Last month we got to see gameplay for the upcoming social MMO Palia, and it left me feeling excited. The developers at Singularity 6 invited me to jump in and take a look at Palia ahead of its closed beta launch today. Excited for the opportunity to make some friends and go fishing, I pounced on the offer.
After a few days of casually exploring and immersing myself in the world of Palia, I’ve come to the following conclusion: Palia is exactly what it advertises it is. A cozy experience that focuses on the social aspects of playing a community-driven game.
Palia is not your traditional MMO
If you’re looking to choose a class and venture out and slay some beasts or delve into a dungeon, that is not Palia. In fact, the only type of combat you will encounter is a system to hunt creatures for meat and furs. Instead, you’ll be doing a plethora of life skills including chopping down trees, mining minerals, and best of all: fishing.
After agreeing to be a responsible, kind, and helpful neighbor, you will create your character and enter the world. The character creation offers a variety of options standard in MMO titles today.
From a lore perspective, your journey into Palia is pretty remarkable. Humans are considered a legendary species, having disappeared thousands of years ago. Nobody knows where they went, but you and your fellow players are the first Humans to be seen in a long time. You’re not quite sure how you got here, but thankfully the inhabitants welcome you with open arms. From here it’s your task to learn about the world, while also working to make a home in it.
You’ll soon stumble upon the community in Palia: Kilima Village. If you’ve played games like Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley, you’ll recognize the NPC interactions here. You have a separate reputation with each NPC which you can improve by chatting with them and giving them gifts. Of course, every NPC has their own likes and dislikes, so it’s up to you to get to know them and befriend them.
Eight life skills to level
Once you’ve mingled with the denizens of Kilima Village, they will grant you your own plot of land. Like any good farming sim, your plot’s overrun with debris and foliage that needs to be taken care of. This is where you are introduced to the eight different life skills in Palia: bug catching, cooking, fishing, foraging, furniture making, gardening, hunting, and mining. Each skill has its own level that you will increase as you perform the skill. In general, the skills in Palia are very similar to professions in a more traditional MMO.
Also, you’ll find NPCs that represent each of the eight skills. As you rise in levels, you can visit the NPC that specializes in that skill to buy better tools or learn new recipes to craft pertaining to that skill. Most of these upgrades will make you more efficient at that job, like earning a better axe will lets you chop down trees in fewer hits. Furthermore, some recipes will further increase what you can craft pertaining to each skill. For example, at level 2 foraging you can learn to make a sawmill that will turn your chopped wood into planks. Mining has a similar recipe for a Smelter to turn your stone into bricks and metals into ingots.
It’s important to note that some aspects of the game require some time to pass to complete. For example, it takes 60 seconds to turn a piece of wood into a plank, and two minutes to turn a stone into a brick. At first, I was a bit put off by this premise, but it’s not so bad. You can queue up a bunch of crafting orders at your sawmill and smelter then head back out and keep chopping, hunting, fishing, etc.
Socialization is paramount
It’s very important that you interact with your fellow inhabitants at Kilima Village. With my early access to Palia being limited to only the press, I admittedly did not run into many others. However, that should obviously change once the game is open to the public. It looks like by default when you are running around Kilima Village and the surrounding areas, it will randomly put other players on your instance of the game world.
However, I did find an option to create a Community that allowed me to give my specific community a name, motto, and description. From there it looked like I could invite and accept others into my community. I’m not 100% sure, but it appears this may be a way to set up your own specific instance for your friends or community, thus making sure you are neighbors. Furthermore, it looks like you can request specific items from friends and fellow community members, which can be crucial to get some final materials required to finish a building or craft at your plot of land.
Aside from other players, it’s doubly important to socialize with the NPCs of Kilima Village. Like similar games, these NPCs have their own shops that you’ll want to buy and sell from. Furthermore, they each have their own quest line that starts upon first joining Palia. As you progress through the quests you’ll not only learn how to play the game, but receive some pretty important rewards including consumables, tools, and recipes. Sometimes, they will even send you mail that can be collected at your mailbox in your personal land plot.
I am slightly worried about the Premium Shop
The only real concerns I had was with some of the pricing of the cosmetic microtransactions. As Palia is a free-to-play game, I completely understand the need to sell cosmetics. However, the pricing seemed pretty expensive. The premium currency, Palia coins, is offered in various bundles ranging between $4.99 for 425 coins and $99.99 for 11,000 coins.
Single cosmetics ranged from 850 coins up to 2,550 coins, which is essentially $8-$25. Most items are in bundles cost anywhere from 1,700 coins all the way up to 5,100 coins, which is essentially $17-$51. There are also some questionable practices going on here. For example, you can buy 425 coins for $4.99, but there’s literally nothing available for that cheap. I’m not sure if the pricing here is final, so this could certainly change during the beta periods. This is purely based on what I saw in the Premium Shop ahead of the beta testing period.
To be clear here, I understand the need for a cosmetic shop in a free-to-play MMO game like Palia. My real concern here is that the microtransactions might be overpriced, which could lead to a lack of sales, which is not good for the future of the game for obvious reasons. Of course, I’m not an expert in this regard, and this is purely my opinion based on what I’ve seen.
Palia feels very polished as it enters its beta stages
I had a very smooth experience during my brief time in Palia, especially for an MMO. The few bugs I had disappeared with a restart or even just loading into a new zone. I didn’t experience any sort of lag or disconnects either, which is important for an online-centric game.
It was a very cozy experience heading out at dawn to do some fishing, bumping into several NPCs to interact with along the way, before heading back to my plot to tidy it up further and check how things were faring. Once I have the opportunity to also intermingle with other players I imagine the experience will only be even better, as community is a big aspect of Palia.
Those interested in experiencing Palia can sign up on the website for a chance to join the closed beta. On August 10, Palia will enter its open beta phase for all to join. There are no more wipes moving forward, so despite being in a beta state, this is essentially a soft launch. Palia will also come to Switch later this year.
Staff Writer – Steven has been writing in some capacity for over a decade now. He has a passion for story focused RPG’s like the Final Fantasy franchise and ARPG’s like Diablo and Path of Exile. But really, he’s willing to try anything.