Sunday, February 21, 2021

In The Portals

Here's my Valheim progress report for the weekend.  I haven't made any.

 Okay, not strictly true. I have learned two extremely important skills.

1. How to make portals.

2. How to hide the UI in screenshots.

Hard to say which is the most game-changing.

Most of Saturday and some of Sunday I spent setting up portals in all my major houses. I have half a dozen so far, all works in progress, not counting the shacks, lean-tos, fortified tombs and other miscellaneous overnight bivouacs. All of them are marked on the map, which is becoming increasingly cluttered and entirely essential.

Detail on the left. Full map to show scale on the right. A lot of map to go!


I find portals curious. I wonder how long they'll last in their current form. The materials required to construct them (ten greydwarf eyes, two surtling cores, twenty fine wood) are extremely easy to obtain. Portals have no cooldown, no power or fuel requirements and no restrictions on use other than the controversial "no ore or refined metals" rule. To use them you just walk through and there you are. Somewhere else.

What this means is that if you can be bothered to do the grunt work (and apparently I can) Valheim can be switched from a slow travel game to an instant travel game. This brings the obvious benefits that suggests as well as some I hadn't immediately considered.

For example, having to select one specific location as your bind spot ceases to have much significance when you can have a portal next to every bed. The obvious move would seem to be to set up a single, central base with portals to all other locations you might care to visit and put your spawn bed in the middle. Then wherever you die you'll be just one loading screen away from wherever you want to wake up. 

A watched cauldron never boils.


I haven't gone that far yet but already I can move from the extreme north of my explored map to the extreme south in a couple of portals. It completely changes the way I play. It's also already far too convenient even to think of going back. 

I love the freedom portals bring to my gameplay and yet I can't help wondering if there ought not to be some kind of usage restriction or cost. As far as I know there isn't even any distance limit.

Portals are fun, though, and who wants to nerf fun? Just working out where to put them and getting them set up is entertaining gameplay in itself. They can add content, too, not just let you skip over it. Setting up a transport network can be a goal in itself. I know it is for me.

So much better without all the clutter. Unlike any of my houses.


Just as well, because I don't have that much of a plan otherwise. Oh, the game has a plan for me. I'm well aware of that. I just don't see all that much prospect of me being able to follow it.

I took another look at the second boss, The Elder, this afternoon. I've been reading up on him and the universal view seems to be you need to kite him with a bow. I hadn't been using a bow at all but I went out and learned how. It's not entirely intuitive but I got the hang of it eventually. (Did you know you can skill up shooting arrows into buildings? Now I really can hit a barn door!).

I can also one-shot deer from a hundred meters away with the best of them so I guessed I was as ready as I was going to be. I found The Elder still standing where I left him a few days ago and started firing flaming arrows in his general direction. Whether I was hitting him or not I couldn't tell. His health bar never moved but that might have been because I was missing or because my skill (it's eighteen) is too low to do him any significant damage. There was no feedback I could see. 

There was a troll over there by that ruin. I was using him for target practice but he ran away.

Since I wasn't getting anywhere using the recommended strat I tried something else. There was a troll blundering about nearby so I put a couple of fire arrows in him and tried to kite him onto The Elder. It worked as far as it went. I got them into the same space. Only the pair of them just ignored each other and kept trying to stomp on me. As I died I saw them both turn their backs on each other and head off in opposite directions so I'm going to have to come up with another plan.

I'm not really sure why I need to kill The Elder anyway. Presumably he drops something I need. Eikthyr had to die for his antlers to get made into a pickaxe but I can't imagine it's exactly the same with every boss. 

I could look it up and maybe eventually I will but from something Tobold said I learned you find iron ore in crypts in the swamp. I'm close to being able to reach those now. I can kill draugr quite handily. When I get inside a swamp crypt (going to be damp in there) I guess I'll see if my antler pickaxe is good enough to mine iron. That's assuming you do mine it, not just pick it up like surtling cores.

Try and smash my portal up here you little grey gits!


I've been doing some mining, as it goes, when I'm not fiddling about with my treehouse (it's beginning to take on Andy Griffiths proportions). I've been mining copper and tin to make bronze so I can upgrade my axe and all my armor as far as they'll go. If it turns out I can mine and use iron without killing The Elder first then my tentative plan would be to move up through that part of the crafting tree, then come back and see if the classic overlevelling strategy works.

The other option, presumably, would be to arrange a visit to someone's world where the second boss is already on farm status and have someone do it for me. Or with me, if being there and not contributing anything counts as "with". That's another curious thing about Valheim's design philosophy. It nods at difficulty quite often but then it looks the other way.

My biggest motivation in progressing is to reach a point where I can build stone structures. It seems odd that I can already split rocks and dig holes but I can't repair or construct anything with the tons of stone I acquire. I wonder how far down the road that is?

Once I get a cocktail bar up here I'm never coming down.


And as always I imagine I could just go look all this stuff up. The time will come when I'll do just that, I'm sure. Not that I'm snubbing external advice even now. Not at all. If it hadn't been for a beginner's guide I was looking at (seemed safe to read up what people said about the stuff I'd already done) I might never have found out that Ctrl-F3 hides the UI.

I've been cutting and cropping and fiddling about with screenshots ever since i first started posting about Valheim and while I enjoy doing it it takes ages. Now I can just take the shot and use it as is! What a joy! Saves me even more time than the portals!

If you're wondering why my character always seems to be bending down in the full screen shots it's because Ctrl is also the default stealth key. Every time I take a UI-less screenshot my viking ducks. I do get her to stand up again but sometimes she looks perfectly fine crouching down so I just go along with her. 

That should keep the little blighters out!

I do wish there were better camera controls. It's hard to swing the camera about to get a good shot most of the time and impossible to pull back far enough almost always. Ah well. Early Access. Probably not top of the list for improvements, either.

Never mind. I'm sure we'll manage somehow.

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