We may be on our fifth PAW Patrol game, but there’s a long list of things we haven’t been able to do with the little pups. We haven’t been able to explore Adventure Bay, the home of the PAW Patrol. We’ve seen it in snapshots, sure, like chasing Chickaletta around the Town Hall grounds, but not in its entirety. And outside of a PAW Patrol Grand Prix character selection screen, our little ones haven’t been able to pick the pup they like the most. They’ve had the choice of pup foisted on them, whether in Mighty Pups Save Adventure Bay or Adventure City Calls. They’ve had to play with flipping Chase all the time, because that’s what the game demanded.
That all changes with PAW Patrol World. It’s taken a little too long to get there, but the ability to choose the pup you want, whenever you want – like a pocket-sized LEGO game – is a game-changer. Put that together with a reasonably exhaustive Adventure Bay to explore, from the PAW Patrol tower down to the Sea Patroller on the beach, all the way to Mayor Goodway at Town Hall, and you have true wish fulfillment for PAW Patrol fans.
We have a PAW Patrol lover and an ex-PAW Patrol fan in our house (she’s eight and it’s too young for her, she says), and they took to PAW Patrol World like Zuma to water. The world is unmistakably that of the TV series, with all the characters you would want present, from Turbot to Wally the Walrus. They are all voice-acted by their UK TV voice actors (none of the regionalised American versions here), and you can pick every one of the core PAW Patrol members, including Tracker and Everest. Fancy playing through 90% of the game with just one pup? Yeah you can.
As a given pup, you move around and collect pup treats that are strewn about recklessly in the world. A bar fills up in the top-right of the screen, unlocking hats and car decals periodically. ‘Toys’ are also found in the play space, like radio-controlled cars and stones to skim across water, giving your tykes something to play around with. All they need to do is tap X in their proximity.
There are quests too, some more side-questy in flavour as you help out recognisable PAW Patrol characters. But there’s also a main questline to follow, accessible by finding Ryder in the area, where you try to scupper Mayor Humdinger’s plans to create a rival festival to the one being held in Adventure Bay (something that we’d argue is perfectly within his rights). He glides about in a purple blimp and parachutes down the Catastrophe Crew to mess with you.
If you’ve played the PAW Patrol platforming games, then PAW Patrol World is simpler and more approachable. Developers 3DClouds have clearly recognised that a large 3D sandbox to play around in is complicated and potentially overwhelming enough, so it keeps the quests simple. Most have you switching to the right pup, in the right car if needed, before following some paw prints to a location or tapping X repeatedly to airlift a parrot down from a tree. It never stretches a paw to something as convoluted as a maze or series of platforms.
Completing the main quests will eventually open up the world. The jungle, Jake’s Mountain (why’s he so special that he gets a mountain named after him?) and Barkingburg each have a sizable playground to explore, and the core roster of characters move to each one. Considering the paltry size of PAW Patrol games like Adventure City Calls, this is a comparative epic.
Our kids loved PAW Patrol World. We know this because our four-year old kept pausing to tell us so. Which makes it all the more complicated to review, as my wife and I played it in the evenings and felt it had glaring flaws. Who do you trust? We know the truth.
A reasonably large flaw is a general lack of polish. Kids don’t care much for these oversights, but they hit us hard. The biggest by far was a broken co-op function. Ours simply did not work: it wasn’t possible to join a game as a second player, even though co-op is clearly listed as a feature. Unfortunately, we’re one of the first in the world to play the game, so it’s difficult to know if the issue is widespread, but this will be a major blow for those who wanted to play the game as a family.
We also ended up stuck in scenery on more than one occasion. It’s easy enough to restart a mission to clear the problem, but it leaves the game feeling rough-edged. Some animations didn’t play, so you’re also prone to seeing dead-eyed dogs, glaring into your soul.
PAW Patrol World is also vulnerable to a problem that all the other PAW Patrol games experienced. It just won’t stop talking. Start a quest and you’re faced with unskippable chat after unskippable chat, and we wondered why the developers kept on doing it. We could see flickers of frustration on our kids’s faces, so surely it would have been the same in tests? It’s at its worst when you accidentally choose the wrong pup or vehicle for an action: you have to sit through a long, laborious tutorial about selecting the right one. We frigging know, Ryder, it was a mistake.
We could complain about the repetition and lack of anything beyond ‘walk here, press X there’, but we’d be missing the point. PAW Patrol World isn’t made for us adults. It’s Adventure Bay and surrounding areas, with all of the barriers removed. It’s a glorious playset, the entire TV series ready for kids to reach in and enjoy. That’s something that none of the previous games have managed.
It’s only crime, at the time of writing, is couch co-op that doesn’t work, but we’re hoping that, like Chase, its developers 3DClouds are on the case.
Edit – NOTE – The co-op issues experienced in the review were resolved by unplugging all other pads connected to the Xbox. Should you have the same problem, ensure that only two pads are connected. We did not factor any co-op problems into the score at the end of the review, so that remains the same.