In 2020, Genshin Impact took the video game industry by storm, attracting a large player base and generating nearly $ 400 million in revenue within the first two months in the market. For the context this was more than Pokémon GO, which generated $ 238 million in revenue during the same period.
At first sight, Genshin Impact may look like yet another open-world anime game, but there are a lot of interesting things going on that set it apart. Why has it become so popular? How’s the game? How do all of its systems work? What platforms is it available on?
In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know Genshin Impactincluding an overview of gameplay, how monetization works, what the multiplayer looks like and more.
What is Genshin Impact?
Genshin Impact is an open world action RPG with “gacha” (we’ll discuss that later) mechanics. It was developed and published by the Chinese studio miHoYo. In it, players control a number of group members, each with different skills, weapons, equipment, and personalities. The combat takes place in real time, allowing players to use ranged, melee and elemental attacks against a wide variety of enemies in the game’s open world and dungeons.
Genshin Impact is an online-only adventure that relies heavily on storytelling and multiplayer – with many features you’d see as a service in popular games (like daily quests, rewards, loot, and other things to get you checked in).
Many critics and players have compared Genshin Impact to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild with an anime twist. It’s a fair comparison as many of the environments and locations are similar. The biggest similarity is that you can climb almost any surface and the number you can climb is determined by an endurance meter – just like in Breath of the wilderness. Once you reach the top of your destination, you can slide away so you can quickly travel around the map – yet another similarity.
But to make it a “Breath of the wilderness clone ”is reductive, like Genshin Impact does a lot to stand on its own.
Let’s take a look at the “gacha” features, which are a big part of the game. The “gacha” element is used to describe the monetization of the game, which is similar to random loot boxes or a slot machine. The way it works is that you can spend in-game currency (or real money) on packs of characters, loot, and equipment – all of which are random with varying degrees of rarity.
You may get the specific character you are looking for on your first try, or it may take hundreds of hours (and dollars) to eventually get them. The characters and loot you receive each have a different chance of falling, giving it a “luck of the draw” feel. However, you can certainly earn characters by playing the game normally as well. But certain gear or characters are highly sought after, requiring players to spend hundreds of dollars in currency to eventually get them.
What platforms is Genshin Impact available on?
In its current form Genshin Impact is available on PC, Android, iOS and PS4 (playable on PS5) and will get special PS5 and Nintendo Switch versions in the future. Part of the reason for the game’s success is partly due to the fact that it is available on so many platforms, allowing the community to play with each other whether on PS4, PC or mobile. As popular as console gaming is, mobile games are still home to millions of players and with Genshin Impact, you get the best of both worlds.
However, if you are an Xbox player, you cannot access Genshin Impact and developer miHoYo says it has no plans to bring the game to those platforms.
When the game first launched, you could tell that it was primarily designed with mobile in mind as the controls on the console felt a bit weird at times. Having to go through multiple screens to get to the map, a cluttered menu system, and controls that can’t be mapped (at least on the console) made it clear that the game was first designed with touch screens. For this reason, the community has high hopes for the Nintendo Switch version, which could implement touchscreen controls or even gyro support.
Is Genshin Impact multiplayer?
In short, yes, Genshin Impact supports cooperative multiplayer online (again, with cross-platform play on PS4, PC and mobile). Here you can play with up to three other friends for a total of four players. You can explore the vast, expansive open world, perform certain quests, or take part in the game’s various dungeons. Many of the areas feature powerful creatures that are certainly easier to beat with friends.
But to play with friends, you need to reach Adventure Rank 16 first, which can be a bit of a drag if you don’t play often. Once you do that, you can join or host a game with three other players. However, you can certainly play with less than four squads. You cannot participate in story missions while playing co-op, and you cannot interact with chests or collect collectibles – only the host can. So it has its limitations.
How’s the gameplay?
The gameplay from moment to moment in Genshin Impact throws you into various quests that require you to travel across the big map, unlock fast travel points, complete dungeons, and of course fight enemies. In terms of combat, players can switch between group members on the fly, allowing for a varied assortment of attacks on enemies. Some characters excel at melee combat, while others are better at long-range combat.
You are encouraged to explore and unlock the entire map, along with fast travel points, better equipment, collectibles, and ultimately participate in the game’s dungeons. These dungeons give you rewards upon completion, which vary in rarity depending on difficulty. Dungeons have certain requirements to start and contain a wide variety of enemies and small puzzles.
One of the interesting mechanics allows you to stack elemental attacks (called elemental reactions in-game), giving you a new effect depending on the combination. For example, combine the Hydro and Cryo elements to keep your enemy in place. Or use Pyro and Dendro (a kind of nature-based element) to deal fire damage. Players are encouraged to experiment with these different elements to achieve different results.
As you collect resources, you are encouraged to craft equipment that can help you complete quests. You also have the option to purchase an assortment of items from food, craft supplies, weapons, equipment and more. It has pretty much everything you’d expect from a large open world RPG.
There are tough JRPG mechanics like a party system, intricate elemental combat, and a big world to explore. You need to get good at quickly switching your party members as you can use them back-to-back to unleash combos on your enemies. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the types of enemies you’ll face so you can choose your party members accordingly – whether it’s in preparation for a dungeon or an open-world story mission.
Is Genshin Impact free?
We mentioned the game’s gacha mechanics in loot box style which would normally be cause for concern, but since then Genshin Impact is free, players have been more forgiving about monetization. In fact, you can keep playing and have a great time without spending a penny. Unlike many free-to-play titles that spend real money, Genshin Impact does a great job of offering in-game purchases as an option without making you feel like yourself must spend money.
So when players call it free-to-play, it’s really free to play – which is more than can be said about many games that categorize themselves in the same way.
Does Genshin Impact have DLC?
There is a lot of additional downloadable content in it Genshin Impactranging from currency to signs and equipment. Again, all of these pieces of content are completely optional and are not coerced or required in any way. However, being a game as a service, it has regular updates that include additional content for free. This includes new areas to explore, additional missions, and limited-time events. It really has all the ingredients of a successful service-based game, offering both free and paid content for players to enjoy.
In terms of updates, Genshin Impact typically sees new content every five to six weeks. In fact, on February 2, 2021, players will get access to Update 1.3, which will include a new Five Flushes of Fortune event, rewards, and a new character named Xiao. So if you plan on jumping in, now is a great time as it is consistent with a new batch of content.
What is the Battle Pass?
Finally, let’s move on Genshin Impact’s battle pass because it is an important part of purchasing equipment in the game. If you have played games such as Fortnite or Call of Duty: Warzone, you should be at least vaguely familiar with how a Battle Pass works. Essentially, it’s a temporary leveling system that offers rewards at each rank and resets at the start of each season. Each level of a Battle Pass earns you a reward, be it a cosmetic, weapon or any other piece of equipment.
In Genshin, there are actually two types of Battle Pass: one is Sojourner’s Battle Pass, which is free and rewards you every 10 levels. The other, Gnostic Hymn Battle Pass, costs $ 10, but gives better rewards such as additional upgrade materials, Hero’s Wit, Mora, and Mystic Enchantment Ores – plus all of the Sojourner’s Battle Pass content. Again, miHoYo is showing signs of focusing on consumer-friendly practices by offering a free version of the battle pass along with a paid counterpart. In many games as a service, battle passes are not free, so players have praised Genshin to give the community different options.
The battle is over Genshin are unlocked at Adventure Rank 20, so you have to play for a while before you can use it. But once you do, you can reap the benefits. You only need to acquire levels in a specific Battle Pass for the duration of the season, after which your rank will be reset (however, you will keep all the rewards you have accumulated). As the game is still fairly new, it is possible that the seasonal content will evolve over time, as with many similar games.