Despite going in with the knowledge that Palworld was an indie title in early access, I started my weekend in disbelief at how rough this game is. Given its high profile Xbox Game Pass launch and astronomical concurrent player count on PC, I was taken aback by the constantly unloaded textures, janky user experience on controller, and bothersome battling in the early stages. But it didn’t take long for all of that to become irrelevant. Like millions of others, Palworld has completely won me over.
Naturally, Palworld was always going to enjoy some level of popularity. The premise of open-world exploration, monster collecting, base building, and letting a cute green chipmunk sit on your shoulders and mow people down with a submachine gun compels anyone to try it – and its inclusion on Game Pass enables that, especially for Xbox players like myself.
But did I ever envisage that something with such a ludicrous concept – and with so many issues from the minute you boot it up – could become one of the best open world games and best survival games I’ve played in ages? No, not in the slightest.
My first half an hour or so with Palworld was a bit of a horror show. I appreciated, given its many systems, the way it eased you in with a thorough set of tutorial tasks. But I hated the floaty melee combat. I rolled my eyes at the designs of the first few Pals I encountered (Lamball, a shameless clone of Pokémon’s Wooloo, and Chikipi, which is literally just a chicken). And the constant mispressing of buttons and accidental summoning of menus started to frustrate me.
However, all of that was soon forgotten. As I put my first Pals to work in my humble but cozy settlement, spotted more exciting high-level Pals, and trekked to explore intriguing landmarks in the distance, Palworld became (and remains) super addictive.
I am now a solid 15 hours in, and I’m loving it. Graphically, it looks pretty terrible. It’s crashed on my Xbox Series S close to ten times already. And it’s drowning in performance issues (developer Pocket Pair has already admitted it’s received 50,000 bug reports from players). But I couldn’t care less.
I love my base. I love my Pals. I love that a pop up will call a Pal a “cheeky bastard” for breaking out of a Sphere. And, of course, I love the cute green chipmunk that sits on your shoulders and mows people down with a submachine gun.
I’m absolutely obsessed with it, and despite high-quality Xbox exclusives like Hellblade 2 and massive cross-platform titles like Star Wars Outlaws dropping this year, I already feel like Palworld will be one of the best Xbox games of the year for me. The next step for me will be flinging open the doors to my island thanks to Palworld multiplayer and filling my base up with the best Palworld Pals. However, away from the madness of Palworld, there’s one other Xbox-exclusive project that I just can’t stop thinking about.