A couple of months ago, I gushed about Valheim's chill attitude (opens in new tab) when it comes to survival, and how cutting out so much of the faff made it one of the best survival games around. I still feel that way, but sometimes it's a ruthless bastard that makes you give up on rescuing all your gear from an angry pack of monsters in New Zealand.
For the uninitiated: Valheim lets you take your character and anything that's in your inventory to whatever server tickles your fancy. If you want to play with some Viking mates, you don't need to start from scratch. It's another example of the work Iron Gate has done to make its survival game friendlier than the average wilderness romp. But, as I have discovered, there is a downside to this convenience.
Many years ago, I foolishly befriended someone living in distant New Zealand, which means we have a very small window where we're both awake, free and able to hang out in a game. His partner recently got into Valheim, and invited us to join her on an adventure to kill one of the resilient bosses, the location for which she'd just discovered. Emboldened by recent successes, I accepted, and jumped into her world with my best equipment and a full inventory.
It became clear almost immediately that this was a mistake, because you never go on a long voyage with a full inventory—where the heck will you put your greyling eyeballs and grisly trophies? I crafted some chests and dumped the lot, promising to come back to it later. I doubt I'll ever see any of that stuff again.
Finally unladen, we were able to start our journey. Our objective was far away, and with that area of the map completely unexplored, we had no idea what we were going to face, or how much of that route would be across land or sea. We ventured south, with frequent breaks so I could look out at the ocean and say "We should definitely build a boat here," because I was getting tired of all the running. When we finally ran out of land, my companions acquiesced, and the boat-building began. I say boat, but it was really just a shitty raft. We're not made of resources.
One of us was smart enough to also build a small camp, so we could create a new respawn point should the worst befall us. The smart person was not me. I was busy making yet another chest, because I'd filled my inventory once again. I cannot stop myself from picking up every single item I spot. We didn't need hundreds of rocks, but if anyone changed their mind, my rock collection was waiting for them.
The ocean voyage was pleasant until we discovered that only one person can lean on the mast and stare out at the water, thinking deep thoughts and looking cool. Well, technically more people can do it, but everyone has to stand in exactly the same spot, bodies and pixels merging. None of us were up for that Cronenbergian nightmare.
We were confident when we made landfall. The boss was definitely on this island, and we were more than ready to take it on. 30 seconds later we were fighting for our lives. We'd encountered a troll, and while we'd all killed plenty of trolls in our time, this one got the drop on us. It also brought a tree with it, neutering our ranged advantage. One of our trio went down almost immediately, crushed by the weaponised trunk. I did the only sensible thing I could think of: I bravely ran back to the raft while screaming. And that's when I was squashed. I woke up back at our camp, quickly followed by the last of our number.
Unfortunately, this camp was not located in the friendliest area, which made preparing for our second attempt a bit tricky. Collectively, we must have died at least a further ten times before we were in a position to try again. Only an hour before, we'd felt like a band of total bad asses, ready to take on anything; now we were naked and useless, dying to falling trees and greylings. But we stuck at it and found ourselves all geared up and ready for revenge.
During this second voyage, I got to be the one who leaned against the mast, and let me tell you, I felt extremely cool. "Nothing can kill me," I thought to myself. The troll was gone, thankfully, but we still made sure not to linger. We got our stuff back and then quickly hopped back on the raft. This time we were being cautious, so we took the raft further down the coast, closer to the boss, avoiding all the dangers waiting for us in the forest.
This extended sailing trip only made my lust for blood greater. There was a lot of waiting around, and I was ready to start stabbing and slashing. I had a god to kill. This eagerness, lamentably, would be my undoing.
We'd gotten as close to the boss as we could by water, and our final battle was only a brisk jog away. I was extremely excited. I jumped off the still-moving raft, swimming the last few meters—a big risk in a game where a short swim can be fatal. Luckily, I was fine. That luck, however, would not persist. I was still damp from my swim when the high level grey dwarves descended upon me. With my buddies still on the raft, I was alone and not doing very well. Maybe I'd forgotten to fill my belly, denying me lots of health, but I'd never admit such a big mistake.
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You know what's coming. I never made it back to the raft, my friends didn't get to me in time, and the grey dwarves closed in—I was dead, again.
We had options, but all of them were time consuming. I could have built another raft while my friends waited, but the dangerous location we'd picked for our camp made that hard work even when there were three of us. Alternatively, my friends could have made the long voyage back to pick me up. Instead, we went for the third option: giving up. It was time to call it a night.
Unless you get a dedicated server, Valheim's worlds go to sleep when the host isn't around, and even if that wasn't the case, doing a corpse run solo didn't appeal to me. There are players who will help you collect your belongings from your corpse (opens in new tab) if it's too difficult to go it alone, but that would still require the server host to be around. So that was it. My precious gear, gone. At least until the next time our schedules collide.
I hope my cool cloak is having a nice time in New Zealand.