Palworld: A fad game that's actually fun?

Or how to sell 19 million copies of a "Pokemon clone" and get away with it...

So Palworld then. It blew up eh?

12 days after going live in Early Access, Palworld had shifted 19 MILLION units. Which is crazy. Some developers would kill to get those sales numbers over the lifetime of a product, but after releasing on January 19th this year Palworld had shifted that number by the end of the same month.

A week into February you're probably looking at the mid-20 millions.

Usually with games that blow up like this I tend to ignore them, because they're getting played to death by streamers, that makes sales explode and then, after a week or so the hype dies down and it fades from the public awareness.

However, Palworld is on Gamepass. And this example is exactly why I have Gamepass (which I get free as a part of a subscription to another product), as it's a great resource for sampling games.

So I installed Palworld via Gamepass and I was hooked.

Survival games? Meh?

I'm not normally a lover of survival-style games, where you need to eat, keep warm, fight off hungry monsters etc. As an example I never really got too hardcore into the likes of Minecraft's survival mode, or Rust or other games of that ilk.

But with Palworld you can tweak all of the settings that govern how fast you get hungry, how much stamina you use to carry out activities like chopping trees or swimming. Nearly everything is configurable before you spawn into the world.

It's similar to Minecraft in that way - you set your world name, configure parameters and spawn into your world. Except you can't destroy the environment outside of chopping trees and mining rocks and so forth.

Then there's the element of the game that caused so much controversy: The Pokemon factor.


The game world is littered with "Pals", cute creatures that you can capture, once weakened, in "Pal Spheres" that have more than a passing resemblance to Pokeballs. There are humanoid enemies in the game, and you could capture them too, which led to some hilarity with streamers when they discovered it...

Once captured you can use them to fight alongside you, or you can put them to work in your base, gathering, building, protecting and so forth.

Or you can kill them for resources, such as meat, wool and cloth!

What you can't do is battle other Pals with them in a Pokemon style fight. Although they will fight with you when you attack other Pals or humanoid enemies.

Survival elements

The survival elements, even on default settings, aren't overly harsh. This is normally the aspect of survival games I dislike, the frequency with which you have to eat, or gather resources. But even on the default setting, the hunger timer is pretty generous, and the day cycle is pretty long, with a seemingly much shorter night cycle.

Exploration is a fun aspect as well, unlocking the fast travel towers and being able to zip quickly back to base to offload recently captured Pals, or dump resources is a big plus.

It's a fun game, and thankfully I've been off work on leave for the past week, so I've been able to pump a bit of time into it, and I've been really enjoying it. So much so that I uninstalled it and bought the Steam version! That's why a lot of the images here are from early on in the game, as I restarted again, which was fine as I had pre-existing knowledge that helped speed me back to getting my base built, resources gathered etc.

One big thing to note is that the Gamepass version is quite a bit behind Steam!

Gamepass: 1.1.4
Steam: 1.4.1

So just be aware if you're looking to get a hold of it that the GP (and Xbox) version is significantly behind the Steam version. Which in a frequently updated early access game is pretty important.

Final Thoughts

Overall I'm enjoying it a fair bit. I expect I'll get a couple of dozen hours out of the game, which considering it's only £25 at the time of writing is a bargain. I've still got a LOT to get through in terms of content, even during this Early Access launch. Lots of places to discover, mechanics to uncover and dungeons and bosses to clear!

I expect I'll be playing this in downtime from WoW quite a lot on and off. It'll always be fun to jump in, do some exploration, capture some new Pals, run a dungeon, beat some bosses, and await new content drops, which the devs have roadmapped out.

I'd recommend giving it a go, especially if you have Gamepass, despite the version disparity, particularly if you actually like Survival games, or Pokemon for that matter.