I got a pretty decent laptop upgrade not that long ago, and so I thought I'd give the free to play game Genshin Impact a try. The game is a whopping 30+ GB to download and makes my laptop's fan go into overdrive, but it does look great and it plays smoothly. Even before its release the game drew comparisons to Breath of the Wild as the lush environments feel natural are realistic, but the similarities are a bit more than skin deep as you also have a stamina meter, the scenery is dotted with collectibles you need to gather for crafting and to use with the game's extensive cooking mechanics, there are small enemy camps all over the place that will net you minor rewards, and you can jump off of high places and glide down. These mechanics are all secondary to the other differences between the two games which are all major. In Genshin Impact you have a whole cast of fully voiced, anime style characters you can switch between, each with their own special abilities and upgrades and can equip weapons and items (which you'll also need to upgrade). You accrue a few characters through the game's story, but the bulk of your team will have to be earned through the game's gacha mechanics.

The game plays fine, but even after spending hours on it, I just didn't feel very invested in it. The game is generous with items to level up characters (although you have to hunt down special items to "ascend" them to unlock their level caps), but it's really gated by the "adventure rank", which is only upgraded via completing tons of missions. The bulk of these are little side stories that I just found to be all the sorts of things I've already seen hundreds of times before (e.g. looking for ingredients for a cooking contest), and I got bored of them pretty quickly. The story missions are marginally more interesting, but the game is set up so that you have to complete these other missions in order to get to the appropriate adventure rank to go back to the story missions. I'm guessing that many players get enough out of these missions and exploring the vast world (which I wasn't particularly interested in doing) and the combat system (which I didn't bother to master since I could just button mash my way through battles), but I just didn't feel like the game was unique enough to be worth my time. Perhaps it also doesn't help that the game is designed for the long haul. A year after its release, only two of its 8+ chapters have been released, and even after all the hours I'd spent on it, I still hadn't even finished the Prologue. I'm not saying that I need to have instant gratification or anything, but the story progression just seemed incredibly slow.

Overall I didn't mind playing Genshin Impact, but for me its long haul setup is a big turn off. I was astounded to see that after a year the game is "the third most financially successful mobile game in the world", but I guess I can sort of see its appeal for action RPG fans who find its anime trappings to be appealing. I don't really see myself coming back to this one for any extensive amount of time anytime soon, but I might log in for the occasional special event.

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