3 reasons why Valheim is a masterpiece.
The Mistlands update is just BRUTAL, but it feels like the enemies still need balancing, so I will not be touching on this update, that's for a different day.
The health and stamina system, the repair system, and unique biomes.
Health and Stamina
Any game where you have to manage your own stamina and health is only going to attract a certain type of player, THEN you add the fact that each food gives you different amounts of each, Onion Soup gives a larger amount of stamina compared to health, where as Sausages (for example), gives a really nice boost to health, but not stamina, meaning you have to be smart with your food choices.
Whether you're taking on a boss (aim for two meats and one stew), or just farming and building in the world (aim for as many soups/berries), this will allow you to have a much larger stamina bar, allowing you to chop trees or mine rocks to your hearts content, the different choices this mechanic gives you is one of a range of reasons why Valheim had exploded in popularity, and keeps players engaged.
The way the repair system works In Valheim is unique and better than I've experienced in most games! I've never really been a fan of having to repair gear that you've worked hard for, BUT... The way it works in Valheim should be the industry standard.
Lets take Iron gear for example, you have to beat the first boss, Eikthyr, to get the access to your first pickaxe, you then have to find and destroy the second boss, The Elder, to get access to the Swamp key, you then have to craft a boat, search for a swamp biome (if you get unlucky with biome spawns and don't have one attached to your spawn island), fight your way through the frankly annoying (at first) swamp biome, find a crypt, setup a base nearby (pro tip- place your portal on top of the crypt, so you can fast travel back home to reset your rested buff), then enter the crypt, be wary of all the mobs that spawn in here, including Draugr Elites, mine the iron, fill the storage slots on your boat, then transport it all the way back to your base, We are playing a Viking inspired survival game, did you really think you'd be able to teleport ores?
The reason I wrote the process out is to show you all the work that goes into upgrading to iron gear, now, imagine the durability dropping to zero and you lose those items forever? that would be awful game design, this is where Valheim does things differently, yes, you can lose durability and break your weapons, but they never actually get destroyed, they simply become so damaged that you cannot use it until you repair it at the correct workbench, thankfully, this is where one of the things I love the most comes into play, all you have to do is press the repair icon (just off the left of the workbench), and BAM, your items are fully repaired, FOR FREE, this takes away a lot of anxiety from the player, instead of saving their best items for when they need it the most, players are free to use their best items as much as they like (which I feel is a wonderful design choice), without the fear of having to go through the slog of getting all the required items again.
It feels and may sound a laborious task, and after multiple runs, it may be, but the way game rewards you is what keeps players interested (this will not be the last time you have to go through these motions). You are playing a Viking survival game, THIS IS WHAT VIKINGS HAD TO DO, the realism of the game, including, having to repair parts of your builds, properly defend your base, be careful while you go exploring, and manage your hunger levels add extra dimensions to why this game is simply fantastic.
What biomes are in Valheim?
(Technically) Deep North and Ashlands are biomes, but they currently have no content.
Each biome is entirely different from the last, the swamp for example,
As soon as you enter the Swamp biome a few things will be noticeable to you, the fumes coming from the ground, the dark tones, giant old trees, and most importantly (for gameplay) the rain and the constant wet debuff you have, which adds an extra layer of difficulty to this biome, because your stamina and health regen will never be as fast as it is without the rain debuff.
One thing that is consistent between each biome is the mobs and their layouts, you tend to have one big almost mini boss (Abomination for swamp, Troll for meadows), then you have smaller enemies like:
Wraith (only spawn during the night)
The third boss of the game, Bonemass also lives in this biome, all mobs have their own drops, you unlock a number of new crafting recipes after killing these enemies and collecting their loot.
The second biome I will briefly touch on is going to be the mountains biome (I have recently cleared the mountain and didn't have the best of times there).
Similar to the swamp, you will have an active debuff as soon as you enter the mountain biome, this is the freezing debuff, but unlike the wet debuff mentioned earlier, there are actually a number of ways around this, including, drinking frost resistance meads, wearing a Lox cape, wearing a Fenris coat, or the Wolf armour chest piece, all of which come with the intrinsic perk of giving you resistance to freeze.
This snow hell biome comes with a number of challenges, similar to other biomes, with enemies including:
As each biome has a different dungeon variant, the one in the mountains in particularly difficult, they are called Frost caves, and are full to the brim with tough enemies like, the Ulv, and Cultists, these are aggressive creatures that are very rarely found alone, with the Cultist having an attack that will set the player on fire (which is a very cool attack), this is where you will get resources able to craft a number of comfort items.
This is the next biome you should tackle after defeating Bonemass in the Swamps, as the games fourth boss, Moder, the dragon resides here. This is where you will find Silver, the upgrade from Iron. Spoiler alert- defeating Moder will give you access to a powerup which will make your ocean voyages 100x easier, as activating it, will always have tailwind, meaning you will never have to go against the wind while you have this ability active.
Thank you very much for reading, I hope you enjoyed, skål!