Genshin Impact is a revolution for traditional free-to-play

Back when Genshin Impact was first announced last year, this lush open-world adventure bore some key similarities to Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Now, over a year on, Genshin Impact still hasn’t shaken those comparisons, but since the release of 1.0 last week it’s clear it’s so much more than a free-to-play clone of Nintendo’s finest. That’s evident from the numbers alone: Genshin Impact is now the “biggest global launch of a Chinese game ever”, and is currently on track to gross more than $100 Million in its first month alone.

Developer MiHoYo is no stranger to technically impressive free-to-play mobile titles, with a decent pedigree with titles like Honkai Impact 3rd, another action-focused game with gorgeous graphics, locked to mobile devices. Of course, how a company is able to put out high-budget games for free is that they rely on you spending money on in-game currency to get a lootbox for items and characters in the game. We’ve even seen Nintendo pull out their own “gacha” games in the form of Dragalia Lost and Fire Emblem: Heroes, but there’s something different about Genshin Impact. Instead of having a lower budget game locked to mobile devices, MiHoYo has thrown a $100 Million budget at it, and come out with a fully-fledged AAA open-world RPG that’s on console as well as mobile.

Ostensibly, Genshin Impact is an open-world character action game where you play as “the traveller”, sent to the world of Teyvat after a brief fight with a mysterious god of some kind alongside your twin of an opposite gender, which you can select. You’re very slowly lulled into Teyvat with the cute but ever-so-slightly Grating Paimon, who serves as your Navi-style guide through the world. Soon after, you meet Amber, an archer for the local town who joins your party, and introduces you to the city of Montstadt, which serves as your base for the early hours of the game.

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