Geoff Girardin

On Palworld and Difficulty Sliders

Geoff Girardin Palworld | Pocketpair

There has been a lot of chatter about Pokemon with guns Palworld, the sensational end-of-year release from Pocketpair.

Moving past the copyright friction and the Early Access bugs, what's keeping Palworld on everybody's screens is the fun everyone's having. It's far too limiting to describe the title as Pokemon with guns. If anything, this is more akin to Valheim or Rust or even Pocketpair's previous release Craftopia. Heck, it's like playing a reasonably competent Minecraft mod. I've enjoyed my time with the game, and my Pals are doing their best to follow orders and keep my base going.

But as a Dad with no time, what kickstarted my interest was the difficulty sliders. I have kids, a full-time job, and working on a BA (and I just started watching Six Feet Under), so I don't have time to dump into lengthy grinds and living worlds anymore. The first few hours that I spent with Palworld were cool, but it was pretty obvious that the single-player path through the skill tree was going to be a slog that I wasn't willing to endure.

Geoff Girardin

Then, I noticed the difficulty settings. I expected just a few vague references to enemy strength and player defense. Still, instead, I was greeted with many sliders that adjusted things such as EXP rate, Hunger and Stamina depletion, and Pal appearance rates.

I was stoked! I could play as if I were joined by a party of friends and focus on exploring and crafting any way I saw fit. The slow and plodding implementation of these sorts of accessibility options industry-wide has been frustrating to track as time goes on, especially after so many successful games that allow for difficulty customization.

Celeste is one of the most obvious examples in recent years, with the especially lauded Assist Mode, but the ability to adjust the difficulty to speed things along has also appeared in a good majority of KEMCO JRPG releases I've covered over the years.

I'd like to see this happen in more games. I'd like to see this type of customization become the industry standard. And I know that the QA for this type of thing would be a nightmare, but sometimes it's nice to have unattainable dreams, right?

Palworld is available now on Steam and Xbox.

#accessibility #gaming #palworld