Although Valheim can be played entirely solo, it’s much more fun to load the game up with a couple of friends to play with.
To this end, there are two main ways of connecting with friends in Valheim. Players can either set up a dedicated server, or they can simply run with a local host, both of which have their own drawbacks and advantages.
Choosing between a dedicated Valheim server or playing with a local host
There are two main things to account for when choosing between setting up a dedicated server and just playing with a local host. The first is when/how often players will be playing together, and second is how many players will be playing.
To play with just a few friends who only want to play together, and are willing to wait for everyone to be available to play, local hosting will be more than enough. This can be done through the in-game menu, simply start a new or existing game, give the world a name, a seed, a password (if needed), and invite some friends in. It’s pretty painless, but does have its drawbacks.
For larger playgroups, playgroups that are more likely to split off from one another, and playgroups that want to have access to the world regardless of who is online at the moment, it might be worthwhile to set up a dedicated server. This process is a little bit more complicated, but fortunately it can be partly done through the Steam library.
Anyone who wants to set up a dedicated Valheim server should search their Steam Library for “Valheim Dedicated Server.” This is listed as a tool rather than a game, so they may need to show their Steam tools to find it.
Choose a folder to install the server to, then find the folder in the File Explorer. This is typically the SteamApps/common folder. Within the Valheim dedicated server folder, there is a Valheim Dedicated Server Manual which does provide all the information needed to set up a dedicated server.
How to set up a Valheim Dedicated Server
Note: Because Valheim is in early access, any information provided here may become outdated if the developers change the process to set up a dedicated server. Additionally, this process is for Windows computers, Linux and Mac computers will/may have a different process.
Begin by creating and naming a copy of the start_headless_server.bat file. Right-click on the server and click edit.
This window will once again inform the dedicated server host what they will need to do in order to set up their server. Here, they can name the server, the world, and even set a password.
The most important thing from this point on is that the dedicated server host knows how to forward ports and allow players to connect through their firewall. This may be different based on what kind of router setup the host has. The TCP and UDP ports 2456-2458 are forwarded for both inbound and outbound connections through both the router and firewall.
Once this is done, the Valheim dedicated server host will need to find their external IP address (this can usually be found on Google). This is needed to allow other players to connect to the dedicated server. Once all the information has been found, simply launch the server (the renamed .bat file).
Once found, type the IP address and port 2457 in order to find the server. This will probably look something like “###.###.#:2457”. Once the server is found, simply type in the password and connect to it.
One final note: The Valheim dedicated server host will need to keep their computer and server running in order for players to connect to it.
Is it worth the hassle?
I am spending way too much time in #Valheim . I got a dedicated server setup, and a few more friends playing. Finally mastered the ship! But why oh why does copper give you so little!
— Drasten The Dungeon Master (@Drasten1) February 13, 2021
Whether or not it’s worth it to go through all that trouble depends on the playgroup in question, and the potential server host’s technical prowess. Anyone used to hosting dedicated servers for other games will probably find the process quite simple for Valheim. Those setting up a server for the first time may need to do some homework.
The most important things to know are:
- How to find your external IP address
- How to forward ports
- Basic file editing
Almost all of this information can be found online, and may vary based on each person’s individual internet setup. Additionally, some players may not be able to forward their ports, especially if they get their internet connection through a semi-public network such as a college dorm.
The upside is that a dedicated server can be left running on whatever machine is hosting it, allowing other players to connect without having the host actively running the game. This also allows players to drop in and out of the server at will, rather than having to coordinate around a local host.
If it’s not too much of a chore, and the machine can run it, then it’s probably worth it.
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