Palworld is a new release on Steam in Early Access from Pocketpair. A fusion of Pokémon with monster catching, farming, building and much more. It is Steam Deck Playable and does work on Desktop Linux too. Note: personal purchase.
What has often been referred to as Pokémon with guns, it's already proving to be a big hit with a current peak player count of
250,553 294,826 (it keeps going up every refresh) on Steam and a Very Positive user rating. So it seems like it might be the first big indie hit of 2024. So it's great news that it works right away!
Valve has already put it through Deck Verified and gave it a Steam Deck Playable rating, and Valve set Proton Experimental for it by default on Steam Deck, so for best experience on Desktop Linux make sure you set Proton Experimental in the Properties -> Compatibility menu.
For Steam Deck the performance does have some issues and Valve noted various problems in their testing including: small text, graphics needing to be configured manually, you need to manually bring up the on-screen keyboard and some functionality may not be accessible with the default controller configuration.
It was designed as a multiplayer game clearly in many ways with support for 4 player co-op and 32 players on dedicated servers. You can play solo without issues though.
In my own testing on a Steam Deck OLED I've been using these settings:
So far, this has given a somewhat acceptable performance level. It ranges from 25-45 FPS depending on what I am doing which is very playable - most of the time above 30FPS. Some spots in the open world I've seen bring it down to 25FPS, especially during bigger combat sections. However, one clear problem is the menu system. Some of the in-game menus bring the performance down pretty hard to around 20FPS but it will come back up when you close the menus.
Text is definitely small too, I've had to pull the Steam Deck closer to my face to actually read some of the on-screen details, so it's quite annoying. It's going to need some text scaling quite urgently as it's really not comfortable to read a lot of it. The icons are tiny too.
For battery life on the Steam Deck OLED, you're looking at around ~2 hours from a full charge with a 60FPS frame limit.
Meanwhile on Desktop Linux (Kubuntu 23.10) with an AMD Ryzen 5800X and Radeon 6800XT the experience has been overall pretty great. Testing on the highest possible graphics settings it's always been above 60FPS so far. Most of the time between 80-120FPS depending on where I am in the open world and what I'm doing. For a big open world game in Early Access running through Proton, that's actually pretty good.
This is only an early preliminary test as i haven't had too long with it, so keep that in mind. It's also Early Access, so everything is subject to change but it's an incredibly promising start for Palworld.
One thing I will address directly, since this always comes up in comments whenever there's a new monster catching game, the elephant in the room — Nintendo. They don't (and can't) own the rights to an entire genre, but Pokémon is obviously popular and so there's always comparisons but Nintendo can't just go after developers of other similar games. However, in this case, plenty of the creatures do have a striking similarity to various Pokémon designs and some even look like colour-flips with a few tweaks. So it will be very interesting to see what happens for this one specifically.
Something else that needs noting, is that the developer still has other games in Early Access while launching this also into Early Access. Craftopia, for example, looks largely similar. Like they took their own game, and added these creatures into it to make it a different game.
To sum up what I've seen of it so far it feels very much like a blending of ARK Survival Evolved, Pokémon and Zelda: Breath of the Wild mechanically. One or two sounds even seemed like they were right out of Zelda (very close at least). It's very derivative. But then so are a lot of survival games. The small human of mine is going to freak when they see it. I can definitely see why people are enjoying it so much already and I fear it's going to take over my life for a while.
You can buy Palworld on Steam.
Original Early Access trailer below:
Update 21/01/24: the article originally said Palworld had an internet requirement for single-player, as Valve state it on their Deck Verified rating. Valve's notice is incorrect so the article text was updated. Additionally here's a new Steam Deck video of the game and some quick thoughts: