There are a lot of questions you just don't ask in Pokémon. Questions about what a society would do with creatures that can generate infinite fire and electricity on-demand, monsters that are obviously smarter than your average critter but still treated as subservient to 10-year-olds with a pit-fighting habit.
This weekend, a trailer for open-world Pokémon-a-like RPG Palworld asked and answered those questions—and ho boy, is it a ride to watch.
It all starts cutesy enough. A gorgeous open world in kind with a Genshin Impact or Breath of the Wild, populated by free roaming not-Pokémon (Pals). We see pastoral scenes of construction and farming, suggesting you can build up a home for yourself in this idyllic land.
And then the guns come out.
We see shootouts against armoured soldiers as giant lightning bears charge in for a swipe. We see our player character use one of these Pals as a piece of cover, Gears of War-style. We see a mouse jump on our character's head, pull out it's own gun, and start gunning down bandits alongside you.
The best (worst) shot of the entire trailer sees our hero pick up an adorable sheep, using its woolly belly to soak up bullets before tossing it aside. The sheep is crying the entire time.
The cruelty doesn't stop with sheep shields, either. A particularly grim clip shows Pals working in a sweatshop making firearms, followed by adorable monkeys working menial labour in a quarry. It's playing with some, let's say, extremely charged imagery, and the accompanying Steam descriptions don't exactly help.
"It is essential for automation to let Pals do the manual work. Build a factory and place Pals in it. They will work forever as long as they're fed until the end of their lifetime."
It's worth noting that, for all Palworld's lofty ambitions (Crafting! Breeding! Poaching! Online Multiplayer!), developer Pocketpair doesn't have a fantastic track record in delivering. Its first game has supposedly been left unfinished, while last year's Craftopia bears all the red flags you'd expect from Palworld's trailer—a gorgeous, janky open world struggling under the weight of its own scope.
Palworld is set to release in 2022.
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20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time, and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and a part-time game developer herself, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She also unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.