Choose My Adventure: Genshin Impact is a perfectly lovely single-player RPG


Before I begin, I want to point out that I promise I didn’t write that headline just to get anger clicks. I don’t want anger. Seriously, I have enough reasons to feel awful. I want to cut off any rage at the pass by saying that Genshin Impact is still a wonderful bit of gaming in spite of its multiplayer feeling like a huge afterthought.

The reason I came to the conclusion I did is sort of springboarding off my thoughts from last week’s column, in which I noted how playing the game with others would be nice but also how almost nobody in my personal sphere is playing the game – or if they are they’re far further ahead than I am. And frankly, if you’re not alongside the wider playerbase – or if you don’t have a friend to tag along with you from the start – then you’re going to be forgotten.

Yet in spite of that, Genshin Impact stands wholly on its own two feet as a single-player experience.

Once again the combat continues to delight, as it kept hitting this weird gray area between overly simple and a bit more tactical. Regular fights out in the open world continue to be generally basic (which is a good thing), but then there was one story dungeon that I did where using skills that I’ve been pushed towards along the way – elemental interplay and the elemental sight mechanic in specific – made a long fight significantly easier.

Of course that’s not to suggest that I did only main story things. As per the poll instructions, I mostly focused on roaming the environs around Monstadt, looking at points of interest, finding treasure chests, upgrading statues, and collecting all of the shiny materials and gubbins I could cram into my character’s invisible pockets of hammerspace. And even outside of the influence of cold medicine (I’m feeling better, thanks for asking), I enjoyed the feeling of chill vibes washing over me.

Hell, I even started to like the game’s story, even if just a little bit. Mostly that was helped by the arrival of Diluc to the overall plot, but also because I kind of forgot that there were some other narrative pieces that tied things together mentally for me in regards to the storyline. See, nine times out of 10, anime stories end up arriving as a sort of white noise or TV static to my brain, but as weaboo as GI’s plotline is, I don’t recall some of the story cutscenes that brought a bit more flavor and most importantly information into things.

Still, I was at the point where I had to deal with Venti, of whom I’m not a really big fan. This little boy – or wind god or whatever – is one of the most self-important little twerps I’ve ever had the misfortune of interacting with. And I know that he’s a pretty central figure in this opening portion of the story, so I’m going go have to grit my teeth and bear it, if only to get to a point where I can interact with Diluc some more.

Speaking of characters, I did indeed burn up my freebie wishes in order to try for some of the gacha banners. I was kind of hoping against hope that Raiden Shogun would land in my lap, but regrettably she didn’t.

Noelle did, though. But then I’m pretty sure Noelle lands in everybody’s lap.

All throughout this experience, I didn’t open my game up to anyone else and just roamed the world entirely by my own. As I did, I got the pervasive sense that this was the way the game was probably meant to be experienced. Sure, there’s obviously some multiplayer connectivity in there, and I also suspect that at higher world levels the need for others to join in becomes more vital, but I’m really not sure that’s the case. And I don’t really mind that.

If we discount the fact that I’m controlling four characters at once, the game’s overall vibe really does seem to be about exploring a wide open new world by yourself with nothing but your party members with you in a sort of Xenoblade Chronicles kind of gameplay experience. Would Teyvat be more interesting if there were a bunch of other players roaming around? Sure. but the story and the vibe and the experience of playing Genshin Impact by myself just feels… right. Kind of like how Star Wars: The Old Republic stands up great as a bunch of single-player class stories. The lack of an online community in-game is easily ignored, and perhaps seeing that would rock the chill boat of GI too much.

That’s not to suggest that we should stop covering this title in the news because it still lands in our sphere of interest, even if peripherally. I’m also not saying that those who do play it in multiplayer are incorrect. But playing this game solo – as lonesome as it is – seems the best way to approach it. I’d even go so far as to suggest Genshin as another one of those games that satisfies the desire for MMO progression grind without being an MMO.

Honestly, I think I’ll keep this one on my drive in order to cleanse the palate once in a while, taking in the world of Teyvat all by myself at my own snail’s pace. Or maybe I should just end up trying Honkai: Star Rail. Or maybe I’ll just wait for Zenless Zone Zero to come out; that one seems more like my vibe with its whole Shibuya-styled The World Ends with You/Splatoon aesthetic.

In either case, it is time to bid this series goodbye for the month and look ahead to February. And that means it’s time for me to go back to basics in terms of this column’s format, meaning I’m going to focus on a sandbox title once again. And there have been quite a few that have arrived to my radar of recent that I think might work for our purposes here. So… where to, friends?

What game should I go to next? Choose My Adventure!

  • The Wagadu Chronicles. Head to the afrofantasy sandbox. (42%, 29 Votes)
  • RuneScape. Travel the world of Gielinor. (20%, 14 Votes)
  • Palworld. Explore the monster sandbox. (26%, 18 Votes)
  • Mortal Online 2. Roam the UE5-style wilds. (12%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 69

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Polling closes at the usual time of 1:00 p.m. EST on Friday, February 2nd. Until then, I might fire this one back up and just chill. I kind of need this relaxation right now.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Chris each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures – and you get to decide his fate. Which is good because he can often be a pretty indecisive person unless he’s ordering a burger.
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