Genshin Impact[a] is an action role-playing game developed and published by miHoYo. The game features an open-world environment and action-based battle system using elemental magic and character-switching, and uses gacha game monetization for players to obtain new characters, weapons, and other resources. The game is online-only and features a limited multiplayer mode allowing up to four players to play together. It was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Android, iOS in September 2020, for PlayStation 5 in April 2021, and for Nintendo Switch sometime later.
Genshin Impact takes place in the fantasy world of Teyvat, which is home to seven distinct nations, each of which is tied to an element and ruled by a god associated with it. The story follows a twin, referred to as the Traveler, who has traveled across many worlds with their twin but has become separated from them by an unknown god in Teyvat. The Traveler travels across Teyvat in search of the lost sibling with their companion Paimon and becomes involved in the affairs of the other nations, gods, and the world.
The game received generally positive reviews, with critics praising the combat and open-world freedom while some criticism was raised at its endgame content and monetization model. A commercial success, the game grossed over $1 billion within six months of release.
Genshin Impact is an open-world action role-playing game that allows the player to control one of four interchangeable characters in a party. Switching between characters can be done quickly during combat, allowing the player to use several different combinations of skills and attacks. Characters may have their strengths enhanced in various ways, such as increasing a character's level and improving artifacts and the weapons that the character equips. In addition to exploration, the player can attempt various challenges for rewards. Scattered across Teyvat are bosses and challenges that reward highly valuable resources, such as Stormterror and the Electro Hypostasis, but claiming them uses up a currency called resin, which slowly regenerates over time. Completing these challenges grants the player progress towards increasing their Adventure Rank, which in turn unlocks new quests, challenges, and raises the World Level. The World Level is a measure of how strong the enemies within the world are and the rarity of rewards that defeating them gives.
The player can control their character and perform actions such as running, climbing, swimming, and gliding which are limited by stamina. Some characters possess abilities that can alter the environment, such as freezing water to create a path that can aid the player in traversing terrain. Many teleportation nodes exist throughout the world that players can warp to, and statues known as the Statues of The Seven can heal and revive characters and provide benefits such as increasing player stamina. Items such as food and ore may be procured from the open world, while enemies and treasure chests drop other types of resources that may be used in enhancing a character's strength. Players can obtain food from hunting animals, gathering fruit and vegetables, or purchasing them from a store. Ingredients that can be cooked into meals that regenerate characters' health or boost various statistics. Players can also procure ore that can be refined and then used to enhance weapon strength or create weapons.
Each character has two unique combat skills: an elemental skill and an elemental burst. The elemental skill can be used at any time except for the cooldown period immediately after use. In contrast, the elemental burst has an energy cost, requiring the user to amass sufficient elemental energy by defeating enemies or inflicting elemental status effects. Characters have control over one of seven natural elements: Cryo, Dendro,[b] Pyro, Hydro, Anemo, Electro and Geo, which correspond to ice, nature, fire, water, air, electricity, and earth respectively. These elements can interact in different ways; for example, if a Hydro attack hits a target, the enemy will be inflicted with the "Wet" status effect, and if they are hit with a Cryo attack, it will inflict "Cold". These two status effects combine into the "Frozen" status effect, temporarily preventing the target from performing any actions or until the player deals enough physical damage to the enemy. Switching between characters during combat and executing those skills allows those elemental interactions to take place. Certain elemental abilities may be required to solve puzzles within the overworld.
A multiplayer mode is available in the form of co-op. Up to 4 players can play together in the overworld and join domains. Player matching can either be done by requesting to connect with another player. If the player wishes to clear a domain with other players, they will be automatically matched up with others looking to tackle the same objective. The game features cross-platform play, so players on any platform can play with each other.
By completing quests to advance the story, the player can unlock five additional playable characters, and more characters can be obtained via a gacha mechanic and in-game events. Several premium in-game currencies, obtainable through in-app purchases and playing the game, can be used to obtain characters and weapons through the gacha system. A pity system guarantees that the player will receive rare items after a set number of draws.
Genshin Impact takes place in the world of Teyvat, and is composed of seven major nations being Mondstadt, Liyue, Inazuma, Sumeru, Fontaine, Natlan, and Snezhnaya, each ruled by a god.[‡ 1] The mysterious floating island of Celestia is allegedly home to gods and mortals who have ascended to godhood through great, heroic feats.[‡ 2] Underground lay the ruins of the nation of Khaenri'ah which was destroyed by gods 500 years before the events of the game.[‡ 3][‡ 4] Unlike the seven major nations, Khaenri'ah was not ruled over by a god. The player character, the Traveler, is separated from their twin and becomes trapped on Teyvat. They are joined by a companion, Paimon, as they journey through Teyvat in search for their lost sibling.
Each nation is associated with and worships one of The Seven, a group of gods known as Archons who each preside over one of the seven nations. Each member of The Seven is tied to one of the game's elements, and is also reflected in their nation's aspect. Barbatos, Rex Lapis, Raiden Shogun, and Tsaritsa are archons of Mondstadt, Liyue, Inazuma and Snezhnaya, respectively.[‡ 5] However, the god who is the Archon may change over time as Archons pass away.[‡ 6] Specific individuals chosen by the Archons are granted a Vision — magical gemstones that give their bearers the ability to command an element and the potential to ascend to godhood and reside in Celestia.[‡ 7][‡ 8]
Mondstadt, the city of freedom, worships the Anemo Archon Barbatos and sits on an island in the middle of a lake.[‡ 9] The city is protected by the Knights of Favonius, who are tasked with protecting Mondstadt and its citizens.[‡ 10] To the southwest, Liyue worships the Geo Archon Rex Lapis and is the largest market harbor in Teyvat. The harbor city is presided over by the Liyue Qixing: a group of business leaders, and ancient guardians known as Adepti, magical beings that includes Rex Lapis himself.[‡ 11][‡ 12]
Snezhnaya, ruled by the Cryo Archon Tsaritsa, send out diplomats named the Fatui who maintain a friendly appearance while using more underhanded methods secretly.[‡ 13] The Fatui are also led by the Eleven Harbingers, individuals given extraordinary powers and executive authority by the Tsaritsa.[‡ 14] Among them include Scaramouche, La Signora, and Tartaglia, who are respectively the sixth, eighth, and eleventh of the Eleven Harbingers. In addition to the Fatui, another antagonistic faction in the game is the Abyss Order legion of monsters that declares themselves to be enemies to all of humanity, and are led by the "Prince" or "Princess", the lost sibling of the Traveler.[‡ 15][‡ 16][‡ 17]
A pair of twins who travel across the stars and visit different worlds arrive in Teyvat but find that Khaenri'ah is ablaze in flames. Attempting to leave, the twins are separated by an unknown god, who takes one and seals away the other. 500 years later the sealed twin, referred to as the "Traveler", awakens and meets Paimon. The pair travel to nearby Mondstadt to start their search for their missing twin.
Paimon and the Traveler arrive at Mondstadt, and encounter a dragon named Stormterror which attacks the city. Aided by an unknown entity later revealed to be Venti, the Traveler fends off Stormterror and is recognized by Jean, acting Grand Master of the Knights of Favonius. The Traveler helps the Knights restore order to the region, and then meets Venti, who comes up with a plan to stop Stormterror, whose true name is Dvalin. Venti requests for them to retrieve a holy lyre so that he may play it to Dvalin, calming him. After retrieving the lyre, which was first stolen by Fatui, Venti attempts to calm Dvalin but realizes that the Abyss Order have been manipulating him, and Venti's true identity is revealed: Barbatos, the Anemo Archon. The Traveler, accompanied by Jean, Diluc and Venti, pursue Dvalin to his domain and free him from the Abyss Order's influence. Returning to Mondstadt Venti is ambushed by the Fatui Harbinger La Signora, who steals his Gnosis.
Continuing their search, Venti advises the Traveler to travel to Liyue next to meet Rex Lapis, the Geo Archon. However, during a ritual, Rex Lapis is apparently killed, and his body hidden. The Traveler meets Fatui Harbinger Childe, who is secretly searching for Rex Lapis' gnosis. Childe manipulates the Traveler to destabilize Liyue by relaying the news of Rex Lapis' death to the Adepti, who lose faith in the Liyue Qixing. He then works with the Traveler and Zhongli, a funeral parlor consultant who is overseeing Rex Lapis' funeral. While working with Zhongli, Childe discovers the location of Rex Lapis' body, which had been hidden away. The Traveler confronts Childe who attempts to take the Gnosis but is unable to find it, concluding that Rex Lapis is still alive. To lure out Rex Lapis, Childe summons Osial, an ancient god once defeated by Rex Lapis, but the combined forces of the Traveler, the Liyue Qixing and the Adepti defeat it. Afterwards, Traveler finds out Zhongli's true identity as Rex Lapis, who gives his Gnosis to La Signora as part of a discreet agreement with the Tsaritsa. Zhongli explains he faked his death as he wished to step down from his role as Archon, and that their defense of Liyue proved that they did not need his protection. Zhongli informs the Traveler that their next destination, Inazuma, has closed off its borders under order of the Electro Archon, Raiden Shogun. Back in Mondstadt, the Traveler meets a mysterious individual named Dainsleif and together they investigate a plot by the Abyss Order to create an artificial god to topple Celestia. While investigating, the Traveler reunites with their sibling, leader of the Abyss Order. The sibling reveals that Dainsleif was a guard of Khaenri'ah, and failed its people when the nation fell 500 years ago. Remarking that the Traveler will come to understand the true nature of the world at the end of their journey, the sibling departs, and Dainsleif chases after them. The Traveler attempts to follow but is unable to, and resolves to continue their journey, setting their sights on Inazuma.
Development of Genshin Impact began in June 2017, with an initial team of 120 people, which grew to 400 by the end of that year, and reached 700 by February 2021. miHoYo revealed Genshin Impact in June 2019 at E3 2019. The game had a development and marketing budget of around $100 million, which was recouped quickly after release. Between the announcement and release closed beta tests were held, allowing invited players to explore and interact with the open world. Genshin Impact includes voiceovers in four languages, and 13 different languages for text.[c]
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is held in high regard by the development team, and is cited as one of the main inspirations for Genshin Impact. Development was aimed at making Genshin Impact different and fun in terms of its quest and combat systems as well as its random events and mode of exploration. Genshin Impact was designed as a cross platform title, and developing the game for PC and PlayStation platforms allowed the developers to raise graphical fidelity for the game, such as rendering realistic shadows. The overall artistic vision of Genshin Impact is intended to combine "anime" art style with more key elements from real world cultures. For example, Liyue was first conceived of as a reimagining of Chinese culture through a fantasy perspective, and was combined with reference material from Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and Tianmen Mountain to create the region.
Yu-Peng Chen of HOYO-MiX composed the game's original score, which was performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. The approach to creating the soundtrack is to immerse players within the game, and provide emotional and beautiful melodies. Based upon a foundation of Western music, the score also has regional and cultural influences added depending upon the region. For example, in Mondstadt Chen utilized woodwind instruments to reflect Mondstadt's association with wind and freedom. In contrast, the battle themes utilize polyphony and other composing techniques, as well as mimicking orchestrion elements from composers such as Beethoven. A soundtrack album featuring music from the Mondstadt chapter of the game, "City of Winds and Idylls", was released digitally on October 15, 2020. For his work on the soundtrack Chen was awarded the "Outstanding Artist — Newcomer/Breakthrough" at the 2020 Annual Game Music Awards. "Jade Moon Upon a Sea of Clouds", a soundtrack featuring music from the Liyue region, was released digitally on November 6, 2020. Dragonspine's soundtrack was released on April 2, 2021, titled "Vortex of Legends". Chen has expressed interest in releasing the soundtracks on CD, as well as hosting a concert in the future.
Genshin Impact was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Android, and iOS on September 28, 2020, and features cross-platform play between them. The game was made playable on PlayStation 5 on November 11, 2020. On April 28, 2021, a proper PlayStation 5 version of the game was released, featuring enhanced visuals, faster loading, and DualSense controller support. The game will be released on Nintendo Switch, however no release window has been announced.
Prior to its release the game had over 10 million registrations, with over half of that from outside China. According to some, Genshin Impact was the biggest international release of any Chinese video game. In the lead up to release, the game won the Tokyo Game Show Media Awards 2020 public poll, ranking first among 14 other games.
Shortly after the launch of the game, miHoYo announced a schedule for content updates over the following months. These content updates are planned to be implemented into the game every six weeks. Additional patches in the future will add more events and new areas of Teyvat. As a long-term project, much of the game remains to be finished. On release, only two of the seven major regions intended for the game were released, and miHoYo anticipates it will take several years for the game's story to be completed. In a presentation given in February 2021 miHoYo president Cai Haoyu estimated that ongoing development for Genshin Impact would cost $200 million per year. miHoYo has begun releasing a manga detailing the background of its characters and its fictional world of Genshin Impact, and other future plans include a line of comics, toys, and a possible movie.
Shortly after release, players discovered that the game's kernel-based anti-cheat system would remain active after the game was closed or uninstalled, which raised concerns that the game had installed spyware. Some Japanese players using iOS devices also observed that the game read the contents of players' clipboards while starting up. miHoYo announced that both issues were the result of coding errors and have been addressed and fixed.
On October 6, 2020, journalist and Twitch streamer Kazuma Hashimoto published a video on social media site Twitter demonstrating how Chinese political terms such as "Hong Kong" and "Taiwan" are censored within the in-game chat. As the developer of the game, miHoYo, is based in China, they are subject to China's censorship policy, which includes complying with a relatively large list of banned words that cannot be used in game or via chat. Other terms not related to Chinese politics are banned as well, such as "Putin", "Hitler", and "Stalin". Several threads on the game's subreddit discussed the censorship, with various users noting that innocuous terms such as "enemies" and "words" were also being censored.
In March 2021, fast food company KFC announced a collaboration event in China that offered exclusive Genshin Impact pins and in-game items to customers who turned up and shouted the phrase "Meet in another world, enjoy delicious food!" at the restaurant's employees. As a result, KFC outlets in Shanghai, Nanjing, and Hangzhou were overrun with fans. Despite authorities' best efforts to maintain COVID-19 regulations, the event was forced to shut down.
In April 2021, some called for a boycott of the game over claims of bigotry in the game's content. Some other users pointed out how the only playable characters with dark skin were described as "exotic" or "scary" in the game. Criticism was also aimed at one of the game's adult characters expressing love towards another character that appears to be a child, though this may have been an oversight as the character in question was noted to have used an adult model during earlier stages of development.
The game has been criticized for lacking security features ubiquitous on other sites, like two-factor authentication. Several security vulnerabilities were uncovered shortly after the game's release, and were discussed on the game's official subreddit. On October 19, 2020, a redditor discovered a vulnerable security flaw that exposed the phone number linked to a player's account during the password recovery attempt on the miHoYo website. The issue was not fixed until another Reddit post detailing the same information was posted on November 9, 2020, shortly after which the vulnerability was resolved. miHoYo has issued notices following the wake of security exposures, informing players to be careful about sharing account details and to bind their account to their email address and phone number. In May 2021, two-factor authentication was added whenever the player signs in on a new device.
|PC Gamer (US)||84/100|
Genshin Impact received "generally favorable reviews" according to review aggregator Metacritic. The open world of Teyvat drew praise; IGN's Travis Northup described Teyvat as "a world that is absolutely bursting at the seams with possibilities", and Hardcore Gamer's Jordan Helm described it as "one big environmental puzzle". Liyue in particular was picked out by Kotaku's Sisi Jiang for being "one of the most exciting regions that I've visited in a video game in years", before continuing on to discuss how the region "shows an idealized portrayal of Chinese social relations that exists in localized pockets". Game Informer characterized the game as an incredible experience, noting that "[t]he gameplay loop of collection, upgrading, and customization is captivating and compelling". The execution of gameplay impressed Pocket Gamer, and Destructoid's Chris Carter called the combat system "one of the most interesting things about Genshin Impact". NPR remarked that the game had an abundance of content despite being free to play, and Forbes commended Genshin Impact as a game that feels coherent and complete. Gene Park of The Washington Post lauded the game as revolutionary for the genre, having players "imagine a mobile gaming world with titles with quality that matches the industry's top-tier experiences". Polygon also praised Genshin Impact for differentiating itself from its peers, heralding its arrival as mobile games become more mainstream and appealing to "an audience outside the typical mobile gaming demographic" and "new players without the hardware to play more conventional and resource-hogging RPGs".
Most of the criticisms about Genshin Impact come from the endgame aspects of the game, Kotaku noting that although the game provides a solid experience it also has "some of the typical bullshit that comes along with a zero-dollar price tag". GameSpot echoed this criticism, noting that Genshin Impact is "hampered a bit by the restrictions its free-to-play model imposes". Paul Tassi of Forbes criticized the resin system, noting that to progress past a certain point one must "spend an absurd amount of money to get around the last few timegates [sic] of the game". PC Gamer said that playing the endgame becomes "a slog", and that the resin system "feels so unnecessary". Warning players about how predatory the monetization is, The Washington Post added that such a well-designed game from an aesthetic standpoint can lead some to gamble with the game's gacha system. The game's similarities to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sparked controversy at 2019's ChinaJoy convention among some fans of Breath of the Wild.
Apple awarded Genshin Impact with "iPhone Game of the Year" in the App Store Best of 2020 and the 2021 Apple Design Awards for Visuals and Graphics. The game also won Google Play's "Best Game of 2020" and was nominated for "Users' Choice Game" at the Best of 2020 awards. At the TapTap Game Awards 2020, Genshin Impact won "Game of the Year". Genshin Impact was also nominated for Best RPG and Best Mobile Game at The Game Awards 2020, and for Ultimate Game of the Year at the Golden Joystick Awards.
On mobile platforms, Genshin Impact saw 23 million downloads and grossed approximately $60 million within a week after its release. Within two weeks, that figure rose to over $100 million, recouping its development and marketing budget. Its strong performance continued through October 2020 as Genshin Impact was the highest-grossing game worldwide during that month. Its largest revenue came from China, Japan, South Korea, and the United States, with 69 percent of mobile revenue coming from outside China itself. In the United States, its release was the largest launch of a role-playing game on mobile in history.
Genshin Impact had grossed over $393 million within two months after release and over $1 billion by the end of March 2021, the third highest revenue from a mobile game during that time frame after Honor of Kings and PUBG Mobile, making it one of the highest grossing mobile games of all time and the fastest game to reach that milestone on Google Play and the App Store.
In the text these references are preceded by a double dagger (‡):
Dainsleif: '500 years ago, the gods descended upon the world and brought desolation to Khaenri'ah.'
'Khaenri'ah was an underground realm, and its natural fauna were few indeed.'
Traveler: 'Who's the god who rules Inazuma?' / Zhongli: 'The Electro Archon, Baal — and just as the people of Liyue preferred to call me Rex Lapis, she too goes by another name among locals in Inazuma.' / Paimon: 'Um, Paimon thinks we've heard that one before. Uh.. Rai... Raiden?' / Zhongli: 'That is the case. And since Raiden is also the Shogun of the Inazuma Bakufu, people call her the Raiden Shogun.'
Ganyu: 'When the Archon War came to its end two thousand years ago, the first iteration of The Seven would gather in Liyue and drink with Rex Lapis. But five of those original seven had already passed before Rex Lapis — it's truly a changing of the guard.'
Venti: 'As I said before, Vision wielders are known as allogenes and may ascend to Celestia.'
Venti: 'As you know, Visions are external magical foci that only a small minority of people possess. They use these Visions to channel elemental power.'
Paimon: 'Mondstadt is the city of wind, because they worship the God of Anemo.'
Knights of Favonius Handbook - 5th Edition: 'This handbook is a guide on the core principles of the Knights of Favonius. Knights should carefully read the contents of this handbook and strictly hold themselves to the standards detailed within their life and work, serving the people of Mondstadt as a model Knight of Favonius.'
Paimon: 'The Liyue Qixing — the seven leaders of the seven enterprises of Liyue — hold true control over Liyue.'
Ningguang: '3,700 years... According to our records, the adepti signed a contract with Rex Lapis to protect Liyue 3,700 years ago.'
Jean: 'Those people in strange uniforms... are Fatui. They're here as delegates from Snezhnaya.'
Venti: 'Venti: She and the rest of the harbingers have been given god-like executive authority by the Tsaritsa of Snezhnaya, and with it, strength surpassing that of other mortals.'
Paimon: 'Hey, come on now... Paimon already told you that the Abyss Mages are the bad guys... And actually, they're the worst kind of bad guys you can imagine. They don't just hate the good guys, they hate all people... Their enemy is... humanity itself.'
Venti: '...I see. So, the Abyss Order has a Prince/Princess who orchestrated the plan to corrupt Dvalin?'
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