Should You Play Genshin Impact?
The gacha is not great, but is it fun currently?
Genshin Impact is a beautiful game. It is mostly pretty fun. I enjoy it. But is the game right for you? Let’s find out.
Should I get into this game if I have a gambling issue or an addictive personality?
Uh, absolutely not. Seriously. No.
Can you F2P (i.e. not spend anything) this game?
My opinion is that out of the free units they give you, many are… barely viable. You get these for free (not counting the already-finished event Unreconciled Stars which awarded you the quite good electro archer Fischl): the Traveler (your main character), Kaeya, Lisa, Amber, Xiangling, Noelle, and Barbara. Of these, Amber is basically useless and Lisa isn’t the best. Kaeya is great for what he is, Barbara is the best four-star healer in the game with significant impediments (being frozen), Xiangling is pretty good, and Noelle is mediocre without duplicate copies. I personally think the F2P experience in this game is fairly miserable, since free primogems come slowly excluding events and celebrations, and you’re not going to be able to roll the gacha a lot. Yes of course there are youtubers who go out of their way to beat the game’s most challenging content with free units only, but overall I can’t imagine having a lot of fun using Amber as your only archer.
Obviously you can save up gems to roll on the banners with characters you want, there’s something to be said for the pity timer (a four star every 10 rolls, but the four star may be a character or a weapon), but without buying the Welkin moon and/or the Battle Pass (which are the only things worth spending on) your team composition is going to suffer. And the game kind of demands compositions with a lot of elemental reactions that center around a single damage dealer. Of all the free characters, only Kaeya and Xiangling can fulfill the primary damage dealer role, leaving everyone else as support (or, in Amber’s case, useless). The Traveler themselves can do okay as anemo, poorly as geo, and in the future will be able to access further skillsets as they unlock more elements but the next unlock will be months away.
How bad is the gacha?
Pretty bad! There’s currently controversy about the most recently released five-star character, Zhongli, who’s not very good (and whose acquisition can cost you hundreds of dollars if you buy premium currency directly to roll for him) unless you can roll multiple copies of him, costing you even more. The five-star character who preceded him is… okay (I have him, I’ve fielded him) but becomes overpowered if you’ve rolled seven copies of him, which is very, very bad business. The common player perception is now that Mihoyo is being incredibly greedy by making five-star characters only good if you spend a lot of real money to get a bunch of duplicates.
In general the price of the premium currency is quite silly and with the way the gacha mixes weapons and characters, it means you’re going to spend money to mostly pull mediocre-to-bad weapons with the occasional four-star character to salve the wound. The game’s worst character, Amber, can show up in the gacha and waste your roll. The next patch looks like it’ll ease the resource starvation and hand out more free rolls, but Genshin is still not the most generous game.
tl;dr get the Welkin Moon ($5 for 30 days) and the Gnostic Hymn ($10, resets every 40 days) for extra resources and gacha rolls, don’t spend on anything else. Buying the premium currency straight up is incredibly bad value.
What’s the general content like?
So, if you’re a new player, the game’s fantastic! There’s a lot of story to go through and soon, with patch 1.2, there will be even more. Story cutscenes look amazing. The voice acting is pretty great (I play the Japanese dub). There are hints of some very cool twists coming up. The maps are lovely to explore and look gorgeous. The gliding is smooth and fun.
It’s just that once you run out of this content, the game becomes a routine of logging in for 10 minutes and then logging out once you’re done with your daily tasks. The resin system (similar to stamina in free-to-play mobile games) is notoriously terrible and regenerates very slowly; you can clean out your resin in minutes on repetitive, unrewarding tasks (doing domains or killing world bosses) with randomized loot. Leveling up characters is a slow chore because experience books and ascension materials are scant outside of special events. Gearing characters is pretty bad because every piece of equipment has randomized stats, meaning you can grind a domain 50 times without getting what you want for your main damage dealer (i.e. all the stats on the pieces are defensive). Killing normal mobs in the open world is pointless and unrewarding because they give next to no loot (they do give some ascension materials, but no equipment) and so few experience points that they might as well be zero.
It feels like, if you’re someone who wants a complete game where there’s a lot to do, and you can burn through the currently available story quests and exploration fast, you’re… going to want to wait for a while. Making an account now does let you collect more primogems, at least, from dailies and the occasional ‘We got nominated for awards and/or someone caught a bug, here are some free gems!’ Or you can just do what I do and log in for 10 minutes a day, maybe twice a day, to do the dailies and clean out your resin.
Another issue with the current dearth of content is that it makes you bored and pushes you toward rolling the gacha just so you can feel like you’re making progress (when you’ve used up all your resin and all the daily tasks have been finished) or pushes you toward refilling your resin with premium currency.
What’s the combat like?
It’s player-skill based in the sense that it relies on you to dodge and time your burst. There are bosses with attack patterns you have to run around to evade. They’re not anything serious as long as you bring the right team and some of the more difficult content can be done in co-op, which tends to trivialize the difficulty altogether. In single-player content, you’re going to switch characters constantly, using their skills and bursts consecutively to create elemental reactions to increase damage output, but again nothing serious. I was pretty annoyed at first having to remember which element combines with which but play enough and it becomes second nature.
Is there any gay stuff in this game?
Not yet, other than a few mentions from minor NPCs. Mihoyo’s other game, Honkai Impact, is a full-on non-stop lesbian fest though so there’s always hope.
Mihoyo is Chinese! China scary and evil!!!!
Okay no, that is just racist.
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