I didn’t know I needed magic in Valheim until I got a chance to try it out during a recent Mistlands preview. Sure, smashing things with a huge hammer or poking holes in enemies with a Blackmetal sword is great fun, but why leave your Viking vulnerable to attack when you can throw fireballs from a safe distance – or better yet, a skelly- friend to come in there and do the dirty work for you?
Valheim’s Mistlands update will introduce magic, something that was apparently always planned for the Viking survival game. “[Magic builds] has always been one of the ideas, but we didn’t want to do it in the conventional sense where you can be a mage from the start,” said Robin Eyre, Iron Gate’s lead artist. “It’s something you have to grow into if you progress. Like if you remember [Valheim] like a great Viking Norse mythology story you get this stuff towards the end.”
You can choose from four different magical weapons which in turn give you access to their own unique types of spells. The fire staff lets you throw fireballs to deal AoE damage and set fire to the things (or enemies) it hits, an ice staff fires blocks of ice, slows down enemies and deals damage, and a healing staff allows you’ll be able to sacrifice some of your health to protect yourself and nearby allies, and help negate some of the damage the inhabitants of the Mistlands will do their best to inflict on you.
While fire and ice are cool, it’s the summoning magic that really caught my attention. Yes, that’s right, you can summon your own skeleton to fight alongside you. Like the protection magic, your Viking must pay a price to perform this necromancy – you lose a chunk of health in exchange for animating your companion. The good news is you can call him Bob – or Eivor, or whatever you want – which certainly makes up for the loss of HP, though summoning a second skelly friend will cause the first one to explode for AoE damage, so it may be best not to get too attached.
You have to acquire and manage a new resource to use magic, but the system is surprisingly unremarkable. Eating a specific new type of magical food will give you an extra resource called “Eitr” and this is basically your mana that you will use when casting spells. Eitr deploys similarly to your existing stamina bar and also regenerates quite quickly, although the bar only lasts as long as the food you’ve eaten, so you’ll want to make sure you have a good supply if you’re out for a long time magic session schedule.
A big advantage of giving magic its own resource, aside from knowledge, is that you don’t use any stamina at all when casting spells, so you have plenty of options if you need to quickly dodge or sprint away. You can also craft a mage-specific armor set that aids in Eitr’s regeneration and, more importantly, makes you look like the badass Viking you are.
You won’t find the materials needed to access magical combat items until you venture into the Mistlands and start discovering the resources there, which makes sense from a balancing perspective. As a solo player with all four weapons at my disposal, I was able to summon and then switch to protect myself – and my skelly friend – and then choose between the two remaining damage options of fire or ice to deal with enemies. All spells made short work of anything native to the Meadows or Black Forest, but that’s to be expected as these are both low-lying areas. My skelly friend started to struggle a bit with the swamp-loving Draugr, though my other spells took them out with ease.
The enemies of the Plains presented a much greater challenge. Most of them are notoriously hard hit anyway and the biome is just a step below the Mistlands in difficulty, but still I didn’t feel overwhelmed here at all. However, I do suspect that the combination of different magic you could use with a group of co-op friends – and the resulting light show – can be quite intimidating for even the toughest foes living in the Plains.
But consider this: What awaits you in the Mistlands that warrants fireballs, protective shields, and summoning magic? Must be fun to find out!