The Valheim Mistlands update has so much more in it than just a new biome

Valheim Mistlands update player holding a torch in the fog
(Image credit: Iron Gate Studio)

The Valheim Mistlands update has finally arrived—for testing. While the new biome hasn't been added to the base game yet (and Iron Gate Studio still hasn't announced a official release date), it is now available on the Valheim public test branch. Yup, you can dive right in and start exploring the Mistlands on Valheim's testing branch.

Fun fact: a few of us at PC Gamer have already spent some time there. Iron Gate Studio was kind enough to let us try an early build of the Mistlands, and after a lot of exploration, experimentation, and no shortage of horribly gruesome deaths, I've gotta say this: Wow. 

I mean, wow. There is a lot of new stuff in the Mistlands update beyond just a new biome. The update is packed with exciting features, and not just things you'd expect like new monsters, weapons, and scenery. There's an entirely new gameplay system players are going to be really excited about, an interesting new type of NPC, several unusual crafting stations, and lots more.

Before I go further I'm gonna put a big spoiler warning here. While some players will want to know what's in store for them in the update, and quite a lot of it can be seen in the new trailer, I had a great time discovering the surprises in the Mistlands for myself. I had more than one "holy shit" moment while exploring the new biome, and I'm sure some players would prefer to go in completely blind. So, if you don't want to know exactly what is in the Mistlands update, stop reading this and have a great time checking it out for yourself.

Please also keep in mind that we got an early build of the update, and the Mistlands is only on the test branch for now, so everything I've seen and written about is subject to change.

Last chance to avoid spoilers! Here are the most exciting and surprising things we've found in the Valheim Mistlands update.

A magic system with elemental and blood magic

The world of Valheim is no stranger to magic: After all, we're talking about the Viking afterlife filled with ice dragons, sentient blobs, magic portals, and a garbage disposal that's powered by Thor's lightning. There's always been magic running through the world of Valheim, but now you can wield it directly.

Thanks to a mystical new resource called Eitr, you can imbue yourself with magic power and build a new workbench to create several types of magic staff. One staff can hurl fireballs, another can deal ice-blasts, and there's a staff that encases you and any nearby allies in a protective force bubble. Along with the staffs, there's a craftable magic skull (you can see it briefly in the trailer) that lets you summon a loyal skeleton to fight at your side.

Yep, you can main a necromancer in Valheim. How about that?

(Image credit: Iron Gate Studio)

Just don't assume you're instantly gonna be the Viking version of Gandalf. This is a magic system, not a magic button. Harvesting and refining Eitr is quite a process, as is gathering what you need to build several new magic-related crafting stations. And without Eitr flowing through your body, your fancy new staff might as well be a twig. To keep yourself chock-full of Eitr you're going to need to gather ingredients and cook it into hearty meals in fully upgraded kitchens. And those necromancy and protection spells, they use blood magic, which drains your health as well. It's not easy being a wizard in Valheim, but it's an exciting new way to play the game.

New NPCs who don't attack you on sight

(Image credit: Iron Gate Studio)

In such a hostile world it doesn't take much for things to feel more friendly, even if that friendliness is simple neutrality. You've already met one Norse dwarf, Haldor, the vendor of Valheim. But in the Mistlands you'll find other dwarf clans, called Dvergr, and unlike most things in Valheim they don't want to kill you.

Mostly. The Dvergr inhabitants of the Mistlands won't attack you on sight. In fact, they might even greet you with a few friendly words of text floating above their heads. You can walk right up to them, and even stroll around inside their forts without upsetting them. They hate the monsters in the Mistlands as much as you do, so you can count on them to help in a fight if they happen to be nearby.

The downside is, they're not tolerant of all your behavior. Attack them and they won't hesitate to fight back, and yes, there are Dvergr mages with powerful staffs and spells. Damage their fort, even accidentally, and they'll turn hostile. This is especially tricky because their forts have resources you may find essential for crafting, so chances are you're going to have to scrap with them at some point, even if you like them.

Remnants of the Jotunn

(Image credit: Iron Gate Studio)

As you make your way through the thick mist and haze of the new biome, prepare yourself for some startling sights. As glimpsed in the trailer, you'll come across what looks like an enormous sword stuck in the ground, so big you can walk around on it and use a pickaxe (if it's strong enough) to harvest it for metal.

Who could possibly have carried such a massive weapon? The Jotunn, Norse giants who used to inhabit Valheim. Massive swords and parts of their armor are scattered around the landscape, but that's not all. You may find the ancient, petrified skeletons of the mythic giants themselves, in the form of enormous skulls and ribcages. You can harvest that fossilized bone, too, once you stop gawking at the sight of a skull the size of a house.

The roots of Yggdrasil

The mighty tree's roots are sunk deep in the Mistlands.

Since we first set foot in Valheim we've been staring up at the giant tree, Yggdrasil, that stretches out over the Viking land of the dead. We've just never been able to reach it. As it turns out the mighty tree's roots are sunk deep in the Mistlands, they're not just there for decoration. You can craft a new tool to extract a precious new resource from the roots of Yggdrasil, which is key to fully unlocking the new magic system I mentioned above.

Along with Yggdrasil's roots, there are smaller, baby Yggdrasil shoots growing all over the Mistlands. With a sharp enough axe you can cut these little trees down and unlock more new crafting recipes.

Horrifying new monsters

(Image credit: Iron Gate Studio)

I don't know what part of Norse mythology the Gjall is from, but I wish it would go back there. Early on in my exploration of the Mistlands I found a Dvergr fort, and was chilling on the roof with some neutral dwarves. I'm not sure if I heard it or saw it first, but I remember thinking "What the hell is that?" It was a massive creature, swollen and fleshy, slowly drifting toward the fort high above the mist like a blimp made of skin. Terrifying! A few minutes later, there wasn't a whole lot left of the fort. I'm not sure exactly what the Gjall spits out of what isn't exactly its mouth, but it seems like a combination of acid and fire.

The Mistlands are also home to giant insects called seekers, and they're no pushovers, either. And as you explore you'll find dungeons called infested mines, formerly the subterranean homes of the Dvergr but now the lairs of even more seekers and their brood. At least you get something out of exploring these dark and disgusting places: Seekers and their grubs provide more new crafting materials.

A new way to light up the world

Valheim Mistlands Wisp torch and fountain

(Image credit: Iron Gate Studio)

Much of the Mistlands is surrounded by fog so thick you can't see more than a few feet in front of you. You'll even lose sight of your own character if you scroll out too far with your mouse. Hold up a torch and you'll notice it doesn't do a damn thing to dispel that mist, either. This is my gentle way of saying that the mist of the Mistlands, quite honestly, sucks. When you're in it, you simply can't see, and not only is it dangerous, it's just not much fun stumbling around blind.

Luckily there's a way to combat that dense fog. You'll need something new, called Wisp, a resource that can be crafted into torches that you can place on the ground in the Mistlands, dispelling the mist around them, and a new tool called Wisplight that follows you around. A special Wisp fountain can be built that will attract Wisp for collection, allowing you to build more torches. To help you get started, here's our guide to crafting Wisp torches and Wisplight.

A new boss, base building options, and holy crap: chickens!

(Image credit: Iron Gate Studios)

We knew the new biome would have a new boss, but interestingly this boss has a lair rather than an altar in the overworld. Sealed by Dvergr long ago, once you've found the lair of the Mistlands boss you'll need to craft a special key just to open that intimidating door. A creature so foul it's been locked away in a vault? Sounds like you probably should just leave that door closed, doesn't it?

In the meantime, there's still plenty of new stuff to do back at your base, as new building materials and pieces have been added, including spiral staircases that will make multilevel building a lot easier and black marble so you can create your sturdiest base yet. And base defense has gone up a notch—there's an automated defense weapon you can build that might be useful for keeping the Djall at bay, if you want to make a home in the dangerous Mistlands.

And there's chickens! In Valheim! You can hatch 'em, grow 'em, and farm 'em at your base. They're not just cute, they're also delicious. Now all you have to do is find your first egg… somewhere.

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.