Developed and Published By: Pocketpair Categories: RPG, Action, Adventure Release Date: 01.19.24 Price: $29.99
You can’t deny that Palworld is an odd game, but it’s an amazing one as well. That’s surprising considering the mild price tag and early access state. It’s been dubbed “Pokemon with guns” dozens of times during the first week of release and there are multiple reasons that tagline would turn people off from playing. But “Pokemon with guns” is not even close to what Palworld truly is. Yes there are guns, and they get chaotic. Yes there are creatures that could resemble Pokemon, or any creature from the likes of Digimon, Dragon Quest, Monster Hunter, Yo-kai Watch, Final Fantasy, or even Megami Tensei.
But Palworld is so much more. The correct statement would be that it’s a monster-catching game mixed with Ark Survival Evolved and with hints of Factorio, Breath of the Wild, Minecraft, and even Red Dead Redemption sprinkled in. The concept of Palworld is pretty simple as you spawn in a massive world that’s inhabited by pals. They’re the aforementioned creatures that resemble Pokemon and you can battle them or catch them with pal Spheres. If you catch them, you’re able to use them for the standard stuff like battling other pals or riding them across the map, you can even pet them.
But that’s where the game stops being like Pokemon and evolves into its own crazy thing. The two main things that pals do for you are work for you at your base and help defend it from enemies. The two big focal points of the game are exploring the world and catching as many different pals as you can. But bases are easily the most expansive aspect of the game. You set up where you want your base to be and set pals to work there. At first they’re going to do things like chop down trees and mine rocks for you but once you build things like a tree farm or quarry, pals will automate all the resources gathering for you.
With structures like walls, doors, and stairs, you can construct a base anyway you like and spend countless hours just doing this. When I first started on a multiplayer server, I was focused on building a tower. All my resources went to building it up and once it reached five floors, I started putting all the resources structures and other stuff into different floors so I never had to leave the building. But leaving your base is just as fun because there’s so much to do in the world. Just exploring the world is a ton of fun. There will be a ton of enemies to fight, dungeons to complete, and of course pals to catch and train.
You’ll even find random NPC’s like ones that will sell you pals for coins. I learned the hard way that if you attack one of them, you’ll get an assault level and the Palworld police force will begin hunting you down. The opening hours might feel very slow to some players. It was a lot of hand-collecting resources at the start and I didn’t even unlock guns until after I put like ten hours in. But those opening hours were also the most fun as it was great experiencing the world for the first time and catching my first batch of pals. While Palworld does get a lot of criticism and has its share of bugs, the core gameplay loop is incredibly fun and addicting. You’re going to have fun playing Palworld and it’s one that’s easily accessible for a lot of people.
For example, I just picked up a Steam Deck recently and it was the only way I could play the game. It’s listed as playable on the Steam Deck and a lot of people claim it doesn’t look or run amazing on it. But I didn’t really see those problems. Obviously there are the graphical hiccups that come with such an ambitious game being in early access. But many of the issues I experienced on the Steam Deck were ones caused by early access bugs or server related incidents. I experienced a decrease in framerate, a lag spike, or visual glitch maybe a few times every five minutes. But it never took away from the gameplay nor was caused by playing on the Steam Deck. The only issues I had with this version was that I couldn’t type in chat and text was small.
When it comes to other aspects of visuals, the game was pretty good. I really like the designs and 3D models of the pals and there are some really good ones. The world itself also looks really good. It’s not full of life outside of pals but the developers made sure that it looked beautiful with it’s assortment of trees, mountains, waterways, and other structures. When there’s multiple pals on screen at once and they’re all fighting, animation will get very janky but having 10 or more 3D entities fighting at once isn’t something you see often outside of like Warriors games. Plus when you’re playing on a server, your own Internet and the host will play a huge part in how the game runs.
I also have no reason to doubt that the game will look and run much better in the future. Palworld has only been in early access for like a week and had multiple updates already. There’s a lot of progress to be made and the developers shared a roadmap recently for what they have planned. I personally don’t have any problems with the game and I know millions of others feel the same way but Palworld has the potential to be even better within the next few months.
Even in its early access state, Palworld has a lot of value right now. You can start your own singleplayer world and spend dozens of hours on it. Just filling up the world map will take a few hours and catching all 100+ pals will take a significant amount of time. Then you also have the freedom to level them up and do dungeons. But because you have the freedom to build the base of your dreams, that adds so much more to replayability. Then you add multiplayer servers and you can do it all over again with a group of friends. There’s only one server that I play on right now and I have so much fun contributing structures, buildings, and resources towards making the world amazing.
In its current state, I would say that you can easily get 50 hours of gameplay out of a local world and that can push 100-200 hours when you add in servers. But plans for the future include PVP, raid bosses, a trading system, and more. By the time the game makes it out of early access, I think it’s safe to say that there will be a ton of content. That makes the $30 price tag seem pretty ridiculous for the amount of content and enjoyment that you’ll get out of it. Some people might not be able to get past the absurdity of what the game appears to be but people really do need to play this. If you have a decent PC, a Steam Deck, or Game Pass, you need to check out Palworld.