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Valheim beginners guide: tips and tricks for getting started

So you want to be a Viking…

Valheim beginners guide:
(Image: © Coffee Stain Publishing / Valve)

Looking for a great Valheim beginners guide? Then look no further. There are five million players who have picked up Valheim, with many more embracing their inner Viking by the day. Iron Gate’s Norse survival phenomenon keeps growing, but trying to understand such a complex game can be daunting. 

If you’re curious about Valheim but new to the game or even the genre itself, then we’ve got you covered with some beginner’s pointers to make sure your pivot into the past is as seamless as possible. 

Ready to get your Viking on? Read on for all the tips and tricks you need to know if you want to start playing Valheim.

Understand your environment 

Valheim beginners guide

(Image credit: Iron Gate)

The first thing you need to consider when you boot up Valheim is your world seed. This string will determine the geography of the procedurally-generated environment you and your friends are about to play in.

Valheim is a game about exploring multiple biomes and picking up resources exclusive to these new areas to craft new items and proceed. But if you roll the dice with your world seed, you may have to travel for hours or build a longship before you can find the Swamp or the Mountains so you can make progress. 

You can craft portals to get across large chunks of the map quickly, but you can’t take metals and other crucial crafting progression items through them. You have to bring those resources back to your home the old-fashioned way via boat or cart, which could take hours if the world seed isn’t kind to you. 

For this reason, you may want to use Google to find a Valheim world seed that has biomes within reasonable reach of the starting area. Ultimately, it depends on how you want to play — some might want to risk it and adapt to their environment, and you might get lucky. But bear in mind that if you end up in an uninhabitable environment, you may need to leave the lovely house you’ve worked so hard on and move on to a more biodiverse world with your valuables.

Learn the laws of physics 

Valheim beginners guide

(Image credit: Iron Gate)

Valheim has some surprising depth in its physics systems. You’ll quickly discover that trees still function as physics objects as they fall and can kill you quite quickly if they land on you. Keep this in mind when chopping down trees near your home or making a tree farm in an enclosure. You could also use this ‘feature’ to take out enemies if you’re crafty with it. It’s also worth noting that rampaging bosses and large enemies like trolls can whack their way through your structures. Create defences and traps to keep them at bay, so you don’t lose absolutely everything while tackling a horde wave.

Elsewhere, it’s worth keeping in mind that Valheim simulates smoke correctly, so you need to create a vent in the roof of your home, so you don’t die in your sleep. Similarly, any fire can be ousted by the rain, so you need to add a small cover over the top of the vent, so your meat doesn’t get soggy…

Combat and weapon damage explained

Valheim beginners guide

(Image credit: Iron Gate)

Valheim’s combat system seems simple at first, but there’s a lot of nuance to it that can sail over new player’s heads. First off, you can block by right-clicking with your weapon or shield, and if you right-click just as an attack lands, you’ll parry an enemy and leave them open to visceral attacks which deal so much more damage. This is a profoundly versatile, life-saving move. You can even parry troll attacks if you think you’re hard enough.

Also, consider the stealthy approach. Tap CTRL to start skulking and hit an unaware enemy from behind to take a modest chunk out of their health bar. Troll hide armour and knives buff your stealth capabilities if this playstyle grips you. 

The final thing to note is that enemies and bosses are vulnerable to different kinds of weapon damage, so read the statistics associated with each weapon to understand where they excel. The game’s second boss is a gigantic tree elder who can’t deal with fire arrows. Swamp boss Bonemass is similarly vulnerable to blunt attacks. 

Learning what works against enemies and what doesn’t is half the fun, but do take mental notes when you realise you aren’t dealing any damage to a mob. Maybe it’s the type of weapon you’re using, and you could swap it out for another that will make short work of them.

Layer your stomach

Valheim beginners guide

(Image credit: Iron Gate)

Valheim bucks typical survival game trends with its hunger mechanic. Players won’t die if they don’t eat food, but it’s still vital that they treat their body right.  This is because players have a health bar that grows depending on the type of food and the amount of sustenance it brings.

To grow your health bar, you can digest up to three items at once, layering your stomach with foodstuffs to keep you going when you’re out exploring. The higher-quality the foodstuff, the more health you’re going to have. For example, a cooked sausage will provide you with a massive boost in health, especially if you were previously eating foraged berries and mushrooms. Keep this in mind if you feel like you never have enough health — you just need to cook better food and keep three items on your stomach at all times!

Inventory management made easy

Valheim beginners guide

(Image credit: Iron Gate)

Managing your inventory in Valheim can be annoying, as many of the game’s most essential resources like Iron are very cumbersome. There are a few ways you can mitigate this issue. First up, consider crafting a Cart when you reach Bronze to carry your valuables if you’re embarking on a long-winded mining expedition. It can be a long way home, and you won’t be able to take enough on-foot. The best thing to do is double-click areas on the map when you find an ore vein to create a marker you can refer to when doing repeat resource runs.

You also want to find Haldor the trader as soon as possible. Haldor appears at a random location in the Black Forest biome. May the odds be in your favor that he is close to your spawn point. You can sell the Coins, Amber, Amber Pearls and Rubies you find in Black Forest crypts to Haldor for a wearable item called Megingjord, which, for 950 coins, increases the amount you can carry by 150. 

However, if you can’t find or afford the above, the best thing to do is trick the carry weight system by juggling your heavy resources. If you’re over-encumbered, you will quickly run out of stamina and stop moving altogether, which can be annoying. At this point, throw the stack of heavy resources out of your inventory, run forward, pick it up and repeat to cheese it.

Make a house a homestead 

Valheim beginners guide

(Image credit: Iron Gate)

Once you’ve got your smoke vent, your Workbench and all the creature comforts, the next thing to do is start turning your home into a farm. Hit Bronze, and you can craft a Cultivator which will till the land for seed-planting. This means you can create a reliable source of wood and food by planting Carrots, Turnips, Cones and more at an on-site farm. This will automate some of the more boring resource collections in Valheim.

You’re also going to want a Boar pen to farm meat and Leather Scraps, one of the more difficult resources to keep your crew flush with. Head into the nearby woods and get some piggies to chase you, then lead them back home to a wooden enclosure with a gate. Lock the Boars in and then chuck Mushrooms and other food items inside to tame them. Get a troupe trapped and leave them to *ahem* do their business, and you’ll have a reliable food source and ready access to tons of scraps if you can stomach killing your darlings.

Jordan Oloman

Jordan Oloman is a journalist and documentarian with experience across the pop culture/tech spectrum writing reported features, reviews. news, guides, op-eds and more for a wide variety of outlets. He is also an affiliate streamer on Twitch and have previous experience in scriptwriting, podcasting, game consultation and creating video content.