Genshin Impact is an action roleplaying game developed by miHoYo that released late 2020. The game recently celebrated its third year anniversary, released a new region, and has been the subject of both praise and criticism throughout its three-year life span.
The game has generally received a negative connotation in the gaming community for being “gacha and anime garbage,” yet it is one of the most profitable games ever created and developed. It’s free to play, but with all negative discourse around it, is it even worth trying out?
With it being free to play, the obvious answer is yes. Even if you hate it, you can always just uninstall the game and never touch it again. While it might take up a decent bit of space on your computer, Genshin Impact is an extremely high quality game. It’s obvious that tons of love and care have gone into its development, characters, and world building. The game runs smoothly, and the quality and features only improve the further in you get.
The game plays as a hack-and-slash, most similar to Nintendo’s Breath of the Wild and other dungeon crawler games. Throughout the game, you collect and create teams composed of four different characters, each with their own unique abilities and passive talents. Each character has a respective element and weapon class they wield, leading to many diverse team compositions and playstyles for players to experiment with. Characters are split into “four star” and “five star” units, with the five star units being exponentially rarer and harder to obtain.
There are two kinds of main story quests in Genshin Impact. Character quests focus on individual characters. “Archon Quests” and “Interludes” compose of the main, overarching story. The character specific quests can be a bit hit or miss–it just depends on whether or not you’re invested into the character–but the Archon quests are all entertaining in their own ways. The quests from the newer regions Fontaine and Sumeru have been especially phenomenal.
The game boasts absolutely gorgeous open-world environments that only get bigger and bigger as you progress further in. There are tons of puzzles to solve, and regions to explore that all have their own unique gimmicks and themes. All the cities you explore feel alive and bustling with activity, and the NPCs are all fun to interact with and talk to.
Genshin Impact’s music also features and brings together musicians from all over the world. The region Inazuma, the one based off Japan, features some of the top Japanese Folk musicians and performers. The Sumeru region features Arabic folk musicians and cultural instruments similarly.
There’s honestly a lot of mediocre music in Genshin Impact, but the music that it nails is enough to give you goosebumps. The fact that the studio goes out of its way to include these lesser known performers and folk instruments in its pieces sets the soundtrack apart from other games.
There’s nothing wrong with the base game itself. Awesome music, dungeons, environments, and combat. So why are there people who hate it so much? There are a few reasons, but at the forefront of them is the game’s gacha system.
For anyone who doesn’t know, a “gacha system” is essentially where you have to gamble to unlock new features in the game. For Genshin Impact, it’s the game’s way of distributing five star characters and weapons. To unlock new characters and weapons, you spend in-game currency to buy “wishes.” The specifics of these “wishes” can be hard to understand, but most commonly, you’re spending over seventy wishes before you obtain a new five star. Whether that’s a weapon or character is up to the player.
There are products such as a “daily log-in bonus,” most commonly referred to as “Welkin’s,” that players can buy for five dollars a month to help them obtain more wishes. Given the amount of value you can get out of it, it’s not a bad deal. There’s also a battle pass–similar to that in Fortnite–that players can buy to help obtain wishes, but the battle pass mainly contains materials to help level your characters and weapons.
That being said, seventy wishes is still a bit excessive. What’s wrong with the system otherwise? Most five-star characters are limited edition, and once you spend those seventy wishes, you’re still not even guaranteed to get the limited edition character. Whenever the game gives you a five-star, it essentially flips a coin that decides whether or not to give it to you. If you lose the coin-flip, you get a character from a “standard” pool of five stars. These ones are more common, and a way of cheating you out of your limited edition character.
The game’s solution to bypassing anti-loot box laws is to make it so that the next coin-flip you win is guaranteed to be a limited edition character. However it can take months to save seventy wishes again–especially if you’re not investing any money into the game–and you might be stuck waiting eight months to a year for your character to come back.
By itself, the gacha system is horrible. Wishes are there to make money, not to be a tool and fun currency for players to spend. It would be one thing if you could pull for any five-star character or weapon whenever you wanted. It would take a little bit longer to obtain new characters, but at least it’d be guaranteed. The fact that most characters are limited edition is border-line criminal. Combine that with the fact that wishes cost so much real-world money, and it makes the gacha system deserve the horrible reputation it’s gotten.
The fact that players need to spend hundreds of dollars for a single character, or wait another eight months to play them to absolutely ridiculous.
While the gacha system is predatory and you will feel like you’ve been cheated by it more than once, it’s not a deal breaker for playing the game itself. The game is still plenty fun to be had without investing any money into it, and the game has an active free-to-play community.
Aside from that, the game has received criticism for being a Breath of the Wild clone. While the gameplay is similar in the first few regions, Genshin Impact evolves into it’s own distinct game the more you play it. The game has also received criticism for being developed and drawn in an anime-style, but whether or not that bothers someone is up to the player’s own tastes.
Genshin Impact’s predatory gacha system is a dark stain on an otherwise pristine game. Despite the warning label that comes with the gacha system, it’s still an extremely fun time even if you’re playing “free-to-play.”
Genshin Impact is filled with laughs, emotional stories and cutscenes, fun characters, and is an extremely engaging game overall. There’s also a co-op mode that lets you run single-floor dungeons, and solve puzzles with friends and other players.
You can play Genshin Impact on mobile devices, PC, and PS4. There is a cross save “cloud” functionality that lets you access your account from any device. There are rumors of a Nintendo Switch version in development.