If you’ve read the title, you’re likely reading this as one of three types of gamers. Gamers that don’t know what Genshin Impact is, gamers that think it’s a Breath Of The Wild clone, or gamers that are a fan of the game. Well, hopefully by the end of this review, all three of those types will be on the same page and we can all appreciate the game for what it is.
I will start off though by saying, it’s absolutely not a Breath of the Wild clone. The quicker that can be removed from ones head, the easier it is to look at how incredible this game really is. The review was done on the PC version of the game, so I cannot comment on the PlayStation 4 or mobile versions unfortunately. As always, this review may include spoilers to the story, so please be careful of that.
The story is pretty straightforward and easy to understand. You’re a god like being that has been separated from their twin and then banished to another world. When we join the main character at the start of the game, we’ve already been in this strange world for many months, and yet still have little information on it. Accompanied by our small floating partner named Paimon, we must try and figure out where our twin sibling has gone.
The first part of the story that we get to experience is that of Stormterror, a dragon that seems to have become somewhat evil. It’s up to the player, along with the help from some other characters such as Amber and Venti, to figure out why. There are numerous quests that revolve around this storyline, so to avoid ruining all of them, I’ll avoid talking anymore about that questline.
In regards to the length of the story and how captivating it is, it really is a mixed bag. Some quests and story elements are extremely engaging and rewarding, and really left me wanting to learn more about the characters. At other times, It felt like a chore to do tasks that had little impact on the story, simply for the sake of getting some character development in there.
The length of time needed to complete the story that is currently available in the game is quite minimal. I myself finished all the main story content in a few days, however, if you’re playing this free to play title for only a couple of hours a day, it might take a few weeks. Story chapters are often locked behind Adventure Level, which I will describe in further detail below.
Exploring & Adventuring
Exploration and adventure really go hand in hand in Genshin Impact. The main focus of the game and the element that will allow you to progress through the story is your Adventure rank. Your Adventure rank is tied to many things, such as story progress, character unlocks, quest unlocks and more. You also get a lot of items every time you go up an Adventure rank.
So, what does exploring have to do with this? Well that’s simple. You gain Adventure EXP for just about everything in this game. Opening chests, exploring new areas, completing achievements and finishing daily commissions are just a few examples of how to gain this Adventure EXP, so it really does pay to have a look around and try and find anything you can.
The game is chock full of secret areas and bonus quests too, so there’s certainly a lot to do. The main issue at the moment in the game is the lack of content after Adventure rank 30. Grinding Adventure rank certainly becomes repetitive, because there’s only a limited amount of chests and quests to do. Once those are done, you’ll have to rely on completing Domains (Challenges), fighting bosses, daily commissions and activating Ley Lines to gain any Adventure rank.
Getting from Adventure rank 30 to Adventure rank 40 is no easy task. If you’re a hardcore player who doesn’t mind grinding, it can easily be done in a week. I wouldn’t recommend this grind for the casual player though, and would certainly recommend that casual players wait for the upcoming version 1.1 update to have more enjoyable content to play. If you’re interested in version 1.1, check out the trailer below. Be warned, the below trailer may include spoilers for those who have not completed all the current content.
The battling system in this game is incredibly easy to pick up and understand. Depending on the type of character you’re using, your approach to combat will vary. There are archers, mages, swordsmen and other types of characters in this game, so it really is player preference. I personally like to have a range of combat types and elemental types on my team so that I can fight any type of enemy.
Speaking of elemental types, that’s another layer of combat. There are various elements in the game, such as fire, water and ice that can be combined into different combinations. Combine Anemo (wind) with fire for example, and you’ll create a blast of fire wind to decimate the enemies. Naturally, some elements are stronger against certain types of enemies. Fire is great against ice enemies, but may not be as good against others.
Figuring out what can combine with what was a fun aspect of the combat system for sure. It helps the player have many different approaches to combat and makes the team structure really matter when going into certain fights or domain challenges.
Players can create up to 4 teams, each team consisting of 4 different characters. If you’re lucky and have a wide selection of characters, then you might be able to create a team for any situation. I’d recommend playing around with characters for yourself and finding the most enjoyable combo. Try not to worry about tier lists or the ‘meta’ too much.
Aside from the tasks mentioned above, there are other types of activities you can complete. These don’t really gain any adventure experience or character experience, but they’re important to do and can be fun at the same time.
Cooking is certainly one such important task. Whilst it itself isn’t the most exciting thing to do, it’s vital for staying alive in higher difficulty battles. A character will not automatically generate health, so it’s up to the healer (if you have one) or your cooked food to get you back to 100%. Don’t forget to cook some revive food too.
Crafting is another task that is absolutely necessary. Enemies will near enough always drop loot, and some of this loot may be too low level to be of any use. This is where crafting comes in useful, as it’s possible to combine these lower level items into a higher level version. These higher level items can be used to upgrade various things, but I’ll talk more about that in the Upgrades section.
One less important task, but one that’s good to know about nonetheless is Forging. Forging allows you to use materials you’ve collected on your adventure to craft various items. These vary from weapon upgrade materials to weapons themselves, so it’s certainly something to keep an eye out for.
Upgrades & Levelling
Upgrades and Levelling are no doubt the bread and butter of Genshin Impact. I’ve already talked about Adventure Rank levelling, but there’s a lot more to level in this game too. Character Attributes, Weapons, Artifacts and Character Talents, just to name a few. Each of these require their own set of unique materials to level them up, so exploration is again playing a massive part in this.
Character Attributes could also be called the character level. Levelling up characters is actually very simple, as there are only 3 types of character levelling up materials that are gained very easily. The tricky part about levelling up a character is ascending them. Once you reach the max level for a character, you’ll be given the option to ascend them to a higher star rating. This requires materials that are often earned from defeating bosses, so can be a bit more tedious. Character ascension is locked behind certain Adventure Rank levels too, so be sure to get that Adventure Rank up.
Character constellations and talents go hand in hand. A character constellation material is rewarded for gaining a duplicate character in the Wish system. Certain talents are locked behind a character ascension level, so they’ll become available as you level up your character. Levelling up talents will usually require a type of guide item and another item. Guide items can be obtained from domain challenges, but only on certain days, so be sure to write on the calendar.
Artifacts and Weapons can be covered at the same time too, since they’re both items you gain that are separate from the character. Artifacts are gained from completing various challenges in the world, and each have their own unique proprieties. Weapons are only earned through the Wish system or are Forged, and much like Artifacts have their own unique proprieties. Both Artifacts and Weapons can be upgraded via their own unique systems. Upgrading Weapons requires weapon upgrade materials or other weapons, whereas Artifacts can only be upgraded by using other Artifacts.
All in all there are a lot of different things to level in Genshin Impact, and each requires its own specific set of materials and items to improve. It’s a very time consuming process to upgrade everything, especially if you’re doing it for 8 or more characters like myself. However, it does help keep the game feeling fresh and prevents it from getting boring.
So above I’ve mentioned the Wish system a few times. This is of course the Gacha system that many people associate Genshin Impact with. Gacha systems really do have negativity associated with them, however to be honest, it makes little difference to the actual game in this case.
There are two main things that can be unlocked through the Wish system, weapons and characters. This is a completely random system with almost next to no drop chance for 5 star items or characters. However, this being the only way to obtain many weapons and characters really doesn’t take away from the game.
Primogems are the materials needed to make a wish. One wish costs 160 Primogems, which honestly isn’t a lot. It’s possible to spend 1600 Primogems to get 10 wishes, which has an increased chance to drop a rare character or weapon. No real life money is needed here, as Primogems are awarded for many of the activities in the game.
Upon gaining a duplicate in the Wish system, players also receive Masterless Stardust and Masterless Starglitter. These two items can be exchanged for various things too, such as characters, weapons, gold, upgrade materials, or more wishes. The player is always able to earn characters and weapons without spending a penny if they’re willing to put the time and effort in, and since it’s a single player game that scales to your level (via the world level system), there’s no chance of having a play to win experience either.
The graphics in Genshin Impact are certainly nothing to be amazed over. They’re good, but nothing amazing or genre defining. The main focus here is the style of the game. Combining the anime themed character design with the fantasy world setting is a win win near enough every time it’s used, so it’s no surprise it’s working this time either.
The vibrant colours combined with the open landscapes really does light up the world. That combined with the various time of day elements and ever changing weather helps the world feel alive. The landscape itself is developed in a way to make the world feel beautiful and exciting, so in that sense, the style really helps a lot.
Graphically the game has some of the elements one would expect, at least on PC. 4k visuals, 60 frames per second and various other bits and pieces allow the game to look nice and perform well on the PC. Sadly I’ve not played on other platforms, so cannot comment on their performance or graphics. I’ve not experienced any issues with the graphics or performance of the game, so there isn’t really more to say other than it looks nice thanks to its style, but isn’t mind blowing.
User Interface and Navigation
The user interface and general navigation of it is incredibly easy. I can honestly say it’s one of the most user friendly UIs I’ve ever seen in a game. What makes it even better is that it is someone interactable with the player. The main menu isn’t called the main menu at all, it’s called the Paimon Menu. If you select this menu, Paimon will pop up and assist you.
There are a lot of menus in this game, from the ones shown in the various screenshots above, to the ones not mentioned such as the Party Setup menu and Achievements page. Without showing examples of every single one, I can collectively say that they’re simple and easy to navigate. Each menu seems to use coloured boxes on a light backdrop to help each selection stand out. The text further helps this by being bright and easy to read.
The Achievements page is a great example of how to cram large amounts of information into one place, whilst still being extremely accessible. Despite some achievements having many objectives within them, finding what you need to do could not be easier.
The adventure handbook has the exact same setup. A lot of information in one place, but each is separated in a way that makes it easy to read. This combination of everything feeling separate and yet somehow feeling together is what a User Interface is all about, and it has made navigating the game so much more enjoyable.
Music and Audio
The music and Audio certainly do not fail to impress. They help bring everything together, be it story or exploration. Most areas have their own unique music tracks that are beautifully composed using a large array of instruments. Even the battle music is incredible, creating tension whilst still staying upbeat and fun. The music overall fits the adventurous theme of the game and it’s incredible that such a high quality of music exists in a free to play title. It’s honestly better if you listen to it for yourself, so I’ll pop it below.
Moving onto the audio, it’s just as impressive. The enemy sounds all fit their character types, the environmental sounds and ambience fill the world with mystery and life, and the voice acting is on another level. The game offers 4 audio options, each of which have been voice acted to incredible quality. The four options are Chinese, Japanese, English and Korean. Whilst I’d personally say the Korean and Japanese options fit the characters better, the Chinese and English voice acting were in no means bad. I played with the Japanese Voice Over Audio, in case anyone’s wondering.
In summary, I’m honestly blown away by the fact that Genshin Impact is a free to play game. The amount of content it offers, with more soon to come is near unrivalled in the industry. In addition to that, it doesn’t rely on it’s microtransactions and Gacha system like many other free to play games do. Players can gain everything they need just from playing the game without spending a penny, as it should be.
Whilst the graphics aren’t overly impressive, and the content gets grindy after a certain point, these are just minor inconveniences in comparison to the incredible gameplay and experience offered within this game. Genshin Impact is able to stand on its own two feet in a genre that is tried and failed by many, and improves on a formula than some games have had success with.
Even if you’re not a fan of anime styled games, I’d suggest at least giving this game a go. The gameplay alone speaks volumes when it comes to the quality, and the effort put in my the developers really shows. If you are a fan of anime styled games, then you’d probably adore this title. From the incredible voice acting to the exciting gameplay, this is a game you won’t want to miss.
Genshin Impact is a free to play game and is available on PC, Mobile and PlayStation 4. There is no release date planned for the Nintendo Switch version of the game as of yet. The screenshots used in this review are from PC version of the game. For more reviews and gaming news you can keep up to date at Informed Pixel. Want to speak to the team and interact with other gamers? You can do so over on the Informed Pixel Facebook page or on the Informed Pixel Twitter account. You can also find my work on my Facebook page or on my Twitter.