It's still January 2024, but one of the biggest games of the year has already appeared. We are talking about Palworldwhich was released on January 19th and, in just one weekend, sold more than 5 million copies and became one of the biggest games in Steam history.
Nicknamed “Pokémon with weapons”, the title features construction and survival mechanics, a combination that tends to be very successful on Valve's platform. Furthermore, the creatures in the game are called Pals, which made the game become an instant meme in Brazil.
Currently, the title is available in early access on PC and also on Xbox, including the Game Pass subscription. However, even with its success, the game is fraught with problems as it is still in development. Furthermore, Palworld is also involved in a major controversy: the studio behind the game is being accused of plagiarizing Pokémon and using artificial intelligence in the creation of the project — nothing, so far, has been officially proven.
Considering the game's success and current problems, the question remains: is it worth playing? Palworld right now or should I wait some time? Is the game worth it or is it just a fad? After spending a few days looking for Pals, check out our initial impressions of the game!
Palworld was released on January 19th and has sold over 7 million copies (as of this writing).
The world beyond the Pals
The similarity of Palworld with Pokémon certainly helped the game become a huge success on the internet. However, you only need a few minutes of gameplay to realize that The game goes far beyond the “Pokémon with guns” joke.
In fact, for much of the initial gameplay, Palworld It's more like games like Ark than the famous Nintendo franchise. As the protagonist, you simply wake up half naked on an island and need to collect resources to create a base.
In other words, a large part of the gameplay does not revolve around capturing little monsters and fighting with other children who enjoy legalized “cockfighting”. The main objective is to survive by making a fortified base and collecting resources like food and supplies.
Just like other great Steam hits, the game delivers a competent experience in terms of construction and survival, but does not bring major innovations. However, the gameplay cycle with RPG elements guarantees an experience capable of captivating players, which explains the resounding success on Valve's platform.
And where do the Pals come in?
If you're wondering: but what about the Pals, where do they come in? Following the comparison with Arkthe little monsters Palworld They are like the dinosaurs from the Wildcard studio franchise. Before turning into Ash and going out fighting everyone, you capture the Pals to serve as workers at your base.
The little monsters serve as labor and a source of resources, from items needed for progression to food, such as meat and eggs. In total, the game has more than 100 types of Pals, of different shapes and sizes.
Palworld features different creatures that not only fight, but work with the player.
The big trick is that the player needs to capture and choose the best Pals for each role. The monster species have their own qualities and abilities within the base, going beyond the battle cycle we know in the Pokémon franchise.
In the end, you spend a lot of time finding the best way to work with Pals, not battle the creatures. During my first few hours in the game, this was, by far, the most fun: exploring the vast world in search of stronger Pals for my house, and not to fight other people.
Combat and the different uses for the pal
When it comes to combat, Palworld's action also goes far beyond being a Pokémon clone. Yes, you will battle against “gym leaders”, who are in towers, and put your Pals to fight with wild monsters. However, the gameplay also involves the survival and base-building genre.
For starters, you don't need your little monsters to battle and capture other Pals. The game allows you to build weapons so that you can hit creatures yourself to weaken and capture them. With this, you can use a stick to hit Pal and, finally, capture him using Pal's sphere.
You capture Pals using a Pals sphere.
Furthermore, it is possible to take advantage of the little monsters in different ways in combat. You can create saddles to ride the Pals and use their attacks. Or make accessories to literally turn them into weapons: a little fire monster, for example, can be used as a flamethrower.
Pals should also be used to protect your base. In addition to using the creatures' abilities, you can use sandbags and machine guns controlled by the little monsters to make your home safe against invasions by Pals, smugglers and other players.
Unlike what happens in Pokémon, you also die in Palwold — after all, the basis of the game is survival. If your life comes to an end during combat, all your items will remain at the location of death, marked on the map, and you can return there to pick them up. In other words, not even Elden Ring and FromSoftware games escaped references from the Pocket Pair studio.
In addition to being a survival game with Pals, the new indie of the moment also involves a lot of exploration. Palworld takes place on an open island with lots of green grass, mountains and ruins.
And if the comparisons with Pokémon bothered you, know that the game is not the only Nintendo inspiration adopted by Palworld. The character's movement is very reminiscent of The Legend of Zeldawith a stamina bar serving as a ruler for all actions.
Furthermore, right at the beginning of the game, it is possible to create a glider very similar to the one we have in the newer Zeldinhas. Just like our friend Link, the character can also climb and explore practically any visible place on the map.
The similarities to Zelda are certainly no coincidence. The studio behind Palworld launched the game in 2020 Craftopiawhich has several aspects that are reminiscent of the most recent titles in the Nintendo franchise.
Despite the “copy, but don’t make the same” vibe, the exploration in Palworld it Works very well. The game has very different environments and interesting visuals, especially when we consider that the title is still in development. Furthermore, using the fast travel system and Pals to get around, exploring the open world doesn't get tiring.
Graphics and performance
Finally, it is important to highlight that Palworld is in early access. In other words, the game has not yet finished being developed. Both on PC and Xbox, the experience is full of bugs and points that deserve improvement.
Even playing on the Xbox Series X, I faced some problems such as unintentional crashes and textures that did not load. However, the experience is 100% playable: even the cloud save and Quick Resume, one of the coolest features of the new generation of Xbox, work perfectly with the game.
Despite the bugs, Palworld is working well.
However, the team still has a lot of optimization work and improvements to do. Whenever you complete a task, for example, a pop-up in the largest Windows 10 window style appears on the screen, giving the game a certain “amateurish” feel.
Furthermore, some parts of the game are quite broken. During one of the dungeons I did, for example, I ended up getting stuck in a mountain and the only way to get out was to die. Fortunately all my items were not lost.
The location is also another point that needs improvement. In addition to the game having some basic errors, such as a bat translated into “Bat”, some parts of the main interface do not have texts, just the acronym “PT-BR” to occupy the space, which can confuse inattentive players.
Palworld has some inconvenient localization errors, but these should be corrected in the future.
The version available on Xbox also has some updates delayed compared to the game on Steam, in addition to limited multiplayer for four people, possibly due to extra validations from the Microsoft Store. However, this edition's positive point is its availability on Game Pass, even allowing gameplay via the cloud for those who have the Ultimate version.
Is it worth playing now or waiting for more updates?
In the end, Palworld ends up being an amalgam of several things, going far beyond being a copy of Pokémon. In fact, the game ends up copying so many things that it delivers interesting gameplay, but in a very dubious way.
As expected from a game in early access, the title has several technical problems at launch, from bugs to server instabilities. However, even with possible instabilities, It is possible to have a satisfactory experience with the game on Xbox Series Xthe platform on which we have tested the game the most so far.
It is not possible to ignore the game's similarities with several of its “inspirations”, something that could certainly cause problems for the Pocket Pair studio. However, if you don't care about this, Palworld It is already playable and fun in its current state, making it an interesting option for those who subscribe to Game Pass.
Considering Steam's success patterns, there is a chance that the game will be another “passing wave” of success, joining the list of games as Lethal Company It is Only Up. However, with more than 7 million copies sold and success on Xbox Game Pass, the Japanese studio has a chance to make Pals grow and become a landmark in the games industry. A roadmap has even been announced and looks promising.
The question that remains is: will the studio have the maturity and experience (and possibly lawyers) to keep the game running and turn it into an even greater success?