Players ride on Pals through the water in Palworld
Image via Pocketpair

Palworld vs Pokemon Comparison: 5 Similarities and 5 Differences

While Palworld bears similarities to Pokemon, it also sets itself apart with some key differences. Let's compare the two worlds.

Pocketpair’s monster-catcher, Palworld, is finally entering Early Access on January 19, where it’s planned to remain for at least a year. Dubbed “Pokemon with guns” by many, it has received its fair share of comparisons to Nintendo’s franchise. Here are some key similarities and differences between Palworld and Pokemon.

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How are Palworld and Pokemon Similar?

Player catches a Pal in a Sphere in Palworld
Image via Pocketpair

5. Similar Monsters

When it comes to Palworld, this seems to be the topic on everyone’s mind. And who could blame them? While most of the Pals revealed so far are original in their own right, more than a few bear a striking resemblance to existing species of Pokemon. Needless to say, this hasn’t gone over all that well with fans of Nintendo’s franchise.

A friend of mine even pointed out the similarities between Palworld’s Anubis and Pokemon’s Lucario in a recent trailer. That said, I’m hoping to see more unique designs from Pocketpair, since there are plenty of standouts among the 100 Pals appearing in the EA version of the game.

4. Catching Mechanics

Just as you’d lob a Poke Ball at a Pokemon you’d like to catch, you’ll be hurling Spheres at Pals throughout the open world of Palworld. It’s not yet clear whether different varieties of Spheres will be available in the game, but the concept and catching mechanics alone are notably similar to the Pokemon staple.

3. Battling Leaders

Battling plays a big role in both Palworld and Pokemon. You’ll spend much of your time facing off against wild Pals roaming the landscape, just as you’d encounter Pokemon on your travels from one town to the next. That aside, you’ll also be tasked with taking on Faction Leaders in Pocketpair’s developing RPG, mirroring Gym battles in the world of Pokemon.

2. Plot Parallels

In the same vein, it looks like your main mission in Palworld might involve much more than winning battles against Faction Leaders. Major plot points remain under wraps while the game is in development, but one trailer showcasing Pals being held against their will seemed to suggest that you’ll play the role of a hero on a mission to rescue mistreated Pals from the poaching Syndicate, or Palworld’s Team Rocket, as it were.

You can also choose your own moral path in ways that aren’t possible in the world of Pokemon, allowing you to join poachers. So far, this is one of the most compelling facets of Palworld, but we’ll need more details about it to clarify how this might work in tandem with the plot.

1. Breeding

Breeding plays a big role in raising up powerful Pals with specific traits, just as you’d nurture Pokemon from eggs. It’s also a great way to collect rare Pals with atypical elements. The process is a bit more streamlined in Palworld, though. While you must equip specific items to Pokemon to pass down beneficial stats and natures, strength is hereditary in Palworld.

How are Palworld and Pokemon Different?

Player creates their character in Palworld
Image via Pocketpair

5. True Character Creation

Oddly enough, true character creation is the feature I’m most looking forward to with Palworld’s EA release. While Pokemon titles have struggled to incorporate extensive customization, even pulling back on clothing options in Scarlet and Violet, you can build your character entirely in Palworld. From facial features to body type, every detail is decided by the player.

4. Assisted Combat

Assisted combat is the feature that earned Palworld the title of “Pokemon with guns.” By placing military-grade weapons in the hands of your Pals, you’re better able to take down Alpha Pals and enemies. While it may seem outlandish at face value, this could be the key to drawing in an older player base.

3. Base Building, Farming, and Crafting

Based on what we’ve seen from Palworld ahead of its EA launch, base building is what most sets it apart from Pokemon. We’ve seen bits and pieces of farming, crafting, and bases in previous Pokemon entries, but nothing quite like what’s featured in Pocketpair’s current project. These cozy gaming staples become necessary to survive in the upcoming RPG, making them integral to your playthrough.

2. Pal Jobs

Assigning jobs to your Pals goes hand-in-hand with base building in Palworld. With their help, you can quickly put together new structures, use their unique abilities to farm efficiently, and even create assembly lines to maximize productivity. This showcases the bond between you and your Pals in ways that we’ve never actually seen in mainline Pokemon entries — despite longtime themes of coexisting with Pokemon.

1. Mounts

Using your own Pals as mounts plays a key role in the way you travel in Palworld, whether you’re surfing on the back of Azurobe or hang-gliding with Nitewing’s assistance. Yet another feature that Pokemon fans have long been asking for, traversing the environment with your Pals does more to illustrate your ability to work together than anything we’ve seen from Pokemon thus far.

In all, these are some the biggest similarities and differences between Palworld and the Pokemon franchise so far. More will be revealed when Pocketpair’s monster-catching RPG enters EA later this week. In the meantime, browse our guides collection for details about current Pals, elements, and crossplay support at launch.

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Olivia Rolls
Olivia Rolls earned her degree in English from the College of Central Florida in 2021 and began her career as a freelance writer at Screen Rant the following year. She currently directs her creative efforts toward offering tips and insight on a wide variety of game titles at GameSkinny and BGFG, a passion she's held close to her heart since adventuring alongside Chikorita in Pokémon Crystal as a child. Olivia's all-time favorite franchises are Pokémon and Animal Crossing, but she's generally fond of fantasy RPGs and cozy games of all kinds. She's also a budding animanga enthusiast, her personal big three being Jujutsu Kaisen, Fruits Basket, and InuYasha.