Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Finding My Way Around In Palworld

Here I am again, with a few more semi-random notes and observations on Palworld. It's a strange situation I find myself in, posting about a game millions of people are playing, almost all of whom probably know more about it than I do. 

While I've been playing, I've been trying to keep my own experience as clean as possible, and yet here I am, pumping out potential spoilers on the blog. It feels more than a little ironic, especially when you consider I don't really know what I'm talking about. I mean, how could I, when I'm still working through the Tutorial? (Still! After nearly seven hours!)

Fortunately for me, the game is pretty well-documented internally and fairly intuitive to play, so I've not needed much help so far. There must already be countless guides, walkthroughs, wikis, reviews, Let's Plays and every other kind of examination and explanation imagineable available but I wouldn't be able to tell you anything about them. Other than to double-check I've gotten the names right in a post, I think I've looked up all of two things so far, one of which I've already forgotten.

The one I remember, mostly because it was only about an hour ago, is the disgusting-sounding "Pal Fluid", a material required to make a Spa Pool for the Pals at my base. Apparently a soothing dip improves their mental health and increases their Sanity. Like it would.

Mrs Bhagpuss came into the room to ask me something while I was holding down the "F" key to finish the build on the bath tub. Her reaction, when I said I'd be with her just as soon as I'd finished building a Spa for my Pals to bathe in, definitely gave me some perspective on what I was doing but, hey, six seven million other people are doing it too so I can't be completely crazy. Right? 

Pal fluid, should you find yourself in need of some, is a drop from any water-based Pal. I had worked that out for myself, really. I needed ten of them and I already had nine in my backpack. I couldn't imagine how they'd hav gotten there unless I'd looted them from something I'd killed.

Although... not necessarily. 

As Nimgimli observed in a comment on yesterday's post, Palworld is unusual in that you don't necessarily have to kill mobs to get drops off them. You also get drops when you subdue and capture a Pal, which can be a little disturbing.

Some Pals only come out at night.
A tuft of loose wool is one thing, but when you open your bags to find a slice of mutton that wasn't there before, it raises some serious questions. Did you beat the animal hard enough with your baseball bat to make bits of it drop off, which you then stuck in your backpack for later? Then you dragged the badly-injured creature back to your lair, where all it would have to look forward to would be a miserable life of indentured servitude, before tossing the freshly-flayed Pal-flesh into the feeding tray for the rest of them.

I notice they're not making a feature of that in the marketing material.

My hope was that I'd be able to get Pal fluid more peacably, perhaps by extracting it painlessly from one of the creatures in my care, although now I say it out loud, I'm not sure that sounds any less disturbing. Sadly, it appears you can't milk Pengullets or Teafants for their juices, so I had to jog down the path and club one to death for the final fluid I needed. 

While I was there, I also coshed a Foxpark for the Flame Organ I needed to... no, I've forgotten what I needed it for. It might have been to make the harness to turn my tame Foxpark into a handy flamethrower. 

I know. It sounds weird when you say it straight out like that, doesn't it?

I think I'd be finding Palworld weirder than I am, had I not spent several months playing Chimeraland. That game set a pretty high bar for stuff you don't want to think about too hard. I don't think Palworld has reached that level for me yet but it's early days.

I have seen rather more of the world now, though. I went exploring for an hour or so last night and opened up a lot of new areas. The world is pretty damn big and as far as I can tell, it's one of those "If you can see it, you can go there" kind of places. 

You can climb just about anything although, as I discovered, if you run out of stamina while climbing a rockface you don't stick where you are, you lose your grip and fall off. There is falling damage but it seems very mild so it's not a big deal but still, it's frustrating to be a finger-tip from the top and not have the oomph to reach up and haul yourself over.

Swimming is a thing, too. I've done that. I didn't try to go under the surface so I can't say whether there's a whole underwater world to explore, like there is in Chimeraland. I kind of hope there is but then again I wasted so much time just gawping at the neon sealife there, taking countless screenshots, I almost feel I'd like to be saved from myself by being restricted swimming on the surface.

Flight exists in Palworld, or at least gliding does. I already have a recipe for a parachute. I just haven't gotten around to making one yet. The Tech Tree seems to go from Stone Age to The Future, so maybe  powered flight opens up eventually. I already know you can ride flying Pals, again just like Chimeraland, a game with which I'm increasingly finding parallels. 

I don't want to know the mechanics of any of this in too much detail right now. I'm trying not to look too far ahead. The surprise factor is a big incentive for me, whereas feeling I ought to be to working towards something that's weeks of work away has just the opposite effect.

Of course, that does mean I can't plan much further ahead than the next session. I'm constantly making decisions I'm probably going to regret. I could certainly have laid my base out better if I'd looked ahead to see all the production stations and facilities I'd be installing. The place looks like a goblin built it. Not one of the clever ones, either.

Since I seem to be running down the transportation options, I ought to mention there are both mounts and teleports. I have a Rushboar, for whom I made a saddle earlier today, but I have yet to figure out how to get him to wear it so I can ride about on pigback.

Instant travel is by way of towers you have to visit to unlock. They appear on the map so you can head towards them as you clear the fog of war but as far as I can tell you have to be physically next to one every time you want to use a tower to go anywhere. You can't just click on the map icon to port there from anywhere, like you can in almost every game that uses a similar system. I guess that means it's not quite so "instant" after all.

Maybe I'll come back later. He's probably busy...
Exploring in the game is a lot of fun from both an aesthetic and a practical perspective. Although the world isn't highly graphically detailed, it is very attractively and thoughtfully designed, making the most of the chosen style. As far as biomes go, so far I've visited meadowlands, autumnal woodland, temperate coast and what looks like the start of the tropics, all in a day's jog. This is not a world that adheres to metereological boundaries as we recognize them but it's all the more intriguing for that.

It's also something of a living world. The barely-articulated conceit appears to be that the player is one of a number of castaways on an archipelago with a pre-existing society of humans there already, or at least the remnants of one. I came across a village with a number of NPCs and a couple of merchants last night and there's evidence of major building and engineering projects all over the place.

I also ran into two bandit camps. Literally, in one case. They were very interesting to see. Each had a Pal in a cage in the middle and unlocking the cage added the Pal to my team without my having to subdue it or catch it with a Pal Sphere. The bandits didn't want me to have it, naturally. They would have stopped me, too, there being quite a lot of them, only in both cases they were under attack from other, wild Pals and they had their hands full. 

I stood back and watched as a Level 11 Nightwing cleared a whole camp of Level 5 bandits. I nipped in and freed the captive Pal while they were battling it out and then, somewhat ungratefully, I tried to capture the wounded Nitewing. I was Level 9 at the time and it was too tough for me, even at half health. In the end I had to call my Foxspark to come help kill it. The damn thing would not go in the Pal Sphere for love nor money.

Batter up!
These kinds of interactions between NPCs do make a gameworld come alive and once again it brings to mind original EverQuest, where various mobs would help or hunt each other according to some arcane faction table that only began to become clear after hours of observation. For all the no doubt valid comparisons to Pokemon, Palworld feels a lot like several other games, too.

I am now at the point in the Tutorial where I'm expected to go into Rayne's Syndicate Tower and battle the bandit Boss. (The bandits I met were all part of that syndicate.) I've been to the tower but I haven't stepped inside. I'm not entirely sure what the fight will entail although I suspect from the odd comment I've seen that it follows the format of a Pokemon Gym, which makes me none the wiser, never having played that game.

I'm in no hurry to find out. There seems to be more than enough to do without going into towers and fighting Syndicate bosses. I mean, why would you, if you didn't have to? I'll get to it when I feel ready or, failing that, when the game gives me no other choice.

In the meantime, I'm going to go do some more exploring. I made a Tundra Outfit and a Tropical Outfit today (Same design, sadly, just different colors.) and a nifty feather head-dress (See illustration above.). I'd like to find somewhere suitable to show them off. 

Other than here, that is.

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