Palworld – More “Ark” Than “Pokémon With Guns”


To get this out of the way immediately: Palworld has no story. There are hints of lore sprinkled throughout the game when players collect journal entries, but the only way to read them is to hunt them down in the game options. Instead, it’s an open sandbox for players. That’s not a major issue for me as I wasn’t expecting a story-driven adventure to begin with, but it does make coming across these journals all the less exciting.

What Palworld lacks in story, it makes up for in an addicting gameplay loop. While the “Pokémon with guns” comparison isn’t entirely inaccurate given the design similarities between certain Pals and Pokémon, the game resembles Ark in gameplay more than anything else. Don’t let the adorable Pals fool you–this game is a survival game first and foremost, and it’s a huge part of the reason I cannot put it down.

Much like other games in the genre such as Valheim, Palworld requires you to collect resources and return to your base to craft items for your inventory, such as weapons, resistance outfits, shields and more. Players are expected to automate almost every single aspect of crafting and resource-collecting through the Pals you bring back to your bases, but the game is a bit glitchy in that some Pals won’t do exactly what you expect them to. Given that it is still in Early Access, I’m willing to let some of the jankiness slide, especially since Pocket Pair had already shared a roadmap that includes prioritizing fixing pathing and Pals’ AI.

The game doesn’t take itself seriously–and it benefits from it. You can equip certain Pals with handguns, machine guns, assault rifles, grenade launchers and a lot of other wild weapons that you wouldn’t expect to work. One of the more exciting elements of the game is capturing a new Pal with your spheres and finding ones that can be mounted. There’s really never a dull moment.

What will keep bringing you back for more Palworld is how vast and open the map is. There are huge regions to unlock through Fast Travel statues and areas that are much higher level than you would expect them to be, given that the open world nature of the game allows you to go anywhere you want, assuming you have good gear and decent mounts. Once you’ve unlocked the entire map, the game does become a little grindy as you approach max player level 50. However, the base-building elements will certainly keep you coming back if capturing 10 of each of the 100+ unique Pals doesn’t grab you as much.

The game can be frustrating even when it’s incredibly fun. You might find yourself struggling to gain control of your own movements during certain attacks or the game might glitch and the Pals at your base all decide to chill atop a rock and complain about being hungry. Other times, everything might go smoothly. Once you’ve secured enough Ultra Spheres–spheres that have a much higher capture rate, you grab onto your glider or hop onto your flying Pal to traverse the lands for hours with a Huge Food Bag and no server issues preventing your friends from joining your world. Experiences will vary, and I’m cautiously optimistic about the roadmap, but there is no denying that Palworld is extremely entertaining.


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