WTF is Genshin impact?
What even is Genshin Impact? And why is it one of the best games I've played all year – and how is it free?
Genshin Impact was my weekend, quite by accident. I was incredibly apprehensive of this Free-To-Play gacha game but it is legitimately excellent, which took me entirely by surprise.
What the fun
If you’ve played The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild then you have a pretty good idea of how Genshin Impact feels to play. It’s a third person action adventure RPG with a wonderfully bright open world.
You can run, climb, swim, and glide basically anywhere you can see on the expansive world map. It even takes one of my favourite elements of Breath of The Wild’s design DNA, in this clever design. Basically everywhere you stand in this game will allow you to look around and see something interesting to explore off in the distance. Maybe you’ve spotted a new teleport point, a treasure chest, or enemy camp. More likely you can see all three, and possibly more. Now it’s up to you to chase your heart into the wilderness, possibly forever.
What the fight
Combat also has similarities to the most recent Zelda game but with some core differences.
While you are always controlling one single character, you also manage a party. You can swap between a selection of up to four characters totally on the fly. It lets you juggle health, abilities, and just general preferences. As you play you’ll add more characters organically but you can also win more in the gacha draws which we’ll get to a bit later.
Generally characters will have mastery over a weapon type and element. Swords and most other melee style weapons control in a relatively hack and slash way. A regular press will do a normal attack or you can hold for a more powerful slice. Ranged weapons like bows may also be aimed for more precise shots or to attack from a distance.
Elements will give characters a secondary attack, which can also be held down for different effects and ranges from things like throwing a bomb to a gust of wind. It will also determine their ultimate ability which also can vary considerably. Different elements will have different advantages depending on the creature and potentially your surroundings, and swapping between characters on the fly to chain elemental effects can do further damage.
It reminds me a bit of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 but not entirely. Regardless, it’s very fun and I found that the more comfortable I got swapping between my party and using the full range of their abilities the better I do.
What the friends
And you can even play Genshin Impact with friends. You have to get through a decent chunk of the game before you’ll unlock co-op. That being said once you do you can use crossplay to play with anyone on the same server as you, no matter the platform. You can even link your mobile and PC accounts and continue playing with your same save on either. Some of this can be a bit tricky but we’ll cover that for you in a different article.
Unfortunately, due to a couple of issues I haven’t played with friends yet. However my partner and I have played the game so far next to each other on the couch, on a plethora of different devices. It’s definitely something we are eager to dive into and is a great draw card for us.
What the free
If you’re anything like me, your “It’s too good to be true” alarm is going off right now. Genshin Impact is a totally free game which feels like it easily has the quality of any AAA $100 game out there. Where they make money is through microtransactions, called wishes, though as it currently stands I’m not too sure how.
I’ve played probably close to 20 hours so far and haven’t even felt the itch to spend a dime. Wishes cost premium currency and I’ve earnt a bit in-game so I’ve made a few for free. It’s kinda like buying a blind booster pack of a trading card game. Doing so gets you a chance at weapons, characters, and probably other less exciting items.
So far I haven’t felt like I needed them at all. I’m quite content with the base content of the game, and wishes feel like a bonus, not something I need to buy. Even if they do end up feeling more desirable later in my adventure, I’m happy to spend some money on this game that has me so spellbound at currently no cost to myself.
What the flags
Ok so we have to talk about the anime style. It’s mostly only in the characters and the rest of the world still mostly looks very BoTW. However if you’re like me, anime stylings especially in Gacha games can raise a few red flags and I wanna clear that up.
So often this kind of cute art can be hyper sexualised or just aggressively annoying. Genshin Impact isn’t immune from this. Your guide Paimon has the typical annoying English high-pitched cutesy anime voice. It’s a shame because what she says is actually pretty entertaining sometimes which could be why it gets less annoying as you play.
Also there’s a few characters, especially a sexy witch librarian (uhm excuse me, porn hub?) who are quite fanservicey. But honestly, there’s some cleavage and short shorts but nothing too sexual. The female variant of the main characters even has shorts under her dress. I look at most of the outfits and think I’d be happy to cosplay them without feeling uncomfortable, which I can’t say for all games that look like this.
What the fuck
Yeah, I know right. Genshin Impact might be my favourite game this year and I’m totally blown away by that. I don’t like MMOs, I don’t tend to like mobile gaming, and honestly, as much as a fan I am of some Anime bullshit the art style had me concerned.
Instead it’s just legitimately excellent and so far totally free. I’m confused. Slightly convinced this game is secretly some kind of plot to entrap us. Slightly more concerned I might be ok with it.