The Pokémon-like Palworld is a mega hit, and it’s easy to see why

It seems like everyone on earth is talking or playing Palworld. In the three days since its early access launch on Steam on January 19 (and simultaneous release on Game Pass), the game has sold more than 5 million copies. While that is not entirely the case Tears of the kingdom numbers, to get a game from a relatively unknown developer to do that kind of work in that short amount of time? Okay, Palworld, you have our attention. Let’s see what exactly you have to say.

Palworld‘s announcement trailer released in 2021. It started off generally enough, with a bright, colorful world populated with cute monsters that bear an almost uneasy resemblance to another game with cute, catchable creatures. But then come the AK-47s. Halfway through the game’s trailer, the tone changes from “catch these cute monsters that will help you build your house” to “shoot these cute monsters and use them as slave labor.” One of the most memorable moments from that first trailer was the image of a bunch of friends (the monsters are called friends) who look surprisingly similar to Sprigatito, sadly manufacturing assault rifles on an assembly line.

Fast forward two years, and while I don’t have my weapons factory fully up and running yet, I feel a jolt of excitement when my Lamball helps me create a new tool or weapon. Crafting/survival games aren’t my jam; I bounce off it, like Pikachu bounces off a Snorlax belly. But despite all my relative disinterest in what Palworld‘ He tries to sell me, but I kind of buy it anyway. I certainly see the vision, and I completely understand if I were one to do so did enjoy the Pokemon or Minecraft games of the world, Palworld would have set my brain on fire like a Charizard at the butcher shop.

When you load for the first time Palworld, you create your character and then your world. I appreciate that the tutorial is very good and explains what you need to get started. There’s a robust survival guide that not only explains how the basic controls work, but also offers tips on what to do first. And like any survival game, the first thing I did was hit trees and rocks.

Catching friends is a simple affair that requires a lot of busy work before you can even think about building your team. You’ll need to create the Pokéballs version of the game, but before you can create them, you’ll need a special type of rock that you can pick up from the ground or extract from rock deposits. Then you need to create the workbench to make the Pokéball. After that, catching a friend works just like in any other game: weaken him (with weapons, your fists or another friend you have on your team) and throw the ball to catch him. The game tells you, based on how much you’ve weakened the friend, how likely you are to successfully capture him, which is a nice touch. But make sure you aim that ball precisely because if you are one pixel off, you will miss your ball and lose it. This is especially frustrating early in the game because of all the work required to create the suckers in the first place.

a:hover]:text-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a:hover]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-gray [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 dark:[&>a]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-gray”>Image: Bag pair

The game’s survival features are everything you’d expect. There’s a hunger bar for your character, your friends have a hunger bar, and there’s even a hot/cold weather feature a la Tears of the kingdom, so keep a flashlight handy or stay near campfires at night.

Setting up your base is also simple. Building a special structure creates a base, and assigning the friends you’ve captured to that base puts them to work. If there are resources within the perimeter of the base, the assigned friends will begin to harvest them. And when you’re doing basic crafting, whether it’s tools or constructions, your friends will pull out little hammers and help. You must treat your friends carefully and provide them with shelter, food and something to do.

And that’s it. I got two hours into the game on PC and Game Pass. (The Xbox version is vastly inferior to the PC – lots of framerate drops, texture pop-ins and visual glitches. Additionally, the Xbox version has no dedicated servers, meaning multiplayer games are limited to a maximum of four players, not 32 likes on Steam. According to a report from IGN, Palworld developer Pocketpair is working on it.) I feel like I have a good understanding of most of what the game has to offer: catching friends, building things. The novelty of the game, combined with its dissonant and sharp tone, may be enough to hold players’ attention for the first twenty hours (or longer if playing with friends), but I’m curious to see what the next twenty hours look like . The game is still in early access and according to the Steam page, it will be at least a year before its full release.

Then there’s all the controversy. Multiple outlets and people on social media have pointed out the similarities between Palworld‘s friends and Pokémon.

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In a report by VGCseveral game developers spoke anonymously about how unlikely it would be for the models to match like that.

“There’s no way you can accidentally get the same proportions on multiple models from another game without ripping the models. Or at least meticulously trace it first,” said one game developer VGC. Pocketpair CEO Takuro Mizobe refuted the allegations against the Japanese gaming news website Automation, saying, “We create our games very seriously, and we have absolutely no intention of infringing on other companies’ intellectual property.” He also spoke out against the harassment and death threats he said Pocketpair employees were facing: “Currently we are receiving defamatory comments against our artists, and we are seeing tweets that look like death threats,” read his post on X, translated from Japanese. “I would appreciate it if you would not defame the artists involved Palworld.”

There are also accusations of that Palworld is made with AI. Mizobe has posted on X discussing AI and the possibilities for its use in game development. His company also has another game in early access called AI: Art trickster, where you must use the game’s ‘AI’ art generation feature to create works of art that fool other artists. But taken together, these examples don’t prove that Palworld was created with AI and so far there is no evidence that this is the case.

As of this writingPalworld it has sold over 5 million copies, and is currently the most played game on Steam with over 870,000 players – 300,000 players are afraid to beat Counterattack‘s record for most players on Steam ever. I can see why. Firstly, it is dry January. Outside Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown — which you absolutely must play! And Like a dragon: infinite wealththere isn’t much going on that a game like Palworld with his “Pokemon with guns’ premise has the breathing room to make a big splash.

Second, Palworld is different. I don’t mean that it is special in its difference; it doesn’t do anything particularly inspired in terms of survival, crafting, or monster catching. But the fact that Palworld Putting all those very popular game mechanics together, it’s enough to grab the attention of starving people Pokemon fans who haven’t had a decent meal since Sword/Shield.

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