What the heck is Palworld?

by Ben Kirby
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Palworld has been doing big numbers over the past couple of weeks. Hitting milestones of 3 million, 4 million, and then 5 million downloads, seemingly out of nowhere.

Being the latest thing doing the rounds in the games press, Palworld piqued my interest with comparisons to Pokémon. Then I saw some promo video of animals/monsters with guns, and you can ride them?

This video:

Does Palworld make sense to you now? It didn’t to me either!

So, because I care…….. I bought it on Steam (it’s also on GamePass, but I wanted to play it on the Steam deck, too).

Palworld is Pokémon?

There are countless Palworld and Pokémon comparisons, and that’s fair…..

You capture “pals” by wearing down their health and throwing “spheres” at them. Captured Pals can be used to battle other Pals, too.

So yeah, add to it the sometimes strong resemblances to famous Pokémon and you can see why Palworld is causing waves. But…..you can use your Pals to help you run your base. Mining, crafting, cooking etc.

Or, instead of capturing them, you can kill them. Collecting materials from them to craft and cook. I’m guilty of feeding my Chicken Pals some grilled chicken and eggs….Palworld is certainly much darker than Pokémon and does things differently.

No turn-based combat. Nope, you’re running and gunning (currently using a bow and arrows), then lobbing your sphere hoping for a capture.

Heavily lending from Pokémon? Yep! But Pokémon is a genre unto itself, so hard not to borrow bits, I guess?

Palworld - Looking good

Survival crafting

Here’s the bit I thought I would hate.

Palworld is a survival crafting game. The genre seems to be ever-expanding. Not long ago, Valheim was the hot property, followed by a slew of others.

These games have never really done it for me, Minecraft always got too tedious. Ark: Survival Evolved, felt too intimidating.

Palworld does the basics, you build workbenches, housing, tools and weapons. But then it lets you use your captured Pals to help out!

I’ve got a handful of hours in and I’m already having berries grown, stone mined, food cooked and plenty of other bits.

You do a bit of work early doors, and then your Pals practically run your base for you.

Palworld has made this automation happen quite early on. Removing the daunting nature of the survival craft genre, and making it fun!

Keep your Pals fed, and give them beds Palworld is a fun game in a genre I don’t gel with

Palworld - Adventure with my penguin pal

Legal issues

There is a lot of talk around Palworld and not only the nature of the game but the designs of Pals.

Furthermore, there is talk about AI generating assets, and a lot of assets being just bought from stores for the game engines etc.

Nintendo have publicly announced that they’re looking into Palworld, now, too. So it’s perhaps in trouble, but we’ll have to see.

Sure, the AI generation is troublesome for the market of game artists, modellers, designers etc. But asset flipping is pretty common for small devs.

Palworld - Home base

Worth a go?

Palworld is doing a good amount of stuff well. It feels fresh and unique, despite doing a lot of what other games do. It’s combined genres and somehow made it work.

Asset flip or not, it looks decent, and it feels relatively well-optimised. Even pootling about on the Steam deck has been a pleasant experience.

If you’re unsure but love survival crafting games, it might be for you. Palworld is a big open Pokémon-style game, too. So if you love those games, it’s a twist for you, too!

Honestly, it’s breezy fun in a nice-looking style. I don’t know what else I can offer. It’s a good time and an entertaining take on other genres.

Go enslave some sheep to help you build arrows and clothes. I promise it’s fun!

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