Valheim's 'most challenging biome yet' is now available for public testing

Described as "Valheim's most challenging biome yet", the Ashlands seem to be trying to give Elden Ring's Caelid a run for its money as least popular holiday destination in videogames. Not only is the region's blighted landscape riven with lakes of lava and rained upon by searing cinders, it's also prowled by a variety of nasty looking monsters, including a smouldering harpy and a gigantic flaming skeleton.

It all looks suitably dramatic, although the trailer doesn't provide a whole lot of context for how Ashland's new biome and creatures are likely to affect play. Fortunately, the patch notes issued for the Public Test version of Valheim, where the Ashlands update is available to test now, provide some clarification. At a baseline level, Ashlands will introduce 30 new weapons, 10 new creatures, 70 new buildable items, 30 new crafting materials, three new armour sets, new locations and events, and more.

Below this is a more specific list of features that Iron Gate qualifies as spoilers, so if you don't want to know the results of your impending foray into this infernal new biome, click away now:

So, those cinders that rain down from the sky? They can cause you damage if you don't wear the appropriate precautions, and can also set fire to any wooden build pieces within the biome. That fire will spread to any other nearby combustible material. Fire propagation can also occur outside the Ashlands too, provided you've got the relevant world modifier that governs fire activated.

It isn't just fire that poses an environmental threat in the Ashlands, either. The waters surrounding the Ashlands are boiling hot, and can only be sailed by "the sturdiest of ships". No vessel can withstand the biome's lakes of lava, although you can still traverse them "with your very own platforms." Somewhere amid all these boiling, roiling liquids are two new Charred Fortresses, which you can claim to gain two new siege machines. There are also new NPCs, minibosses, and bosses to encounter, so you're certain to find some sturdy foes while exploring Valheim's smoggy wasteland.

You can check out the full patch notes here. There's no word on when Ashlands will see its full release, but I imagine it won't be long. It all sounds very exciting in any case, and I'm sure veteran Valheim players will be feeling validated tonight.