Released on: September 28, 2020
Available Platforms: PC, Android, iOS, Playstation 4
Price: Free (Has microtransations)
I always felt that mobile gaming has potential. Once the app is on the person’s phone, it will occasionally grasp the user’s attention by sitting on the user’s home screen, making them want to play their game. This ease of accessibility is an unprecedented blessing. Since everyone has their smartphone on them, ninety percent of the time, they always have easy access to their library of games. With the potential to play games everywhere being at one’s disposal, why is mobile gaming so divisive among gamers? Often I hear people claiming that mobile games are not considered real games. While I believe that not all game genres belong on the phone, I’ve seen some impressive feats being pulled off from some of them. Today’s game, Genshin Impact, is one that’s currently making the rounds on the internet. I initially heard about it through Youtube ads, but then I noticed many people on Twitter and Youtube play Genshin Impact. With it being free-to-play, I thought I would give it a shot. Does Genshin Impact bring enough to the table to leave an impact?
The realm of Teyvat is comprised of many nations, each with their ruling element and god. Our story begins with a pair of twins, visitors from the stars, as they attempt to leave a flaming warzone. Suddenly, a mysterious god prevents them from leaving. As if that wasn’t enough, the god traps one of the twins (the twin that the player doesn’t choose) and seals the other for an indeterminate amount of time. The player then wakes up to a fairy named Paimon that helps the player find out just what happened to their brother or sister. While Genshin Impact’s story is a little generic, it is short, sweet, and to the point.
Full disclosure, Genshin Impact is available not only on mobile devices but also on Playstation 4 and PC. For this review, I played the Android version of Genshin Impact. With that in mind, Genshin Impact looks lovely. The effort put into these visuals is apparent. While I think it wears its inspiration on its sleeve (the visuals wanting to emulate The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild), this ends up working in Genshin Impact’s favor. Despite running into a few frame drops when things got super busy, Genshin Impact runs fine on my Galaxy S9.
Genshin Impact’s gameplay is what impressed me the most. Mobile game touch screens usually make for a less-than-desirable experience, but somehow, Genshin Impact feels great to control. I would much prefer using a controller, but as for touch screen control implementation, Genshin Impact delivers. Earlier I mentioned the visuals were inspired by Breath of the Wild, and I feel like that holds true for the gameplay. Most of the player’s time in Genshin Impact is spent exploring the fields, towns, and dungeons of Teyvat. Luckily, there is a myriad of things to find in Genshin Impact. What’s more, the player’s Adventure Rank levels up when they open chests, complete quests, beat bosses, and completes specific objectives. I like the idea of the game rewarding the player for exploring since it is the entire point of an adventure game.
As someone who’s played Breath of the Wild, one thing I’m glad Genshin Impact didn’t implement was its weapon breaking system. While Breath of the Wild’s weapon breaking system didn’t bother me too much, it did make most of the items feel disposable, with some of them breaking so fast I’m convinced they were made of paper-mache. Genshin Impact rewards players with weapons through it’s gacha system.
One of the most significant features of Genshin Impact is its cross-platform multiplayer. Players from the Android version of Genshin Impact can play with the PC and PS4 versions with up to four players. I believe more games should allow cross-platform play. That way, the player doesn’t have to get the same game twice (despite Genshin Impact being free.)
Speaking of a gacha system, yes, being free-to-play, one would surmise that Genshin Impact has a monetization system. Those people would be correct, as the player can purchase premium currency. The most efficient way the player earns weapons and extra characters is through its gacha system. If I’m being honest, though, I think the gacha in Genshin Impact is handled pretty well. I never felt it pressured me into spending money constantly, and the currency needed to get more chances at the gacha system is rewarded to the player at a reasonable pace.
I mentioned earlier that Genshin Impact allows for cross-platform multiplayer. What it doesn’t allow, though, is cross-save across all platforms. Oh sure, the Android and PC versions of Genshin Impact are cross-save, but the Playstation 4 version? That stays on the Playstation 4. I know that the Playstation 4 is notorious for putting up roadblocks for cross-platform connectivity/play, but was there no way to make Genshin Impact cross-save across all platforms?
The big reason why I play the mobile version of Genshin Impact is due to the save data being cross-save compatible with the PC version if I decide to switch platforms. I was planning on playing Genshin Impact on PC at some point until I discovered that Genshin Impact installs an anti-cheat software into Window’s kernel. For the unaware, the operating system’s kernel is about as deep into the workings of the operating system as it gets. If something installs itself there, it is insanely difficult to remove even with anti-virus or PC cleaning software. I’ve had negative experiences with games installing software in absurdly sensitive areas of my PC, so the prospect of having an anti-cheat system installing itself in the kernel is too suspicious to me and swayed my decision on which platform to play.
Despite having questionable kernel-level anti-cheat systems for the Windows version of Genshin Impact, and not having cross-save capabilities with the Playstation 4 version, Genshin Impact is worth taking a look. The visuals are charming, the world is big and full of stuff to find, and even on mobile, the controls are responsive. For a free-to-play open-world game, Genshin Impact is impressive.