Both of these survival crafting games have about as much in common as they do differences. That’s also on top of how Valheim has had almost three year’s worth of updates compared to Enshrouded’s nearing Early Access launch. So, Enshrouded vs Valheim: which is the better survival crafting game? Let’s get into it right now.
Valheim is the veteran survival crafting game of the two with its own early access release landing on Feb 2nd almost three years ago. That said, even when the game first launched, it started out strong. Strong enough to earn itself over 100,000 overwhelmingly positive reviews in the first month of its launch. The game is a mix of low poly Norse mythology mixed with advanced lighting and shadowing, while wrapped in a package of splendid art design.
The combat was simple but difficult and was punctuated by a level of physics that became endlessly engaging. Players explored a huge randomly generated world as they sought out new biomes to tangle with each area’s difficult and memorable boss fights. Finally, the game’s crafting system was in-depth enough that you needed to take into account where the smoke from your fires would come out, lest suffer smoke inhalation and take damage. It’s had nearly 3 years to bake, and even for a small development team that has meant plenty of new content and refinement.
The new contender on the survival crafting block, Enshrouded looks to level the playing field (haha) with a voxel world that is also almost completely handcrafted by design. And yet, because its voxel, it is also as destructible as the likes of its lower poly, Norse-inspired competitor. The game features combat, crafting, building, loot, enemies, bosses, and even an RPG-style skill tree.
Where Enshrouded greatly differs is how its world is separated into two different kinds of land. The regular, sunny, and largely normal overland, and then the quite literal enshrouded zones found underneath. These enshrouded zones don’t damage you as much as they give you a hard time limit on how long you can remain within them without coming up for air, so to speak. But it seems like Enshrouded will have you tackling these enshrouded zones, fighting bosses, looting, and building as its core loop. All within a world that is identical every other players’ world.
Round 1: Survival
Both Enshrouded and Valheim share a common theme here. This is because when it comes to survival in both games you aren’t going to be penalized for not eating or drinking. Instead, what you eat determines secondary stats like how much health you have, how much regen you have, or how much stamina or stamina regen you have. Except in Valheim food seems to matter more with how low your health will drop without the proper higher-level meals.
Whereas in Enshrouded, food and water seems to be even more of a bonus since your base health has a much higher minimum. Because of how inconsequential the survival aspects of Enshrouded are, Valheim gets the win here.
Round 2: Building
When it comes to crafting, both games get the job done in their own unique way. The difference lies in the execution. Enshrouded’s voxel-based approach is going to play out more like Minecraft where you can build block by block, with the option of using bigger blueprints that can easily be put together. Valheim on the other hand goes for a more realistic approach. This is done by showing the player that parts of the building needs structural support with interlocking beams of varying quantity and placement. Additionally, a lit fire in your building will need ventilation, which is icing on the building cake.
There’s nothing wrong with an easier Minecraft-esque approach, but the complexity of Valheim’s building systems makes it that much more engaging and impressive when players somehow build the huge behemoths that they do.
Round 3: Visuals
Both games are drop dead gorgeous in their own right. Valheim’s low poly aesthetic has an old-school charm that still somehow impresses with its gorgeous lighting engine and colors. Then you have Enshrouded with its very polished, and highly detailed world and graphical engine that takes the best parts of Valheim and kicks it three generations into the future with its far view distances and high poly counts.
This one is a no-brainer, Enshrouded takes the win.
Round 4: World Design
While Enshrouded isn’t going to have something different every time you boot up a new game, I would argue that kind of design is ideal. Because, unless you feel like you need multiple worlds to explore, you’re more than likely going to stick to whatever Valheim first gives you—that’s how large it is. Because of that, Enshrouded’s hand-crafted world makes more sense. 9 times out of 10, it’s going to be more interesting and cohesive in multiple ways if its designed smartly by hand.
The lack of a body of water kind of hurts Enshrouded a bit, but I’ll take the ability to fast travel and a glider system over painfully slow ships any day.
Round 5: Difficulty/Combat
When it comes to combat, both games take a relatively simple approach. Sure you can block, parry, dodge, and attack but there isn’t too much more to it for either game. At least, until you begin to explore the skill tree in Enshrouded or obtain the boss powers in Valheim. That said, neither game really has amazing combat. If Enshrouded had included all of the combat perks in its skill tree from the get-go and then replaced them with more interesting RPG abilities, then it would surely win this category. Unfortunately, even basic combat abilities like stealth attacks need to be grinded out and unlocked.
The clincher comes down to difficulty. By far Valheim is the more difficult game after hearing some feedback from people who had an early look at Enshrouded. This is especially true when comparing the first boss of each game, Valheim’s is simply more engaging with its ranged lightning attacks, physical slams, and much bigger health pool. Good combat isn’t just difficult combat, but when both games are so similar, the more engaging difficult combat wins.
Round 6: Multiplayer
Both games feature an online component and can easily handle many players. Currently, Valheim supports up to 10 players per server unless you use a mod, while Enshrouded has a max cap of 16 players. That puts Enshrouded in the lead, but Valheim has a neat feature where you can drop in and drop out of multiplayer servers with your character progression intact. If Enshrouded can do this on launch then its multiplayer will take the win.
This is because in a world that’s much more hand-crafted than random, the ability to hop in and help a friend with an area and boss that you’re immediately familiar with. As of right now though, Valheim wins out just barely for having that very nice quality of life multiplayer feature.
I don’t think it is unreasonable to award Valheim the win. Even with its extra years of development, it still did a lot right from day one. Enshrouded still has a chance to really prove itself upon launch with things we haven’t even seen or heard of, but until then, Valheim is the slightly better survival crafting game—especially with mods. That said, I’ll certainly be enjoying Enshrouded when it launches on January 24th, 2024 with a console release at a later date.
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