Video game: Valheim, the surprise success of the start of the year

Developed by five people, this survival game in a Viking universe has sold 4 million copies within a month of its release.

You are alone in the middle of the angry ocean. The wind is against you. As in the Bagnard de l’Opéra by Dumas, the swell becomes vague and the waves become mountain. The lightning strikes the sky illuminate your small wooden and canvas boat, tossed about by the rolling of tidal waves lifted by violent gusts. You fear less for your miserable life than for your precious cargo: a few hundred iron ores mined with the sheer force of your arms in crypts infested with living dead.

The thick fog does not facilitate navigation between the reefs threatening the fragile hull of your boat. But suddenly, the wind turns, allows you to get out of this hell and pushes you to a sandy beach bordering a meadow where your camp awaits you.

This ultimate journey is the culmination of several hours of play invested in the middle of the night and one of the many possible experiences in Valheim, a game that has fascinated more than 4 million players just three weeks after its release.

Valheim allows the maneuvering of Viking ships Iron Gate Studio

The first born of a small Swedish studio (Iron Gate Studio) founded in 2018 and which brings together only five people, the game published by Coffee Stain Studio (Embracer group) is currently at the top of all the rankings with a number of simultaneous players touching the industry giants like Counter-Strike, Dota 2 or PUBG. On Twitch, an average of 188,000 spectators on streams dedicated to Valheim confirms the enthusiasm for this game that no one had seen coming.

Find resources to survive

Available only on PC with early access on the Steam platform for around fifteen euros, Valheim is undoubtedly the new video game unicorn for the start of the year. Ranked 57e of the prestigious Steam ranking of the 250 top-rated games with nearly 90,000 positive reviews from players, the game goes against current trends: minimalist graphics where pixels as big as a fist make the game file weigh less than a gigabyte. As an indication, and to stay with the Vikings, the latest Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla hovers around 50 gigabytes.

The principle of Valheim is simple: in a world inspired by Norse mythology and generated randomly, you play as a viking stripped of all his possessions. The goal ? Acquire resources to build shelter, weapons and clothing and – when ready – confront gigantic monsters. If playing alone allows you to live the experience in total immersion, it is possible to share the adventure with up to nine players.

Halfway between the game of survival and action, the strong point of Valheim is definitely exploration. And it’s easy to see how this aspect, after a year of pandemic and lockdowns, is central to its success.

While walking and running, the player has no choice but to roam the meadows, forests, mountains and oceans of a world. But exploring in a survival game is never easy. You have to manage your food, your endurance, your rest. This is all the salt of Valheim : survive and evolve. Go from a wooden mace to a bronze sword; from a tunic of the skin of a troll slain in the sweat and pain of a tumultuous battle where every stone arrow counted to silver armor and wolf fur; from a wobbly hut wedged between two trees to a gigantic stone castle perched on a hill. Because there lies the second strong point of Valheim: construction.

From construction “to Minecraft”

By cutting wood and mining stone, the player must set up his own camps. Provide them with a forge, workshop, foundry, a place to sleep, and palisades or moats to defend themselves from creatures that attack regularly. On the internet, fans are already sharing their craziest architectural creations rivaling anything found on Minecraft. A hobby that can also distract the player from the main goal of the game – to face the five bosses available at the moment.

A house built by the player Iron Gate Studio

We find in Valheim many elements that have contributed to the success of some of the greatest games of recent years: starting with mechanics bearing Zelda Breath of The Wild. If the final release date of the game has not yet been communicated, announcements of new content have already been made by the developers.

With four million copies sold in just three weeks, Valheim is on track to establish itself as one of the must-haves of the year 2021 – an independent and unpretentious PC game that manages to establish itself in a market where to land a new generation of powerful consoles and games that always push the limits of ultra-realistic graphics a little further.