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Palworld is Steam Deck Playable and runs on Desktop Linux with Proton

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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.


Pictured: Palworld on Kubuntu 23.10. Click them to enlarge.

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.


Pictured - Palworld on Steam Deck. Click them to enlarge.

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:

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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:

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About the author -
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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly. Find me on Mastodon.
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41 comments
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Pengling Jan 19
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I don't want to bring up Nintendo (I'm an ex-fan and I'm not going back), but I have to: At least this one sounds like it performs better than the recent Pokemon titles!
soulsource Jan 19
I'm a bit torn on this one. On the one hand it looks really interesting. On the other hand it's €20 that will be spent on nothing once it gets pulled from Steam because of (rightful) copyright claims by The Pokémon Company...
dlove67 Jan 19
Quoting: soulsourceI'm a bit torn on this one. On the one hand it looks really interesting. On the other hand it's €20 that will be spent on nothing once it gets pulled from Steam because of (rightful) copyright claims by The Pokémon Company...

What copyright claim would Nintendo have?
LoudTechie Jan 19
Quoting: dlove67
Quoting: soulsourceI'm a bit torn on this one. On the one hand it looks really interesting. On the other hand it's €20 that will be spent on nothing once it gets pulled from Steam because of (rightful) copyright claims by The Pokémon Company...

What copyright claim would Nintendo have?
I would guess that they would argue that the "pals" are derivative Pokémons.


Last edited by LoudTechie on 19 January 2024 at 6:42 pm UTC
LoudTechie Jan 19
Others are arguing about the possible copyright infringement of Nintendo.
I myself am more curious if Ubisoft would consider the use of their style and gliders an infringement.
Eri Jan 19
Another Early Access to the queue! I haven't got Craftopia because is still EA.

I'm going to have a mental meltdown if I see more comments about Nintendo non sense, no more reading about this game until I decide to buy it.


Last edited by Eri on 19 January 2024 at 6:51 pm UTC
melkemind Jan 19
Quoting: LoudTechie
Quoting: dlove67
Quoting: soulsourceI'm a bit torn on this one. On the one hand it looks really interesting. On the other hand it's €20 that will be spent on nothing once it gets pulled from Steam because of (rightful) copyright claims by The Pokémon Company...

What copyright claim would Nintendo have?
I would guess that they would argue that the "pals" are derivative Pokémons.

Being derivative isn't copyright infringement. They would have to have the same characters, use the same character names or use the actual code from a Pokemon game. Copyright law isn't like trademark law where a company can claim another's logo is "too close" to their own. In copyright it literally has to be a copy, and you also can't copyright ideas. That's why Transformers and GoBots have existed in the same world for decades and there are tons of Pokemon lookalikes.
Pengling Jan 19
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Quoting: melkemindand there are tons of Pokemon lookalikes.
This is a key thing - there are plenty that look very close, but which never attracted any legal attention because it would've been laughed out of court.


I mean, has anyone on GOL ever seen these before? They're from the 1999 Game Boy Colour game, Bomberman Max, and they didn't attract any legal attention whatsoever.


What about Keitai Denjuu Telefang? Again, no trouble here, and it even had a manga that looked incredibly similar.


And Robopon, anyone?

Some of these fellas are much closer in design than the ones in Palworld - and one of the Robopon ones is literally just Kirby with Pac-Man sitting on his head.


Last edited by Pengling on 19 January 2024 at 9:37 pm UTC
Quoting: melkemind
Quoting: LoudTechie
Quoting: dlove67
Quoting: soulsourceI'm a bit torn on this one. On the one hand it looks really interesting. On the other hand it's €20 that will be spent on nothing once it gets pulled from Steam because of (rightful) copyright claims by The Pokémon Company...

What copyright claim would Nintendo have?
I would guess that they would argue that the "pals" are derivative Pokémons.

Being derivative isn't copyright infringement.
Well, being derivative is actually copyright infringement. That's why unauthorized translations fall under copyright infringement; they're derivative works.

JK Rowling sued over Tanya Grotter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanya_Grotter#Legal_history

QuoteIn 2003, courts there prevented the distribution of a Dutch translation of the first in the series, Tanya Grotter and the Magical Double Bass, after Rowling and Time Warner's lawyers issued a cease and desist order, arguing that the Grotter books violated copyright law, specifically infringing on Rowling's right to control derivative works.
I feel like this should be running a bit better on Deck (I know early access). I think this thing could have a big future audience on Steam Deck, with some more work!
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