Valheim’s Viking purgatory in which players build, fight and swill cups of Viking mead sets it apart from other open-world action adventures and has won it a strong following on Steam. Now Valheim’s developers Iron Gate Studios, have released the game’s first update Hearth and Home. PCWorld spoke with Valheim developer and Iron Gate Studio co-founder Henrik Törnqvist about what’s in store for players…
Hearth and Home focuses largely on building and food rather than combat says Törnqvist who calls himself a Valheim builder. “I’m a builder myself and building elaborate structures is one of the most enjoyable parts of Valheim. We wanted to complement the building system with new pieces back in February, hence why our update is so focused on building,” he says.
Törnqvist says players can expect the addition of new Darkwood building pieces, including shingle roofs, beams and decorations that should allow players to build even more complex structures. “Windows are something that I’ve always personally wanted and inverse diagonal pieces too. These things are now possible and should make the kinds of structures you can build more elaborate and interesting,” explains Törnqvist.
Additionally, the range of furniture on offer has been expanded. More items will be able to be crafted from stone and the addition of novelty items of furniture is a fun touch that should appeal to the particularly discerning Viking designers. Items like a stone throne and Viking hot tub will now adorn players homes and halls, with more pieces to be revealed in the game.
The building options also complement the other major change in the update - an improved food system - backed by a list of cauldron improvements that take the shape of items like a spice rack, butcher’s table and pots and pans. An oven has also been added for baking bread and pie. Some types of meat will now need to be cooked in an iron cooking station to be enjoyed by players.
But changes to food crafting are not just aesthetic, Törnqvist explains. How food affects players has also been changed. “Food has been rebalanced to make players think about their cooking and eating choices and to consider the effects of different food types,” he says.
“Previously you had one type of food that gave you health and stamina. We’ve divided it up into food that either gives you health or gives you stamina. So, now you have to make some conscious decisions about what to eat. This is a major change that should affect the survival part of the game,” he says.
Törnqvist says the building changes also rub off on the co-op experience with players now able to build cartography tables and share map data with other players.
While admittedly not a combat update, Hearth and Home does have one major combat change. “We’ve changed blocking. Instead of blocking being set by a standard system, blocking is now set by how much health you have,” Törnqvist says.
One new enemy has been added and there is a mysterious darkness now spreading across the landscape. What this darkness actually is Törnqvist remains coy about, preferring that players should discover it themselves first hand.
Something you won’t find in this update however is upgrades to Viking longboat building, which although absent for now, is firmly on Törnqvist’s “to do list” for the future. Inventories too are also likely to get a refit down the track, he hints. “There's been lots of feedback requesting this. That’s something that we will definitely look at making available going forward,” says Törnqvist.
Valheim: Hearth and Home is available now on Steam.