropped in the world with nothing but the clothes on your back. From time to time, the raven Hugin appears and acts as a light tutorial, giving you clues and hints about what to do next.

Aside from that, there really isn’t any hand-holding to speak of. The game focuses on discovery and experimentation, which I like quite a bit.

Like most survival games, you’re tasked to use resources around you to craft what you need. These resources, however, are somewhat gated by the tools you have. For example, we learned quickly that unlike 7D2D, you can’t just go up to a big tree or rock and punch it with your bare hands to get stone or wood. Instead, picking up stones from the ground and punching smaller saplings was the way to go to make your first tools.

As you pick things up for the first time, or craft items from resources, you discover new recipes linked to the tools or resources. It took us a little bit of time to sort through how the crafting menu worked, and then to figure out how to make the workbench functioning.

We discovered the workbench has a radius which is outlined in white whenever you have the hammer tool active. Within that radius, you can build the larger structures such as walls and roofs and floors… You can craft additional workbenches to extend that radius if needed.

We then discovered that until the workbench is properly “sheltered” that it doesn’t function as a crafting station directly. Thus, my first attempt at a shoddy little structure was born.

Poorly crafted roof, but it worked for what we needed

As you might note in the picture above, I was walking around in my skivvies for a bit. I died the first night to several boars who gored me as we were making our way out of the dark forest into a more open stretch of land in the Meadow biome. I was able to make the run to get my stuff back (this game has corpse runs – what a flashback!), but it took a while for me to figure out how to equip armor.

I kept looking for a paper doll system that didn’t exist. Instead, I discovered all you had to do is right-click the tunic in your inventory to put it back on. You do have to do this every time you die and make a corpse run, as a note. It’s a simple system (like many systems in this game), but that also means that gear takes up some of your inventory slots and adds to the weight you carry (you can get encumbered if you carry too much).

Anyhow, once we’d figured out the basics of building and crafting, I set out to build an actual house. I knew from some of the tips I read that you needed:

  • A fire inside to keep warm and get a rested buff
  • Beds somewhat near the fire, but not too close – you can set yourself on fire if you don’t take care
  • An opening to vent the smoke from the fire or you will start taking damage from breathing smoke
  • A wall surrounding the base because I heard there were enemy attacks

I tried not to spoil too much for myself before playing this game, but I’d already run across that kind of knowledge and put it to use.

The start of a new house

From there, we were kinda on our own for a bit. We knew that we could craft better gear and tools from things like leather scraps and eventually bone fragments. We also started looking into what it took to upgrade the workbench – that allowed us further upgrades to our stuff.

I experimented with different weapons, collected flint and learned to take care when chopping down trees. Physics is a thing in this game and trees can kill you if they fall on you (or bounce back and hit you). I’ve died to trees more than I’d like to admit.

The battle system is really straightforward, too. One button to attack, one to block and middle mouse button to do some other kind of attack (I rarely use middle mouse button for anything, so I didn’t think to use it often). I discovered I liked the axe the best starting out.

There’s also a sneaking skill. While I rarely use sneaking in games, I discovered it was very handy when hunting deer. Deer are super skittish and will run off at the sight of you, so while you can hunt them with a bow, I had more fun sneaking up behind them and taking them out with one blow.

You learn really fast that you need a lot of leather from boar and deer in the early stages as it’s used for just about everything. And the meat that they drop is also much needed.

We learned that the food system in this game was different from others. You can eat up to three different kinds of food at any given time, which expands both your health bar and your stamina to max. Without the food buff, you don’t starve, but you have a very limited health bar until you do eat. You certainly don’t want to stray too far without food buffs.

In the meantime, I worked on getting a wall around our outpost. I’d heard that you could get attacks on your base, though we didn’t actually see an attack until much later into the game. Oh, and the storm/rain weather is pretty epic as you can see below:

About that point in the game, Syn had discovered two other things: a nearby biome called the Black Forest and an altar to what I knew was our first boss fight. Though I knew of the fight, I wasn’t spoiled for any mechanics on it. I just knew we needed to make sure we’d upgraded as much as we could before taking it on.

Seeing that this post has gone on long enough, I’ll talk about that adventure in the next post! We’ve spent enough time in this game that I have had lots to write about, and I’d like to break it up some! See you next time for our boss fight!