miHoYo‘s upcoming free to play open world action RPG Genshin Impact seems to be enjoying a tremendous amount of hype ahead of its Western release on September 28th. Considering it looks like a gorgeous mix between The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and a modern MMO, that’s not exactly newsworthy, but is the hype warranted? After all, this wouldn’t be the first time that people fell for a game’s aesthetics, only to feel incredibly disappointed by their purported dream game’s mechanics or even its monetization system.
And speaking of monetization, let’s tackle the elephant in the room right away, since this is something that we’ll have to talk about sooner or later, and it’s easier to do it right now than to wait for the final paragraph of this article. Genshin Impact is a free to play title that will use a Gacha system for monetization. What’s a Gacha system? Well, it’s basically like an online roulette at a virtual casino, where the player spends cash in order to have a chance at winning something cool, only that instead of showing you the roulette animation and letting you bet on colors, it does the calculations behind the scenes and just shows you what you got. Through this Gacha system, players earn characters and gear, which in turn, can be upgraded through the use of duplicates. This kind of system can result in some very expensive charges, should the player get drawn to it, but it can also be a relatively fair monetization scheme, where you can probably earn most of the stuff in the game without paying a dime (since you get free “rolls” too). Overall, I think this aspect of the game won’t be a big issue, as it still lets fans enjoy the storyline without spending a lot of cash, and it’s not super intrusive.
Phew! We got through the hardest part, yay! Next, I’d say that we should examine gameplay, but in all honesty, I can’t fault anyone being hyped about the game for that reason, because what I played during the closed Beta tests was fun and engaging. The world is big, beautiful to look at, and fun to explore (remember that Breath of the Wild climbing mechanic? It’s here too!). The combat system can take a while to get used to, but it features combos, juggles, all that nice stuff. I doubt it’ll hold a candle to Kingdoms of Amalur Re:Reckoning‘s combat, but then again, which action RPG does? So yeah, I’d say that the gameplay mechanics are, on their own, good enough to be hyped for this title, especially considering that it’s free to play and there’s no initial cash expenditure to be made.
At the end of the day, there are two parts where I am curious to see whether Genshin Impact holds up or not. What are those? Story and endgame content. I understand that MMOs aren’t exactly known for their deep stories (though Final Fantasy XIV would like to have a word with you if you think that all MMO stories suck, period). In this specific case, I think that a story that makes sense and keeps players engaged would go a long way towards ensuring the game’s success and continued longevity however, which also ties into my endgame questions. We all know that online-only titles will only last as long as they make money for their operators (just ask Wildstar and countless others if you don’t believe me). So, unless the endgame is deep enough to keep players glued to the screen playing Genshin Impact, miHoYo will need to have created a pretty good story as an alternative, and to be honest, I’m rooting for them to have done both things. Why is that? Well, it’s because in the end, I am actually also quite hyped for this upcoming title, and would love to see it succeed.