Palworld, developed by Pocketpair is much more than just “Pokemon with guns.” My initial skepticism regarding its early access polish was swiftly dispelled as I delved into this monster-collecting adventure sandbox sim, and discovered layers of complexity that I didn’t anticipate, at all. Here are my first impressions of Palworld based on several hours of early gameplay.
Graphics and Presentation
I initially doubted if my gaming rig could handle Palworld since, on paper, it says that you need to have at least 16GB RAM. Surprisingly, the game ran smoothly, and I even recorded over 30 minutes of gameplay after some tweaking.
Aside from its similarities with Pokemon, Palworld reminded me of other games like Breath of the Wild, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Valheim with its stylized vibrant art style. It’s honestly a mixed bag but in a good way.
While I didn’t expect comprehensive character customization, there are enough options there to make a distinct character. The environment is full of foliage, Pals roaming around, and a general abundance of detail. I hope the devs include Photo Mode in the next updates so I can capture better shots.
Here’s one screenshot that I took after going into this cliff and this is what I meant when I mentioned that it feels like Zelda. Palworld also lets you build a parachute for improved traversal which is similar to the glider in the Zelda Switch games.
Based on the trailers, I assumed this was nothing more than a Pokemon clone, and that I’d collect and make different creatures fight each other. I’m happy to be proven wrong because the developers took sandboxing here to a new level.
The management aspect of the game is quite similar to Sengoku Dynasty, a game I previously reviewed and had high hopes for if not for its unoptimized graphics. Unlike the latter, Palworld seamlessly integrates open-world dynamics, transforming mundane tasks into an engaging experience.
I also like the Technology Tree that includes upgrading some of your Pals’ abilities once you hit Level 6 and above. For instance, there’s an item that turns your Direwolf into a mount. There’s even a Pal called Foxsparks whose Partner Skill involves transforming him into a flamethrower.
Pals Are Not Only Fighting Companions
Palworld introduces a fresh take on the familiar Pokemon system, elevating the role of Pals beyond mere fighting pets that you store in a ball. These companions become integral to your base, with each type tailored for specific tasks—be it farming, mining, or transporting resources. Examining each Pal’s unique modifiers also adds depth to the game.
For example, you can encounter a captured Pal with a Slacker passive skill. This Pal has a high chance of becoming lazy should you assign it to work on your base, or if one of your Pals has the Work Slave passive skill, they are more likely to be more efficient with work. Foxspark can only help out in forging Ingots and cooking food but not the other tasks.
Additionally, you also have to take note of the Work Suitability on what kind of tasks they can do. There are also some instances where it can get overwhelming the more you grow your base.
You have to worry if you have enough food for your Pals or if you’re assigning the right Pals to your base. You also have to make sure you have enough beds for your worker Pals to sleep in so they don’t get moody when they need to work.
Hordes & Bosses
Palworld surprisingly has spontaneous base raids that keep you on your toes. The seamless integration of firearms into the gameplay, with hostile Pals and Syndicate rebels mounting raids, adds an extra layer of excitement and challenge.
There are also bosses scattered around the map, so you won’t ever run out of stuff that you want to do inside of Palpagos Islands. I do think we should be able to fight these roaming bosses again though, because after beating Chillet, I wasn’t able to fight it again.
Want to turn it into a “Dark Souls” experience? Funny enough, I died from the higher-level Pals in my first few hours of playing.
Palworld caters to monster collectors, completionists, and those just seeking a chill base-building experience. Whether diving deep into the game’s intricacies or casually creating a relaxing base, Palworld offers flexibility.
It feels tailor-made for busy individuals uninterested in a linear main story, providing a playground for diverse playstyles. Palworld can also serve as a game for you and your friends to hop in and trade Pals and beat tough bosses around the Palpagos Islands.
I hope you liked our first impressions of Palworld! Let us know in the comments if you plan on getting it on Steam.
This preview is based on the PC version of Palworld. The key was provided by Pocket Pair.