The survial hit Valheim was not only able to sell more than five million copies, it also had an exemplary stable early access launch. However, the game receives the most praise for its dark and very accurate depiction of Norse mythology.
As Swedes, the developers of Iron Gate Studios bring their native world of legends to the screen so vividly that many players are already puzzling over the background of the tenth world, Odin’s mission and the meaning of Hugin and Munin.
Due to its early access status, Valheim does not own the delicately placed lore snippets from Dark Souls. Anyone who is not familiar with works like the poetic Edda or who has already accumulated a lot of pop-cultural knowledge about the Nordic world of gods and legends will simply not understand many allusions.
But don’t worry, Vikings! We reveal the most important references and facts about the tenth world, including comprehensive background explanations. We not only deal with Valheim itself, but also the creatures, gods and events that have a connection with ancient Norse mythology.
So put on your Spangenhelm, shoulder your Danish ax and call Hávi for assistance – because we are going on a journey into the ancient Norse world of legends.
The world of Valheim itself is a clever addition to the actual Norse mythology. To make one thing clear at the beginning: Valheim does not exist in the real sagas; Iron Gate Studios decided to add their own ideas to the background.
At its core, there are nine worlds in Norse mythology, all of which are connected to one another via the world tree Yggdrasil:
- Asgard is the fortress world of the Aesir gods, to which Odin also belongs. Here you will find the Wahlhall Palace and the Folkwang field, two of the largest metals in which the honorable dead, singing and fighting, wait for the end of the world.
- Vanaheim is the world of the Wanen gods, including Odin’s wife, Freya. In contrast to the Aesir warriors, the Vanes are more interested in wisdom, visions and fertility – the ideal sacrifices for the Aesir’s lust for battle. Accordingly, the marriage between Freya and Odin is more of a “hostage exchange” to end an old war than a happy marriage.
- Alfheim, the world of the “light elves” who are described in the poetic Edda as “more beautiful than the sun itself”.
- Midgard, the human world. Your Viking lived in Midgard until his death – the only realm that humans can see with the naked eye. By the way: Another old English name for Midgard is “Middle-earth”.
- Jötunheim, the world of giants. In addition to the Vanes, the dwarfs, each other and actually everything else, the Nordic gods preferred to quarrel with the giants. “The Journey to Utgard”, one of the most famous Nordic stories, takes place in Jötunheim.
- Muspelheim is the world of fire and chaos in which the fire giant Surtr lives. The inhabitants of Muspelheim are also the first to push open the gates of Asgard at the end of the world in Ragnarök and destroy the rainbow bridge.
- Svaltalfheim or Nidvaellir is the world of the dwarfs. Since “Svatálfr” literally means “Black Elf”, dark elves and dwarves are practically synonymous – more on that later.
- Niflheim is the world of ice, fog and standstill, which is located right next to the Muspelheim fire world. The Hvergelmir spring, from which all rivers arise, is located here.
- Helheim is the dark world of the dead, which is ruled by Loki’s daughter Hel. Hel is one of the few legendary figures who has free access to all nine worlds, because she has to “prepare a bed for everyone” who dies of old age or illness. Helheim is described as ‘dark and boring’, but in essence the dead live here simply as they did during their lifetime.
So far, so good, but where does Valheim stand in this cosmology? The so-called “tenth world” must finally fit into the world tree, right? Not quite! When Odin defeated his enemies in ancient times and united the nine worlds, he threw all the monsters and opponents into the tenth world and struck the branches of Yggdrasil with his sword.
The tenth world separated from the world tree and drifted aimlessly through Ginnungagap, the “nothing between the worlds”. As Odin’s enemies recovered and even prospered after eternity, he sent his Valkyries out to find suitable warriors. They should invade Valheim and defeat his opponents there one more time.
The name of Valheim is composed accordingly: “Home” means something like “place of a thing” – Niflheim means place of fog and Alfheim means place of elves. “Val” or “Valr” means something like “please” in Old Danish.
So if we put the puzzle together and combine a little, Valheim means “place of the fallen”: an empire that not only houses the dead, but also the people who can neither get to Valhalla nor to Helheim. At this point your appearance takes place: you are not only the secret weapon of the godfather, but also completely dependent on him.
Valheim is no longer related to the other nine worlds, so Hel will not find you. Either you fulfill Odin’s wish or you stay in Valheim forever. There is no other choice.
After we’ve established where you are at all, we’ll cover the path that you took to get there. At the beginning of your journey to Valheim you will observe how a gigantic raven holds your Viking in its claws. There are wild discussions about the identity of this raven.
He is Munin: not correct. Hugin’s raven brother would be unnaturally tall and would have the build of a woman on top of that. The appearance of the raven is also unsuitable for Munin. You will find more about the two ravens Hugin and Munin later in the text.
He is a “Valravn”: Not correct. There is an increasing rumor in the net that your mysterious transport opportunity is a so-called “Valravn”; an older, Danish version of the Valkyries.
The whole thing is fictitious, because Valravn really exists in mythology – they just have nothing to do with transporting the dead. A valravn is created when a raven eats the flesh of powerful fallen warriors and then develops human intelligence and magical abilities.
Hence its name: Valravn means, as attentive readers can now deduce, “raven of the fallen”. There are other legends about animals that are half a raven and half a wolf, as well as ravens who drink children’s blood and transform themselves into knights.
Knight? You read that correctly: The history of Valravn dates back to the 1800 century and is therefore out of the question.
She is a valkyrie: right. The creature that brings you to Valheim at the start of the game is a Valkyrie. Also written “Valkyre” and composed of the words “Valr” and “Kjósa”, the term means “voter of the fallen” and refers to the “sword women of Odin”.
Whenever a battle rages, the Valkyries decide who wins and who loses – the loser expects the highest honor to fight as one of the Einherjar at the end of Ragnarok. The female form of the raven, the gold jewelry and, above all, the blood-smeared wings and claws all point to a Valkyrie.
If you wonder why we are being dragged to Valheim by a creepy hybrid of man and raven and where the promised pretty sword women stay at the bottom of the abyss: According to legend, Valkyries are not only often seen accompanied by ravens, but are also known for being in Transform ravens, swans or horses.
In Valheim, the raven variant was chosen because everything indicates that you are dealing with a particularly unpleasant aspect of Odin: the “raven feeder.”
Brent Dubin, known as the Gaming Giant among Globe Live Media staff, is the chief Gaming Reporter for Globe Live Media. Having attended all the major events of Gaming around the World, he is sure to give you exactly the update related to gaming World you are looking for.