Palworld certainly caught the world by storm. Since its release, creature-based resource managing survival game has seen a player count peak at 2 million active players, riding its controversial designs that seemingly emulate Nintendo's adorable pocket monsters (enough to provoke a response from Pokemon developer Game Freak, as they begin seeking an investigation). While still going strong, a surprising challenger has knocked it off the top of the pedestal for the time being.
The release of Helldivers 2, developed by Arrowhead Game Studios and published by Sony, was released February 8th for PlayStation 5 and PC, and has claimed the number one spot on Steam's sales. The multiplayer shooter has seen a peak of 140,341 players and maintains around 53,000 active players, based on SteamBD charts, and is the fourth biggest PlayStation Studios launch on Steam, bypassing God of War.
Helldivers 2 is completely different from its predecessor. Whereas the first game was a top-down twin stick shooter, the sequel shifts to a third person perspective. While made at a scale that's below some of PlayStation's heavy hitting first party games, what's likely driving the success behind Helldivers 2's strong numbers is co-op. The ability to hop in with your pals makes this a desirable commodity than the Horizon Zero Dawns within the PlayStation umbrella. Being newer helps, as many gamers likely own the aforementioned God of Wars and such.