For the past three years or so, one game has dominated the mobile platform with its coverage and popularity, Genshin Impact. It’s so ubiquitous that even boomers have heard of it– and most of them are painfully out of the loop and don’t know what Genshin Impact is despite having heard of it.
We’re not saying you’re a boomer if you still don’t know what Genshin Impact is, but we’re here to help with that innocence. Here’s a rundown on what you need to know about Genshin Impact in case your curiosity has finally gotten the better of you.
What exactly is Genshin Impact?
Genshin Impact is an anime-themed fantasy roleplaying game RPG made by HoYoVerse, a game studio and developer based in mainland China.
As with all RPGs, Genshin Impact has you selecting your preferred character, creating a party, leveling up, fulfilling quests, and interacting with the game world, which is seamlessly open-world in structure, meaning there are little to no barriers or loading screens.
Genshin Impact also belongs in the gacha classification of games. For those who don’t know, gacha is short for gachapon, which are Japanese token machines where you insert a coin and try for some mini-figurines (called gachapons). The thrill is that you don’t know what you’re getting, and a rare gachapon triggers quite an adrenaline rush, like most chance-related activities.
Genshin Impact is the same but on a digital medium. Because apart from the character you’ve chosen, you also get to form a team of four characters. These characters will be introduced in the story and or given for free in quests.
Meanwhile, the rarest characters (5-star rarity) tend to be the most powerful or most coveted for parties or teams. Genshin Impact will thus give you a premium currency (called Primogems), so you can roll for any character you want.
It’s also a free gacha game
Surprisingly, despite the high production quality of Genshin Impact (which some of us have taken for granted), it’s a free game. It’s free on mobile, PC, consoles, and just about any platform where it’s available.
The game earns its revenue from people who spend real money to purchase the aforementioned premium currency, Primogems; in turn, they can have a much better chance at winning rare characters or weapons.
It’s worth noting that the game doesn’t exactly force you to spend on anything. Genshin Impact often gives away Primogems for free, so you can try for your target 5-star character or weapon without any financial guilt.
The only thing is that the chance to get a 5-star weapon or character per attempt (160 Primogems) is low at 0.6 percent (0.7 percent for weapons). So while the game gives you plenty of opportunities to earn Primogems through laborious (but often enjoyable) in-game activities without spending any real money, your chances to win 5-star stuff will be dramatically higher if you spend real money.
To set your expectations right, you’ll be tempted to spend real money on Genshin Impact if you’re a busy adult with work or familial responsibilities and get your 5-star character or weapon. Some of the in-game event quests that give Primogems, after all, rely on FOMO tactics. Students or people with more free time than the average working adult might get away with spending nothing at all, assuming they diligently complete each occasional event.
What’s the gameplay like?
Speaking of events, how exactly does Genshin Impact play? We’ve already mentioned that it’s an RPG with an overarching story and main quest. Genshin Impact’s main gameplay loop, however, is action-oriented and takes place in a distant third-person view.
You control your party in real-time though you can only control one character. However, you can switch to other characters in the party; each character has a different role in combat, and some are more powerful than others, like the aforementioned 5-star characters.
The game’s primary inspiration for its game world would be the award-winning and trendsetting Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which was released back in 2017 and is poised for a sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
Like Breath of the Wild, Genshin Impact gives you the capacity to scale mountains and cliffs (some of which are based on real locations) depending on their slope and your character’s stamina meter. There’s also a glider so you can close distances fast if you’re on a higher elevation.
Combat, for that matter, is also similar to Breath of the Wild; you can take advantage of environments and the game’s elements to give you an edge against particularly difficult enemies. Each character gets a normal attack and two active skills, along with three passive skills that can be leveled up or enhanced.
Still, don’t expect Genshin Impact to cater to your creativity or resourcefulness the same way Breath of the Wild does; it’s not a complete imitation.
How much of an RPG is Genshin Impact?
As for the depth of the RPG elements in Genshin Impact, it’s on a similar level as Breath of the Wild with significantly less customization or freedom.
Your character will engage in dialog with the NPCs, but a lot of the choices are inconsequential since most progression or dialog is set in stone already with no branching paths. Don’t expect the same level of dialog and gameplay integration as bonafide genre heavyweights like The Witcher 3, Mass Effect, or Dragon Age.
Character growth is tied to artifacts or what you can consider as the items in Genshin Impact. You can also level up each character’s talents, skills, and overall level using finite materials or resources that you need to farm.
Each character’s role or class is separated primarily by their elements. These elements would be Pyro (fire), Hydro (water), Cryo (cold), Electro (electricity), Anemo (wind), Geo (earth), and Dendro (nature). In addition, there are a total of five weapons or combat disciplines; these are Sword, Claymore (great sword), Bow, Polearm, and Catalyst (a kind of mage weapon).
Each character is locked to a specific element and a specific weapon that they can’t change though the player character, the Traveler, can change elements.
As for aesthetic customization, it’s one of Genshin Impact’s most glaring shortcomings as an RPG. For the most part, you can’t change a character’s appearance (not even the player character). There are a few skins available for certain characters, but there are only a handful of these skins. Don’t expect the same level of customization as other RPGs; you can’t change hair, clothing (mostly), or armor.
You can, however, change their weapons (assuming they’re in the same class) and change their artifacts to improve their stats.
How to start playing Genshin Impact
If that has convinced you or made you more curious, you’ll be pleased to know that you can simply just go to the Google Play Store or iOS App Store to download and try Genshin Impact. Again, it’s free, and there’s no pressure to spend other than what you impose on yourself.
Apart from smartphones, Genshin Impact is also available on GeForce Now, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Microsoft Windows for free. Sadly, while the Nintendo Switch version has been teased or announced, it’s still nowhere in sight, and the wait might be long or indefinite.
So, for now, just try out Genshin Impact on the following platforms so you can see what all the fuss is about.