What is Palworld and how do you play it

(Image credit: Pocketpair)

If you've come across a ton of confusing TikToks about gamers running around with cute animal companions and guns, there's a simple answer. Indie creature collector survival game Palworld sold over 5 million copies this weekend. 

The game received limited marketing so it easily could have passed under your radar. While the game is often billed as a "Pokémon with guns" satire, it is a fully fleshed-out multiplayer game underneath all the jokes.

What is Palworld?


(Image credit: Pocketpair)

Palworld is a survival game by Pocketpair that launched into Steam Early Access last week. The game immediately took off on the platform, selling over 5 million copies and earning a "Very Positive" rating on Steam.

Palworld functions as a crafting and survival game not unlike Valheim, where you engage in combat, farming, crafting, and quests to survive. The difference here is that you do so along with animal-like Pals. And you can either treat them as friends or sell and eat them. Or, throw them into indefinite servitude, use them as bullet shields and make them work until they die.

Complicated moral implications aside, the game also offers multiplayer coop and dedicated server access which seems to be its greatest strength and weakness all at once.

How to play Palworld


(Image credit: Pocketpair)

When booting up Palworld for the first time, you'll need to select a multiplayer server  or you'll need to join a personal save file of up to four friends. Personal save files will have a join code, so be sure you have that handy.

It may be difficult to get into a multiplayer server as Palworld is incredibly popular so plenty of players are trying to join at once. Additionally, the dedicated multiplayer servers can host up to 32 players at a time, which puts a lot of stress on the host's PC.


(Image credit: Pocketpair)
  • If you're trying to get into a public server but run into a join error
    • Try a time when few other players are attempting to join
    • Keep trying
  • If you're trying to get into a private server
    • Make sure your settings are correct
    • Make sure the host has the Palworld Dedicated Server downloaded and has set up a Port Forward via router or VPN
    • Make sure all players joining the server have entered the correct Port Forward IP in the multiplayer server prompt box
  • If none of these steps work, make sure your internet connection is stable

Once you've got your server or save file set up, you can create your character and get started. Like many Survival games, you start out with nothing and have to craft and build to make it through the game.


(Image credit: Pocketpair)

Aside from the incredibly dark implications of enlisting your animal friends to work in a factory as a form of automation, Palworld provides something gamers have wanted for years. Palworld is Pokémon, or Digimon, on PC with full multiplayer options.

While multiplayer exists in the main Pokémon franchise, its a pretty limited function that only lets a group of four players roam the open world, challenge each other, or take part in raid battles. The Digimon games mostly restrict multiplayer to PvP, outside of Digimon World 4 and Digimon Masters: Online the MMO which both eschewed the traditional turn-based RPG mode for more hack-and-slash combat.

Palworld also fills the open world survival game niche with new content, which has needed a new darling game since Valheim continues to languish in Early Access and most folks have wrapped up their Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom runs. Palworld combines a lot of popular gaming features: crafting and building, open world exploration, cute animals, and combat. So it really isn't a surprise that the game resonates with so many people. Whether they use those cute animals for good or ill, however, is up to debate.

Madeline Ricchiuto
Staff Writer

A former lab gremlin for Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Tom's Hardware, and Tech Radar; Madeline has escaped the labs to join Laptop Mag as a Staff Writer. With over a decade of experience writing about tech and gaming, she may actually know a thing or two. Sometimes. When she isn't writing about the latest laptops and AI software, Madeline likes to throw herself into the ocean as a PADI scuba diving instructor and underwater photography enthusiast.