The Dead by Daylight Chief of Staff broached more than a few damning points about Palworld, a game that has claimed the hearts of literally millions. Are his words valid criticism, or are they far too harsh for the Early Access hit?
Palworld isn’t perfect
Nathan S., the Chief of Staff for Dead by Daylight, made a not-so-positive LinkedIn post discussing his opinion on Palworld.
Let’s be clear — I love Palworld. Despite my unbridled joy surrounding this game, not everyone will share the same opinion. I’d like to say that that is okay. Every game won’t suit every player. I even agree with some of what Nathan says, and I don’t wish to attack someone for simply expressing their displeasure about a game I enjoy. There’s enough of that online already.
Nathan S. claims that Palworld is buggy. This is true. He says that some areas feel uninteresting and empty — even points of interest. This is also true. He brings up the game’s balancing issues, something many players have also spoken up about. The mid-to-late game grind is truly too much for some players.
These are valid points, and to his credit, he appreciates that the game is in Early Access and those problems should get fixed and sorted.
Yet many have criticized him for this stance as he has beaten all the Towers and played an extensive amount of the game. He says this is because he “is weak” to Palworld’s addictive nature. Although I don’t necessarily subscribe to that notion, I can understand not wanting to recommend a game you’ve sunken hours into. I have been a victim of the dopamine-pushing mobile games I wouldn’t recommend to a soul (cough cough, Monopoly GO).
My primary gripe, however, is when he slams Palworld for lacking warmth, empathy, and connection. This statement is not only objectively wrong but says more about him as a player than Palworld as a game.
Palworld does not lack empathy
Nathan S. provides many comparisons to Pokémon — especially the anime series — to highlight how the Pals in Palworld are not your buddies, but a means to an end. They’re tools, a force of labor, nothing to care about.
I strongly believe that not only is this not the case, but that Pokémon actually suffers from those claims more than Palworld ever will. I also think it’s unfair to compare the Pokémon anime rather than the games. Perhaps because the argument will then become undone.
Also — side note — he mentions how Ash’s willingness to sacrifice himself for Pikachu in the first episode of the Pokémon series shows how there is empathy in Pokémon where there is none in Palworld. Not only can you not sacrifice yourself in the Pokémon games, but you absolutely can sacrifice yourself for a Pal in Palworld by stepping in the way of an attack that would be destined to end them. Just saying.
Many fans of Palworld immediately jumped to defend their undying love for their Pals and their indifference for their Pokémon, but I’ll get to their testimonies later. For now, I will objectively highlight why Palworld is oozing with warmth, community, and love.
Base life in Palworld
There are two ways of looking at the Base life of Pals in Palworld. You can see it as a means for resources, an efficient machine where Pals are only allowed to see the light of day if they can crush stone or craft the fastest. You may only wish to satiate the Sanity of your Pals just enough to keep them working. Their illnesses are mere inconveniences that they can be replaced for suffering from.
Or, you can see Base life as a way to create a wonderful paradise for your favorite Pals. A land of plenty, with cooked meals, the best Hot Springs, the comfiest beds, and all the cuddles they can ask for. Yes, they will be doing chores and providing resources, but with this lens, the bond between tamer and Pal becomes one of love and compassion. Illnesses are seen to immediately. Stress is sorted as soon as it arises.
Palworld facilitates both playstyles. So, if you found there to be no empathy in the game, it’s because you didn’t inject any. If you see the Pals as a means to an end, that’s not Palworld’s fault.
Many pointed out that in Pokémon, you are repeatedly told that you take great care of your Pokémon. And although there are some minigames and such that allow you to interact with your Pokémon, there is no essence of care. You don’t need to be told that you’re doing a good job of caring for your Pals in Palworld because it’s an active effort you need to initiate yourself.
Without proper care, they will become depressed. Their little cutesy faces become forlorn. They’ll slack off, they’ll go to bed. Anyone with an ounce of empathy will immediately address these problems. That’s where true empathy comes from. In Pokémon, you simply aren’t allowed to enact true empathy, as the game doesn’t entertain that level of care and appreciation.
Team life in Palworld
Nathan S. also mentions that the “strongest trainers are those who have the greatest connection with their Pokémon.” Unfortunately, this isn’t true. You may personally feel a connection to your Pokémon, but it’s mostly artificial. The game doesn’t meaningfully consider that aspect, unlike Palworld.
In Palworld, each Pal has a Partner Skill, which not only functionally establishes a bond between tamer and Pal, but also allows the player to appreciate every single Pal for their individuality. In Pokémon, once you’ve caught some more powerful creatures, the rest will spend their eternal lives in the limbo of the boxes, never to be seen or thought of again.
Although the same can be said for Palworld, every single Pal, weak or strong, still has a use. For base or team life, almost every encounter or resource run may call for a weaker Pal, even just for their Partner Skill. It is wise to know about and care for all the Pals in your Palbox, as unlike Pokémon, each Pal has extensive uses even outside of combat.
Cattiva is outright one of the weakest Pals in the game. However, you can bring them along for resource runs to increase your capacity. They’re considered and they’re useful. Players will actually care for weaker Pals.
Does Palworld have authentic empathy?
With everything I’ve written so far, one argument does surface. Is this empathy that I speak of truly authentic, if the sole reason to care about previous Pals is simply to, once again, use them as a means to an end?
This is a valid point, as if a Pal gets outdone by another in every category, it may truly never come out of the Palbox again.
Yet, most players do form a connection with their Pals and use them regardless. Below are a few examples of this compassion.
I have a few pals that i call pals…
Im mid 30’s and i still have this one Floppy that roams around my base with its level 1 traits. yeah everything else outworks it.
But my Floppy is doing its hardest to keep up with all the big brothers and sisters!! It may be small and it may be weak.. but its got the brightest smile out of all of them. So i keep her around 😀itstheFREEDOM – Reddit
Not to be dramatic, but I would die for my Chillet.stevenmeyerjr
Lol. I feel closer to my Pals than I do to my Pokemon. And he compared Palworld to the Pokemon anime not the games… I can’t sacrifice myself for my Pikachu in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet but I can do that for my Pals in Palworld, because we fight together.Conscious_Mastodon_9
There are thousands of examples of objectively “useless” Pals being appreciated and given a good life for the sake of it. In Pokémon, you’ll be condemned to losing matches if you give your weaker captures team privileges.
You can even approach the game with as little violence as possible by breeding as much as you can. Granted, a pacifist playthrough is impossible, but you don’t have to bludgeon every Pal you see half to death to capture them. Through breeding and capturing Eggs, you can exercise true compassion by opting to be as non-violent as possible.
Palworld and Pokémon are both games of bonding and compassion
Yes, I have been rather harsh on Pokémon. But don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of care and empathy, and it’s hard not to care about the Pokémon in your team. In both games, you’ll go through thick and thin with your pocket monsters.
But to say Palworld lacks empathy and then comparing it to Pokémon is simply an objectively laughable contradiction. Having the choice to act on empathy of your own volition is much more compassionate than having no other choice.
If you don’t care for your Pals in Palworld, once again, that is something you’ve brought into the game with you.