Newly released Palworld #1 on Steam, played it, yet? Lethal Company still top 15

By Todd Russell Jan21,2024

Ed. Writing about games in a genre that isn’t your favorite and yet popular — even if it’s only popular for a short time — is not this author’s strong point, so asking for reader’s patience on this one. Just because a game isn’t the type of game I normally enjoy playing doesn’t mean it’s not a good game and/or not worthy of coverage. And, in fact, there are plenty of great games I don’t play or like, despite playing games for over 50 years.

There’s a new game you might have heard something about this week called Palworld (Steam $26.99, FREE on Game Pass), which many are describing as “Pokemon with guns” that is splashing big on Steam (see charts below) as it was just released on January 18, 2024.

Saw a few PGM members buy it and asked what they thought about it in our Discord, but nobody had weighed in yet that purchased it. So, decided to check it out on Game Pass this morning and played it for like 30 minutes.

It’s an open world crafting game. You wake up on an island and need to practice basic survival skills: gather wood, stone and other food, craft weapons and crafting tools.

Venture out around your base and mine, build more, eat, build a fire at night or freeze to death.

It gets blindingly dark at night, so better get near a fire for light or craft some torches so you can see. This might seem like a nice feature, but for somebody like me with poor vision, it’s a handicap in a game that to me is already not something I’m super interested in playing.

Meanwhile, you are urged to capture these semi-cute characters known as Pals. Or rather make them pets and they do your bidding (gather items). Wash, rinse, repeat. This process is fascinating. You craft or find a Pal Sphere, and that is used to capture a weakened Pal after you attack it. Kinda like this process, although one of my first few quests was to capture 30 Pals and to capture 5 of a specific Pal. You need some basic mats for this, like wood (chop trees) and stone (mine rocks) and palidium from mining rocks or, again, just finding these laying around.

Think that’s the (very) basic gist of this game, but it seems to be missing one important crafting skill that I desire in all games like this: fishing!

This would be a perfect place to fish but … no fishing pole, no way to craft a fishing pole that I saw — at least early on in the game. I decided to check the game’s discussion area on Steam to inquire about fishing. The answer there, at least at launch, seems to be a resounding: no.

Uh oh.

That was about it for me checking out Palworld. Does not seem to be anything that refreshingly new to me. You can invite up to 4 friends to play on your server on Game Pass and 32 friends on Steam, which has caused a bit of blowback, but apparently once you arm up your character it turns into something “unusual” at least according to others.

…it took just six hours for Palworld to surpass Starfield’s Steam record, hitting 332,682 players at exactly 6am PST / 9am EST / 2pm GMT. Like Starfield, which was perhaps the most anticipated game of 2023, Palworld is sharing its audience between Valve’s store and Game Pass. Nevertheless, it has managed to get more players than the Bethesda space game in exactly one quarter of one day. That’s quite the achievement.

Palworld has smashed Starfield’s Steam records in just six hours (pcgamesn.com)

Beating out Starfield is not that impressive an achievement but is noteworthy because people thought Starfield would do much better than it did. As mentioned in the headline, Lethal Company, created by a solo developer is moving downward on the top charts a bit, but still holding strong. That game has had very good staying power (Lethal Company horror game launched October 2023 has 71,000+ Overwhelmingly Positive Steam Reviews), we’ll see what happens with Palworld.

Have you checked out Palworld yet? Any interest? My co-host on Saturday’s score recap show, Bradygoat, that has contributed a couple articles here at PGM had this to say about Palworld this morning:

I get it. All games aren’t right for all gamers. Palworld isn’t really my cup of gaming tea, either, but it seems to have what these types of games typically offer, from my admittedly very brief and curious, but uninspired play. Does it surprise me this game is off to a good start? No. I will likely continue to update the bottom of this article regarding others playing and enjoying this game. It’s in the “probably won’t play again” category for me, but hey, you never know.

What do you think of Palworld? Interested? Yes/no/maybe? Already playing and digging it? Tell us about it in the comments.

UPDATE 1/21/2024 @ 1:30pm PST: While not mentioned in the article above, there is controversy surrounding the possible use of generative AI in the Pal character design, see: Palworld embroiled in AI and Pokémon ‘plagiarism’ controversy | VGC (videogameschronicle.com)

UPDATE 1/22/2024 @ 9:30am PST: “Serious bugs are occurring” with Palworld, per the developer’s X/Twitter:

Popularity has a price. Hopefully they get these bugs sorted out soon for players.

UPDATE 1/25/2024 @ 5pm PST: From the That Didn’t Take Long Department the big N legal eagles are circling:

After several days of speculation, the Pokemon Company and Nintendo have signaled they are investigating Palworld, a viral Pokemon clone that has sold over 8 million copies in less than a week.

Pokemon Is ‘Investigating’ Palworld For Potential IP Infringement—What To Know About The Viral Game (forbes.com)

In fairness to the developer, they never advertised Palworld as “Pokemon with guns” so that’s bound to play out in this story somewhere.

UPDATE 2/4/2024 @ 4:40pm PST: A Japanese talent agency has issued a warning and request to all their talent:

… this agency asked its talent not to discuss Palworld out of consideration for future collaborations with Pokemon. This measure was likely due to Pokemon‘s popularity in the region, and having one of the agency’s most famous talents mentioning Palworld could end up possibly damaging its relations with The Pokemon Company. “We have told our talent not to mention Palworld on social media or in public,” said the talent agency source. “This was done out of consideration for the Pokemon side as an agency. This decision was made in consideration of future collaborations, etc.”

Japanese Celebrities Are Reportedly Being Warned Not to Talk About Palworld (gamerant.com)
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