We're only in January but I feel comfortable saying that we've already seen the strangest game of 2024. Luckily, if you have a Game Pass subscription, you can give it a go risk-free.
Palworld has been confirmed to launch on Game Pass for both PC and Xbox (and Steam) when it releases (in early-access) on January 19th. but what makes it so unusual? Well the phrase "Pokémon with guns" should never be used lightly, but that's exactly what developer Pocketpair seems to have made.
There's no denying that the cute 'Pals' resemble Pikachu and friends, with added machine guns and rocket launchers. The difference in age rating seems further emphasised by the ability to put the monsters to work in factories, and even eat them. There are over 100 Pals to collect (and eat, I guess) and I'm absolutely going to be there day one.
In fairness, with a blend of monster rangling, crafting and survival elements, it reminds me more of something like Ark:Survival Evolved, which just so happens to be one of my favourite titles. Similar to a game like Ark, players in Palworld will feature open world multiplayer survival with up to 32 players in each instance, but can also be played offline too.
Don't get me wrong, I love the Pokémon series, but it's definitely a more iterative series, Palworld however is a massive shake up of the monster-catching formula, and it looks like a riot. As well as fighting enemies with Pals, the trailer shows players exploring the large open world using the critters as mounts and even flying on the back of something that looks a bit like a Charizard.
Of course Xbox game pass is home to some of the biggest names in gaming like Halo, Forza and Starfield, but seeing less well-known titles like Palworld get a shot at grabbing a huge audience's attention is what the service is all about. Without Game Pass, superb titles like Hi-Fi Rush might never have gotten the love they deserve. If you are after a more traiditonal monster-cartching experience of Game Pass, check out the excellent Cassette Beasts.