Play: Vallheim (Steam).
Fortnite is a video game where you fight against 99 other players in an online arena, searching for better weapons and building temporary defensive structures while trying to kill everyone else. Minecraft is a video game where you build elaborate castles, perhaps with other players, and fight off various monsters. Both are massively popular, with hundreds of millions of players each. Valheim is a viking-themed mixture of the two, and it has sold over 3 million copies since debuting in early February, though it’s still in a beta mode.
Played either alone or with an online group of ten, Valheim is about survival and crafting, the gaming term for collecting raw materials — wood, leather, stone — and building new objects with them, like a house or weapon. You explore the randomly generated that your character emerges into and make your way through different landscapes, forest, mountain, or ocean. This PC Gamer review is a good description of what it’s like to actually play the game: trying to build up gear while also accidentally summoning a giant monster that destroys your house and escaping random mobs.
Valheim troll, sunset vibes
Valheim is cooperative rather than an all-out melee: Playing with friends might help you survive longer, build bigger structures, or fight bigger monsters. Its instant popularity — whenever it goes out of beta it seems primed to be a mainstream phenomenon — suggests the increasing prominence of collective digital worlds like Fortnite or Minecraft. But the viking theme adds some novelty and drama to a style of game that might otherwise feel too intensely gamer-y. Maybe different aesthetics and worlds will make co-op more accessible, but for now it’s still mostly killing monsters. — By Kyle Chayka