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May 2021

Genshin Impact

Platform(s): Android, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, iOS
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: MiHoYo
Release Date: Sept. 28, 2020


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Switch/PS4/PC Preview - 'Genshin Impact'

by Cody Medellin on April 16, 2020 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

As an open world action title, Genshin Impact highlights its feature as freely explorable world, multiple playable characters, an in-depth elemental combo-based combat system and an engaging story.

Genshin Impact made a rather unfortunate introduction to the world as a Breath of the Wild clone. The trailer did it no favors, as everything from the setting to the attacks and enemies made it seem like a copy of that game, but with an anime aesthetic. While the developers have admitted that Nintendo's modern classic was used one of the title's inspirations, those willing to give the game a fair shot will find that it has its own spin on the open-world action adventure game, even if it still feels eerily familiar.

You play the role of a traveler who can move between worlds at will (along with their sibling). At the end of a battle with a god, you end up stuck in the world of Teyvat while your sibling is in limbo. Your goal is to help out the people of this world with their own calamities while also trying to reach all of the temples of the seven gods to find your sibling.

There are a number of mechanics that are pretty much lifted from the WiiU/Switch title this it's being compared to. There's a bright and beautiful open world, with most enemies either popping out from the ground or setting up small camps scattered throughout the land. There are plenty of wild vegetables and herbs and meat that can be used for cooking. Hitting a wall of any sort automatically gives you the option to climb it, as long as your stamina can handle it. Jump off a high ledge, and you'll be able to deploy a glider that can also take advantage of wind currents so you can fly to greater heights before gracefully descending. To be fair, these things were present in other games separately before Breath of the Wild, but seeing them all combined here — along with the aesthetic — would give someone pause.

There are more than a few mechanics that immediately make this feel different. For starters, despite Genshin Impact being more of an action game, you're almost obliged to form a party where each character has different abilities or weapons. That means switching characters to go from melee to ranged attacks, and you'll need to use their abilities, like mixing water and electrical elements for increased damage. Leveling up isn't governed solely by experience; you'll be able to grab documents that give you specific experience that you can use to level up anyone in your party. More importantly, the game features no weapons breaking, so there's no need to carry around several weapons at a time in case one of them breaks.

If the preview build is any indication, Genshin Impact is just as engrossing as the titles it was inspired by. The combat feels nice, but there's more emphasis on exploring and using the things that you find to level up rather than just grinding away by killing enemies. The temples have some light puzzles, but there's nothing that feels too easy or difficult to solve. The world is vast enough, and even though there aren't too many areas in this build to visit yet, none of it felt boring.

The only issue is with the pacing of the tutorials. Hints about elemental damage stay on-screen until you hit the key to see its info. Other times, elements like the Wish system get mentioned but are quickly dismissed. You'll see it long enough to know that there's something important being divulged, but you'll have no clue about what that may be.

We didn't get to try out the game's multiplayer functionality. According to the developers, this isn't necessarily something you can do for the whole campaign — just for boss battles and raids. What'll be interesting is seeing if there's enough content in this area to make this worthwhile, especially for those who are in this mainly for the campaign. We're also rather confused about whether this will be a free-to-play game or if it'll follow a traditional pay model. The site mentions the former, but I'm not seeing evidence of that within the game.

At the moment, the presentation is quite good. The colorful anime aesthetic is pleasing to the eye, and the overall look also benefits from the smoothness of the animations and how many things are moving at the same time. Particle effects are abundant, with a nice draw distance even if it isn't flawless. Sound-wise, you're looking at a pretty varied soundtrack that doesn't seem to stop playing, while the voice acting for both Japanese and English is already well done, despite the game's early state.

So far, Genshin Impact is looking to be quite a solid game. Yes, the core gameplay is going to be very familiar to the fans of the latest Zelda title, but the developers haven't ruined the mechanics. The additional things, like character switching and a unique way of leveling up, are different enough to make the game stand out, and the combat remains satisfying. We'll be interested to see how Genshin Impact progresses as it gets closer to a release date.

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