This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
Genshin Impact, developed by Chinese game company miHoYo, is a basically free open-world RPG that can be played on PS4/Nintendo Switch/PC/iOS/Android.
Around the time of this game's release, there were allegations of plagiarism from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (BotW) and allegations of spyware, but about a month after its release, the game seems to be gaining popularity, and the fact that they recovered about 10 billion yen in production costs in just a few weeks shows that the game is going strong.
(As for the spyware scandal, officials have denied it. As for the BotW plagiarism allegations, there is a strong aspect of excessive respect that has led to criticism, and the more you play it, the more you understand that it's a different game than BotW)
This game is an open-world RPG, and it is full of volume. The beautiful graphics and unique characters are attractive, and the battle system is simple, but the attribute system is profound, so even I, who don't usually play this kind of RPG, was able to enjoy it enough. By the way, I played the PC version of this game.
Related Link: Genshin Impact
An open world with a huge field of appeal
In this game, you will be traveling through a world called "Teyvat". The protagonist (a.k.a. the Traveler) is one half of a twin brother and sister from a different world. You will control a character of the gender the player chooses at the opening. The character of the gender that was not chosen is lost at the beginning of the game, and the main plot is that the protagonist and the mascot-like character "Paimon" will go on a journey to find him (or her).
Teyvat, where the game takes place, is vast, but you can go almost anywhere you see. You can climb up cliffs, swim across lakes, and glide from high places using Wings of the Wind. The appeal of this game is that you can freely explore the field by using actions.
Actions such as dashing, gliding, and climbing use up stamina. If your stamina runs out, you'll have to wait until it recovers, and if it runs out in the air, you'll fall and take damage.
Each region of Teyvat is ruled by an elemental deity, and each region has a map based on that element. The starting point, Mondstadt, is the land of the elemental wind, with a medieval European style map of greenery and gentle winds. Liyue, the next stop, is a rock elemental area with a Chinese-style map with mountain ranges and stone forests.
These are the only two maps that are currently open to players, but new areas will be released in future updates.
Mapping while performing a mission
The 'Statue of the Seven' and Teleport Waypoints are important to explore this vast map. The Seven Heavenly Statues are the spots where you can talk to them to free up the map, use them for fast travel, dedicate the lost eyes scattered around the map to increase your stamina, and recover your strength, and they are essential for exploration. You can also change the elements of the main character as you progress through the story.
Teleport Waypoints, on the other hand, are bases used for fast travel in various locations and are essential for stress-free travel across the vast map.
The game progresses by completing the main story and sub-quests, and the system allows you to receive rewards such as items and experience for completing quests. The general flow of the game is to complete quests and unlock fast-travel bases around the Teleport Waypoints on the map, while exploring the surroundings to obtain ingredients and materials.
There's a lot to be gained by exploring, and if you eradicate Hilichurls' stronghold, you'll receive a treasure chest, as well as a huge amount of other things you can do, including mini-game challenges such as hitting targets, solving riddles, and defeating powerful enemies known as "elites".
Adventure and world ranks are the motivation for the side trip
An important element of this game is the "Adventure Rank". In order to progress the main story and some sub-quests, you need to raise the adventure rank, and it is also involved in unlocking the character's level limit.
You can get the "Adventure Experience" needed to raise your adventure rank by completing quests, attacking dungeons, unlocking Teleport Waypoints, and opening treasure chests. You can also earn experience by completing daily requests to raise your adventure rank to a certain extent.
If you don't raise your adventure rank, you won't be able to progress in the main storyline, so you will need to explore the map at some point, but there are pros and cons to this system, whether you think it's a motivation for detours and exploration, or whether you think it's unnecessary because you want to progress through all the banned stories at once.
You can get rewards just by increasing your adventure rank. When you raise your adventure rank to a certain level, your "World Rank" will increase. As the world rank rises, the enemies become stronger and the drop rewards become more luxurious. By having a world rank, you can avoid having to go back to an area you've already explored (e.g., to complete a daily mission or collection element) and find out that the enemies are too weak to defeat. On the other hand, if you don't like the enemies getting too hard, this is not a good system for you, and it's also a system that divides opinion.
However, given the open-world nature of this game, I feel that the system of adventure ranks and world ranks, with its emphasis on detours and exploration, fits well with the gameplay of this title, and as new areas and elements are released in the future, I think it will become an attractive system.
The battle system where the elements are important
The battle system of this game is very simple to operate. One button (left click in the PC version) produces a normal attack, and if you hit it repeatedly, you can connect to a combo. Also, if you press and hold a button, you can launch a blasting attack called a "heavy attack".
Each character has an "Elemental Skill and a powerful special skill called "Elemental Burst". Both have a variety of effects depending on the character, not to mention attack and recovery skills, as well as throwing dolls as decoys and putting up shields. Both can be produced with a single button.
As the name suggests, "Elemental Skill" and "Elemental Burst" are skills that use the attributes of the elements in this game. The effects that occur when the elements combine with each other are called "Elemental Reactions in this title, and the offensive and defensive actions are the heart and complex part of the battle in this title.
There are seven types of elements: fire, water, wind, lightning, nature, frost, and earth, which affect each other. For example, there is no doubt that fire is effective against enemies with the frost element, but in this game, it is possible to clothe enemies with the element. For example, if you attack with the frost element, the enemy will become clothed in the frost element, and you will be able to attack with the flame element to deal massive damage.
There are other types of elemental reactions than the ones that deal with massive damage. For example, if you hit the element of fire with the element of wind, it will spread out and unleash a ranged attack of fire. Attacking a wet enemy with the element lightning will electrocute it and increase its damage, and attacking it with the element frost will "freeze" it, allowing you to take away its freedom for a while.
Elemental reactions are also effective in the weather, objects placed on the field, and the natural environment. For example, if it's raining, you and your enemies will get wet, and if you are attacked by a lightning element, you will be electrocuted, and if you launch a wind element into a field-mounted bonfire, it will spread.
As you can see, how the elements react to each other varies, and it will take some time to figure it all out. However, since you will be using the elements from the beginning of the game, and enemies will also launch element-related attacks, you'll be able to learn them naturally if you play for a while.
Switch between characters and cause various elemental reactions
The more characters you add to your party, then you can form a party of up to four to explore. You can switch between characters at any time, except during cooldown and damage. Each companion has its own skills, different weapons, and different attack motions.
Each character has one element that can be unleashed with skills, so you can switch between characters during battle to actively cause elemental reactions. Combos such as scattering water with the first water element character, freezing with the second ice element character, and diffusing with the third wind element character are also possible. It's exhilarating and quite nice to be able to do these combos.
Characters have passive skills, and in addition to those that are useful in combat, some are useful for exploration, such as lowering your stamina consumption rate. You can also get a bonus called "Elemental Resonance" by incorporating two characters of the same attribute into your party, or by pairing them all with different attributes. Thinking about these and changing your party to suit the situation is another fun part of this game.
It's not a difficulty you have to pay to complete
This game gets some characters through story progression, as well as through paid prayers (in essence, Loot box), but let's be honest, this system is not easy to follow (maybe that's not an option considering the high production costs). Rather than having weapons available in addition to characters in the prayers, it's more of a "you'll be lucky if you have a character among these weapons."
Of course, the game has a level of difficulty that can be cleared without loot boxes, but there are times when having a specific highest-rare character can be useful in attacking some gimmicks, and that's an area I'd like to see improved on.
Also, you can level up the character you've acquired at any time with items that give you experience. You can raise the level immediately after you get it and use it as an instant asset. Also, when you draw the same character, you can stack them to strengthen them.
In addition to the aforementioned weapons, there is also the concept of equipment called "relics". These items can be strengthened or synthesized using materials.
There are some complaints, but it's a good enough free RPG to play
Elements such as loot boxes and equipment synthesis are social game-like, but there are also other elements such as login bonuses and limited time events.
The game also has an online feature that allows you to play with other players, but as it stands, you can only play dungeons and daily missions, which I must say is a lack of content. It was fun to play with my friends, so I'm looking forward to seeing more expansions in the future.
Nevertheless, the game is well-made to the extent that it blows away some of the complaints I've mentioned in the article. The full map and exploration elements are present right after release, and the combat system that uses the elements is interesting. I was honestly surprised that a game of this volume could be played for free.
However, as a caveat, while it does incorporate social game elements, this game is a bit heavy to play as a way to pass the time, and I feel like it's a game that you'll be playing every day with intensity as the main game.
This title is cross-playable between hardware, and you can play the data from your PC on your smartphone, but I'm concerned about the amount of battery power consumption and heat on the smartphone. It's possible to play the game outside if it's only a daily mission, but I personally recommend playing it on PC or console hardware for the main part of the game, and playing it on a mobile device as a sub.
Genshin Impact has become a hot topic, and it's a quality game that I can't believe is free. The story will progress in future updates, and there are plans to add more maps and characters, so I'm looking forward to that. It has the potential to be a game that you can play for a long time, so if you haven't played it yet, why not give it a try? At the very least, the game was enjoyable enough for me, even if I don't usually play RPGs much.
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This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.