Video Game Ongoing Review: Genshin Impact, Part 2, The Current State of the Game

Details: More information can be found at https://genshin.mihoyo.com/en

Score: 5.5/10

Edit: Added a bit about the true biggest issue in Genshin Impact and that is account security.

A while back I did a review of Genshin Impact (you can read it here: https://elliotsview.com/2020/10/03/video-game-review-genshin-impact/). A few months have passed and I decided to give the current state of the game a review. I still enjoy the game, but it’s incredibly obvious how predatory this game is and how much worse it is in comparison to other games that rely on microtransactions or loot boxes. This is undoubtedly a pay to win game that seeks to annoy players into paying real money.

EDIT: The single biggest issues in Genshin Impact is account security. If you’ve been browsing internet forums, then you’d know that many, many people have had their accounts hacked. Much of the time, accounts are stolen and resold on websites that sell stolen accounts. A quick internet search will be sure to show many of them. In fact, you can find these sites advertised through official advertisements on YouTube.

The reason that so much account stealing is going on is because Genshin Impact has some of the worst internet security on the planet. A common implementation of internet security is two factor authentication. Basically, if you want to make changes to the account, two factor authentication requires a confirmation message sent to either your email or phone number and you must reply within a certain amount of time. Genshin Impact does not have that. If someone can somehow enter your account, they are free to change things without requiring a confirmation reply. It is incompetence of the highest order. Or perhaps they did this on purpose in order to facilitate account theft.

This is the biggest single reason not to play or to spend money on this game. Any progress you make can easily be stolen away by someone else. Browsing through internet forums yields many, easily correctible methods that a novice on internet security could correct. There are many security threats that have been discussed on the internet one of them is that attaching a phone number/email to your account makes it visible to everyone and enables thieves to attack your game account, as well as your email or phone number (this has been fixed in a sense, but there are still many easily correctible methods to reveal account information). A new one is how creating an account on the official Mihoyo forums reveals your account information, again leaving it vulnerable to attack. The most obvious of threats is that there is no measure to stop repeated login attempts which means that if someone can guess your email/username, they can take an infinite number of tries in order to brute force through and guess your password. And none of these even touch upon the many, many programs being sold on the internet that allow anyone to hack badly secured web pages such as Genshin Impact’s web page.

All of this is to say that accounts are not safe and until they meet some level of security, you should not spend money and perhaps not even play this game.

The second biggest gripe most players have is probably with the resin system. Like in many gacha or pay to win games, there is a stamina system in the game. In order to participate in most activities, you have to spend an in game resource, known as “resin” here, in order to participate. You gain one resin every eight minutes and you can only hold 160 resin at any time. Any excess resin is lost so the player is incentivized to play this game once or twice per day in order to spend the resin before it is lost.

The first issue with the resin system is that there isn’t enough of it. It takes me about fifteen minutes to use a days worth of resin. Along with the other daily activities, I spend about thirty minutes playing the game, which sucks because I would like to play more and feel like I’m making some progress. As it stands, I feel little to none of that. The implementation of resin makes this game feel like a job and that makes me want to stop playing altogether.

The other issue with resin is that it forces players to play everyday unless you want to lose resin. I get that this is a ploy by the developers to try and train players into a habit of playing every day so that they never leave the game. Instead, I feel like this only encourages players to leave the game forever. At first, it might be hard to feel like you’re missing out of progression, but after you drop the game, the feeling of how much you’ve missed out on will keep players from coming back. I used to play a game called Archeage which employed very similar mechanics to Genshin Impact. When I dropped that game, I never felt any need to come back because I had missed so many months of progress that I didn’t want to try catching up. The same will be true here and when players inevitably drop this game for something else. They will never come back.

There is a clear lack of content which exacerbates the problem of resin. Based on these first few months since the game released, it’s become clear that events are scheduled for every six weeks. While these events are entertaining, they are short and usually consume resin, making the events even shorter. You are literally gated by resin from playing the game and these events. Resin in fact acts like an artificial delay meant to slow down the speed at which players play through content. The end results is that while these games are fun, they do little to nothing to alleviate the boredom caused by resin restrictions.

Worth noting is that a new character banner drops about every 28 days I think. That means you get to roll on new characters about every month. The new characters that have been released so far are not appealing to me, but that is admittedly a subjective opinion. What is not subjective is that these characters are not that helpful for players trying to progress through the game and this because of how the game favors fire characters.

In the current state of the game, Genshin Impact clearly favors fire oriented characters. It just seems like a deliberate design decision. Fire characters and fire elemental reactions deal the most damage. It is also well known that the most powerful character in the game is a fire character that can only be obtained by gambling and spending real money. I’ve seen YouTube videos where people have spent thousands trying to get this character, often times to no avail. I get that the makers of Genshin Impact want money, but the problem is that this devalues any character that is not fire or supportive of fire and creates balance issues in the gameplay.

As said above, new characters rotate about every month. If they are not fire oriented characters focused on damage dealing, why would anyone want to waste money on them? These characters are clearly inferior if they are not fire. The only other reason would be if they are aesthetically appeasing, but creating a character that is purely aesthetically pleasing and not useful for playing the game is stupid. Mihoyo (the developers of this game) is shooting themselves in the foot by creating a system that favors one type of character above all others. If they really wanted to make money they would make all character types equally useful instead of favoring just one type. Instead, the favoring of fire characters is just evidence of Mihoyo’s incompetence.

There is a clear lack of free content for players compared to other games in this genre and the prices are also comparably high. Anyone who plays games in this genre knows that Genshin Impact is one of the stingiest of all these games. As with other games in this genre, this is unlikely to change until the game’s popularity irrevocably dies. Then they’ll likely offer some handouts for players or lower prices. Unfortunately, by then, it will probably be too late and the game will be mostly dead. At least that’s how it’s worked with gacha games in the past.

Overall, the game is still sort of fun, but I think the hype is over. Twitch streamers are dropping this game en masse. Viewership for this game is dropping. Active players and revenue are also likely dropping. This is all because there is simply not much to do. Prices are high and Mihoyo is stingy and selfish. There is little to no content and what little content there is is gated behind resin.

Genshin Impact made hundreds of millions of dollars in their first few months of operation. You’d think Mihoyo would be smart enough to reinvest some of that into the game and not follow the boring formula of a generic gacha game with periodic updates and needlessly annoying content gates. Then again, maybe they’re satisfied with the money they’ve made and feel comfortable running this game into the ground.

Video Game Review: Genshin Impact

Details: I’ve played at least twenty hours, probably more. I have not spent a penny on this game. More information can be found at https://genshin.mihoyo.com/en

Score: 7.2/10

The most accurate name I’ve heard people call this game is “Breath of the Waifus.”

Genshin Impact is a free to play game that shamelessly copies the visual style and gameplay (and by copy, I mean it copies almost to the point of stealing) into a gacha game format. It’s a fun game for all the same reasons that Breath of the Wild was fun and annoyingly addictive for all the same reasons gacha games are addictive. This is a game with great presentation and likely a surprisingly high budget.

The story is about an interdimensional traveler who gets sent to a fantasy world with their twin sibling. Once there you get involved with the local people, fight bad guys, fight a dragon and a whole bunch of stuff that is pretty normal for most role playing video games.

The core gameplay is taken directly from Breath of the Wild. Like almost exactly. There is this big world for you to explore. The world is largely structured the same as Breath of the Wild. That means there’s mountains and rivers and some towns. The best part of Breath of the Wild is that you could climb a mountain and see the entire landscape. Then you could go to literally any point you just saw. Genshin Impact does that too.

Traversing the world in Breath of the Wild was one of it’s most positive aspects. Genshin Impact copies that almost exactly. There’s a stamina bar. You can climb any surface as long as you have stamina. You can dash as long as you have stamina. The one thing that’s different is that when it rains, you can still climb with no problems.

Combat is also almost exactly the same. Even many of the attack animations look like they were directly copied. The only thing about combat not copied is the use of magic.

The big differences come when we start talking about the gacha elements. In that way, the game is still unoriginal, they just folded gacha elements into Breath of the Wild gameplay.

In case you don’t know what gacha games are, they generally are cheaply made, free to play games meant to siphon money from players through gambling/slot machine mechanics. How it normally works is that you’ll download one of these games, usually on your smart phone, and you’ll play a bit. Then you’ll hit a wall in your progression that can only be overcome with a huge time investment or paying money to the game in exchange for what you need to progress further. But this isn’t a straightforward exchange. You normally buy a “loot box,” which is just a bundle of randomly generated in game items. The good items, which are the items you need, have a low chance of being generated while the trash items have a high chance of dropping. Hopefully, you’ll get what you want early on, but the probability is high that you will have to buy a ton of loot boxes before you get what you want. That’s the business model of a gacha game.

With that in mind, Genshin Impact is fun early on. I’d say it’s fun for the first ten to twenty hours. That’s pretty good considering this game is free to play. But then you hit the wall and you need to either invest a huge amount of time grinding in order to progress, or you could spend money gambling on whether you’ll get the in game items you need to move forward. And there are a lot of in game items in Genshin Impact.

Firstly are the characters. There are at this time around twenty-four available characters in the game. Each character has their own abilities and elements. During combat, you can swap between four available characters. As you play the game, you’ll learn that there is synergy between characters and their abilities. You’ll also learn which characters are good and which are trash, either by Googling it or through trial and error. The main way to get more characters is through loot boxes. At this time, there is a free character available, but I don’t know how that will play out in the future. The game was released like a week ago.

Then there is the equipment. There’s a ton of gear you can get, usually from treasure chests strewn across the land. Enemies don’t drop weapons. Gear is ranked between one and five stars. Four star and lower gear can be obtained through gameplay. Five star gear can only be obtained from loot boxes. Even then, the odds of obtaining one is very low. I have yet to see a five star weapon.

As expected from a gacha game, almost everything in this game can be leveled. Leveling is progression, which is what gacha games seek to block in exchange for real money.

For instance, the Adventure Rank is the most important level in the game. It controls whether you can progress in the story and whether gameplay mechanics can unlock. You can gain Adventure Rank only by doing things in the game. There is no way to directly purchase higher Adventure ranks. However, doing things in the game requires better gear and characters, which does require money. So Adventure Rank really acts as an umbrella form of progression under which the other loot box blocking kinds of progression in the game.

Characters and weapons can level up, but in order to do so, you need a complex slew of money and items. There’s just too many to properly discuss, but suffice it to say, paying real money will make it easier to obtain these items. Some of these items can be purchased directly from the in game shop. Others will have to be earned through grinding gameplay, which needs items and characters, which means real money for loot boxes.

In regards to how the loot boxes work in this game… it’s too complicated to explain. There are multiple forms of in game currency, many of which you can by and convert into other forms of in game currency for which to purchase loot boxes or other in game items. It’s a mess and it is likely deliberately so in order to confuse players and induce them into spending more money than they need to.

Despite the money grubbing loot boxes, there is cooperative multiplayer. Amazingly, the multiplayer is crossplay. That means that someone playing on their PS4 can play with someone on the XBOX or their computer. It’s amazing. But there is a limit to what you can do. Only up to four players can be in a game at a time and one person must be host. You can’t do main story missions or any of the many instanced dungeons in the game. You can do side quests and other world missions. Multiplayer is basically just for people to run around the world. Keep in mind, this is predominantly a single player game and multiplayer is more of a side thing to just screw around with your friends.

Visually, the world is beautiful… and looks like the world from Breath of the Wild. It looks like a direct copy. The art direction/style is exactly the same. The terrain, the sky, hell the grass looks exactly the same. Character animations looks the same. Combat looks the same. Everything looks the same.

Well, almost everything. This is a Chinese made video game, so there are a lot of Chinese elements in it. In the game world, there are two main sections. There’s a western fantasy part and a Chinese, wuxia fantasy part. Both parts are beautiful, but Breath of the Wild didn’t have none of that. As this is a free to play online game, I anticipate that more parts of the world will be released as time goes one. There’s probably going to be a desert, a snow area and a bunch of other commonly used fantasy terrain I imagine. I’m spit balling here.

The music is fantastic… and reminds me of melodies from other popular role playing games like Final Fantasy. Whether it is a copy or not, there are some beautiful tracks here. It’s almost entirely orchestral music.

I also love how this game is largely voice acted. Not only is there voice acting, there’s voice acting in multiple languages and they are all available to everyone. The voice acting is pretty good, too, in all the languages. It’s impressive as good voice acting is something that’s lacking in so many games.

Overall, I really enjoy Genshin Impact and will continues to play it in the near future. Personally, it’s the right game at the right time. I was just in the mood for something grindy and this gorgeous, free to play game dropped into my lap. The first dozen or so hours are really fun and they throw a few free loot boxes your way. However, this is still a gacha game. Soon enough, you will hit a wall in progression and if you want to see what happens in the story or defeat ever more power enemies, you will need to invest large amounts of time or real money.

Personally, I refuse to spend real money and don’t mind spending time. At least for now. At the time this review was written, the game has only been out four days. Who knows how things will change in the future, for better or worse. Even still, this is a beautiful, expansive world to explore and I enjoyed exploring it for amazing price of free.