Sunday, October 25, 2020
This isn't the MMO lite you are looking for
While Genshin Impact isn't really a MMORPG at all, it plays like one in many aspects, up to having a "looking for group" system for domains, allowing 4 players to tackle the challenge together. I am currently adventure rank 28. I have 14 heroes, of which 5 are level 50, the rest level 40. While I don't know exactly how many hours I played (there doesn't seem to be a "/played" functionality), I have played enough and am far enough into the game to understand all the game mechanics. And I don't really like it anymore. This isn't the "MMO lite" I was looking for.
If I would resubscribe to World of Warcraft today, and would make a new level 1 character on a new server, I could play through all the content except raid up to the level cap in a casual way, without ever feeling that the challenge was too much for me. The reason I don't do it is not the lack of challenge, but the lack of exploration: The exploration system of WoW isn't the greatest, and I've seen most of it before. Genshin Impact appealed to me because I hadn't seen the world yet, and the exploration system is a lot better than WoW: The climbing and gliding features stolen from Breath of the Wild, and the mini-challenges all over the world, where you need to solve a puzzle or kill some enemies to open one of the 1558 chests in the game, make exploration in Genshin Impact more fun.
What Genshin Impact doesn't have is the philosophy that a casual player should be able to get to the level cap without being blocked by raid bosses. The 5 characters at level 50 I have correspond to 2 elite monsters, air and fire, that I killed a total of 5 times to "ascend" those 5 characters from level 40. But that involved watching YouTube videos to learn "the dance", and then practicing it several times before I got it right and was then able to beat the elite boss. I haven't beaten the elite bosses of earth, water, ice, and electricity yet. Me beating the other two proves that I could probably do it, but I don't like that sort of gameplay at all, and it is too much of a hassle for me.
But it isn't just those elite monsters. There are a bunch of other elements in the game that clearly showed me that Genshin Impact plans to challenge me more the further I progress in the game. At adventure rank 25 I had to do a very hard ascension dungeon solo in order to unlock the next adventure rank. And doing so increased my world rank, so even the daily farming of commissions has now become harder. Unlike World of Warcraft, that doesn't really get harder with level, Genshin Impact clearly does. And I am sure that there are a lot of gamers who will welcome this. The "achiever" Bartle type, who likes a challenge of execution. But that isn't me. The only challenges I like in games are those where I need to think, not those where I need to react and press the right button in a fraction of a second. My dream game would be Genshin Impact with turn-based combat.
Obviously, mine is a minority opinion. Genshin Impact gets a lot of hate because it brought hated mobile game mechanics like "running out of energy that slowly regenerates over hours of real time" or the gacha system to triple-A PC gaming. And I am pretty sure that it will go down in PC gaming history as influential for pushing the envelope of which of those mechanics are "acceptable". They are raking in millions, so other people will copy them. But, funnily enough, Genshin Impact might just not be Pay2Win enough, because you can't buy your way past those elite bosses or ascension dungeons. Casual players like me will not be held back by the size of our wallets, but by middle age having slowed down our reaction times. I am simply not interested in a game in which the difficulty curve doesn't flatten, but goes constantly up. I'm not interested in proving my button mashing skills, or my ability to learn dances. I was happy with Genshin Impact at low levels, and the rising challenge made the game tedious for me.