Typically when I hear I'm getting a "gameplay first look" for an upcoming game I don't expect all that much: maybe a video lasting about five minutes showing some combat, a bit of exploration, possibly some building or crafting. But nothing too extensive: a first look is usually just a quick snack,not a banquet.
That wasn't the case this morning with cozy community MMO Palia. The gameplay first look was a huge hour-long presentation hosted by several members of Singularity 6's development team. This was a Starfield Direct-style affair, covering practically everything you might want to see in action: character creation, crafting, base-building, adventuring, quests, romance, plus two big life-sim staples: fishing and cooking.
Those last two activities really leapt out of me, because while I usually think of them as somewhat solitary pursuits, even in multiplayer games, Palia turns them into a co-op affair. Yes, you can fish and cook solo, but there are benefits to doing them alongside other players.
The fishing minigame involves casting the line into the water and reeling it back while trying to keep the fish in a target zone. And while it's not designed to be overly challenging or frustrating, some rare or high-quality fish might wind up being difficult to reel in. That's where fishing alongside other players comes in. You'll get a buff just for fishing near another player that will make reeling in your catch easier. And there's another way to make fishing a team sport: You can walk up to a player who is fishing and give them encouragement (like clapping), and that will make the fishing minigame easier for them. The more players cheering you on, the easier it'll be to catch a fish. Pretty cool.
And cooking looks like fun, too: it's a series of minigames you can complete alongside your friend as you prepare complicated dishes. The gameplay video shows two players standing next to each other at different cooking stations, engaging in meal preparation like chopping ingredients, stirring pots, and flipping food in a frying pan. It looks fun and it seems like a neat way to keep the activity fresh over time, since putting together the same recipes over and over can eventually feel a little stale. As for the finished meals themselves, eating a meal fills up your focus meter which gives you a buff to experience gained while doing other activities.
Just like cooking IRL, it’s more fun (& less stressful) when cooking with a friend! 🍜 Food fuels your focus meter, so it’s a good idea to have a snack before you go out - but you’ll be fine playing the game without it. #palia #playpalia #gamedev #cozygames #cozymmo #paliaGPFL pic.twitter.com/UTqNDb9uuOJuly 18, 2023
As for the rest of Palia's first gameplay reveal, if you've played a lot of life sims and farming games most of what you see in the trailer will look entirely familiar. I'm also personally not a major fan of that art style, which I'd describe as "Disney Fortnite Valley"—it's perfectly pleasant but doesn't really stand out. That said, the MMO certainly looks like it's packed full of things to do, and I'm looking forward to jumping in with some friends and seeing just how badly we can butcher a meal.
Palia is going into closed beta in early August: you can sign up at the official site.