Genshin Impact has taken the gaming world by storm, but what exactly is it? Genshin Impact is an open-world, action, massively multiplayer role-playing game by Chinese developer, Mihoyo. In the year since its release, it’s become the career launchpad for a huge number of streamers and YouTubers. Its also given players the ability to explore again while they stay at home during these uncertain times.
In just a year, Genshin won the 2021 Apple Design Awards for both Visuals and Graphics. It scooped Google Play’s Best Game of 2020. It even picked up an Ultimate Game of the Year nomination at the Golden Joystick Awards. Truly a game that needs no further fanfare. Enticed? Great! If you’re considering entering the world of Teyvat, here are seven things you should know before you begin, Traveller.
1. It’s Free-to-Play, but the gacha’s how they getcha
Genshin Impact is free-to-play. This means you can download and play all of its core game content for free. However, players will quickly become acquainted with Genshin’s many in-game real-money purchases. Indeed, its implementation of “gacha” mechanics has stirred quite a bit of controversy. For those uninitiated, gacha is a game mechanic similar to randomised loot boxes. Players can spend real money in exchange for random item drops. The term gacha refers to Japanese toy machines that dispense a small random figure in a plastic ball. These figures are often part of a series, pushing gacha enthusiasts to collect them all. In Genshin, gacha is everywhere. This includes “pulling” (as one would the lever on a poker machine) for higher-spec characters and weapons. This extends to the randomised manner in which one obtains artifacts in domains, as well.
Thankfully, Genshin‘s core content can be beaten with free characters. Diligent players can progress the story, complete world quests and daily commissions all without paying a cent. Doing so should reward enough in-game currency to pull for those paid characters from time to time. But, even when you’ve got no money down, it’s still a gamble. As with any mechanic of this kind, players must be cognizant of their spending. You must not be drawn in by a potential waifu or husbando you cannot actually afford.
2. Breath of the Wild-inspired, to an extent
In the game’s early days, Zelda fans railed against its aesthetic similarity to Breath of the Wild but the comparison goes deeper. A great many of Genshin‘s mechanics — the way characters can climb and glide in particular — bear a great resemblance to BotW. But the similarities end there. Combat, conversely, is significantly different. Battles heavily emphasise character swapping. It wants you to look for team synergies to create elemental reactions.
The 2.0 update cemented Genshin Impact as its own distinct game, launching the hotly anticipated land of Inazuma. Heavily inspired by Japanese culture, Inazuma is a land of sakura blooms, yukata-clad townspeople and detailed shrines. It’s home to Watatsumi Island, a dream-like, pastel-coloured zone.
3. Cross-save and (almost) Platform Agnostic
Contributing to Genshin Impact‘s success is its embracing of crossplay and cross-save features. The game is available across iOS, Android, Windows PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. Multiplayer is platform agnostic — you can play with anyone, no matter what system they’re using. Cross-saves allow players to jump from PC or console to their mobile while commuting without losing progress. A Nintendo Switch version is currently in development.
4. Multiplayer Friendly
The thing to know about Genshin‘s multiplayer is that it’s only available from Adventure Rank 16 onward. Reaching this rank takes around roughly 12 hours of solo gameplay. This is extremely important to know if you are expecting to jump into multiplayer right away. You will need to get a bit of experience under your belt before it opens up. Don’t worry, the single-player stuff is pretty good.
From there, players are free to team up with friends, regardless of the device they are playing on. Co-op multiplayer is standard MMO fare — completing quests and defeating high-level bosses together. Certain Genshin achievements are only obtainable through multiplayer. If you want them, you’d better round up your Discord mates for a night of terrorising Hilichurls and Abyss Mages.
Another tip is to agree on the server you’ll all be playing on from the start. Everyone will need to be on the same regional server for multiplayer. If anyone created their character on the wrong server, they won’t be able to join in. Make sure everyone’s on the same page beforehand to avoid a game night disaster.
5. Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn is in it
Genshin Impact recently collaborated with PlayStation on a Horizon Zero Dawn crossover. Horizon‘s main character Aloy was added as a free five-star character for Playstation users in the v2.1 update. She has since been made available across all platforms following the v2.2 update. Aloy’s design was modified to fit Genshin’s cute anime aesthetic without losing her red hair, green eyes, and beaded accessories. She’s a Cryo (or cold) element user with a unique bow that leverages her stats and elemental abilities.
6. It’s a grind
Though our warning about grind is further down the list, it’s likely the first thing any Genshin player will tell you. Not only do your characters need to be levelled, so do their weapons, artifacts, and talents. All of these systems have their own individual item sets you’ll need to farm from enemies to upgrade. Some are only available on certain days of the week.
There are a plethora of quests, commissions to complete and resin (a finite energy resource for claiming boss and Romains rewards) to chew through daily. As you progress through quests, your Adventure Rank will increase, which in turn raises your World Rank. This ensures that run-ins with enemies like Fatui Mages and Geovishaps scale to your current abilities.
If all that seems overwhelming, it’s because it can be. However, players are free to take things at their own pace. There’s no PvP competitiveness here. For the casual player, there’s plenty to do every day. You can dive in, have some fun, tick off your dailies, and balance play against your other life priorities.
7. The 1 Year Anniversary is Coming Up
Genshin has is known for releasing its best content ahead of important updates or real-world events. 2021’s Lantern Rite Festival was held during the real world Lunar New Year period. This event had everything — quests, coveted items and an actual tower defence mini-game. Mihoyo has not yet revealed what players can expect from the game’s 1 year anniversary on September 28th, but they’re dying to find out.
You’re ready to embark.
Like any other title, Genshin has its flaws, but it also has a lot to offer. Hours of fun, stunning art design, and a steady flow of new content all for the low, low price of zero dollars. Provided you can resist the allure of the gacha, there’s no downside to giving Genshin Impact a try.