Genshin Impact is an open world RPG set to be released on PS4, Switch, PC, and mobile later this year. When it was first announced, it was wrapped in controversy due to looking similar to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I am lucky enough to be part of the beta test, trying out the current model of the game. Before we go into it, it is important to note that compared to other beta tests, that focus on testing the servers, this is still a work-in-progress version of Genshin Impact. As such, I will talk more about the mechanics and play styles of the game and not the performance as MiHoYo are the first to admit they are still working out the kinks. A helpful reminder at the bottom of the screen that this may not reflect the final product so there could be a number of changes, so do bear this in mind as I go through the game.
Let’s start with navigating the open world of Genshin Impact. Admittedly, it follows suit of Breath of the Wild in quite a few ways. Mainly with the philosophy of no area is off limits. Characters have a stamina gauge for running, swimming and climbing. Yes, you can climb up pretty much any surface you think is possible to climb, not just set areas. Providing ultimate freedom to traverse the landscape as long as your stamina gauge allows for it. Another form of transport available to the player is a glider, appearing as wings, opening up your options even further. The only caveat to the glider is gliding is limited by your stamina gauge, if it runs out you fall. Other than moving around, there are ingredients and materials lying around to be gathered which can be used for cooking. Cooked meals are the main way of healing, so is more important to gather these where possible. The last thing to talk about regarding the world is the map that is filled in by praying to Statues of the Seven. Not only that, going to these statues at any time will also heal the party and have their own upgrading system to improve your stamina and stats. Luckily, the statues are a unit so no need to upgrade each separately.
There are also smaller teleporting points that simply need to be interacted with to unlock, filling in the gaps to ensure the player has options to teleport close by when going to key locations. The last notable place on the map is the temples that act as dungeons. Explored as part of the story, it is worth returning for a bonus mission, but these are unlocked at different levels. Based on the outline of the map alone, the world is a reasonable size. Maybe not the largest, but a good size. Yes, I know what you are thinking if you have played Breath of the Wild. Most of these features appear in similar ways, although it is unfair to say Genshin Impact is a clone when this is where the similarity ends.
Aesthetically, it is Breath of the Wild, but with a bit more colour and vibrance. The character designs have a more anime style, making the game look like a cross with Tales of Berseria which is reflected in the cinematics and cutscenes. Notably, for a game still in development, these are animated incredibly well and the character models also look great. Not only that, the colours make the elemental magic fit in and not look out of place. Giving it some artistic flair with bright colours to make it even more interesting to look at. Moving to the landscapes which across the world is incredibly varied. Each location and area has a personality and a unique look to them, to the extent there is an incredible ease in getting your bearings by looking around. A reassuring feature for an open world game. Clearly, an effort was made to ensure each area had value and not just a copy and paste from somewhere else. At this point I may as well mention the look of the menus, which are more like an MMORPG, although you are the only one travelling in this world. Where there are no functions for this in the beta, this might be something that opens up in the actual release.
Moving on to the most interesting part of Genshin Impact, the combat system. Revolving around basic controls of a normal attack, elemental attack (which can be quick fire or charged), strong elemental attack, and dodge. Emphasis on going back to basics, as there is a range of ways between characters as to how this works as each are assigned an element and weapon. Not only that, elements have advantages in certain environments such as if an enemy is wet, an ice element attack will freeze them, or an electric will shock nearby enemies as well. Beware though, it is a double-edged sword. These factors apply to you as well. Even though you have a party, you only play as one character at a time, but you can swap between them during battle. It is a shame the party doesn’t fight together, but having the party all out whilst exploring may cause problems.
Beyond the characters you gain in story mode, there is a lottery to gain different characters in a system like in Fornite’s Save the World mode. Mainly revolving around rare items you get in the game. Interestingly, though, characters don’t increase levels through combat. Experience is contained in manuals that are commonly found in treasure chests by completing quests. This may be one thing changed, but I do have mixed feelings about it. Generally, the manuals are easy to come by, but that can be a bit frustrating as it takes a bit longer to progress. Either way, the combat is really enjoyable and the intractability ability of the environment gives it a strong edge you don’t see in many games.
All that is left is the story, set around a main character you name. There is a choice of a pair of twins (giving the option of boy or girl) that are from another world. Both fighting a monster as Genshin Impact opens up as the other will be taken away and you reappear in the present. Currently, you are discussing your past with a strange being known as Paimon who you just saved. With Paimon, you come across a knight and starting the adventure exploring why the balance of magic is turning in this world. It is an alluring premise and personally I have avoided to progress in it too much in the beta as progress won’t be carried over, but it is hard to resist. Mainly as the characters have such distinct and fun personalities. Although this is helped by the story being spaced out by an Adventure Rank, meaning parts of the story are locked behind a certain rank. It is easy enough to improve this rank by completing side quests, exploring, and opening chests. Where this may frustrate some, it is good as it forces you to go out and explore the area a bit instead of constantly focusing on the story. Plus, most of the side quests do a great job of building extra depth to the world and characters so complements the main story. Really, I see it as a good opportunity to explore the vast open world and have a bit of fun.
So at the current stage, Genshin Impact is undoubtedly shaping up to be a great game. Mixing elements of Breath of the Wild, Tales Of Berseria, and Fornite’s Save the World. This is definitely a game to watch out for when it finally releases.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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