Genshin Impact – A Janus-faced jewel

For about five weeks now I’ve been playing Genshin Impact each and every day, and I still enjoy it a lot. A couple of days ago we got the first content patch since the game’s release, which gave us some more things to do, new characters to chase and a whole bunch of great quality-of-life upgrades.

I’m playing in my usual middle-of-the-pack kind of way, neither chasing to max-level (or max-something) as fast and efficiently as possible, nor “just” exploring and goofing around.

That being said, I’m now rapidly closing in on adventure rank 40, which means that my world level and thus the game’s overall difficulty will increase for the fifth time (the world level goes up every 5 ranks starting from AR 20), and let me tell you, this is having a dramatic impact on how I play the game. Or rather, how it pretty much has to be played.

Casual players’ reaction to the difficulty curve; power-gamer in the back, smirking

I feel Genshin Impact is basically a mashup of two very different types of game, and if you plan on playing it long-term you’d better like both of those, else you might find yourself having a hard time.

On the one hand it’s a lighthearted and funny, well-written story-driven RPG-light with lots of exploration and many oohs and aahs along the way. I haven’t laughed this much while gaming for a long time, and that world…just wow.

It’s also one of the few games that give me dialogue options I would actually say myself

Until about AR 25 I was primarily running all over the place, doing quests, opening chests and collecting anything that wasn’t bolted down. I didn’t pay much attention to my characters’ stats at all, only when I saw mob levels noticeably higher than mine did I use some XP items – of which I had plenty –  to push my weapons and characters to match.

However, at AR 30 at the latest the game turns its head and shows its other face, and this one is a very much progress-oriented and exceptionally grindy not-so-light-RPG that gets harder and harder quickly and has you scrambling just to keep up.

Sounds bad? Well, again, it depends on whether you like this sort of stuff or not.

I am liking it thus far, yet I can clearly see the downsides too.

This required more effort than meets the eye

My main DPS character, Razor, is maxed out for my current AR bracket, meaning that he’s level 70, as is his weapon, and his skills are all level 6. My go-to support DPS, Xiangling, and my main healer, Qiqi, are close behind.

All other characters I own are much below that though, and many are still at level 1. Which is a shame, as I would really like to, for example, check out Fischl as another support alternative, or see if Chongyun could be a good main DPS for my second team, but I just can’t afford to “waste” any resources on them. I don’t even have a second team to speak of. Because, again, I need to focus on my main characters as the next world level increase looms.

For the last three weeks or so I’ve even kind of followed a schedule, as this is just how the game works.

On Mondays and Thursdays I farm talent mats for Qiqi and, to a lesser extent, Barbara. Leftover resin, if any, is used to farm whichever elite boss I need character ascension mats from.

On Tuesdays and Fridays I’m going for Razor’s and Xiangling’s talent mats, as well as ascension materials for some of my secondary weapons.

On Wednesdays and Saturdays it’s heavy farming for Razor’s claymore, my main source of DPS, and more elite bosses.

Lastly, on Sundays I only kill bosses as the domains are on a weird random-drop rotation that’s pretty ineffective.

Getting the three aforementioned characters up to snuff required spending pretty much all my available resin – which, by the way, is the game’s slowly-regenerating energy resource aka gating mechanic most mobile games have (or so I hear) – on these activities. Even now I’m not allowing myself to branch out much as I want to be ready for AR 40, meaning that I continue to farm the exact same mats so I can spend them on these characters the moment the game lets me.

In addition to the above I do the daily comissions, try to fulfill all daily and weekly tasks for the battle pass, and also make my rounds around the map to kill various mini-bosses for their drops. It’s a busy day, every day.

As I said, so far I’m having fun doing all this stuff. I’m just not sure how long it will last. I really hope that adventure rank progress slows down significantly after 40, because it just rises too fast for my taste. I’d like to try out other characters, I want to go and explore again (still have some Anemoculi and Geoculi to find), and do all the quests I haven’t done yet because I didn’t have the time (and because they give massive amounts of adventure rank XP, speeding up the treadmill even further).

Technically there is a way to slow this process down a bit. At AR 25 and 35 you are offered an ascension quest. Until you’ve finished it you don’t get the perks attached to that rank (being able to ascend characters and weapons further, getting more/better loot etc.), your rank doesn’t go any higher and the world level stays the same too. At the time I didn’t see the benefit – who doesn’t want to get better rewards for the same activities? In hindsight I would have liked to stay at 35 for a week or two. Or maybe rather not, as the XP you get during that time isn’t lost, and you might well skip a couple of ranks if you wait long enough, possibly even resulting in a double world level increase. *shudders*

Bottom line is, there’s no escaping it. If you like the game and play a lot your world level will rise constantly no matter what you do, and you’ll have to try and keep up if you don’t want the game to become tough as nails.

Now, of course I know that some players like their games tough – or don’t perceive the same things as tough that I do – so your mileage may vary. Personally, I was fond of the gameplay as relaxed as it was in the beginning. I get by, but I really don’t want it to get any harder still, hence I keep grinding to be as strong as possible.

So…is it even worth playing if your preferences are more on the casual side, then?

Right now my answer would be yes. The characters are fun to play, combat is slick and the progression systems motivating. It’s grindy, but doesn’t feel like a chore, is what I’m saying. That story, character development and voice acting are far above average by video game standards and the game’s open world just sublime goes without mentioning at this point….and yet I did just now. Fucked that up, didn’t I? Anyway, yes, it’s worth it.

This doesn’t change the fact that I’ve never played a game quite like this though – one that combines two extremely different and, arguably, contradictory playstyles and absolutely does not let you opt out of either. Maybe over in Asia this isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but to me that switching of gears came very unexpected.

At least you now know what you’re getting yourself into should you pick up this game, if you haven’t already. What to do with it is up to you.

2 Replies to “Genshin Impact – A Janus-faced jewel”

  1. I stopped at AR25 but not because I wasn’t enjoying it. It just happened that the WoW level squish arrived and I wanted to see that and then I resubbed and I’ve basically been playing WoW ever since. I do mean to get back to GI eventually but I was already planing on not raising my AR.

    I was also planning on not doing the dragon fight you have to do at 25 and just seeing how long I could potter around exploring and doing quests until I couldn’t find anything else to do. At the time I stopped there was still a good deal of the map I hadn’t even visited and a ton of quests I’d not done so I was optimistic I could get a few more weeks out of it.

    The way these things go, though, there’s a good chance I won’t get back to GI for a while – still playing WoW, EQII expansion due before the end of the year (we assume), new Icebrood Saga in GW2 soon, Christmas events in all games etc. etc. By the time I do get back to GI there might be some changes that let me carry on even longer without having to take it seriously. Most games go that way if you wait long enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I kind of figured you might lock yourself at a certain AR, yeah. 🙂

      The drawback is that character progression isn’t the only thing locked behind AR. The story chapters for some of the characters require a certain AR for example (missing out on Klee’s would be a real shame, it’s so sweet).

      That’s what puzzles me so much. It seems the game totally doesn’t want us to just focus on the ‘casual’ aspects and opt out of endgame progression, but it really doesn’t tell you that until AR 25+ at all. Or rather, it doesn’t tell you how much harder the game’s going to become at higher AR.

      Like

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