Before we start, I just want to point out that this guide will be very basic. Most of the fun had in the game is exploring the world, coming across new enemies and lands and learning what new things you can craft from these new ingredients. So I do not want to spoil all the good bits, I’ll create more in-depth posts as the game is developed.
Upon starting a new character in Valheim, you’ll find yourself being carried by a large crow and eventually dropped in the center of the map. Here you’ll find the “Sacrifice Stones” which will become important once you fight the first boss in the game, more on that later. Oh, and be sure and read/interact with the crow and the runestones located here.
You’ll also see one of many runestones which glow red and will give you some useful information as well as lore about the world. These runestones are scattered about the procedurally generated world. You’ll want to keep an eye out for these as you explore, because they can lead you to the next biome and/or boss altar. If you try and skip the intended progression and go to new biomes you’ll most likely find yourself running back to your corpse many times.
Now comes the fun part, running around and picking up everything you see! Wood, stone, berries mushrooms, and everything else, just pick it up. You can also punch small tree saplings and bushes to get some wood as well. Picking up new materials is how you’ll unlock recipes, so if you can’t find a recipe, you’ve probably just not picked up that item yet. I recommend making one of everything just to unlock all the recipes possible.
Crafting and Repairing Equipment
Once you’ve gathered some materials, you’ll want to craft your first axe so you can quickly gather wood. Just remember to not stand in the way of a falling tree or you’ll regret it.
After you have your axe, it’s time to get a workbench set up, so go ahead and craft a hammer. This is a good time to set up a small shelter with a roof and move your bench inside. Repairing items costs nothing at the workbench, just spam click the hammer icon in the workbench interface. You level up your workbench by building the workbench upgrade structures such as chopping block, tanning rack, etc.
While gathering supplies, be sure to kill every boar you can find, as the leather scraps will be needed to make a bow, armor and some other things. Armor is extremely important for surviving in valheim and a bow is a must. The bow will also enable you to efficiently kill deer for their hide and meat.
Building your first Shelter
Because you’ll be forced to explore new biomes in order to progress, I recommend not building a permanent home anywhere just yet. Just setup a temporary shelter until you either find a golden zone or you move past bronze age. By golden zone, I just mean an area that’s relatively safe that has easy, quick access to major biomes such as Ocean, Black Forest, Swamp, Plains and Mountain. If you’re super lucky, you may find a meadows to build your base in that has the other biomes right nearby for easy access to biome-specific materials.
I personally recommend NOT building your permanent base in the plains, swamp, or black forest. Those biomes are home to some very pesky enemies that will be constantly trying to break your walls, doors, or your bones. Do, however, build in a place that has easy access to the ocean, because boats and ships will be very important. Remember, metal ores and bars cannot be teleported, so you’ll most likely be using your ship to store and transport your metal ores. Oh and as a side note, do not build the raft unless absolutely necessary, it’s horrifically slow and a waste of materials.
Once you’ve got a shelter and a campfire near your bed, you should catch some shut-eye. Sleeping and sitting provides a rested buff for around 7-10 minutes depending on comfort level of your surroundings. This buff provides significant boosts to health and stamina regen. It’s worth pointing out that as long as you have at least level 1 comfort, you can sit down and get rested. All you need is a small shelter consisting of a roof, a couple walls and a campfire to do this. So you should always rest before any boss encounter or material gathering excursion.
Valheim Food System
In Valheim, food is life… no literally, the better food you eat the more health and stamina you will have. You’ll quickly learn this when you finally stop eating berries and mushrooms and eat some cooked meat, or better yet, some stews. Now you only have enough room (slots) in your belly for three food items, and you can’t fill these slots with the same item.
Early game, hunt some boars/deer for meat and necks(found in meadows near rivers/water usually) for their tails. Fill the third slot with whatever you got left and you should have enough of a health/stamina pool for a while. Honey is nice if you can find it, I’ve found a lot in the abandoned shacks scattered in the meadows.
Valheim currently contains around 9 biomes, 3 of which aren’t currently developed and are essentially empty. Because the game is procedurally generated and the world is quite huge, finding these biomes can be tricky and will almost always require you make a boat. The 6 current biomes you’ll be exploring are: Meadows, Black Forest, Ocean, Swamp, Mountain and Plains.
The Meadows biome is the safest biome in terms of enemy presence/strength and will be the biome you start off in. You’ll find some small/low level enemy greylings, boars, deer, necks as well as flint near rivers/coasts. This is a great biome to build your base in if you can manage to find a nice spot. We will cover what’s in each biome (enemies, creatures and resources) in a later post.
The next biome you’ll be heading to once you defeat the first boss is the Black Forest biome. Here you’ll find much tougher greydwarfs and be aware they usually run around in groups of 3-6. More importantly, the Black Forest is where you’ll find copper and tin ore, used to make bronze. Also you’ll find crypts which have the cores needed to build teleporters!
Most enemies have resistances and weaknesses to certain damage types. For example, a skeleton is weak to blunt damage, while greydwarfs are vulnerable to fire damage. You can tell what the enemy is vulnerable to by watching the damage number’s color. Grey means they are resistant to that type of damage, yellow means they’re weak to that damage type, and white means neither resistant nor weak.
There are a number of offensive and defensive tools and mechanics you should be using as well. For offense, you can sneak attack, backstab and stagger. Sneak attacks do critical damage but the enemy cannot be aware of your presence, bows do get sneak attack damage bonus as well. Backstabs are just what it sounds like, they do major damage when you hit an unaware enemy’s back. Staggering occurs when the enemy takes a certain amount of damage within a short time and you’ll easily notice when it occurs. While staggered your foes will take much more damage.
For defense you can Block, Parry and Dodge Roll. Aside from relying on armor to reduce damage, you can also block attacks by holding the right mouse button on PC. Your blocking power will depend on weapon type, material, block skill and whether you’re using a shield or not. Parrying occurs when you block right at the moment the enemy’s attack is going to hit you and when successful, it will stagger the enemy. Bigger enemies cannot be parried and should be dodged by rolling or sprinting. Dodge rolling is performed by holding the right mouse button and while moving in the direction you want to roll you press the space bar.
I want to briefly touch on the enemy AI in this game. Enemies can hear you- you’ll find this out when you start trying to mine in the black forest. This means if you’re in a fight, the chances of your battle drawing in more enemies is quite high. Some of them will even run up, swing at you, and run away in an attempt to drain your stamina.
First Boss and Forsaken Powers
Hopefully at this point, you have at least made a weapon, I personally like using the bow for the first fight. Now, the first boss is called “Eikthyr” and he’s a giant lightning-stag. You’ll know exactly where the altar that summons him is provided you read the runestone at the starting location.
To summon him, or any boss for that matter, you must “sacrifice” something specific to that boss. It will give you a hint as to what that is when you interact with that boss’s altar. For Eikthyr the stag, you have to offer up deer head trophies. Now before you summon him, make sure you’ve just eaten your best foods and are rested.
Once you’ve summoned him, the fight is rather straight forward. Just dodge his attacks, sprint away from his aoe stomp and attack when you can. If you find yourself having issues, I recommend using a bow and just baiting his attack, sprinting away and shooting. Rinse and repeat until dead.
After the deer is dead, collect his trophy and the hard antler he drops. The antler can be crafted into a pick axe that you’ll need to mine copper and tin. Take the boss’s trophy back to the sacrifice stones in the center of the map and place them by interacting with the correct stone’s hook. Once you’ve done that you’ll now be able to activate Eikthyr’s forsaken power.
To activate this power, you just need to press the correct key(F by default) and then you’ll have the buff for 5 minutes. Eikthyr’s power grants you 60% reduced stamina usage while sprinting and jumping. This buff is incredibly useful if used appropriately and is what I consider to be the most useful of all the powers. Each boss will give you a different power, but you may only have one boss’s powers activated at one time. There’s also a rather long cooldown time after you’ve used the power, so you’ll want to use it strategically.
Upgrades and Progression
The progression system all revolves around your character’s current food quality and gear. Unlike your typical “survival”, “RPG” game where your character’s level or stats determine your strength. There are skills in the game, but at the moment of writing this, they really don’t make that much of a difference yet. You should also be aware that when you die you will lose 5% of your total levels in each skill.
The gear/ore progression typically goes as follows: Leather/Wood/Flint (Meadows) > Copper/Tin (Black Forest) > Scrap Iron (Swamp crypts) > Silver (Mountain). Nearly every piece of gear you create can be upgraded to improve its stats. I personally wear troll hide when I need speed and carrying capacity. I switch to metal armor for bosses or dangerous areas (looking at you, deathsquitos).
Now then, we will be doing a list of the best foods/gear sets in the future, but for now just explore. You can find crop seeds such as carrot seeds (black forest) and turnip seeds (swamp). You can plant them using a tool called a cultivator (5x bronze + 5x core wood). I prefer Sausages, soup/stew and sea serpent meat/stew if I have some, but usually it’s just sausage, carrot soup and turnip stew as those were the easiest for me to farm.
Now you just have to get out there and explore. Bosses are easy once you get used to their attack patterns and dodge rolling. I’d also recommend inviting some friends to play with you because the experience is only improved with others! If I missed anything important, let me know by leaving a comment. I’ll try to keep the guide updated as the game is developed.