Valheim’s wayward Mistlands balancing hides its huge potential

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One in all my very first buildings in Valheim, situated within the heat security of the meadows, was referred to as ‘Glamping Cabin’. My newest construction, situated within the Mistlands, is titled ‘Security Cave’. It is a squalid gap inside a hollowed-out rock: an emergency air raid shelter that I can scuttle into when being attacked by an enormous blimp. The cave has no decorations, no persona, and was carved out in an act of pure survival.


The identify hints at simply how gruelling the Mistlands expertise has been for a lot of the previous month – particularly, for the reason that replace was launched in early December till a patch was launched earlier this week. Earlier than the brand new biome was launched, development between Valheim’s areas at all times felt like a gradual enhance in problem, with a small bump in problem when transferring to a brand new atmosphere. Development within the freshly-released Mistlands biome, nonetheless, felt like working right into a brick wall. A spread of things – together with enemy behaviour, rugged terrain and crafting recipes – mixed to make the biome so hostile that Valheim felt like a completely totally different sport. With a lot focus positioned on making the brand new biome powerful, a few of Valheim’s different essential appeals – exploration and constructing – suffered consequently.


In looking for to resolve these issues, Valheim developer Iron Gate launched some vital steadiness adjustments in a patch on Tuesday. However this shifted the steadiness too far in the wrong way, with the biome now feeling prefer it lacks enamel. Which is an actual disgrace, because the Mistlands has loads of treats to supply – if solely the trail to discovering them could possibly be straightened out.

Testing out base defenses towards the unique replace’s horrible flying ants, earlier than the newest patch.


Because the sixth biome in Valheim’s development system, the Mistlands was at all times speculated to be difficult. With solely two additional biomes left in Valheim’s improvement pipeline, the Mistlands is a mid to late-game space, and situated in direction of the enterprise finish of the epic saga. Earlier than the replace landed final month, the area was populated with skulls and spiderwebs, main many to imagine it might be a repeat of the murk and mire of the Swamp. To everybody’s collective shock, the truth turned out to be relatively totally different. The Mistlands is definitely a spot of dazzling magnificence: unusual mushrooms sparkle and glow, big skeletons and swords dot the panorama, and the mists typically half to disclose valleys crammed with frolicking hares. Teams of pleasant dwarves (referred to as ‘dvergr’) inhabit the area, and infrequently present refuge for gamers travelling by means of the realm. It is an atmosphere designed to entice gamers in: an other-worldly wonderland of magic.




Valheim Mistlands update - unusual objects in a grassy biome

Curiouser and curiouser.


The Mistlands in its preliminary type did not provide you with a lot time to understand the surroundings, nonetheless, because the depth degree instantly ramped as much as 10. Totally-upgraded Plains gear would not prevent right here, as enemies would smack you down in a few hits. Large flying bugs, as soon as alerted to your presence, would chase you relentlessly by means of the valleys till you both died or managed to cover in a constructing (which they’d then promptly demolish). I am not against having enemies that hit this tough – it really pushed me into making tactical selections like creating tunnels and kiting enemies in direction of dvergr bases. However together with different programs within the Mistlands, the fight grew to become considerably unmanageable.

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Valheim Mistlands update - grassy biome with a blue light and distant jagged rocks
Swords nearly sufficiently big for a Ultimate Fantasy character.

The Mistlands’ dense fog, whereas making the method of discovery thrilling, additionally makes fight troublesome to foretell. The restricted quantity of visibility afforded to you – even with a wisplight or wisp torches – is tiny, and within the pre-patch model the place the biome was crammed with enemies, this actually restricted your skill to make good fight selections. In different biomes you might decide a state of affairs from a distance, after which determine whether or not to enter the fray. In Mistlands model one, you’d merely stumble into hassle, then stumble into extra hassle if you ran away. Moderately than offering a good problem, the fight grew to become a matter of luck.


The (nonetheless vital) issues with the Mistlands’ near-vertical terrain did not precisely assist issues. The steep hills and enemy hordes highlighted a long-standing situation with Valheim’s fight, which is that whereas enemies can hit you from any course, your individual swings can solely hit enemies on the identical degree as you. Any bugs both beneath or above you’re nearly unhittable with melee weapons, making this an enormous drawback in a biome with barely any degree floor. Valheim has additionally by no means been very beneficiant with its stamina bar – significantly for the reason that meals system was break up into ‘well being’ and ‘stamina’ classes within the Fireplace and Residence replace. The Mistlands’ sheer rock faces require fixed leaping, which drains your stamina fairly rapidly. Within the the pre-patch model, it was all too straightforward to run straight right into a wall, after which be helpless to flee the bugs as they swarmed you.


Valheim Mistlands update - a player works their way along a narrow stone bridge to jagged rocks amid rain and purple lightning
Making ready to storm a mine.


Within the face of those excessive fight and terrain challenges, I anticipated Valheim to at the least give me the instruments to take care of these obstacles. And it did, ultimately: the feather cloak is an excellent merchandise that means that you can glide and keep away from fall harm, immediately making the biome traversable. The magic system, too, is a superb addition that broadens out Valheim’s fight system and encourages totally different roles inside a celebration. A mage can forged protecting spells, or tackle a ranged position by zapping bugs with freezing spells – all pretty, enjoyable stuff. But even within the present model, these choices are held again from the participant for a good period of time. As a way to create the workbenches to craft these things, you need to get by means of a number of extraordinarily powerful dungeons to search out ‘black cores’. A single crafting bench wants 5: in our first two dungeons, we discovered a complete of 1. When the biome was initially so troublesome to navigate, it took us dozens of hours to even attain these dungeons.

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In earlier biomes, progress was bread-crumbed alongside at a gradual price – however within the unique Mistlands, it felt such as you received these rewards close to the tip of your journey, making it really feel like plenty of wrestle for little reward. The biome’s development system nonetheless lacks a mid-way level, and I am undecided why gadgets that might actually assist in the realm (just like the feather cape) are held again for therefore lengthy. In an interview for GamesRadar, the Iron Gate devs informed me that they had really re-worked development within the Mistlands earlier than the biome’s launch, as they felt gamers had been initially in a position to unlock all the pieces a little bit too quick. I think that in making an attempt to unfold development throughout the biome, they overdid it a bit.


Valheim Mistlands update - a large crossbow ballista at night
Among the rewards nonetheless aren’t significantly useful – think about my shock when after a night of amassing supplies for the ballista, I found that it might shoot at any dwelling being… together with me. That was an actual bolt from the blue. This renders the ballista just about ineffective for base defence, and I’ve solely been ready to make use of it to prank my associates.


A side-effect of making such a harsh model of the Mistlands was that different methods of enjoying Valheim suffered consequently. When it comes to exploration, the fog and enemy numbers made strolling a slow-going and painful course of. The truth that enemies might demolish buildings with a few hits meant that, for essentially the most half, you did not need to create something fairly there. Even the brand new constructing supplies could not maintain the enemies again, and base defences just like the ballista had been incapable of defending your property. The Mistlands was additionally launched alongside a seeker raid able to destroying beloved participant properties in different biomes – one thing that Iron Gate has fortunately now eliminated.


The concentrate on powerful PvE survival additionally started to cause a rift in the player community between those that wished an ultra-hard survival problem, and people who most well-liked a combination of fight, exploration and constructing. Till the Mistlands, it felt like Valheim was in a position to strike a good steadiness between all facets of its gameplay. The primary model of Mistlands biome did problem within the improper method: by making fight luck-based, unpredictable and irritating. Valheim is usually in comparison with soulslikes, however even FromSoft video games like Elden Ring provide manageable encounters, with alternatives to ‘take the lengthy route’ by discovering gadgets that will help you with fight if you happen to’re struggling. The Mistlands anticipated you to maintain throwing your self at it till you unlocked all its gear.

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All of this brings us to the current day, wherein Iron Gate has responded to those issues with a much-needed patch. The principle adjustments listed here are to enemy behaviour: whereas the bugs nonetheless hit laborious, there are noticeably fewer of them, they usually not stalk you for miles. In actual fact, it is now relatively straightforward to run away, as they rapidly turn out to be distracted and depart you alone. It might not sound like a significant change, however the impact on the biome has been drastic: I can now stroll round freely with out being mobbed, and for the primary time, I can enterprise solo by means of the lands with out always dying.


Valheim Mistlands update - a large rocky structure in dark purple and blue haze
The elimination of the seeker raid, which was destroying the properties of gamers who weren’t ready for it, has undoubtedly been a great transfer.


Whereas this patch does make the biome really feel extra like Valheim – I can really map out the encompassing space and poke round for assets – it additionally seems like one thing has been misplaced within the course of. On the floor, the patch solves most of the biome’s issues: as enemies not apply fixed strain, the stamina and visibility points are much less pressing, and development is far sooner now which you could really attain the infested mines. However the biome feels quite a bit emptier than earlier than, and the sensation of risk is sort of completely gone. Enemy behaviour actually wanted a tweak to stop gamers from being overwhelmed, but it surely seems like this has gone too far, and the problem of the Mistlands has been eliminated. Clipping the enemies’ wings seems like a band-aid answer to the array of different issues, just like the stamina system, vertical fight and development, that might maybe take longer to kind out. In an excellent world I might prefer to see Iron Gate present difficult enemies (that do not completely swarm you), whereas additionally implementing a development mid-way level to offer gamers some instruments to take care of them at an earlier stage.


Valheim Mistlands update - a dwarf holding a lantern in a brown rocky biome
Checking out hitboxes on uneven terrain, growing the visibility, and making a mid-way level within the development curve would alleviate among the irritating components of the Mistlands whereas sustaining a degree of problem.


The biome is clearly not past restore: it is a attractive setting, stuffed with vibrant new ideas and thrilling gear. It is price including, too, that among the non-Mistlands adjustments within the replace have been improbable – significantly the fishing rework, which inspires gamers to go searching for particular fish species. It is the proper incentive for additional journey – we ended up being totally jumpscared by a serpent, one thing that had by no means occurred to us earlier than, because the replace inspired us to linger in our boat. But I do hope Iron Gate reconsiders the highway to Mistlands gear, and finds a steadiness between both having irritating fight or a near-empty biome. Hopefully, with some additional tinkering, the Mistlands will have the ability to attain the dizzying heights of its full potential.

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