Following the announcement that Palia, the Animal Crossing-Valheim mash up, will be free-to-play we have resurfaced our preview of the next cozy community sim. Below, you’ll find our original impressions of Palia from when we got a glimpse of the game last summer.
The developers of the new Palia PC game call it a community sim, but the first thing your brain screams when you see it in action is Valheim meets Animal Crossing. Think of all the social and building parts of an MMO RPG, but as wholesome as a puppy that’s been sensitivity trained. Your customizable character will build and decorate a house, farm and fish, befriend NPCs and even have the chance to do it all with your friends by your side.
You play as a human – a race that is just beginning to mysteriously return to Valeria’s world – who takes up residence in a small lakeside community. It will be up to you to discover more about humanity’s past and, of course, to help shape its future. The game’s creators promise a main story that will take years to unravel and a lot of knowledge to uncover along the way. Creating your human character’s appearance will be one of your first tasks, and the developers are keen to give players as many options as possible. We took a look at some concept art showing a diverse range of face and skin tones, different hairstyles, clothes that could be customized with colors and patterns, and were told there would be two different body types at launch.
The feeling from the developers is that they are keen to react to what the community wants when it comes to these kinds of options. “One of the great things about game-as-a-service is that what we deliver on day one is just the beginning,” says game director Aidan Karabaich, “and the choice here is really at the core of our beliefs. So expect to see these options continue to grow vigorously over time.”
Everything is gorgeous too, falling into that gap between realism and bright colors of an animated film, and everything in the trailer is green or cozy, like somewhere you’d want to go for a weekend if you were a Disney Princess. The studio cites The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Studio Ghibli as influences, and it shows.
Won’t you be my neighbor?
Palia really wants to be somewhere where you find and meet friends, and promises plenty of opportunities to collaborate while exploring the world. You’ll be able to play with your loved ones regardless of which server they’re on, and there will be a social matchmaking system to make it easier to connect. Instead of guilds, you’ll be able to create districts or find ones you want to join and earn rewards as a team.
The creators likened these communities to Mr. Rogers-style neighborhoods, which is a big hope for anyone who’s ever spent time on any part of the internet. Imagine going to a friend’s house to help decorate or to work on their garden together. In fact, interacting with the world your friends have created is the next step beyond what current community games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons allow right now, and you’re more likely to want to spend more time together. , given that you can really get things done as a team. It’s one of the secrets to the cult hit of Valheim, a game packed with combat but where players really spent time banding together to construct impressive buildings and bizarre structures.
Fortunately, the studio, Singularity 6, knows a thing or two about building a community. Two of the project leaders worked at Riot Games, and creating a safe world where you can connect with your friends, but also control what other players can see and do in your territory, is key to the project. . They plan to have proximity voice chat, but only for people you have designated as friends.
Meet the locals
Misanthropes like me will be happy to know that if you can’t find real friends to play with, Palia will have plenty of NPCs that Karabaich promises are more than just scenery. “These characters are much more than just quest givers. We have developed a rich and deep set of characters, and as you play you will have the opportunity to discover their hopes and dreams, their fears and their challenges, and to see how they evolve and react to a changing world, and the actions you ultimately take as a player in our game.
We got a glimpse of Einar, the crazed fishing golem – no, he can’t be romanticized – and the innkeeper Shura who will help you settle into your new life. As in Stardew Valley, gifts will be an important part of getting to know and wooing any potential Palia life partner. Some may like love poems, others may want you to hang out and share their hobbies. Giving a special flower to a romantic character will start you on the path to love.
“Just like in real life, people, when you meet them, reveal certain aspects of themselves. And as you increase that friendship, whether by doing quests for them or offering objects, they begin to reveal more about themselves.” says community leader Edaleen Cruz. “They also have a set of items they like, they have items they like, and then they have items they absolutely dislike!”
The launch cast is “just the beginning” too, with new characters being added as the game is updated and again the studio promises to respond to player feedback regarding the romance and friendship options.
Choices and Fees
Throughout this first look at Palia, Singularity 6 really wanted to emphasize just how much choice players will have. Do you hate people? You can play solo. There is combat in the game, but it will be entirely optional and you won’t run out of loot for ignoring it. You will be able to make your home feel truly yours, at launch there will be over 1000 items, each with their own customization options, available. Your character, meanwhile, can become a brilliant cook, or an elite gardener, or a hunter of big game or insects.
Update: Singularity 6 released a lengthy blog post to explain how Palia will launch as a free-to-play game. The studio is therefore ready to integrate light microtransactions, which goes back to one of our initial concerns. Thankfully, the studio is transparent in its enforcement of the F2P system, noting that Palia will monetize cosmetic items when it launches later this year, but it won’t charge players for game progression items, and you won’t be able to purchase them. neither do the loot boxes.
As noted in this blog post, Palia embraces free-to-play with an emphasis on respecting player time, choice, and trust. The whole thing is well worth a read on the link above.
It feels like a voluntary compromise for such a relaxing game. We can’t wait to hear more about Palia as it gets closer to release.