Explaining Genshin Impact’s impact: Is it actually worth your time?

    
48
Explaining Genshin Impact’s impact: Is it actually worth your time?

In Explaining Genshin Impact’s impact: The reinvention of gachapon, I went into the nitty-gritty of the gacha system and how it’s actually pretty easy to digest for the larger market. In this piece, however, I’ll be digging into the gameplay and mechanics themselves and tackle whether or not this game is worth your sweet, precious time.

Gameplay first, gacha second

In my estimation, Genshin is so immersive that it’s easy to forget that this is even a gacha MMO, and that’s exactly why it’s been so successful. The game maintains a balance of letting players play while still nudging them toward the gacha. As players explore, they can find enemy camps dotting the landscape, and eliminating them gives primogems (the game’s premium currency), weapons, and materials. As players continue playing and improve their adventure level, they unlock more and more content – all of which gives a steady amount of primogems and even more incentive to do the content.

In fact, almost every activity players can do will reward them with primogems. First-time completion of dungeons and gaining achievements provide a hefty stack of these primogems too. I know what some of you are thinking surely they’re only generous at first and then it slows down to force you to get your wallet. I was right there with you when I first started playing Honkai Impact too, but that wasn’t true there, and it turns out to be untrue with this one too.

The best source of free primogems is the twisting abyss. Each floor offers increasingly difficult battles, but with very lucrative rewards at even the low end. Players are challenged to get as far into the abyss as possible per week. At the end of the week, players get a nice reward of primogems and a ton of other items. This will be one of the primary sources of gems for free-to-play players. As teams are planned out, players will want to focus on how they can improve their team for the challenges this dungeon offers.

It doesn’t stop there, as there are “daily commissions” that reward players with even more primogems upon completion. They’re dailies and they give prizes. Do them! Then there are the various battle arenas and smaller dungeons… the list goes on. I’ve bragged about how I’ve spent $200 worth of gems, but in reality, I didn’t spend my real money on those: Those were all earned through playtime.

The dungeons below are just a beautiful as the picturesque landscapes above.

For those who do want to support the game without splurging out on RNG, other options include a battlepass and a $5 subscription. The battlepass guarantees powerful and useful items along with the sub, which grants a few gems daily. The jury’s still out on the battlepass, but I think the $5 sub is a decent investment for a serious player.

We shouldn’t ignore the graphics and the gameplay either. The game looks as good as an anime game like God Eater 3, but on a phone. The combination of Breath of the Wild exploration with a combat system that feels like Nier: Automata just feels good. And it’s free for three different platforms. Getting a single-game to look consistent on phones, the PS4, and PC must’ve been a great challenge. But miHoYo did it and the effort was worth it. Anyone can play this game – all you need is a phone (so I guess everyone except those who attended the Diablo Immortal reveal).

The adventure log scaffolds your growth the game with great rewards.

The PC port is well-optimized, though it can’t reach 144 fps, and it’s buttery smooth and plays beautifully on higher-end systems. I also have it installed on a laptop with a GTX 1050. The game can still hit 60 fps with a little finessing of the graphics settings. The controls are great, though I can’t seem to change them yet, but I’m pretty sure that’s coming in a future patch. It’s also a breeze to switch between the controller (which is pretty well mapped out) and the keyboard. Some real love went into this game, and it’s why I’m so happy that it’s getting so much success.

Putting the industry to shame

miHoYo’s company slogan is “tech otakus save the world.” While obviously it isn’t doing that in a literal sense, it certainly feels as if it saved something. Genshin Impact is a combination of common-sense development decisions and keen business acumen. The team knew exactly what it was doing. This wasn’t an accident. It didn’t just make a game that checked a bunch of boxes and nothing more. It exceeded expectations for both gamers and investors, as the finances clearly show. Imagine that, letting the developers actually make a great game and it’s somehow doing really well globally. I wonder how that works?

The hilarious thing is that any company could’ve made a game like this. I’m not going to get into a rant about how tone-deaf gaming companies can be, but money doesn’t lie. And being in-tune with the market just shows just how huge the payout can be. People are tired of free-to-play esports with cosmetics and battlepasses. This company recognized this reality and made a game that wasn’t that. miHoYo did what should really be obvious to everyone: It simply made a game good enough that people were willing to deal with the gacha model.

People are tired of free-to-play esports with cosmetics and battlepasses. This company recognized this reality and made a game that wasn’t that.
Sticking to a gacha model and players still liking the game regardless because of the quality gives me a sick sense of satisfaction. So many AAA companies have tried and failed to address the market that exists. They get so caught up with maximizing the profits that they forget to tie their clownshoes and trip up when the time comes to build a decent game around it. So many of their games come with a fully realized monetization model but a completely unoriginal, incomplete, and unengaging game.

So really, Genshin Impact did nothing new. It’s just a complete game with a gacha system – and not the other way around. And holy crap it worked. It almost makes me wonder if the industry’s complacency is finally catching up to it, and it’s not from player boycotts and outcries but from a competent and well-funded developer taking its customers’ desires to heart.

A word of warning

I can gush about how great this game is and how I feel the gacha is relatively fair compared to others. But this is still a gacha game. This game plays the same psychological tricks to hook players in to play and pay. This game punishes the impatient in the way it hurts the most: their wallets.

So don’t get caught up in the hype of a new character. It’s one thing for someone to splurge the $1000 worth of gems that she’s been grinding out over the past few weeks. It’s a completely different story to actually spend a thousand real dollars for the immediate satisfaction of getting that character to finally drop for them. I encourage players to plan ahead and prepare for upcoming banners. One of my friends is saving up for the next banner, which is apparently a cat girl. Pull on characters you enjoy! Know when to stop. Don’t follow the meta. 

Take the time to maximize your party’s strengths before assuming another pull of the gacha will solve your problems. Be mindful and get good with the available setup. If your characters are undertuned for some content, plan out your next moves. Take advantage of the free items you receive, and most importantly, work on one character at a time. Be patient; don’t let things get out of hand.

If that final warning didn’t scare you away, I encourage you to try this game. Don’t just write it off as another gacha game. It’s not. It has gacha, but it has so much more than that. The example this game sets will have ripple effects in the gaming industry, including for MMORPGs. I’m excited (and I admit, a little worried too) to see what’s going to happen from here.

Massively Overpowered skips scored reviews; they’re outdated in a genre whose games evolve daily. Instead, our veteran reporters immerse themselves in MMOs to present their experiences as hands-on articles, impressions pieces, and previews of games yet to come. First impressions matter, but MMOs change, so why shouldn’t our opinions?

No posts to display

48
LEAVE A COMMENT

Please Login to comment
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Ald

I had to google “gacha”.

Never heard that term before. So that’s where i stand.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Ken from Chicago

Ditto

Reader
Anthony Clark

As long as this requires kernal access I will not play or install this spyware disguised as a game

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

If that final warning didn’t scare you away, I encourage you to try this game. Don’t just write it off as another gacha game. It’s not. It has gacha, but it has so much more than that.

No, thanks. Having things I need or desire only obtainable through lockboxes is an absolute deal-breaker for me. I don’t care if it’s otherwise the best game ever made, the moment devs attempt to force me into purchasing lockboxes is the moment the game becomes pure trash in my eyes, not worth spending any money or time with.

(And, BTW, I really dislike lootboxes and similar mechanics even when there is no money involved in their acquisition. I hate when my reward is determined by luck, to the point I will leave any game I’ve been playing the moment I actually need for progression something that depends on luck, regardless of for how long I’ve been playing, how much money I’ve already wasted with it, or how much I otherwise enjoy the game. You can say I’m the opposite of a compulsive gambler.)

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Richard de Leon III

No thanks, I’d rather have a fixed price with everything earnable in-game.

Reader
James Balmer

So… no f2p games for you then.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Richard de Leon III

yup

Reader
Utakata

You weren’t really playing them for free to begin with. So there’s no real loss there.

Reader
Bruno Brito

I can play F2P games without spending a dime. Your point?

Reader
Christopher Angeles

For casual and mid-tier players this game is VERY F2P. Grab any free units and you’ll have a blast just comboing elements. Once you get towards end game and are looking to make this game your daily home, the grind and gacha mechanics are really glaring and it quickly turns into “pay to progress”.

Love the game and I liked the comment about “putting the industry to shame”. 90% of video games today are just rehash of the same recipe, a bit bored of it.

Reader
Kawaii Five-O

Yup. Genshin Impact provides a great, high-quality 20-50 hours of gameplay (depending on how much you enjoy exploration), and that’s fantastic for an experience that’s 100% free.

However, beyond that, it becomes very apparent that the game is shackled by typical mobile gacha game mechanics. Which is unfortunate, because it appears to try so hard to break the mold for what a mobile game can be.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Ken from Chicago

Reader
Loyal Patron
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
kgptzac

Is it actually worth your time?

I think the answer to this question regarding video games is always: yes, until it isn’t. Spending time (and money, and everything else including the opportunity cost which you can be doing something else) playing video games should not be treated as an investment. I can get bored after playing a game for 2 hours but I’m not going to deny or belittle the 1.5 hours of playing it being a positive enjoyment.

Reader
Anstalt

I’m confused. “Gameplay before gacha” and yet not a single word about what the gameplay actually is. Literally, an entirely article about whether the game is worth playing or not and not a single word on the gameplay, you know, how you actually spend your time in the game?!?!

What’s the main gameplay loop?

What’s the combat like?

What’s the exploration like?

Is there any depth in the gameplay mechanics?

Are there secondary, external goals like building homes / cities?

Totally weird article, basically just “actually, the gacha’s not too bad because the game is better than all the other gacha games”. That may well be true, but the bar wasn’t exactly high.

Reader
Malcolm Swoboda

There’s plenty of gameplay. Weird how this article claims to ‘dig into the gameplay’ but just gets into the gacha relation to it. I could go on for a while about what I do in the game that has nothing (directly) to do with things you’d pay money for.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
kgptzac

I think the article is more of a critical analysis which omitted the part you are looking for because the author was writing to people who already are playing/have played the game. Bit like discussing how a fiction’s lore, story, and plot is good or bad, where such discussion has little meaning to those who hasn’t experienced the fiction already.

Reader
Sorenthaz

It’s basically Breath of the Wild but more casual and without the stresses of weapon durability and such. Also with multiple characters (where the gacha system comes into play) who all have different playstyles and abilities + elements. Elements have some degree of impact with being able to do things like using ice abilities to freeze water to walk on it, or charging things with electricity to power them on. Elements also overlap and interact with each other in different ways, i.e. water-dowsed enemies will freeze over if hit by an ice ability and frozen enemies will thaw if hit with a fire ability. So you sort of build up a roster of characters that can play with their different elemental combos to make the most of their skills.

Reader
Jokerchyld

To be fair it was one of the biggest global launches and I dont think I was on the Internet more than a few minutes before it was being referenced everywhere. A search would answer your questions with options to go as deep as you want.

This article is dealing with the question everyone is trying to figure out. Can you play a gatcha game (to your content) without the gatcha and so far for this game the answer is yes. This is surprisingly considering the model itself is built of luring gamers in with free resources then presenting a wall that cant be overcome without using real money.

You should check the game out before making assumptions.

Reader
Bruno Brito

The only think i know about Genshin ( and gachas in general ) is that there is a ungodly ammount of hentai made from the source material.

Reader
Malcolm Swoboda

And its all the same characters.

Flashback to HarryxDraco being the only fanfiction of the HP franchise, romantic/sexual or not.

Reader
Mark

well there goes my weekend

Reader
Bruno Brito

I’m being honest here: People underrate how creative 18+ artists are. Normally, fandoms tend to have way more creative people than the creator themselves. HP and SW are great examples of how the community did most of the work after the source material and people can’t see it.

I’ve never knew how much Fate/GO and now Genshin has in the number of unnoficial manga and how these artists can make decent storytelling towards a plot that is basically sex.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
kgptzac

It has something to do with low barrier of entry where people (like horny teenagers/young adults) can consume such products en masse.

But now I’m thinking about what is it like to have Star Citizen hentai because you know, that game doesn’t exactly have low barrier of entry xD

Reader
Bruno Brito

The barrier of entry is giving money to CIG, which is to say: It has a moral barrier.

Reader
Kawaii Five-O

I wouldn’t consider Genshin Impact to be generous in how it doles out primogems. In fact, the primogem economy (considering how expensive summons are) is very scarce in comparison to other gacha games–including Fate Grand Order which is massively successful and notorious for its abysmal rates (which are still better than GI’s).

Sure, it may seem generous when you first start playing and are constantly getting meager amounts of gems from finding chests as you explore the world and clearing dungeons or domains. However, that doesn’t continue indefinitely. Once you’ve done them, that’s pretty much it. Yes, chests have a chance to respawn over time, but they’re not something you count on regularly.

Furthermore, most of the things listed as being good sources of primogems are one time bonuses only. Dungeons, domains, even floors 1-8 of the abyss only give primogems for first time clears.

Floors 1-8 in the abyss are permanent and don’t reset. So, once you get those rewards, that’s it. Only floors 9-12 reset, and they reset every 2 weeks. Not weekly.

Reader
Malcolm Swoboda

If I pay a sub and login daily and do commissions, that’s one pull every two days (or close) just from that or a 10pull every couple weeks or less, depending on other rewards/mail/etc.

I’ve had worse. But I’ve also had much better, especially considering the sub is included in this.

Reader
Kawaii Five-O

Like I said, for f2p, that’s pretty bad in comparison to most other gacha games, including the juggernaut that is FGO–especially when you consider the 0.6% rate for 5 stars.

I also have the Welkin Moon Blessing and the Gnostic Hymn. I do enjoy the game. A lot. Which is why I think it’s important to be accurate and honest about areas where it falls short, so that these issues can be addressed.

Mihoyo has a lot of work to do. The game has already been mired in controversy in both the east and the west. Some of which are warranted and some are not or were gross overreactions.

They had an incredible launch in terms of revenue, and that’s great, really. It shows them that there is a big market for this game. However, if they want to avoid a huge drop off in revenue and stay wildly successful long-term, they are going to have make some revisions to the current model/economy.

Reader
Malcolm Swoboda

Sorry, to be clear, I wasn’t defending or attacking the game in my reply, just sharing my experience.

But I agree with all you just said.

kajidourden
Reader
kajidourden

You’re leaving out a very important part of the equation. There’s only one version of each character or weapon you can pull. Other Gacha games have 3, 4 and 5 star versions of things and do things like require you to pull multiples in order to evolve a unit (in other words, to progress).

Genshin rewards dupes but does not require them, and there is only one version of everything in the game which makes it far more friendly.

Even if you get twice as many pulls it doesn’t matter when the pool is 5x bigger.

Reader
Ozzie

As someone who’s only followed Genshin Impact from a distance — it really, really scares the crap out of me.

From what I can tell, it’s one of the first games to completely penetrate the single-player (with co-op) genre with gacha elements in the western market. This is something others publishers have never truly been able to do, while probably salivating at the opportunity. They usually had to tack on multiplayer modes like in Mass Effect. Otherwise, Ubisoft tried it with Assassin Creed’s experience boosts which were not well-received at all. Or they look to upsell single player games with special digital items or future DLC. But as far as I know, there’s never been a precedent for baking in gacha in a popular singleplayer-like game. Until now, and that’s why it scares me.

Maybe I’m just wrong about the single-player aspects? I keep seeing talk about being an MMO, but reading the feature list that seems completely not the case. There’s just mild coop in a BOTW-like game. I’m hoping this doesn’t spawn many copycats in gaming, where more and more games push the envelop and bake in gacha (however tame). Still interesting read though and I feel more informed.

Reader
Malcolm Swoboda

Gacha, I guess it can happen. But we’re talking F2P here. Is ME, AC, F2p? Only a few mobile titles. And despite what you see all here, Genshin is still mobile-first or else it wouldn’t even run on them. The more you play, the more the edges are apparent.

Genshin is ‘single-player’ except its a (potential; your choice) grindfest and co-op eases difficulty and time-consumption a lot (with a proper group). You can complete any main (or even secondary) story content entirely solo, but there’s a progression there that – again F2P basis – you could work at like any gacha, just less visible or so-far necessary.

Its possible a big corp will try similar projects, but its actually a huge gamble if it doesn’t become an instant hit, because they lose out on the initial ‘box prices’ that try to cover development and marketing costs. Imagine what’s going on with all the failed or failing or seemingly potentially failing battle royale clones – but even more of a collapse and a loss. Sure, imagine the F2P Mass Effect game where we gacha various characters for our squad or maybe even ‘protagonist’ (in some form). Imagine it isn’t an amazing hit that gets more eyes on it and whales paying like crazy than all previous ME games combined. Phew, disaster. Especially when not geared for including mobile.

Reader
Jeremy Barnes

Everything about this game is Gacha.

Reader
Malcolm Swoboda

Hot take

Reader
Jeremy Barnes

I don’t think you know what that means.

Reader
Utakata

I’m more worried about it’s business model catching on, frankly and francesly.