My silver-haired, pelt-wearing player character totes a crossbow through a zone that looks like an autumnal fever dream. Through a thicket of red-leaved trees, a pack of large, wolf-like Direhowls emerge and immediately go on the attack. In an instant, I summon Lifmunk, a green squirrel-like animal dwarfed by the intimidating Direhowls, and it scurries to perch atop my character’s head. On command, Lifmunk suddenly brandishes a gatling gun and opens fire on the pack, mowing them down in seconds.
This is Palworld, a newly released game glibly described as “Pokemon with guns,” and it’s a wild ride.
Released into early access on Jan. 19 by Tokyo-based developer Pocketpair Inc., Palworld is taking the gaming world by storm. In just four days, the game has sold more than 6 million copies, and as of writing, Palworld is the most-played game on video game digital distribution service Steam with over 1.85 million simultaneous players at its peak (good for second-highest of all time). For comparison, The Game Awards’ 2023 game of the year, Baldur’s Gate 3, peaked at 174,189 simultaneous players.