Palworld Preview – Beastmastery Beckons

Pokémon with guns. That ad-hoc definition was the flying cigarette butt that lit the fuse of the gaming masses’ explosive enthusiasm. Palworld, an unknown and unhyped survival game became an overnight sensation, smashing every longstanding record on Steam. Even if you account for the compressed timeline we are living in, the speed and virality of the contagion that is Palworld were unnatural. Palworld stunned the world. Almost no one talks about Lethal Company anymore, not to mention other, long-forgotten games from a few months back. We are racing towards singularity, exponentially picking up the speed.

▼Article Continues Below ▼

Catch them all!

Palworld preview Quivern

Palworld oozes Pokémon, while simultaneously going above and beyond the long-established concepts utilized by the most popular Nintendo trademark. It’s a crafting-oriented survival game with a heavy emphasis on grinding for resources and collecting creatures. More than a hundred different „Pals“ are yours for the taking, provided you defeat and capture them first. The camp logistics are also engaging. You can assign Pals to various tasks inside your compound(s), saving you from manual labor and enabling you to focus on exploration and combat. Pals have different default talents, and on top of that, each creature has one or more random perks or quirks, as well as the health and sanity bars that affect their performance. You’ll want to get rid of lazy slackers in working roles, for example. Cowardly guards also aren’t the greatest hire.

Palworld takes a surprisingly short time to get under your skin. The beginning is a bona fide classic, with punching trees, gathering rocks, and crafting primitive tools and gear. Soon the game introduces you to fighting and capturing creatures, and the great caroussel starts. Leveling up is reasonably fast until you hit the early thirties, and then it slows down a bit due to „effort inflation“. Crafting advanced Pal Spheres (Pokéballs), required to catch hi-level creatures takes a significant amount of resources, most of which you’ll need to farm yourself. Those spheres are expendable, so the preparation for each mid-game hunt takes much more time than the hunt itself. However, some people live for the grind, so the speed of progression is a matter of preference.

The great menagerie

Palworld 02

The Pal meta game sets the Palworld from just about every other current survival game. The creatures come in all shapes and sizes. From the petite, sheep-like Lamball to the massive Mossanda, all have their working and combat attributes, different elemental attacks, defense values, perks, and quirks. Some are ridable, and lots of them have companion skills, unlocked after crafting a specific piece of gear. When assigned to work in the base, they will automatically perform the tasks suited to their abilities. For example, little fiery Foxparks will automatically work the smelter, if you put some ore there to be processed. Others will sow the wheat fields, water them, and harvest, and some, when put behind the fixed crossbow or machine gun emplacement, will stand watch. They will craft your ammo, cook your food, and take occasional relaxing baths. They will retire for the night and rise every morning, ready for the daily sweatshop routine again.

Pals deployed in the base need sustenance, a place to sleep and relax, lest their sanity and efficiency drop. The ones you put in your party are much less demanding, requiring only food. Using them in combat is mostly an automatic affair. You can carry five combat Pals at any given moment, and you’ll deploy a specific one depending on the foe(s) you face. While fighting hostile Pals, you can either kill them or try to capture them. Capturing means more XP, which translates into faster leveling, not to mention the opportunity to use or sell captured creatures. It also means the expenditure of Pal spheres. Higher level Pals demand more advanced spheres, which need lots of mats you’ll need to farm and process.

Placeholder world

Palworld 03

The huge, open archipelago you’ll explore is still mostly empty, save the creatures and instanced bosses. The placeholder stuff promises a huge and engaging game, but this early version is not too shabby regarding content already in place. The core combat and logistic systems are sound, requiring only the balancing pass or three. The huge influx of money from the initial sales should enable the devs to sort everything out without pressure. And, maybe, go just a bit wild in the process? Palworld is a Pokémon with guns, but I would go much deeper into crazy town, experimenting with mad concepts, and taking my sweet time before putting the stamp on 1.0.

That would further discourage Nintendo from using the lawfare against the game. They have been making waves in that regard, promising to “investigate” rumors of copyright infringement. The similarity with Pokémon (concepts) notwithstanding, I seriously doubt that Nintendo could make a lethal legal case against Palworld. Sure, they were quick to send a cease and desist letter to the creator of the Pokémon mod, but I reckon that the core game is very carefully balanced not to provoke their ire. Time will tell what will happen, obviously, but I’m an optimist.

You can’t steal other people’s Pals. Yet…

Palworld 01

Similar to most modern craftosurvival games, Palworld supports multiplayer. So far, I stayed away from it, choosing to play on my own little server like solitary, nerdy beastmaster. In all fairness, PVP and snatching other people’s Pals are not yet implemented, so there’s a lack of proper incentive to hunt other people. In a couple of months, when they patch it in, I’ll probably find some other excuse not to mingle with others. To each his own, eh?

The unexpected, stratospheric success of Palworld once again proves the old Holywood-related maxim by William Goldman. “Nobody knows anything…… Not one person in the entire motion picture gaming field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.” Palworld devs struck gold, let’s just hope they don’t lose sight of that shiny vein.


  • The whole concept of slightly more unhinged Pokémon is a blast.
  • Pals are fun to work and do combat with.
  • Lots of interesting gadgets and firearms.
  • Addictive as hell across the board.


  • The game world is still mostly devoid of content.
  • Leveling up slows down massively after lvl. 30.
  • Ever-present threat of Nintendo lawfare.
Preview platform: PC
Review platform: PC
Developed by: Pocketpair
Published by: Pocketpair
(read our Review Policy for clarification)