Valheim, an open-world crafting and survival sandbox that takes place in Viking purgatory, is filled with deadly enemies. There are goblins, skeletons, Draugr, and trolls that will fight any player they see. But the absolute biggest danger in the world is proving not to be a greydwarf or a lightning-shooting elk, but the humble tree.
This isn’t a supernatural phenomenon at all, like a terrifying ent or a nature spell. Just normal, big trees in the world are proving surprisingly deadly. Valheim has a robust physics system, especially compared to many other survival games. When you mine ore, the rocks around the copper are knocked away; enemy corpses will tumble down a steep hill.
This applies to trees as well. In some games, a tree falls over harmlessly and then vanishes with no collision detection. In Valheim, when a tree trunk goes down, it goes down hard. Falling trees can one-shot unprepared players and smash through wooden bases. They do not mess around. This is a game where yelling “TIMBER” is absolutely necessary, or you’ll squish your friends (or yourself) like tiny bugs.
Making matters worse, enemies can knock trees down by doing area-of-effect attacks. There’s nothing that makes a Viking feel more foolish than staying at a distance, peppering a troll with arrows, only to miss the giant log crashing down upon their head.
If you’re not yet worried about deadly trees, trolls and other big monsters can grab fallen logs and use them as makeshift weapons. There’s nothing more frightening than kiting a troll through the Black Forest, and feeling a surge of triumph as their health dips ... only for them to smash you with a log, turning you into Viking salsa.
Players are mostly taking this in good humor, but some are already trying to find ways around the tree issue. Some groups are building logging camps, far away from their main base, where they can cut down trees without having to worry about losing longhouses or carefully built workstations in the process. Other players are trying to use the logs as makeshift bridges — or even as the foundation for other building projects that go so far up into the sky that nothing can touch them.
Valheim is a very new game, still in early access. It’s likely that as development continues, developer Iron Gate will add much more deadly threats to the world. But for now, tree trunks seem to be one of the most lethal elements of Valheim. No one suspects an innocent-seeming tree to be a weapon of mass destruction. For now, the best thing players can do is to keep physics in mind, yell “TIMBER” when necessary, and never stand at the bottom of a hill while cutting down trees. If you die, no worries — at this point, it’s basically a rite of passage.