Palia preview: New Horizons

Singularity 6's Palia looks to deliver a more relaxed and inviting MMO experience.

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When we think of MMOs, games like World of Warcraft, The Elder Scrolls Online, and Final Fantasy 14 come to mind. Games where most of the experience is tailored around grinding and scavenging for loot. Developer Singularity 6 is looking to offer something a bit more unique in that space with Palia, a simulation MMO that focuses more on the communal aspect of the massive multiplayer experience. I got to get an early look at Palia and what the team at Singularity 6 is working on.

A fresh take on the MMO

Singularity 6 describes Palia as a “communal simulation MMO.” This is because although there are skills to learn and improve in the game, it’s vastly different from what you’d expect from an MMO game. Set in a fantasy world, Palia is all about establishing relationships with both NPCs and player characters, as well as building a home and exploring the beautiful world.

Palia’s fantasy world is filled with characters of different species. However, all players will play as human characters. This is a choice made deliberately by the developers, as players being human factors into the game’s narrative. In this world, humans are one of the rarest species in existence. It’s been this way for countless years, and a part of the game’s story will involve players discovering what led to the near-extinction of the human race.

Speaking of narrative, I was really intrigued with what the developers had to say about the “evolving story” in Palia. When the game releases, the story will not be complete. As time goes on, the developers will build upon the established story, as well as player behavior in order to unravel all of the secrets of this world. In fact, the developers told me that the narrative “will take years” to unfold.

Building community

In Palia, players will build and design their own homes tailored to their taste. Customization is a huge aspect of the game, and the house-building options seemed pretty robust from the early look I saw. This range of options is also present in the character creator, as players can customize a lot of aspects of their character.

Once players construct a home, they can have friends and strangers stop by. There will be ways to restrict who is allowed to enter your home and interact with its contents. The game’s social matchmaking will allow you to visit the homes of other players when you venture out into the world.

When players visit, there are several activities that you can engage in together. This includes cooking, in which players can pull from the game’s many recipes to make meals. The process is very collaborative, as friends can aid you in cooking (which is accomplished through minigames) or in designing your home (using over 1000 decor items). One really interesting tidbit that I learned during my preview with Palia is that even when a player is offline, friends will be able to visit their home.

A melting pot of genres

When listing the games that inspired the development of Palia, the team at Singularity 6 dropped names such as Animal Crossing, The Legends of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Stardew Valley. After getting a good look at the game, all of the inspirations were really clear to see.

When exploring the world, climbing and gliding will be a key part of traversing land and covering large distances. I didn’t get to see too much of the world outside of the village, but the developers state that there are a lot of secrets to discover.

With how integral character relationships are in Palia, I wasn’t surprised to discover that players can romance some of the characters they meet in-game. Players can accomplish tasks for characters, which will increase their relationship level. Once the relationship reaches level 3, players can begin courtship by giving the character a specific flower. Players can also gift items to villagers in order to raise their relationship level. Each villager has unique items that they like, love, and hate, very similar to Stardew Valley.

A world of potential

Walking away from my preview of Palia, I was really intrigued by what the developers were going for. An MMO that ditches the grindy, nearly chore-like aspect of the genre certainly appeals to somebody like me, who has grown tired of the traditional gameplay loop of MMOs. That in addition to the game’s emphasis on a communal experience and evolving narrative, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on Palia when it goes into pre-alpha this summer.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

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