[PAX EAST] Hands On With Genshin Impact

Written by Derek Wright

Brace for Impact: Genshin Impact Preview

When I first saw Genshin Impact, I, like others, thought it was going to be a good-looking Breath of the Wild clone. I didn’t mean this in a negative light, as many games that begin with the simple idea of emulating a huge success can mutate into their own thing. Case in point, the creator of the original Street Fighter, Takashi Nishiyama, left Capcom to join SNK and create Fatal Fury. The Fatal Fury series would eventually garner its own fan base, leading to the larger King of Fighters series. Needless to say, I wasn’t worried that Genshin would eventually grow into its own being.

Fast-forward roughly nine months from the reveal trailer and I received hands on time with the PC version. The Switch version wasn’t playable at PAX, but I was assured that miHoYo is aiming to have the same content and optimized gameplay across all versions. I was immediately overwhelmed by the amount of options available in the demo. There was a large cast of characters I could play as immediately, but I stuck with the basic four that were already selected. From here I could see many differences between it and Breath of the Wild. This is a fully fleshed-out action role playing game with a vast selection of different playable characters.

Impact Zone Dead Ahead

While I didn’t see any of the story elements in my brief time with the demo, I was told that each character will have story elements, whether it is tied to the main quest or side quests. Speaking of story, much of the backstory for the game is available in manga form on miHoYo’s website for free and it’s quite good! Aside from the story being a bigger focus than in Breath of the Wild, the combat felt more nuanced. Each character has a distinct fighting style as well as super moves similar to fighting games. Players can also change characters in mid-strike with the push of a button. It got me to thinking about how this could work in a boss situation for linking together combos and super moves. Genshin Impact just got real. Really real.

Movement in the game felt very loose and fast. Traversing the world was fun as it seemed there was always a new thing to discover or explore. The dense world and its color scheme may be the only thing that truly bridges together Genshin Impact and Breath of the Wild. Upon opening the map, a team member was quick to point out that the area shown only represents ten percent of the final game. The world will be utterly massive and miHoYo isn’t stopping there. They want this game to be a long-term investment with new content and quests added regularly.

The team member I spoke with gave me a ballpark number of at least five years of support. He didn’t clarify if this will be free updates or paid DLC, but regardless, it would mean quality of life support will be there for all players throughout the experience. Even without the future updates, Genshin Impact is shaping up to be a title all Switch owners need to be aware of.

Genshin Impact arrives on the Nintendo Switch in 2020.

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