I lost all my hard-earned gear to Valheim's shockingly sharp difficulty curve

(Image credit: Iron Gate Studios)

After spending hours mining ores, smelting them into metal bars, and crafting a valuable set of armour, I finally felt ready to face The Elder, Valheim's second boss. Taking on Eikthyr in the Meadows was a comfortable fight, and with the help of my trusty crude bow, I was able to defeat the electrified stag on my first try. That said, I had a sneaking suspicion that I wouldn't be quite as fortunate when I met The Elder.

Valheim's tall, tree-like brute lurks in the hostile depths of the Black Forest. This biome is filled with Greydwarfs, skeletons, and trolls—all of which can cut you down in just a few deadly swipes. While I'd spent my opening hours bravely combing this area to mine metal deposits and raid burial chambers, I was sorely ill-prepared for the fight ahead. Despite finally knuckling down and dedicating hours to crafting a set of shiny bronze weapons and armour, my encounter with The Elder was over in just a few short moments.

Conquer Viking purgatory with these Valheim guides

Valheim Stagbreaker war hammer

(Image credit: Iron Gate Studios)

Valheim workbench: How to build and upgrade it
Valheim dedicated server: How to get one working
Valheim copper: How to get it
Valheim map: The best world seeds
Valheim seeds: How to plant them
Valheim iron: How to get it
Valheim Elder: Summon and beat the second boss
Valheim armor: The best sets
Valheim commands: Handy cheat codes

The Elder has three main attacks, but its worst move is a quick ranged attack that launches long vines directly at you. This can remove large chunks from your health bar in a matter of seconds, and cowering behind cover won't always shield you. Unlike Eikthyr, who is easy to zone to avoid damage, keeping your distance from The Elder encourages it to spawn lots of small roots that'll hurt you. It'll also happily stomp on you if you venture too close.

Despite teaming up to take on The Elder with a friend, our precious bronze swords and armour are now stranded in the northern region of our island. Retrieving them is going to be incredibly difficult. We'd fought two trolls on the long trek from our base in the Meadows, and warded off countless Greydwarfs along the way. 

There's no doubt we'll run into more enemies on a second run, and after scraping together every copper and tin bar we could find to forge our armour, we'll be returning with weak leather replacements this time around. Thankfully, our items will remain in The Elder's lair no matter how many times we die before we reach it, but I can't see that being any time soon.

While we thought we were prepared for The Elder boss fight, losing everything has drastically set us back. If you were to take a look at my initial base, you wouldn't know that I'd been playing Valheim for just over 11 hours. Unlike Harry, who's too attached to his house to get anything done, I've spent very little time on DIY.

My first house was a simple, draughty hut by a lake with very few defences. Rather than follow my own advice to tame and breed boars for a consistent flow of meat and leather, my hunting schedule is sporadic. There's been no time for creature comforts. Instead, my focus has been geared towards hunting down The Elder, and knowing that I've just lost hours of hard work has left me feeling like a sore loser.

Eikthyr certainly lulled me into a false sense of security with its slow and forgiving attacks. While I'm no stranger to fighting frustrating bosses in Dark Souls, I'm still shocked by how steeply the difficulty ramps between the first and second boss—even arriving at the arena in one piece is a challenge. 

This experience has certainly taught me a lesson, and it's changed how I'll approach the remaining four bosses. I can't coast through Viking purgatory with just the items in my inventory anymore. It's time to build a proper base that's fully stocked with back-up supplies. I'll begrudgingly return to chipping away at copper ore deposits, but I'll be back to reclaim our armour, as soon as I construct a portal.

Emma Matthews

As PC Gamer's guides writer, Emma is usually juggling several games at once. She loves competitive first-person shooters like CS:GO and Call of Duty, but she always has time for a few rounds of Hearthstone. She's happiest when she's rescuing pugs in Spelunky 2.