When The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was released in March 2017, it was considered a true masterpiece in gaming. It can be argued that the Wii U and Nintendo Switch title is the grandest Nintendo title to date with a gigantic world that has a seemingly endless amount to do within The Legend of Zelda universe. Not surprisingly, Breath of the Wild is regarded as a game that defines a generation and one of the best of all time. It is also the inspiration for a newly released free-to-play game, Genshin Impact.
Lots of comparisons are already being made between the two open-world fantasy games because on the surface, they have similar mechanics. Yet where Genhsin Impact differs is in its more anime-like art style, the ability to switch between multiple characters in battles, the option to choose whether to be male or female, and the choice to either play the game as a single player or multiplayer. Best of all, Genshin Impact is free, making it the best current value in gaming with what you get in return for not spending a penny. Is it yet at the level of Breath of the Wild? No. But not many games are and Genshin Impact is only in its early stages.
Developed and published by miHoYo, Genshin Impact was released last month (September 28) on Windows, Android, iOS, and the Playstation 4 (PS4). On the mobile platforms, the game has totaled more than 17 million downloads with first-week sales totaling approximately $60 million. The game is promoted by the developers as “an ongoing manga-adventure series” that takes place in a “vast magical world.” On the official Genshin Impact website, you can access the manga to get some further insight into the story.
There have been plenty of free-to-play anime-type games that I’ve discovered on Steam and in the Playstation Store, but many of them lack the depth necessary to retain my interest. I’ve come across too many scenarios where the controls were very wonky and unresponsive, the story had no substance, and the game itself was very repetitive. That is why when I first heard of Genshin Impact, I was very skeptical about it. But being that it is free, I decided to at least check more into it.
Before making a post on this game, I needed to spend at least a few hours to see if the high-score reviews were legitimate. Steven Messner of PCGamer lauded the game in his impressions, Game Informer gave it a score of 9.25, and the Metacritic scores for the new release indicate that the game has been very well received. In my initial playthrough of three hours, I was so into the game that I lost track of time. The majority of the time was spent just exploring and taking part in random battles. Even in its current state, the game feels vast and there is so much to do. Again, all for free.
The battle system is one of the best aspects of Genshin Impact. It is easy to pick up and learn, especially on the PS4, which is the platform I’ve chosen to play the game on. As you become more familiar with the system, you’ll find yourself switching out characters at the right time to string together some cool extended combos. Because the game requires a significant amount of grinding, the fact that the battle system is one of the game’s strong points is very important.
I’ve read about Genshin Impact receiving criticism because of how much it draws from Breath of the Wild but I found the judgment to be unfair. At this point in video gaming, there is not much that is new in terms of the foundations of video games. The majority of (if not all) games draw from something of the past. It’s many times overlooked just how many games are just the same house with maybe some of the rooms switched around and the walls having different colors and styles of paint. Yet this criticism isn’t levied at games across the board, just ones that are chosen to be singled out. The truth is that no matter how many similarities there are to Breath of the Wild’s mechanics, Genshin Impact still maintains its own identity to be judged as a game on its own merits. Furthermore, if you’re going to use inspiration from a game, would you not use one of the best games ever made (Breath of the Wild)?
Give this game a try. You have nothing to lose, especially with it being free and the microtransactions not being necessary for you to enjoy the game. Paul Tassi of Forbes.com provides a good beginner’s guide of things to consider and look out for when you are first starting out. The content of Genshin Impact will continue to grow, as indicated by the roadmap that projects upcoming updates in November and December. I look forward to see how the new game expands over the next few months.