My first impressions of Palworld

Published on , 651 words, 3 minutes to read

I have no idea how to describe Palworld adequately other than it is a miracle of game design that it works as well as it does. On paper, this game should be bad. It shouldn't work at all. It should have a bunch of attempts at game design that don't work together and the game should fizzle out into irrelevance like all the others in the same category. This game should just be too damn ambitious to work.

Somehow, everything works. It doesn't just work, it works VERY WELL. Everything flows together and all the mechanics feed into eachother. It's all the addictive qualities of Factorio, Ark, Fortnite, and more all in one. On the weekends I normally catch up on anime, but I am now very behind because of how much time this game has been sucking up.

If you want to see how incredibly unlikely the success of Palworld was, check out this post by my friend Mystes where it describes the series of fortunate events that lead to this game landing the way it did. It's nuts. This game is the best kind of anomaly.

There's some controversy about the fact that you can catch Palapagos residents in Pal Spheres, with all of the normal effects in the process, but I think that this is really the game taking its lore seriously and presenting it to the player as it would be in the world. In the Pokémon games, most of the gorier Pokédex entries point to the realities that this game portrays.

If you lived in a world where cows were moe blobs that make cute noises, you'd probably be fine with butchering them for dinner. Either that or you'd live in a system such that it would be very okay and easy to do so.

It's really easy to compare this to Pokemon, but I think that it's a lot more fair to compare it to RimWorld and Ark: Survival. This makes the Pokemon games look like Monster Hunter. Looking back at Pokémon Legends Arceus, I think that the Pokémon games are probably going to become more like Monster Hunter in the long run. Monster Hunter is incredibly fun to play with friends and overall it's got really detailed mechanics. The main difference with this and Pokémon is that you can theoretically go for a very long time without engaging with the monster taming mechanic. You'll have challenges getting past Zoe, sure, but you'll be able to do it.

For an "early access" title, this is a remarkably polished and stable experience. This is the best UE5 game I've ever seen run on handhelds like the Steam Deck and the ROG Ally. The only complaints I have are things that probably can be fixed with time and polish. The fact that they've sold so many units already means that this studio will have the resources to bring this to completion. I'm confident that the core of this game is good enough that all they need to do is fix lots of little issues with the implementation.

When can you say that a new game this decade shipped with dedicated server software? That you could host yourself, and type in the direct IP of a server to connect to it, without having to do matchmaking or suffering through abortions of lobby systems? This game is amazing.

It's seriously good. I don't know what else to say other than with friends it's an amazing way to manufacture brand new sentences that become memes.

If this keeps getting better, I could easily see it being game of the year. I'd be amazed if it doesn't win something in The Game Awards this year. It sets the bar very high and I think they'll see it to fruition.

Facts and circumstances may have changed since publication. Please contact me before jumping to conclusions if something seems wrong or unclear.