Saturday, October 17, 2020
Turning fun into work
I started up Genshin Impact today, and then didn't feel like playing it. I'm not stuck anymore, I managed to kill the fire elite boss twice, which enabled two more of characters to reach level 50. So my favorite fire character, at level 50 with a level 50 weapon, has over 1,000 ATK when equipped with my best artifacts. I'm at adventure rank 28, and I think I could ascend the rest of my characters before reaching AR 30, where I can raise the level cap again. And I know exactly what I would have to do, day after day, to get to that point. I just don't want to. It's such a precisely laid out path, that it feels like a lot of work, not like fun.
I've seen a few reviewers who liked Genshin Impact more than they liked Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Instead of Breath's level-free game, with infrequent character progression, and constantly breaking weapons, Genshin Impact offers a much clearer progression path, which only ever goes upward. If you felt a bit lost in Hyrule and weren't too sure where to go, the world of Teyvat will give you more incentives to do this activity, or farm that resource. However, personally I liked the freedom of Breath of the Wild; I liked that I could do a lot of the game without having to engage in major execution-based challenges. Genshin Impact in comparison feels a lot less forgiving: You get blocked at certain points, for example at AR 25, where you have to solo a difficult dungeon before being able to continue to advance in adventure rank. But when doing that, you also increase the world level, and all the monsters in the world become harder to beat. In the end I felt like playing catch-up: I'm trying to get my characters more powerful in order to overcome the challenges, but that makes the challenges harder. There is no easy difficulty level for casual players, the game gets increasingly hardcore after adventure rank 25.
I also made the mistake of buying the battle pass. Don't get me wrong, the battle pass gives out pretty nice rewards for the cost (and you can play a free version for less reward). But that added a list of things I had to do every day to collect the points I needed to increase my battle pass level. So when playing casually for an hour or so, the whole session was filled with must-do chores. Instead of going and exploring to see what lay behind the next hill, I did the grind of commissions, domains, and collecting specific resources.
So I decided to stop doing that, and instead went to collect all Anemoculus, a task that made me explore pretty much every corner of Mondstadt, the first region in the game. After having done that I realized that there is only one more region left that I can explore like that until a third region gets patched in. And even with a third region, the number of hours I could possibly spend to explore everything is limited. Just like many MMORPGs, the game is filled with lots of repeatable chores you need to do for character advancement, in order to hide that the content is otherwise limited.
But somehow in Genshin Impact I don't feel good about character advancement. Not if the world just levels up at least as fast as I do, and I never really become powerful. Not if I do things like running the same domain 8 times in a day, to get both artifacts to level up my other artifacts, and points for my battle pass. I think I need to get off that particular train. I don't think I want to play Genshin Impact every day anymore. Maybe play it from time to time, do a couple of quests, explore a little, but don't concentrate on character advancement anymore. Genshin Impact started to feel like a MMORPG, and to me that was not a good thing.