Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Genshin Impact - First Impressions

I've been playing Genshin Impact for several hours yesterday, on release day. That went smoother than I thought, probably because I pre-downloaded and pre-registered. Some people reported downloading and registering today wasn't going so well, but once you were in, the game played very smoothly. Now first things first, Genshin Impact is a good game. It is fun to play, taking some of the best gameplay elements of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and combining them with elements from more typical JRPG. I had a lot of fun, and I'll be playing this for a while.

On the downside, this is a gacha game. It is financed like a mobile gacha game, by players buying loot boxes that contain weapons and characters. I would not recommend this for completionists or people with a gambling addiction, as somebody calculated that it would take $20,000 to get all 18 characters and all 5-star weapons. Most of the content of the lootboxes is 3-star weapons, which you will accumulate pretty quickly if you start spending money. You basically need to do the 10 wish at a time method to get a guaranteed 4- or 5-star, and that gets expensive pretty quickly. Having said that, I spent $100 to get the introductory double currency offer, and I got one 5-star character (Venti) and a selection of good 4-star characters and weapons. And I was able to buy the resource pack of character and weapon xp, that allowed me to actually boost all those characters and make them playable. So the good news is that I have lots of options in party composition now. And as I am not interested in getting any specific character, I don't need to spend more money now. You can play Genshin Impact for free, especially with all the current bonuses you get for the 10 million pre-registration celebration, but it means having fewer options and being a bit weaker. This is clearly Pay2Win.

The main problem with mobile gacha games is that normally there isn't much gameplay involved other than collecting characters: Battles run in auto-mode, or are so boring that you *want* them to run in auto-mode, and the map is usually just linear. So the one thing one really needs to credit Genshin Impact for is to make a gacha game with full triple-A JRPG gameplay. Open world exploration, including climbing and para-gliding. Large maps full of interesting spots, with monster camps, resources, challenges and puzzles. The only other gacha game I currently play is Assassin's Creed Rebellion (because it has *some* gameplay), and Genshin Impact is clearly in a much higher league. I was also impressed on how good Genshin Impact runs on a iPad, with basically the same graphics, although I am not fond of the on-screen joystick for movement.

So even if you'd never spend money on a game like this, I would absolutely recommend trying Genshin Impact for free. Especially if you either loved Breath of the Wild, or you haven't got a Switch and always wondered why everybody was so crazy about Breath of the Wild. Getting this for free on a PC, PS4, or tablet is great!

On my first day, I played until Adventure Rank 13 (which is the real "level" of the game, and can't be bought). That was good, because at Adventure Rank 12 the daily commission system opens up. There is a reward for getting to Adventure Rank 20 before patch 1.1, in 4 weeks or so, but that seems relatively easy. I still have tons of places to explore, and lots of quests to do. The action-based combat is not overly complicated or difficult to execute, so I am doing okay with that. However there are optional hero trial challenges, which I can't seem to beat. I don't see me doing really difficult endgame boss content. But up to now, there is no need for that, and I am having a lot of fun.

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Download speed is just abysmal here (Italy): 500Kb/sec. Not doable at all.
Yeah, that seems to be the major problem. There are a bunch of workarounds discussed on the Genshin Impact Discord. But basically, if you didn't pre-download before release, you are now part of a large crowd who all want to simultaneously download a large piece of software from the same server.
That makes sense but crawling at 0.5mbps connection is something I didn't experience since the late 90's. If their servers can't handle it, what should I expect when playing the game?
As the game isn’t really multiplayer, it runs perfectly fine for me right now.
Video games sure have changed. I'm not a fan of the mobile monetization type since it seems to prey on human psychology - so much so that you had to give a warning. I understand why developers like it, but I wouldn't want my children anywhere near these types of games. Me though, I'm close in age to you (btw, when did you start your blog? I'm sure I've been reading your thoughts for over ten years now) so I feel better equipped to "game responsibly". I'll give this one a try based on your recommendation.
btw, when did you start your blog?

July 2003, that's 17 years now

Don't underestimate your kids. Mine have been exposed to microtransactions and loot boxes since they started playing their first games on mobile and never had an issue. They immediately understood the intent of those "paid bonuses" and never had a problem with them. As soon as the games became too slow (or even nearly impossible to play for free) they simply moved to other games. As a father, I've never been asked to buy any loot box or other gambling alternative (or powerups).

I occasionally gift them ingame bonuses/stuff for very specific occasions (a skin in Fortnite, some cards in Fifa, etc) but as I said... They're intended as occasional gifts (good grades at school, birthday, ...). And to be honest these digital gifts are FAR cheaper than any other physical gift (example: soccer/baseball albums and figurines).
After a couple of days of playing I am very surprised. There's a lot of free content and the open world is surprising for a game that can be played on mobile. So far it seems on par with single player games that I spent $20+ dollars for. Good recommendation!

Long time reader - first time commenter. Thanks for the recommendation! Great game, the gacha elements are not intrusive, and there are lots of freebies to start. If they are successful with this model, then I look forward to more of the same. I will be buying the monthly sub - consistent with the model I have seen in other mobile games - that looks like a good deal.
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