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Palworld is a smash hit with over 850,000 concurrent players on Steam, and counting

A hot potato: Steam’s next Early Access hit is an open-world survival crafting game like many others, except it features legally distinct Pokémon wielding machine guns. Initial impressions of Palworld are positive, with some describing it as the fully 3D Pokémon adventure that Nintendo hasn’t yet delivered.

Palworld entered Early Access on Friday and immediately rocketed to the top of Steam’s sales charts. Within a few hours of launch, the open-world monster-collecting game exceeded 350,000 concurrent players on Steam and sold one million copies. Developer Pocketpair reported congested servers, potentially causing long wait times. As of writing, Palworld had hit 850,000 concurrent Steam players, hitting the #1 spot in sales charts and #2 in number of players, only behind Counter-Strike 2.

The studio describes the game as a sandbox where players can collect creatures that look just different enough from Pokémon to avoid Nintendo’s lawyers and engage in numerous other activities. Palworld includes survival elements, crafting, farming, factory management, and online multiplayer, combining various elements from popular open-world titles like Ark or Valheim.

However, Palworld takes a hard turn away from Pokémon’s family-friendly aesthetic by letting humans and its creatures, called “Pals,” carry guns. The screenshots and trailers show violent combat sequences where players can poach and attempt raid boss battles against giant Pals. Other clips show Pals being forced to generate electricity and manufacture firearms in darkly comedic sweatshop-like conditions.

Steam reviews suggest the game has exceeded initial expectations, impressing players with its expansive gameplay and content. Palworld’s vast 3D environments and attractive graphics might draw comparisons to Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, games that received significant criticism for their technical issues.

Although Palworld is in Early Access, developer Pocketpair states that all of its core gameplay systems are operational, except for PvP, which will be added at an unspecified later date.

The studio anticipates the Early Access period will last at least a year, during which it plans to introduce new areas, Pals, and structures. Player feedback could also lead to the addition of new modes or other features.

Palworld isn’t only available on Steam. The game also launched on Xbox Game Preview and is included with Game Pass. However, the Microsoft version lacks dedicated servers, limiting co-op play to four players. Meanwhile, Steam users can host servers with up to 32 players. An offline single-player mode is included, and the developer is considering releasing a PlayStation 5 version.

The game is currently priced at $29.99, but this may increase once it reaches full release.

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