If you dismissed Palworld as that weird survival-crafting game where Pokémon-like creatures work in factories and wield machine guns, you may be surprised to find it’s suddenly the single most popular game around.

After only a week of Early Access release, Palworld is now boasting over 2 million concurrent players on Steam, a record-breaking number of players for the PC platform and digital store (Palworld is also available on Xbox).

It’s quite literally blowing up the internet for indie Japanese studio Pocket Pair, and is only getting more and more popular among gamers and streamers.

So is Palworld just off-brand Pokémon with guns?

Not Really. Palworld is a survival crafting game a la Minecraft, Ark: Survival Evolved, Lego Fortnite, and countless others.

You begin nearly naked in a forest, whacking trees and rocks for supplies and crafting rudimentary tools, gear, and shelter. But this world is inhabited by Pals, who can be attacked, captured, and tamed. In addition to helping in battle (which is all real-time action), Pals can be put to work at your base of operations cooking, cleaning, and crafting supplies.

And yes, eventually you can craft guns and even give them to your Pals.

The result is a fully 3D action creature-collector in one of the most popular modern genres.

Pal designs are very Pokémon-like, and there’s already controversy over how closely some Pals resemble some Pokémon.

Palworld can be played solo or with up to four friends in co-op mode (Steam version only), or on dedicated servers with up to 32 players. It’s available now on Steam PC and Xbox consoles via Early Access.

This article was written by

Eric has been writing for over nine years with bylines at Dicebreaker, Pixelkin, Polygon, PC Gamer, Tabletop Gaming magazine, and more covering movies, TV shows, video games, tabletop games, and tech. He reviews and live streams D&D adventures every week on his YouTube channel. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla.