Catching Pokémon can be exhausting these days. At time of publication, there are more than 1,000 different species of the fictional monsters. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet don’t contain the full National Pokédex, but the base game has 400 Pokémon and hundreds more when you count additional monsters added in the DLC. Even when trying to complete the reduced Pokédex, the process of collecting creatures can be a slog. Now, playing Palworld, I can breathe a sigh of relief. For the first time in a long time, it feels I can finally “catch ’em all,” with under 150 Pals in the game.
Palworld is a hit game from Japanese indie studio Pocketpair. Before it came out, many described it as “Pokémon with guns.” Now that the developer has released it in early access, it’s clear that the game goes well beyond just Pokémon influences. It has climbing and exploration reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and mechanics common to survival games. However, one way that it is like Pokémon is its incorporation of creatures called Pals. As you explore its world, you can catch the cartoony monsters and register them to a digital encyclopedia called a Paldeck, similar to the Pokédex.
My Paldeck contains 111 Pals (although there are alternate forms and might be more). Just from a numerical standpoint, that’s way fewer than Pokémon. There’s no need to robotically cycle through hundreds of battles to fill up the Pokédex like in a modern Pokémon game. On top of that, there are no “version exclusives” in Palworld. Every copy of the game contains every Pal, so it’s actually possible to find and catch every single monster without needing another player or setting up trades outside the game.
If you do have friends who are playing, well, that’s helpful to the collecting process, too. While Pokémon does have multiplayer functionality, the online co-op in Palworld better supports playing the entirely of the game with friends from start to finish. Features like guilds allow you to group up with friends and share Pals easily on your settlement. These Pals won’t be registered as “caught” in your Paldeck, but it allows you to see more Pals and get an idea of which Pals you need to catch.
Catching all the Pokémon obviously isn’t impossible — loads of people do it — and I get why it appeals to certain players. The repetitive nature of catching Pokémon after Pokémon can almost be relaxing, but it’s a massive time commitment. You have to fight and catch each and every one of them, and some require unique rituals to evolve them. For others, you might need to trade to get version exclusives and train Pokémon to prepare for challenging fights to catch stronger monsters. In the recent Scarlet and Violet DLC, you even have to grind in-game points to unlock the appearances of certain Pokémon in the wild.
Don’t get me wrong — Palworld still contains its fair share of monster-catching grind. Depending on how common each creature is, you might catch up to 10 copies of each just to grind out the needed experience points to unlock items. You likely won’t just speed through collecting the Paldeck in a sitting or two. Barriers to exploration like your level or what kinds of Pal spheres you use will guide your overall journey. But so far, I have enjoyed the slow, meandering process of gradually exploring and discovering the Pals one by one to fill up my Paldeck in its entirety. At this rate, I might just catch ’em all.