Turn off these three graphics settings to make Valheim look way better

Valheim character on a boat in a beautiful sunset
(Image credit: Coffee Stain Publishing)

There are three things I hate in this world: chromatic aberration, depth of field, and motion blur. But luckily you can turn them off in the latest survival wunderkind, Valheim (opens in new tab), and it makes the game just that much more enjoyable (than it already is). Don't believe me? Try it for yourself.

There's not much to Valheim's graphics settings, all the better for this easy to love game, but there are a few tweaks I'd recommend you make to certain post-processing graphics settings.

Sometimes it's nice to create that sense of depth and focus that exists in real life or of viewing life through a lens for that cinematic feel. But in my games? No, thank you. It's always an insta-off for me, and I've found no finer recent example as to why it's always a no-go for me than Valheim.

Chromatic aberration

Chromatic aberration is an odd effect that's usually reserved for lenses. Lenses may find it tricky to direct each wavelength of light to the same point, meaning some wavelengths, such as red or blue, will sit slightly adjacent to one another.

The result? Areas of images with high contrast may appear to look like those old 3D stereoscopic images.

When it comes to photography such an effect can actually be quite welcome, although many cameras will also come with tools to correct chromatic aberration. Which is to say it's all that much weirder to me that chromatic aberration is often a post-processing effect that is turned on by default in games.

Perhaps that's something to do with its ability to hide some of the artificial sharpness you often find in gaming but not all that often in real life, or maybe it's just because it looks kind of cool and doesn't cost you anything. For me it's an instant off, though.

Depth of field

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Depth of field is a little more self explanatory: objects out of your focus appear blurry. At least that's how focus exists in real life with our human eyeballs. In gaming it's not quite as simple as the game doesn't necessarily know where you are looking, only where your character is looking or which way they're facing.

With depth of field enabled a game has to assume your view, even in third-person, is the view of a human eye with a focal point at the centre. It's all one big ploy for realism, and it can look quite good sometimes, but hardly ever from a third-person perspective. Even less so a game that has you looking around the screen constantly.

Valheim is this game. Not only does disabling depth of field make things feel as if they're suddenly rendered at 200% resolution in your periphery, it also helps when you're scouting out an area or travelling by boat. You can actually see things in the distance. Incredible stuff.

Don't let depth of field fool you, though. While it may look wonderful and artistic in the screenshot above, over the course of a long Valheim session its wonders will wear awfully thin.

VR is sure to crack depth of field and clever foveated rendering to lessen the graphical load one day, so maybe I'll come round to depth of field for realism in time, but when my gaming PC is capable of rendering a frame in its entirety just fine I prefer to keep it sharp and crisp as the day it was drawn.

Motion blur

Just turn it off. 'Nuff said.

Fine, let me explain. Motion blur is my most hated post-processing effect of all time, but I'll admit it is a handy tool when your system isn't quite up the task of running a game. It's essentially a way of tricking your brain into turning a flipbook into silky smooth video through the use of enthusiastic blurring.

It doesn't always work though, and if you're a PC gamer you usually have some other alternatives to bring framerate up that will see you workaround the need for such blurry solutions. Turning down the graphics preset a notch or two will cover it in most cases.

And lucky for you Valheim isn't the most demanding game going and still looks great even with the graphics set to the lower settings. So it's a firm no from me.

As you can imagine it's a little tough to record motion blur in action in GIF format, but you get the idea. It's a blurry mess.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog from his hometown in Wales in 2017. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, where he would later win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Nowadays, as senior hardware editor at PC Gamer, he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. When he's not writing about GPUs and CPUs, however, you'll find him trying to get as far away from the modern world as possible by wild camping.