The roadblocks to speedrunning Valheim are pretty extensive. It's a survival game where you begin with nothing and have to slay monsters, gather resources, and craft gear as you travel deeper and deeper into a massive procedurally generated world, eventually taking on Valheim's five bosses which are scattered across the map.
That sounds a lot like Minecraft, where over the years speedrunners have discovered ways to take out the final boss, the ender dragon, in just a few minutes. But there's a big difference when it comes to final bosses in the two games. In Minecraft you always know exactly where the ender dragon is. She unfailingly appears when you reach the biome called the End, which you access by traveling through a stronghold's portal.
Valheim's final boss, Yagluth, will always be in a Plains biome, but not all Plains biomes will contain him. Most won't—in a world where there may be a couple dozen different instances of the Plains biome, Yagluth can only be summoned in two or three of them. And not all Plains biomes will even contain the runestone that tells you exactly which Plains biome Yagluthg is in. With the exception of Valheim's first boss, who always appears on the starter island, there's really no telling where in the world the rest of the bosses might be. Depending on the luck of the world seed you play on, it's a big ol' crapshoot and takes an incredible amount of exploring.
That's why Valheim speedrunners have mostly restricted themselves to taking down just the first boss, Eikthyr, which some have managed to do in just a few minutes. In one speedrun another player also took down the second boss, The Elder, in under 20 minutes—accomplished by building some walls around his spawn point and letting him slowly burn to death in a campfire.
So when I saw an "All Bosses" world record by speedrunner and Twitch streamer NickRawcliffe that took under 90 minutes to kill all 5 bosses, I was surprised. How, in a game that requires so much time and effort to even locate all the bosses, let alone be prepared enough to fight them, could someone have beaten them all so quickly?
There is, naturally, a catch, involving a New Game Plus ruleset. Valheim doesn't have NG+—speedrunners had to invent one. The NG+ ruleset the speedrunners agreed upon means that while the seed of the world is always a random one, speedrunners aren't starting from scratch with a new character:
"NG+ means New Game Plus which means any character can be taken in with any skill levels (100 max). Any items that can normally be found in game can be taken into the run (no items that can only be gained from cheats)," read the rules on speedrun.com.
Now the speedrun time makes much more sense. That's why at the beginning of NickRawcliffe's run, which you can see below, his character's inventory is already filled with goodies. Armor, weapons, the best Valheim foods, mead, and the summoning items required for each boss, like fuling totems and ancient seeds. The "All Bosses" speedrun isn't about starting from scratch to down all five big bads. It's about quickly locating them in a random world where they could be anywhere and in any direction. And that's still plenty challenging.
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It doesn't seem that way at first, especially watching NickRawcliffe summon and immediately kill Eikthyr with one swing of his silver sword 49 seconds into the run. Next, he needs to find the Black Forest biome and click a runestone to discover The Elder's location, which also isn't too difficult since the Black Forest is usually pretty close to the starting point in the center of the map.
But things get tricker. To find Bonemass, you need to find the Swamp, which usually means doing some sailing. The Swamp also needs to contain a crypt, and the crypt needs to contain Bonemass's runestone marker, which is never a guarantee. I've been to Swamp biomes that didn't spawn crypts at all, and I've been in plenty of crypts without a runestone in them. Nick also needs to sprint into the mountains to locate the marker that points to Moder's location—along with the three dragon eggs needed to summon her. In my own personal Valheim world, it took scouring three different Mountain biomes before I ever found Moder's marker, and the mountains themselves are basically one big stamina-sapping jumping puzzle. It's not an easy place to visit quickly.
The real gem of this speedrun is when NickRawcliffe makes up a huge amount of time in the Plains. At an hour and 18 minutes in, while running around looking for the rare stonehenge-like structures that also rarely contain a runestone, he actually stumbles across Yagluth's summoning spot instead. No need to find the marker at all. It's a blessing from the speedrunning gods.
The Valheim NG+ speedrun ruleset feels a bit unusual, especially after years of watching Minecraft speedrunners start from scratch and take down the Ender Dragon within minutes. But it's also a really enjoyable speedrun to watch, and looks like a fun way to play once you've mastered the game and there's no need to spend hours crafting, smelting, and leveling up your skills. Just jump into a random seed with your favorite character and all the loot you can carry, and see how quickly you can find all five bosses. I doubt I'll ever get good enough to try it myself—just going on a berry run takes me about 90 minutes—but it's a lot of fun watching someone else do it.