This is: PC Gamer’s best game of 2021. To view the full awards, please go to our GOTY 2021 center.
Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: The week Valheim was launched, I sneered. “Do we really need another early access to make a survival game?” Whether we need one or not, my friends and I’s appetite to shorten Viking’s survival time by more than 100 hours in a month shows that we really want it. One.
Valheim looks like any other production survival game. You first pick up the stones and wooden sticks, beat them together with a rough stone axe, and then chop down every tree in front of you. In practice, it is full of twists and turns. Building systems with support and structural integrity challenged me in the end to treat the basic building as a technical problem rather than just an aesthetic problem. The food system that asked me to consider improving health and stamina led me to believe that I should consider cooking after I could not do this in any other game. Small touches, such as needing to touch a resource before discovering what I can make with it, will give some extra fun.
In the end, all my friends want to spend countless late nights and plan some large long boat expeditions together, crossing the sea that we have not yet crossed or entering the swamp. This is what I like about Wallheim. Millions of people have spent two months focusing on early access games made by a small studio. This is the kind of magic I love about PC games. I can easily call this the climax of our year.
Christopher Livingston, feature film producer: It shows that it took me about 20 hours of playing to realize the size and scope of Valheim: Oh, I’m in island, Not the mainland. I’m on a small tutorial island, with a huge world outside, full of other things I haven’t seen yet.
The day I left the island, with all the things I could carry, boarding a dilapidated small raft, crossing the ocean, and going to unknown places was a thrilling adventure. By the way, absolutely nothing happened during the voyage. As night fell, a light rain began, and I reached the shore of another island in one breath. But I have been staring into the darkness throughout the journey, my heart is in my throat, and I feel like a fragile little Viking who has been haunting me in a big and dark world. Every unknown journey I take in Wallheim, whether it’s the main journey of quickly collecting supplies, exploring new biomes or fighting bosses, feels like a bold adventure, with the same awe and curiosity, I The voyage felt during the first crumbling.
Jacob Ridley, senior hardware editor: Like Lauren, when Wallheim appeared, I had completed the survival game. Well, I thought I was. Adjusted after about a month, I have played Valheim for more than 100 hours and I am still counting. The look and feel of the world of Valheim is so wonderful that there is always something to keep you busy, whether it’s architecture or exploration.
I spent dozens of hours building a beautiful manor on a crumbling rock in one of the most desolate biomes in Wallheim—competing with friends built on the next rock for the tallest tower. I traveled across the ocean to find the best sources of ore to smelt to build towns and villages across islands. I established trade routes with friends from other parts of the world, and we tried to build bridges and canals, which partly changed the face of the landscape I wandered a few weeks ago as a recently dead warrior.
This is indeed the most interesting game I have played throughout the year, and when we explore and shape our shared server together, it provides a great opportunity to share this fun with my friends.
Sarah James, guide writer: When I picked it up for the first time, I didn’t expect to spend hundreds of hours on Valheim. I entered it with fairly low expectations, but I can honestly say that since World of Warcraft first attracted me a few years ago, I have not been so excited to replay the game. I swear that this game has some kind of time warping feature-I will load my Valheim world at 8pm, plan to play for a few hours, and then look up and find that it is already in the early morning.
I seem to spend most of my time planning to do one specific thing, and then I get distracted by other things-literally Hour——Before remembering what I originally planned to do. You don’t have to worry about starving — or any other cruel survival mechanics — really makes me think this game is for me. You can play at your own pace and play as you like. This obviously worked for me because I spent more than 300 hours even before I tried the third boss. I just had a lot of fun building bases, exploring and tame wolves.