When I fired up Genshin Impact for the first time almost a year ago when it was released, I was blown away. I’ve spent plenty of time (and money) in both free-to-play and gacha games and going into this one, I figured it would be more of the same – basic, nonsensical story, greedy gacha elements, and chibi-style graphics.
I knew almost nothing about this one when I downloaded it, only that it took a lot of influence from Breath of the Wild, but it only took a couple of hours to realize Genshin Impact was going to break the mold of the free-to-play mobile games I was used to. Now, almost a year after its initial release, I can confidently say that it continues to exceed my expectations.
While it still very much has the bones of a free-to-play game – and while I have a hard time recommending it to people that struggle with self-control when it comes to spending money – the graphics, characters, and story are all top-tier.
Now, with Genshin Impact getting ready to celebrate its one-year anniversary and the recent release of its biggest expansion yet with the 2.0 Inazuma update, I just wanted to take a couple of minutes to highlight what the developers behind the game are doing right and touch on its most controversial element – rolling for characters.
Great characters combined with great stories
One of the things that really sets Genshin Impact apart from other free-to-play mobile experiences is just the sheer amount of coherent stories and great characters. Now, don’t get me wrong, plenty of mobile games have robust stories, but Genshin’s delivery method just makes it more approachable.
This is thanks to nearly all of the storylines being fully voiced and many of them even include cutscenes that really help players feel an attachment to the characters.
The ongoing 2.0 storylines with Yoimiya, Baal, Toma, and more are well-written and for me have been some of the best highlights of the story up to now.
What really helps bring this all together, while also promoting the gacha element of the game is that many of these characters are available to roll on – meaning you get the chance to play some of your favorite characters.
Dynamic, engaging combat
Coming from mobile games like Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes and Arknights, Genshin isn’t an idle game and there is no auto-battle system, and personally, that has made the journey that much more rewarding. Instead of watching your growing collection of characters get stronger from the sideline, you get to really dive in.
Whether you are building a freeze comp with Ayaka and Xingqiu or going full pyro with Klee, Bennet, and Diluc, building out characters in Genshin just feels good, and seeing those damage numbers go up makes the tedious artifact grind to improve your characters just a little bit more tolerable.
All of those awesome characters do bring out the worst part of the game, however, and it’s the one thing that probably won’t/can’t change – rolling for characters.
F2P players still have it rough one year in
The nature of F2P games, Genshin Impact included, is getting players to spend money rolling on things like weapons and characters. Most players know what they are getting into when they get into a gacha game, but Genshin switched up the formula thanks to its advertising campaign and gameplay and brought the world of gacha to the mainstream.
miHoYo, the company behind Genshin, is pretty stingy when it comes to giving out characters and the currency used to roll on characters. This means free-to-play players have to save and save and save if they want a guaranteed chance at a limited character.
While the company has given out a couple of characters and you can slowly earn the premium currency without dropping a dime, it’s going to be a grind and one that is, in my opinion, a bit too harsh. There are so many great characters that so many people will never get to experience.
Even with the gacha elements, the game is worth playing
While the gacha implementation is probably a little too harsh, you do get enough free pulls to grow your stable of characters and those will definitely be enough to enjoy the story and beautiful world of Genshin Impact.
The story is really heating up and miHoYo still has at least three years of content planned to propel the story. That second part is also reassuring for people that are putting money into the game, because it means that (hopefully) this game won’t just disappear in a couple of years.
If you’ve been looking for a free-to-play game with literally weeks of content to enjoy, then this one definitely deserves some space on your PlayStation, PC, or smartphone (Android and iOS).
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