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What’s Palworld? The ‘Pokémon with weapons’ recreation defined

From Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft to PBUG and Fall Guys, it can be hard to keep up with the latest gaming craze. Now, there’s another title that’s topped the Steam charts. That would be Palworld, and it’s currently being played by over 5 million gamers as we speak.

But what is this new gaming craze? Here, we tell you all you need to know about the game being played by million people, what it’s all about, and why it’s stoking up some controversies.

What is it?

Palworld has seemingly come out of nowhere to become a Fortnite competitor overnight. More than 5 million people have purchased the game in the first three days of its release, sending it straight to the top of the Steam charts. The game also attracted 1.6 million simultaneous players on Steam, making it the third largest total on the platform.

But…what is it? Palworld was created by Pocketpair, a Tokyo-based developer, and is already being described as ‘Pokémon with guns’. This is a pretty accurate, but potentially problematic, moniker for it, but we’ll get on to that later. While the Pokémon series is a more family-friendly affair, Palworld is a survival fighter where you catch (and shoot up) cute monsters. Palworld is still more in the vein of LEGO Fortnite when it comes to violence, so don’t expect some The Last of Us 2 style combat.

What do I do in Palworld?

Much like the name suggests, Palworld is capturing creatures called Pals. 111 Pals exist and come in all shapes and sizes, from cute penguin-like types to ridable fire lions. Much like Pokémon, players capture these creatures using a special ball to add them to their ‘Paldeck’ list. Pals can then be used to work a farm, create new resources and craft new items that can come in useful for your survival in the server-based world. Don’t worry, says Pocketpair on its actual Steam listing, “there are no labor laws for Pals.” That’s reassuring, as you can even turn your Pals into what we’re calling ‘Panimals’ to ensure their survival. That means larger Pals can eat the smaller ones…survival of the fittest and all.

Pal on pal violence and dubious farming methods aside, players can take part in raid-like boss fights, build bases, and cause general havoc in the world around you. Gamers have also been able to beat seals to death with their bare fists, set their Pals to work in sweatshops, and commit Pal-on-Pal medical experiments that are probably not best described here.

Controversies: inspiration or plagiarism?

This goes without saying, but we imagine that Nintendo are pretty p*ssed about Palworlds popularity. Some Pals bear an uncanny resemble to some pre-existing Pokémon, best laid out by Twitter/X user @CeciliaFae.

I went through the entire 111 list of Pals in Palworld to see what seems like a Pokémon rip off compared to not, because I’ve seen a lot of people talk about it but no full comprehensive list. Here’s what I found (it’s a lot) 🧵

— Cecilia Fae 🍂 (@CeciliaFae) January 21, 2024

Members of the gaming community have also pointed out that Pocketpair’s previous title, called Craftopia, was criticised at the time of its 2020 release for bearing a resemblance to another Nintendo title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. There’s a fine line between inspiration and plagiarism, though. Pocketpair’s CEO has already come out to say that it has “no intention” to infringe on the intellectual copyright of others. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Another controversy Palworld has found itself attached to is the potential use of AI in its game. This has not been confirmed by any party, but some portions of the gaming community have expressed concern as to whether the game was developed using generative AI.

Where is it available?

Palworld is already causing a storm on Steam and Xbox Game Pass. On PC, a single server can hold up to 31 other players, while Xbox allows for four players.

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