A lot of players have been anticipating the attempt at a “Breath of the Wild-like” open-world game to the point where it almost felt inevitable. Genshin Impact is about as close as any developer has gotten to realizing that. But what Genshin Impact takes from this titular Nintendo masterpiece isn’t the whole story. It finds its own place as an exceptional free to play open-world action RPG, with beautiful landscapes to get lost in, stylish and ambitious combat systems, and of course a whole lot of anime and mobile game progression systems.
Teyvat is the fantasy world you’ll be sent to after you choose your male or female starting character in the intro cinematic. You wash up on a coastline of a foreign land with your memories erased and a mysterious fairy friend named Paimon to guide you on this journey. Once you make it to the town of Mondstadt, you’ll quickly be wrapped in its politics. Gods exist and are the protectors of each realm. A faction of knights are fighting to protect the order of this nation and uncover a plot of a rogue faction that’s working in secret to dismantle and gain control of Teyvat from these gods. While navigating this conflict you’re also regaining memories and searching for your missing sibling. You align with the knights to search for answers and recruit allies to fight alongside you in this journey.
While the main story has a lot to chew on you can take it on at the pace you like. Once you have a party of four characters the world is largely open to you. You can explore and partake in a lot of standard open-world gameplay. Discover towers that reveal portions of the map to you. Plenty of enemies to fight, chests to loot, and dungeons to explore and find all across the continent. It is a vast world with a lot to uncover, but also a lot of progression systems taken from mobile games. These will keep you grinding for resources and various knick-knacks that you ultimately just use to create better or higher quality items. Characters, weapons, and various items have star rarities, with four and five-star items being the most sought-after and worthwhile items to fully upgrade so you aren’t wasting resources.
Genshin Impact is Free to Play, so all of the content can be completed for free, with more free content being added over time, but that will come with a few caveats. As you play through various main quests, side quests, and complete the plethora of open-world activities you’ll accrue Primogems. These gems are used to purchase items that you can use to more or less roll a slot machine to get characters or weapons. While you get a steady drip-feed of this currency, you also have the ability to purchase, with real money, a different gem currency in which you can trade for these Primogems to get more chances to roll for better characters or weapons. While you can complete the main story quests by just upgrading your four starting characters. Some challenges you will just be unable to take on unless you have a character of a particular elemental attunement. Fire characters can burn enemies with wooden shields or light lanterns for secret chests. Ice characters can freeze enemies or freeze water to walk across. And lightning characters can electrocute enemies and bodies of water for increased damage.
This is where your team of four characters come into play. These elemental attacks can combo off of each other in various ways making for very explosive combat that is satisfying to experiment with and exciting to learn and master. Wind abilities can absorb different elements on the field such as fire or electricity making for more damaging effects. Let’s say a field of grass starts to go up in flames mid-battle. Using a wind character you can then launch a wind attack into the field of flames which then infuses it with fire damage you can launch at enemies. This wind & fire combo attack is more damaging on ice enemies or electric enemies. Finding the best team comp to maximize these kinds of combo elements is a major key to victory in combat. Elements also play into various puzzles in the environment as well which may mean some rewards are out of reach unless you have a character of a certain element at your disposal.
Even with all these gameplay systems to keep track of and mobile game systems looking for your money. Genshin Impact impressively finds a balance and rides a fine line that would otherwise make for a very unpleasant experience. I’ve put about 50-60 hours into the game so while I still have much of the world to uncover. I’ve had an absolute blast with what I’ve played. I can’t wait to see the world of Genshin expand in the coming months and maybe even years. I hope changes to endgame systems causing more grinding for later game content and more opportunities for you to find your favorite character make their way into the game. But as it stands now as a free to play open-world RPG, it’s worth checking out and has low stakes to try if you’re a tiny bit curious. Genshin Impact isn’t Breath of the Wild. but is still a new fresh open-world experience worth checking out and brings its own ideas to help it stand on its own as a new franchise I cant wait to see more from.