Survival of the Somewhat Competent

When Valheim was first released in early access on PC early 2021, it took over my news feed for several weeks. A number of bloggers I followed jumped on Valheim and seem to take to it very quickly and very positively. Like any new live-service game, it apparently came with its share of issues, but they didn’t appear to dampen too many spirits. Yes, I read a lot about Valheim in the first half of 2021, but that’s all I did…read. For you see, Valheim was, and still is a survival game, a “brutal” one as advertised, at that. Which meant that I would stay at arms-length from it, thank you very much.

Pre-“Wastelanders” expansion Fallout 76 is the closest I ever came to playing, and more importantly enjoying a survival game, and it wasn’t even true survival as most games in the genre go. Before and since, the true survival genre has remained elusive. I’ve tried a few to no avail and watched some being played, which was more palatable. And despite it all…I think I want to play Valheim. Or at least give it a shot like I did with Fallout 76. I’ve already written oodles about that game here, but suffice to say, as soon as Todd Howard described this Fallout game at that fabled Bethseda E3 event, I immediately wrote it off as “not for me.” I figured I’d never touch it. Even upon actually buying it, I didn’t think it’d have any staying power in my library.

Three years later, well…you know the story.

As much as I latched onto Fallout 76 for its environment and wild atmosphere, I didn’t mind it’s take on “survival” as much as I thought I would. Who knew that I would eventually relish in camp-building, food-making, and weapon-fixing? Certainly not me! Over time, I came to appreciate the notions of self-directed play, exploring for the sake of explaining, and “making my own game” within a game. Is that what Valheim offers? Each to varying degrees, based on what I surmised from all the Valheim-themed posts I read, but I honestly don’t know. All I know is that deep down, I kind of want to find out for myself. Maybe?

The last survival game I tried was Tribes of Midgard, and it did not go well. I’ve watched large portions of ARK: Survival Evolved, Conan Exiles, State of Decay 2, and DayZ, and while the last two didn’t pique any interest on my part, the first two seemed right up my alley…except for the survival part. Both offered self-direction, exploration, and lots of leeway, along with relative interesting stories. I didn’t catch much lore, but then again, maybe I was too busy paying attention to someone’s hunger and thirst meters. Still, something in both clicked as games in which I thought I might be able find fun, if only I had the courage to try them out. Valheim feels like that — doable, fun, probably a little difficult but also rewarding. Maybe?

What’s bringing all this to the surface now, you ask? Well, after living on PC and PC Game Pass for a while, Valheim, which is still in early access, is coming to Xbox consoles, for purchase and through Xbox Game Pass, in just a few days. This means I’ll have the chance to try out the game for free, which will make any potential letdowns easier to take should Valheim and I not get along. Then again, maybe I should think more positively about this and say that Valheim and I will find happiness together, and that being able to do so free of charge just sweetens the pot. I guess I find out once March 14th rolls around. If I start steeling myself for the challenge now, here’s hoping I’ll be up to it then!

Lede image taken from presskit for Valheim (© Iron Gate Studios).

2 Comments Add yours

  1. cary says:

    Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:

    Valheim’s in my “active” pile now; but before its release to console, I mused on Virtual Bastion about it and my non-relationship with survival games.


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