About halfway through my tour of the Valheim Mistlands update preview build, I’m attempting to make friends with the Dvergr, a group of dwarf-like people who have made their home in the mystical new Valheim biome coming to one of the best survival games on PC. My companions on this adventure are lead artist Robin Eyre and senior developer Jonathan Smårs from developer Iron Gate, who explain that these are the people of Valheim trader Haldor, and that we can befriend them – although I’m warned that “they are very, very angry if you destroy their things. They don’t forgive and forget.”
In theory, I had no intention of testing their resolve, but fate – as it so often does in Valheim – forces my hand. “We have company,” comes the cry, and I step outside to a barrage of flames raining down from the sky as a vast Gjall, described jokingly as a “tick mothership,” bears down upon us. It’s essentially a giant tick that floats through the sky, and it’s terrifying. Thankfully, our group is equipped with some of the best gear that can be crafted in the Mistlands – including new magic staffs, one of the most fun Mistlands additions.
Unfortunately, as we hurl huge fireballs and fire barrages of ice spikes at the Gjall, someone in our group (I don’t think it was me? It might’ve been me) inadvertently catches some of the Dvergr. They might have been helping initially, but now they’ve become an even bigger problem. In a desperate scramble across the misty, mountainous terrain, we manage to overcome this newfound foe, making good use of a new group shield ability and thanks to the heroic efforts of Robin and Jonathan to keep me alive.
Let’s rewind slightly. Before I step into the Mistlands proper, my tour begins in a beautifully constructed showcase area showing off some of the incredible new gear we’ll get to use. This includes some radically different weapons with great unique names – a lightning infused bident called the Himmin Afl, a hefty Arbalest (one of the new crossbows, which offer heavy knockback when charged up) a two-handed bow known as Spine Snap, a small but powerful axe named Jotun Bane, and a giant, two-handed sword called Krom.
There are two new full armour sets – a carapace set focused on melee combat, and mage gear that offers less protection but more potential for spellcasters. Magic is a core component being introduced in the Mistlands, and it’s something that you’ll have to wait until you reach Valheim’s newest zone to try out. It’s governed by a new resource called Eitr, which, like most of your stats in Valheim, comes from your food.
After wolfing down a hefty helping of Yggdrasil porridge, a gloopy green and yellow substance, I see a new magenta-coloured meter filling up above my stamina bar. This is my Eitr, and it’s used to cast spells with the various staffs, of which there are four that I get to play around with.
The Staff of Embers is basically a grenade launcher, lobbing great balls of fire that explode on hit. The Staff of Frost functions almost like a machine gun, pinging out deadly icicles at a rapid rate. The Staff of Protection is one of Valheim’s first true ‘support’ items, placing a protective shield around you and all nearby allies when used. The wonderfully named Dead Raiser does exactly what it says on the tin, bringing a skeletal companion to life who you can pet, rename to your desires, and bring along with you to help with the dangers that lie beyond.
Also helpful to deal with the many threats are a selection of traps and tools, including a defensive auto-ballista and a large ‘troll trap’ that proves just as deadly as previews have shown. Robin attempts to test this by stepping on one, and even his combination of relatively high food stats and hefty gear isn’t enough to save him from being immediately killed. Scary, but also quite reassuring if used carefully against some of the more intimidating foes Valheim has to offer.
The ballista is equally dangerous if you aren’t careful, as it’ll target friend and foe indiscriminately – as evidenced when it’s switched on and immediately devastates the population of a nearby chicken farm, where I get to see Valheim’s newest farmable creature clucking around happily (rogue ballistae excluded). We also take a brief sojourn to the coastline to check out fishing, which is expanded with several new fish to catch.
As we step into the Mistlands proper, two particular things stand out. The first is visibility – they don’t call it the Mistlands for nothing. Robin explains that the team contemplated how they could hide both beauty and danger among the mists. Thankfully, I’m given a bound wisp, who floats around my head and clears away nearby mists to give me a wider range of vision. I’m told that as you progress, you’ll be able to create structures using these, which can clear out wider sections for you to build your Mistlands bases in. Certain weapons, such as the glowing short sword Mistwalker, can also help cleanse the mists around you.
The other key takeaway is how vertical the Mistlands are. This is a region of peaks and valleys, and the team explains that they expect characters to come in with their stats already around 30 in order to navigate the rocky terrain. Thankfully, if you’re worried about falling to your doom, the new Feather Cape offers a ‘feather fall’ buff, which causes you to automatically glide downwards in much more graceful fashion. It’s a welcome addition that will no doubt also prove popular among builders to keep them safe as they scale their grander constructions.
The fall might not kill you, then, but what’s down in the valleys is a different matter. The primary threat we face are creatures called Seekers – essentially giant ants, but even more armoured and dangerous than the mental image that conjures up. While many speculated spiders, what we’re actually dealing with is “what ate the spiders, what drove things out of the Mistlands.”
The mists may hide the creatures visually, but they certainly don’t stop you from hearing them. During our delves into a series of dungeons such as the promisingly titled Infested Mine, we encounter even more Seekers and the notorious giant ticks (these pale in comparison to the aforementioned Gjall, but they’ll still latch onto you and attempt to drain your blood if you don’t deal with them quickly).
If you can survive the terrors that lurk among the mists, there’s plenty to be gained. Along with the potential to craft and wield incredible new weaponry and even learn how to cast magical spells, the Mistlands offers a stunning new resource in its black marble – though, as I learn on my travels, it isn’t actually mined from the sort of place you might expect. I’ll leave that one up to you to discover, however.
As our tour comes to its close, we climb up to one of the highest points in the Mistlands – a broken segment of black marble bridge that rises high up above the mist and offers a stunning overview of the environment. It’s a gorgeous zone, and one that players will likely be eager to build their new homes in – though the team warns that some of its test towns were “absolutely massacred by a one-star Gjall, so there’s probably going to be a lot of sad stories.”
The team and I sign off our brief time together by trying out some of the new emotes – my personal favourite of which is a rockin’ headbang that just keeps going forever, along with other persistent emotes such as a kneel that are perfect for snapping screenshots.
There’s no doubt that a lot of expectation has been placed on the Valheim Mistlands update by fans, who have been waiting a long time for this particular patch to come. I ask how the team tries to manage these expectations. Jonathan explains that, “This is by far the biggest biome content wise, but expectation wise it has been immense. We’re kind of excited and scared.” Robin adds, “I’m hoping people will either hate it or love it – as long as it’s some feeling we’re evoking, I’m happy.”
You can watch the Valheim Mistlands gameplay reveal trailer below:
The Valheim Mistlands update is available now for public testing.
Be sure to give our Valheim progression guide a look so that you’re ready to head into the Mistlands as soon as it arrives. Our Valheim building tips should ensure that you’re ready to craft some beautiful, secure structures and make the best gear possible as you progress through one of the best co-op games. If you haven’t started your adventure yet, take a look at the Valheim system requirements to see if your rig is ready to go.