Palworld Early Access first impressions — Simply put: it’s loads of fun

Palworld released into early access on January 18th, and has been taking the gaming world by storm. At the time of writing this, Palworld has sold over 8 million copies and counting. It’s breaking records for most consecutive players online at once, and after jumping in knowing little to nothing about the game, I can see why. Palworld is an open-world game where you can collect adorable little “Pals” that help you and fight alongside of you, but where it starts to get interesting is that it also features a survival, building, and crafting aspect to it. This fills a much desired void that fans of “other” pet collecting games have been requesting for what seems like ages.

Palworld | Early Access Launch Trailer | Pocketpair

I vaguely remember seeing news of Palworld a year or so ago, and thought it looked fun. Fast forward to last week, and a gaming group I am a part of was going nuts about it, so I picked it up to see what all the fuss was about. I ended up playing over 30 hours last weekend, and when I haven’t been playing it’s all I am thinking about.

There are multiple reasons why the game is so addicting and fun, but let’s start with the obvious: cute Pals to collect. Palworld isn’t reinventing the wheel with how you obtain and catch Pals, it’s very similar to other pet collection titles. You fight the Pal to get it low, and then toss a Pal Sphere at it. The higher quality the sphere is, the better chance to catch the Pal. Throwing from behind also gives a bonus.

Pals can also be “Lucky”, and usually you can hear these Pals before you see them. Lucky pals will be huge in comparison to their regular version, have sparkles around them, and will have much better stats out of the box. So far in my 30+ hours of playing, I have captured two Lucky Pals. Boss versions of certain Pals will be much bigger with better stats than the normal versions. It’s quite fun and satisfying pulling out a gigantic boss or Lucky Pal to fight alongside of you. You will gain a lot of experience if you catch ten of each Pal, and even more if you catch those ten one right after another. This is by far the easiest and quickest way to level up in Palworld, so make sure you try to get every Pal you come across. You will also get more experience in general for capturing a Pal over killing it.

The gigantic Kingpaca boss. You can build a saddle for this guy and ride him around!

Capturing Pals feels very satisfying, and while some of the designs may be a little generic or “I copied the other guys homework”, where Palworld sets itself apart is that Pals all have certain skills they can perform that help you with your base or crafting side of things. A select few also have insanely fun items you can build for them to make them do extra things, such as a game-changing saddle that lets you fly on Nitewing, or a harness for Foxparks which lets you pick him up and use him as a flamethrower in battle.

All Pals will have at least one basic Work Suitability skill such as mining, planting, kindling etc. They will also come with a Partner Skill, and at least one Active Skill, which are their abilities for fights. Leveling them up will unlock more Active Skills, and you can find special trees in the world that will have fruits on them which you can feed to Pals to teach any Pal that particular skill, regardless of its element. Most Pals will also come with a Passive Skill, which will lend a boost to either your homestead or to their attacks, although some Pals have negatives to their Passive Skills, and usually don’t make good workers or fighters.

A look at the Paldeck. Be sure to set Pals on stations based on their Work Suitability!

Setting up the right Pals on your homestead is crucial in Palworld. Your Pals will work your resource stations on your property, so paying attention to what each crafting station and farming station requires for Work Suitability will be something you need to manage. There are also different levels of Work Suitability, and as you level up, you will catch better Pals that will be better suited for working at your homestead.

Building is pretty straightforward and easy, although after my first small house I built out of wood burnt down, I admittedly have been focusing more on exploring and capturing Pals than building. But you do unlock a decent amount of decoration items in the Technology tree, and eventually open up stone structures. The Technology tree feels pretty fleshed out even this early on, with new armor, weapons, building materials, and items such as gliders unlocking every time you level up. There is also a special unlockable item every few levels, something that will usually help you, like a feed bag that allows both you and your Pals to eat automatically. Another important special item is the Egg Incubator, which allows you to hatch Pals by placing eggs you find randomly in the world inside of it. I was pleasantly surprised with how the Technology tree looked at launch, and I would bet that we will have even more options added to it.

Lots of fun items in the Technology tree!

The Paldeck is where you store all your Pals, and also how you set down roots to build. Once you find a suitable location, place down a Paldeck and you’ll see a blue circle in which you can build your homestead. The Paldeck will give you quests to level it up, and once it hits level 10 you can build a second base on the map. It’s a good idea at this time to find a location that has multiple ore nodes grouped up, as you’ll need a lot of ore at a higher level. My second base is a bare bones ore mining work camp, and I visit it only to toss the ore they are mining into my smelter. I look forward to doing more with building in the game, but right now I am just so excited to explore and catch Pals!

You Paldeck is where you store and manage all your Pals. It is also needed to place down a new base location.

Pals working your base also need to have beds and food, and a hot spring to relax in after a hard days work or they will get unhappy and refuse to work, which I find to be a nice touch. Some of the moods they get into have really cracked me up. It’s also important to make sure the Pals you put out to work don’t have negative Passive Skills. As stated earlier, find Pals that are suitable for the workstation, and they will do the gathering and crafting for you. I really like this feature, and hope they improve on it even more. Once you have a berry farm up and running, your Pals will plant and harvest their own food and then take it to the food bowl, so they have a never ending supply of food and are now self-sustainable. They grow and harvest trees for you, mine stone for you, and eventually even make items for you at the ranch station. If you use a Vixy at the ranch you will have a never ending free supply of Pal Spheres, and other Pals craft arrows for me. All of this allows you to spend more time doing the fun things we all love, rather than the tedious duties that tend to drain our interest in games.

The adorable Tombat taking a much needed break after busting his butt mining all day.

In my 30+ hours I have reached level 30, and still feel like I have barely touched the map. I am flying around trying to open up Fast Travel locations, but some of the areas are getting a little rough as the Pals there are much higher than me. Marking down when you find dungeons on the map is vital, as you get a lot of experience, items, and cool boss Pals. They reset frequently, so be sure to try to run through as many as you can, as you will need the technology parts that only drop in dungeons to craft some of the cooler items.

In my opinion, the dungeons are kind of boring at this point, as enemy pathing seems a little wonky and can get bugged out at times, coupled with the fact that all the dungeons look the same, just with different Pals inside. I am hoping that we will get more diverse dungeons in a later patch.

Boss Dungeons are also something you should strive to do each day, as they will grant you a lot of experience for your Pals. You won’t have access to many at the very start, but they will show up on the maps, as well as the open world boss Pals. You can collect as many Boss Pals as you desire, just like regular Pals. There is a machine that let’s you play with upgrading several Pals into higher level Pals, as well as a breeding station, so catch as many as you can!

Confused Pals don’t know what to do with all the supplies dropped from my ranch.

As much as I have been blown away by how beautiful and fun Palworld is, there are definitely some bugs that need to be fixed. The main one that really stands out to me is Pals getting stuck trying to transport items in your base. Especially with the ranch, like I said earlier, your Pals will craft a LOT of items at the ranch and they all just drop on the ground. I see my Pals get really confused, picking up and then dropping items over and over. Pals will get stuck in weird places around your base, especially if it’s by water. They will also refuse to eat or work at a crafting station at times for no apparent reason. The easiest solution to that problem is just to pick your Pal up and toss him at the station you want him to work at. I’d also like to see Pals take crafted and harvested items and put them in the boxes I designated for said items right next to the stations, instead of across my base to a random chest.

The devs of Palworld are already aware of these issues and have made a statement that they are working hard on fixing it. We have already seen a roadmap for future patches, which looks promising. I don’t know if the devs at Pocketpair were prepared for the overwhelming overnight success that Palworld has had, and I fully believe they are scrambling and trying their best to make this the game we all want to play.

Getting a saddle for Nitewing is a game changer. It allows you to take to the air and fly across the world.

I am very much looking forward to seeing Palworld develop and grow, and have thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in the game so far. It is already incredibly playable and polished, so if this is how amazing early access looks, I cannot wait to see how the game shapes up for release. Expect ongoing coverage for Palworld here at Gaming Trend, as patches drop and new content gets added I will update my thoughts.

Holly Hudspeth is a best-selling author living in Fort Worth, Texas. She has six published novels to date; The Skyy Huntington Series, which is an epic dark fantasy adventure, and One Small Detail, a stand-alone medieval fantasy. Holly also enjoys writing fan fiction based on her avatars from games such as EverQuest, Elder Scrolls Online, and World of Warcraft. Her first major purchase at the established age of nine was the NES, and she has been gaming ever since. She enjoys fantasy games, city builders, RPGs, MMOs, SMITE, and The Sims franchise. Most nights she is in SMITE with her husband and friends, or playing ESO. When she isn't gaming, she is probably either at Disney or planning her next trip there.

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