After a lengthy Valheim Mistlands delay, the newest biome for the Norse survival game is here, letting players loose upon its dangerous creatures, a new race of people to befriend or betray, and the potential to employ new magical tools to help build the ultimate base in the Mistlands. It’s been a long time coming, with the last major update to the Steam Early Access multiplayer game, Valheim Hearth & Home, arriving in September 2021. However, developer Iron gate tells PCGamesN why focusing on bug fixes for the core game was its first priority.
Speaking to PCGamesN during a developer tour of the Mistlands, lead artist Robin Eyre and senior developer Jonathan Smårs from Iron Gate talk about how the small development team chooses where to focus its efforts. Asked about how the game’s explosion in popularity following its launch on Steam Early Access affected development, Robin tells me that Iron Gate’s core ethos comes down from the top, courtesy of CEO and Valheim game director Richard Svensson.
“The good thing about Richard is his mentality and how he thinks of things. It was so important for him that we actually ticked off all the bugs,” Robin explains. “Coming out on Early Access, just go for the bugs – two to three months, or even four months I think it was, just working on ironing out all the bugs so as many people as possible could just play the game, instead of making content on top of a broken game.”
It’s certainly an admirable approach, given how often games will pump out shiny new content without addressing core issues that are already present. Oftentimes, it can be easy to get caught up in a roadmap – and there’s frequently a lot of pressure placed on developers to not delay already-announced content. As such, Iron Gate took the dramatic step of abandoning its initial approach of a published long-term roadmap in favour of a more singular focus on the next major update.
Robin says it took him a while to come around to the idea. “At the beginning I was like, ‘Just make more content – let’s give the people what they want.’ Because I was definitely high on the feeling that everybody loved the game.” However, he credits Svensson for insisting upon ensuring that the current product available to players was up to scratch: “He could take a step back and just look at it, like, ‘No, we need to fix these things so people can enjoy the game we already have.’ Which I’m really, really thankful for – that he took that decision. It has been worth it, I feel.”
If you fell off playing Valheim during the downtime between major updates, Mistlands may well be the time to come back. Robin notes, “This is the first time we’re progressing forward in the game [since launch], so I think a lot of people will come back and play it. But there’s still two more biomes that need to be done before the game is fully released,” referring to the endgame areas of Ashlands and the Deep North that still lie ahead. “I’m confident that it’ll turn out well in the end.”
For those of you wondering how long it might be before we’re venturing into those particular zones, Jonathan has some good news. He adds, “I think one of the lessons that we learnt about this as well is that players really want the new biomes and the progression of that, and we had spent a lot of time on the other updates that we’ve made, so most likely it won’t be as long a wait for Ashlands as it has been for Mistlands from the initial release.”
If you’ve yet to jump in, read our Valheim Mistlands preview to learn what it’s all about, and why it might be the most exciting Valheim update yet. Our Valheim progression guide is the perfect way to get yourself on track to explore the new biome, and our Valheim building tips should ensure you know how to get yourself a nice place going when you arrive there. We’ve also got more of the best co-op games on PC, if you’re looking for other great games to play with friends.