Ever since Bungie unveiled Destiny’s Live Service model, almost all major publishers have tried to establish their own mark in a similar style; EA with Anthem, Ubisoft with Tom Clancy’s The Division (1 & 2), and Bethesda with Elder Scroll Online and Fallout 76. And although even Destiny isn’t perfect, none of the other games have come close to it in terms of community strength and player base. Enter miHoYo. A Chinese developer, who had actually announced Genshin Impact back in 2017.
Little was known about it until its early beta came out and some YouTubers got their hands on it. Even at that point, the mainstream media was not really following the small heap of dust and smoke rising because of this game. Little did anyone know that even in beta, its impact was about to take the world by storm (read Renti’s Ultimate).
Genshin Impact launched as a Free-To-Play (F2P) on almost all major platforms. It is available on PC, Major Current Consoles (Most likely will also be released on next-generations as well), and even on Android and iOS devices. Our experience is based on the PC version, however, this article is focused on what Genshin Impact offers, why it might be one of the most important games to come out this year, and what makes it comparable to existing Live Service games, especially Destiny.
The Accessible MMORPG
It’s free, so there is no harm in trying it at least once. All you have to do is download its client from the official website (Yes, it is neither available through Steam nor Epic) and Launch. But once you do, you will realize the extremely easy start of the game. Genshin Impact’s core model is based on three main factors; Unique Characters, Loot, and Finding the best gears for your favorite characters.
The game offers a wide economy, which compels a lot of grind, but with benefits that are nearly equivalent to all the entertainment, it is literally delivering for free. The introductory Prologue mission might seem tedious yet provides exceptional means to introduce players to various aspects and features of this game, something drastically missing even in Destiny, where new players have to rely quite heavily on community support. And it’s quite hard to believe that even in beta, Genshin Impact is an exceptionally polished game.
Genshin Impact core gameplay is hack and slash. Basic Attack. A heavier attack executes when you hold the basic attack. Similarly, a special attack with a simple press of a button, and when the same button is held for a few more seconds, it unleashes a stronger form of special attack. And last but not the least, the Ultimate (or as Destiny Players would put it, Super). Every character introduced has a uniquely special and ultimate. So far the powers introduced are based on the following elements:
Although we control one player at a time, just like switching weapons in a first-person shooter, you are able to swap characters based on the roster of the characters you have unlocked. Your Party can have Four Characters at one time, and your combos highly depend on the characters you choose and how you switch to them during battles, as enemies come with quite a good variety in this game. But there is a catch!
Note: Being a live service game and also a Beta, everything being mentioned here is subject to change at any stage.
Microtransaction is almost a norm in every game, especially for live service games, and Genshin Impact is not an exception. Although it offers a path to earn everything and achieve unlockables without spending any real money, but in our experience it requires a lot of time and effort, eventually leading to the decision whether you want to spend real money or you want to keep grinding. Following elements of this game are provided under microtransaction:
- New Characters: Up to Adventure Level 19, you will be able to unlock 5 characters for free without using any additional resources to access them, but if you want to unlock more characters you will need to spend “Fates” at “Wish” and then pray that you get lucky really soon.
- Battle Pass: It is available for all players, but just like Destiny’s Season Pass, it also offers a second premium layer only available after paying at least 10 US dollars which offers higher quality of rewards after achievement of every level of Battle Pass. The Battle Pass lasts for 30 days only though, so in order to unlock all 50 levels of Battle Pass, you will really need to give the game daily attention. The pass unlocks after you have achieved Adventure Level 20. In addition, you can also buy Battle Pass progress to unlock the items rather quickly, through use of Primogems.
- Genesis Crystals: Genesis Crystals can be acquired through real-world money (like Silvers in Destiny). This currency can be used to buy either start-up bundles (offering quick leveling for characters) and also can be converted to the game’s main currency Primogems. The game offers various packaged deals to purchase Genesis Crystals, the higher the value, the higher is the number of Genesis Crystals.
- Primogems: This is the main in-game currency, which can be acquired through almost all game activities, making the grind worth something apart from loot. Primogems are primarily used for procurement of Acquaint Fates or Intertwined Fates, but can also be used to acquire Resins. In case you are getting short of Primogems, which you will, you can always spend Genesis Crystals to acquire them. One Genesis Crystal equals one Primogem, which so far does not feel like a fair deal to us.
- Resins: Every day, when the server registers another day, you will receive 120 Resins. You will need this currency to acquire loot from “Domains (Genshin Impact’s Dungeons)” and Bosses. This is one of the most annoying bottlenecks of this game, as once you have reached higher levels, you will expend this currency in mere two boss activities and then you will have to wait for these to regenerate. Resins regenerate at the rate of 8 per hour, and that’s real time. You can acquire additional resins through in-game bonuses, or Primogems.
- Acquaint Fate and Intertwined Fate: There is only one way to unlock new characters, and it’s through “Wish”. It is a gamble. You can actually unlock all characters but will require you to spend lots of Fates. And these Fates are rarely awarded through in-game activities (a few bonuses here and there), but mostly you will have to acquire them through Shop, using Primogems. 160 Primogems equal One type of Fate. Each Fate is used for different types of Wish Banner. And each Wish Banner provides chances to unlock various characters or weapons. You would want to invest in all of them and pray that your luck comes through.
- Starglitter and Stardust: These are in-game currencies that can be used for a wider variety of items. These not only support in acquiring Fates but also in the acquisition of different resources (which are also available through the in-game grind and crafting.
- Mora: These are the gold coins and used to purchase the services of vendors found at various points of the map. Mora is acquired through activities and quests performed, and an additional amount can be acquired if you buy the Battle Pass.
Pro Tip: Save Starglitter and Stardust, do not waste them on resources that you can easily earn or craft in-game as well.
Now before these numerous options for microtransaction scare you away, hear us out! The game still offers lots of entertaining means to ensure that you still get to earn enough to unlock and achieve everything which Battle Pass and Characters have to offer.
In our experience, we have not been quite lucky, but we were still able to unlock Venti, a 5-Star character before we had hit 50th Wish. But fear not, as an in-game note does indicate that we will surely get a 5 Star weapon or character by the 80th Wish, if we do not get one before we hit this number. You can actually check history under each Wish Banner, to check how many wishes you have used and what you were able to unlock.
This actually becomes a cycle of hunger, and if you are not able to control your temptation (by just being satisfied with whatever you got), you might get stuck in the vicious cash grab trap. So caution is necessary.
The game’s core progression mechanic heavily relies on finding resources, using vendors to create better items (even weapons and special items), and these resources are not really hard to earn but are still scarce in terms of their utilization at a higher level.
Following are some of the means to acquire resources:
- Exploration: Explore the map and collect fruits, plants and mine items found in almost all areas. The explorer inside you will always be able to identify such opportunities and a few clicks can do a lot to support your progress.
- Completing Daily, Weekly and Monthly Activities: During your intro quest (Prologue), you will discover Adventure Book. This book provides necessary activities that you can complete and earn various rewards, including useful resources.
- Expeditions: This is quite a useful activity, although you don’t really do anything here. You see, once you have a roster of eight or more characters, you won’t be playing with all of them. So the game gives you an option to dispatch a few of them to collect different resources. These can be minerals to food items, depending on what you need.
- Dismantling Items: You can also earn resources by “deleting” artifacts and weapons, which will in-turn give you resources.
Apart from all these activities, your characters can also cook, and many of them come with added bonuses if you select a certain character for cooking certain recipes (the same concept is also applied on crafting). It is an extremely useful tool and will help you a lot when you face death (which you probably will).
Genshin Impact is a sort of game that will suck your spare time, and if you get addicted to its grind, you may not even want to get into any other game. In such cases, you might find managing resources not a daunting task, at your end.
But for a gamer willing to spend, not more than one or two hours a day on this game, might find resource collection challenging at higher levels. We highly recommend that you take your time, and take things slow. There is a lot to do in this game, lots of side quests and loot to discover, even with slower progression, you will still find the game enjoyable.
Genshin Impact is Simple to Learn, Harder to Master
Genshin Impact’s gameplay starts quite simple, as you start with one character only. As the story progresses and you are able to unlock your first new character, you begin to realize the complexity in its simplicity. Like most hack and slash, you may think that focusing more on weapons carried by your characters will support your progression better, but it is not the case here.
Genshin Impact’s characters come with their own skill sets and powers. And every element has a bonus impact when mixed with another. These can create damage impact, environmental impact or even both. Many enemies require various combo of elements before you can actually take them down, and this technique becomes compulsory to take down bosses. Some combos are as follows:
The game is filled with combos and combinations which are still being discovered by us. For Example, at one time we had to cater to a mini boss with his minions. So I lit one of them with fire using my Pyro character, switched to Ameno Character and spread the fire to all characters using wind, then used an Electro Character to overload the enemies under fire, creating an opportunity to use my Geo character (with a heavy weapon) to pummel them out of health in a matter of seconds. Trust me, it was glorious, and as the levels get higher, such opportunities become critical for your success.
Another important aspect of Genshin Impact is to create “Your Party”. You may be able to unlock up to twenty characters, but you can only have Four Characters in a party. And every combination of characters brings added bonuses for the party, based on the combination of elemental powers:
Now we do have a slight gripe in this matter, although it is understandable that some quests, areas, or enemies will always require certain combinations to successfully beat them, but due to scarce resources, you cannot invest in all of your characters. We usually prefer the characters we feel comfortable to play with.
But in order to be successful in higher-level quests and domains, you will eventually have to keep at least one elemental character readily available and upgraded, for each type of element. We would always recommend you to keep all four characters with different combos, especially keeping one pyro and one electro in your team.
But that’s not all.
There are many more gameplay elements which make characters and their equipment management, an overwhelming but interesting task. Some of the key items which you must upgrade and invest on for each of your favorite characters are:
- Character Attributes: Each character’s baseline HP, DEF, ATK, etc. This upgrades through the use of Experience Books, which you will be able to find through game activities.
- Weapons: There are many weapon types, like Swords, Broad Swords, Maces, Bows, and Magic Books; which can be further enhanced or refined to make them better against higher level enemies. Each weapon can be upgraded, but based on limited resources, you will have to choose carefully which ones you want to upgrade first.
- Artifacts: These items are used to enhance various characteristics of each character such as Critical Chance, Critical Damage, Energy Recharge Rate, HP, DEF, ATK, etc. Each character can equip up to five of these, and the correct combination can apply additional bonus attributes on that specific character.
- Constellations: These are additional layers to enhance your character’s elemental powers. So far the only means to unlock these is to acquire the same character from Wish (means instead of a new character, you will be getting one of the unlocked ones, by chance). Your main story character (the traveler) gets upgrades for constellations through questline as well.
- Talents: All characters are at base level 1 of Talents in the beginning. You get the option to upgrade Talents to Level 2 once you have ascended the character to Ascension Phase 2, and similarly, Talents Level 3 after Ascension Phase 3. The Talents however do not simply unlock, they require lots of material and may easily be considered the actual endgame grind for every character, and requires extraordinary commitment.
These depths in characters make Genshin Impact a masterpiece, waiting to be explored and played. No single experience can ever be the same, every player will earn his own style of play.
Solo or Co-op
The overall progress of the world is based on Adventure Ranks, which is your true objective in terms of progression. While the start of the game is Solo (also some primary game quests cannot be played with friends), but once you have achieved Adventure Rank 15, you will be able to play with your friends as well or any random strangers through matchmaking.
Genshin Impact’s co-op mode is fun to play with friends, especially when you are hunting bosses and conquering domains. But there are some weird aspects which make the experience limited to only boss fights and domains.
When the other players join your world, they can mine items with you, gather fruits and flowers, but they cannot collect treasure from various treasure chests scattered throughout the map, even if they have helped you unlock them. In our opinion, this makes the open exploration in co-op quite dull. Therefore we highly recommend unlocking travel points before going for co-op.
Also, once a player reaches World Level 1 or higher (Achieved at Adventure 20), that player can join players with lower levels but other players can only join his world if their World Levels are same or higher. This measure makes sense, as the enemies do not scale according to you, but rather scale according to the world you are playing in.
Overall, anything is fun when you are playing with friends.
Genshin Impact A Destiny Killer?
Even with all of the above-mentioned grind and microtransaction traps, Genshin Impact is addictive in its gameplay. It offers enough content to keep you busy that the grind becomes fun. And not to mention, the co-op element. You can do all these activities, either in open world or in fixed domains (dungeons) with your friends or random strangers and multiply the fun factor. But its quest design and story does not come close to anything Destiny or even other Live Service games have offered. You will most likely skip through all the dialogues to get back in the game ASAP.
With so much offered as free, a huge map to explore, and developers miHoYo promising free new areas, characters and events for all players irrespective you pay for the game in any form or not, Genshin Impact is a formidable foe for Destiny’s player base.
Destiny was supposed to release its next expansion, Beyond Light in September, but due to pandemic and perhaps also to cater with Next-Gen Consoles, it is now pushed to November, making its current season (Season of Arrival) at least 2 months longer with little to no new activities for old players. Therefore, it is quite likely that people will try this new F2P game in the market.
There are some quite drastic differences between Destiny and Genshin Impact:
- Destiny is a first-person shooter, whereas Genshin Impact is Hack n’ Slash
- Destiny offers both PVE and PVP modes, whereas Genshin Impact currently offers only PVE modes
- Destiny offers a wide variety of areas to explore and it is quite massive in size, Genshin Impact is only just beginning and cannot match that size and scale
- Destiny offers pinnacle activities such as Raids and Dungeons, whereas Genshin Impact only offers Domains (very short dungeons)
In all honesty, comparing Genshin Impact with Destiny is considerably unfair, but as it offers a F2P model with a huge pile of live service-based activities and content, we believe it will definitely shake up the priorities of gamers investing in live service games. Bungie better keeps an eye over their shoulders.
Also, unlike most live service games offering seasonal events, Genshin Impact has a rather quicker and more interesting take on events, by offering them on a bi-weekly basis. We believe such a quick introduction to new events and quests will keep the player base stronger.