Palworld’s Success: A Lesson for Pokemon to Innovate and Thrive

Author: Greg Lozano

I’m sure by now most people in the gaming world have heard of Palworld. After all, it’s been hitting headlines since its reveal trailer, being coined as “Pokemon with guns.” Its release of early access broke records, boasting over 2 million concurrent players on Steam alone, following its 8 million initial sales on opening day. Remember, this is an indie game still in early access, yet it’s currently the most concurrently played game on Steam, surpassing eSports titles like Counter-Strike and Dota.

Palworld is more than just a “Pokemon with guns” title; it’s a survival game akin to Ark or Minecraft’s survival mode. Players must be mindful of their hunger, temperature depending on the region, and the happiness of the Pals they collect. Captured Pals can be used to build and grow their base or in combat, resembling real-time Pokemon battles.

While some mechanics are great, overall, Palworld doesn’t fit my taste. I’ve never been much into survival games, and many ideas are basic translations from other games in the genre. However, the importance of Palworld lies elsewhere. I believe the Pokemon company can learn a lot from this game. If they don’t, someone else will, and it’s high time Pokemon tries to reinvent itself. Here are some ideas from Palworld that could inspire Pokemon.

A World Brimming with Life: Exploring Palworld feels connected with each creature that roams it. Different Pals diversely occupy places, making it feel more alive than Pokemon. In contrast, the latest 3D Pokemon games, with their poor engine standards, often feature Pokemon popping up at close distances in monotonous fields. Palworld, while resembling a PS3 title in graphics, outshines Pokemon, which struggles to reach early PS2 game standards.

More Engaging Battles: Pokemon battles have remained almost identical for nearly two decades. Palworld’s combat system is more intriguing; players engage directly in battles, keeping an eye on their Pal’s health in real-time, dodging attacks, and using the environment strategically. This involvement makes players feel more connected to the world.

Boss Battles: Pokemon has always struggled with boss battles, often reducing them to type matchups rather than skill checks. Palworld, on the other hand, treats boss battles as true tests of skill, with time limits and demanding combat that challenge players to reassess strategies and level up to overcome obstacles. This approach makes boss battles rewarding and something to look forward to.

Final Thoughts: Pokemon’s universe is rich and beautiful, and I love the interactions between people and Pokemon. However, the mainline games haven’t evolved enough for me. I find them too similar to the original Red/Blue titles. Even with Pokemon Go, which I enjoy, the mainline games lack originality. I hope Palworld inspires Pokemon to innovate, as Mario games do, remaining fresh for older players while welcoming new ones. I’m eager to dive into a new mainline Pokemon title with a fresh formula.

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