Genshin Impact mixes a serene open-world with intense character action [PAX East 2020]

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Genshin Impact isn’t afraid to admit where it draws inspiration from. during my hands-on time with the game at PAX East 2020, I explored a lush open-world full of cel-shaded greenery and gorgeous hills that would remind anyone of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I could bump into a wall and begin climbing it as you would in Breath of the Wild, or cook food at camp stoves like you would in Breath of the Wild. Taking only those similarities in, you would likely end up writing off Genshin Impact as an anime clone of Nintendo’s latest Zelda adventure and move on.

You would be incredibly wrong.

Mihoyo Games hasn’t simply slapped some cute anime models into an all-too-familiar open world and called it a day. The developers behind slick and satisfying mobile action game Honkai Impact 3rd have put their talents to great use developing engaging and intense combat systems for Genshin Impact. You’ll have over 30 characters to select from in the game, forming a party of four to traverse the world with as they each level up, unlock new abilities and discover new weapons and equipment. Each character has a unique elemental ability, and these elements can be combined not only with each other through combat combos, but with the elements of the world as well.

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For example, let’s say you use a fire character in battle to set the field ablaze with flames. If you switch to a wind character, like the archer Venti, you can then use a wind ability that will combine with the flames and deal extra damage as a tornado of flame or a directed wind tunnel of fire. Outside of combat, however, you can have that same fire character set a patch of grass on fire, and then have Venti use a minor wind ability to create gusts of wind from the flames that can send her soaring into the air. Ice characters can freeze water and walk along it, or freeze enemies in place before melting them away with a fire attack.

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While individual character toolsets don’t match up to the likes of what you’d see in Bayonetta or Devil May Cry 3, switching quickly between your full party allows you to chain together seamless links of attacks and abilities that will perfectly scratch that character action itch. The method of character switching is still being perfected, though, as current PlayStation 4 builds of the game require you to stop your actions and pull up a menu in order to switch characters.

Other minor gameplay elements help differentiate Genshin Impact from Breath of the Wild significantly. The biggest element, co-op play, allows you and other players to tackle special raids and boss battles together. There’s also the promising RPG elements, with characters unlocking new combat abilities and mutations as well as a wide variety of new weapons. While Genshin Impact isn’t afraid to wear it’s inspirations on it’s sleeve, it’s also just as willing to get creative and show how Mihoyo Games has taken a familiar formula and put an incredibly unique new spin on it.

Miguel Moran
I'm a writer, voice actor, and 3D artist living la vida loca in New York City. I'm into a pretty wide variety of games, and shows, and films, and music, and comics and anime. Anime and video games are my biggest vice, though, so feel free to talk to me about those. Bury me with my money. Social Media Manager for Akupara Games