I’ll admit it. I get it. I get the hype surrounding Genshin Impact. For those of you who don’t know; Genshin impact is a cell shaded, free to play, open world, real time combat RPG that was released on September 28, 2020. The game was created by Chinese game developer and publisher Mihoyo. The game’s theme is centered around a fantasy experience that include knights, dragons and magic; with the player being able to control element-wielding characters. Genshin Impact can be played both in a singular experience or with up to three mates via multiplayer. Have a decent idea of what kind of game you’re looking at? Good. (Takes deep breath)  

Before Genshin Impact even became available to consumers, Mihoyo saw 21.3 million unique registrations for the game. China alone accounted for 16 million. According to South China Morning Post, GI manifested the biggest global launch ever for a Chinese video game. Genshin raked in over $60 million behind the power of over 17 million downloads from its users.  

This occurred in Week 1.  

Week 2 saw developer Mihoyo break even on its marketing and development budget for the game.  

The budget was $100 million.  

Two more weeks, and the game would generate over $250 million, making it one of the biggest mobile game launches in history. (Exhales) The folks at Mihoyo must be pleased. Their game is kind of a big deal. 

I get why.   

Let me just state this right now. Genshin Impact is addicting. Really addicting. I used to be a fan of JRPG styled games (and to whoever doesn’t consider this JRPG, that’s the closest comparison) but I found myself falling out of love with it over the years. I think that my biggest gripe was that a lot of the dialogue would come off as corny or childish, distracting me from the best element of JRPG and anime, which is the combat. I don’t really find that issue with Genshin. Sure, at times it still makes me roll my eyes, but for the most part the dialogue is not only tolerable, but amusing! I have found myself genuinely enjoying it quite a bit and I practically avoid anime or JRPG content because of those very reasons. I also want to provide this disclaimer. This article is in no way a review of the game. I just want to give my thoughts as to why I understand the mania surrounding it. Now, let us continue.  

Combat  

The battle system in this game is so damn fun. It’s a simple approach in which your characters each have elemental abilities. Certain abilities pair well with others and it’s your job to mix and match until you find the perfect squad of 4. You press a button to swap between characters in order to pull off these combos.  

I have spent hours tinkering with my rotation, especially when I get a new character. Trying to find that core four becomes a game in and of itself. I feel like the coach of a sports team, always looking for that right combination of players to give me even the slightest edge; always thinking about getting as close to perfect as possible.

The combat is fast paced, fluent (on PC and PS5 at least) and an absolute gem to look at. There’s not much weapon variety, but there’s just enough to keep you interested. The real joy comes from character swapping in order to detonate combos. I’ve found myself memorizing the button layout for my characters so that it becomes muscle memory when swapping. This reduces my chances of screwing up a combo. To really paint the picture here, let’s just say that I don’t mind getting into scraps with random low leveled creatures when I’m traveling towards an objective. Usually, I’d just run by them and not waste my time, but not here. The combat is that fun. 

Content  

The typical drawback that a free to play game can face is that it doesn’t have enough content to keep the user interested. It’s a lot of rinse and repeat activities without any true staying power. Battle Royale games can succeed as a free to play model because that genre is so unpredictable; you won’t find yourself in the same kind of encounters often, if at all. It’s a little trickier with a story-based adventure game. Most F2P titles that I come across usually come from smaller studios, smaller studios don’t tend to have big budgets, so therefore they cannot provide a lot of content right from the start.  

That is not the case with Mihoyo. Once again, the developer/publisher spent a whopping $100 million on the budget for a free to play game! This tells me that the team had the utmost confidence in being able to recoup that investment back and then some. After playing, I see why they were so confident.  

Genshin Impact’s story quests alone can easily set you back at least 20 hours. Between main story quests and story-based side quests, the consumer has a ton of gameplay material at their disposal. For context purposes, I’ve spent over 30 hours playing the game and I recently made it to Act III of Chapter……….1!!!! CHAPTER ONE! I just finished the prologue of the game!  

I rest my case.  

I have found myself interested in the storyline for this game. Every NPC in the world has a name and actually has something to say. The open world feels alive. This is maybe as close to Breath of the Wild as I’ll ever get. The music is a masterpiece; whether it is a frantic bounce of string instruments during a battle, or the soothing, wind instruments that accompany you as you sprint through the vast world of Teyvat at night; it is always a joy to behold. This is by far the most fleshed out F2P game that’s ever existed and probably will ever exist. And with the release of its latest Update 1.1 on November 11th, it’s only going to get bigger.  

Gacha!  

Gambling is undefeated. It will remain undefeated as long as human beings walk this planet. Gambling is not restricted to adults only. Gambling has made its way to children, with the latest attempt coming in the form of “Gacha.” The Gacha system is essentially the same as a loot box system. A player can spend real world money in order to purchase a “wish” in game; hoping that the wish contains a new character or weapon.  

This is why Genshin can remain free to play.  

There are currently 24 characters in Genshin Impact. You start out with 1, but can expand your party to about 3-4 after a few missions. After that, the top tier characters are pretty much locked behind a wish paywall; and before you ask, yes, the chance of pulling a top tier character in a wish is very slim. Now, couple that with the belief that you are bound to eventually find a character that you like, and thus births the addiction.  

I know that you’re also asking yourself, “well Meshach, did you spend a lot of money on wishes?” The answer would be no. I’ve only spent $15 on the game (so far); I purchased the Blessing of the Welkin Moon (generates currency every day) for $5 that allows me to buy more wishes and I bought a battle pass (yes, they have that as well) for $10.

I do however, want to make this much clear; it is not necessary to spend real money to access wishes. You can generate in-game currency fairly quickly in order to purchase them. I’ve been able to build up quite the character pool so far. Is it the best ones in the game? Not even close. But I do have quite a bit nonetheless. However, since we all want the best stuff fast, we are naturally tempted to spend our own cash. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when they’ve Gacha! (Sorry)  

At the end of the day, the game is addicting. It’s got a ton of characters and a ton of content, therefore giving you a ton of reasons to play. Is the Gacha system skewed to the point that it comes off as greedy? One could make that argument. There are even some who genuinely believe that it’s a system that takes advantage of children. But at the end of the day, it is still a free game; and a damn good one at that.  

I totally get the hype surrounding Genshin Impact. 

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