Last year, one guy made waves by smashing his PlayStation 4 in protest of a Chinese-made game that looked strikingly similar to 2017’s hit Nintendo Switch release The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Fast forward to 2020, and it turns out that “clone” is actually pretty darn good — enough so to climb to the No. 2 spot on Twitch just below League of Legends.
It’s a completely different beast in terms of narrative, and its core systems are altered to suit the F2P Gatcha game lifestyle, so while you’re free to explore its expansive world, there may come a time when its roulette-wheel character unlocks become a costly endeavor. For the first few dozen hours, though, Genshin Impact is an immensely generous game you can play without dropping a single cent, and as any F2P ends up being, it’s complicated. Here’s how to get a leg up in your adventures.
Genshin Impact is an action-oriented RPG with a distinctively soft anime art style. As a sword user whose sibling was whisked away in an otherworldly battle, you’re off on an adventure around the regions of Teyvat to rescue them, all the while recruiting an ever-growing roster of elementally-attuned characters to aid you on your journey.
Before you make your account, though, have a long, hard think about how you plan to play the game. It’s available on mobile, PC, and PS4, and while it has crossplay between all three, it’ll only cross-save between the former two. That means all three platforms can play together online, but you won’t be able to start on a PS4 and pick up where you left off on mobile without using something like Remote Play.
Soon after you set off from the beach with the fairy/mascot/potentially-edible pixie Paimon, you’ll meet Amber, a member of the Knights of Favonius stationed in the nearby city of Mondstadt. She’s a fire-attuned archer designed to teach you the other side of combat: Ranged. Make your way to the bustling city in the distance, and you’ll soon be on your way to unlocking your first full squad.
Though you can recruit any number of new allies and swap them into your combat team, you’re stuck to using just four at any one time. Team building is an essential part of the experience, and while elemental reactions play a big part in combat, thanks to how they interact to break, explode, burn, and freeze unsuspecting foes, they’re not essential to victory. Stat bonuses are applied to teams that opt to use the same element more than once, so you’ll have something to pad out your lack of coverage in a fight.
To make headway in the game’s quests and progress at a leisurely pace, you’ll need to get to grips with traversing the world around you. Thankfully, it’s a cinch. Genshin Impact features a wide-open world to explore, with roads leading to all the key areas, and there’s an all-too-familiar climbing system designed to encourage you off the beaten path.
If you see something, you can probably climb it — so long as you have the stamina to do so. Houses, walls, and mountainsides can all be scaled freely, creating plenty of opportunities to get lost in the luscious hills. Make sure to follow the main questline to Mondstadt first, though. The Glider Amber gifts to you at the top of the town play a big role in getting you around the world with ease.
With the whole region governed by the wind god, they swear by using the air to travel. Launching yourself off tall cliffs can help you clear large areas of the map in no time. Exploration is key in this game, and with treasure chests being dotted around and hidden by puzzles and monster camps, there’s plenty of reason to take a break from following the questline.
The moment you step off the standard walkway, you’re bound to run into a few enemies. Slime, Hilichurls, angry plant-like things, and probably more Hilichurls will notice your presence, and they’re always up for a fight.
For the most part, you’ll be spending stamina with your Normal Attack — either by tapping it for a combo or holding for something stronger based on the character and weapon type they use. These attacks won’t use your character’s element unless altered with another ability, however.
Each character uses a distinct weapon type; longsword, bow, claymore, polearm, or catalyst. Weapons hold no elemental attunement of their own, so the type of damage they deal is down to the wielder, making it easy to swap out applicable weapons between eligible characters as your roster changes.
Your character’s elemental talent (mapped to your trigger button by default) can be used to inflict things like Wet or Burn. If the target is already afflicted with one, it can be combined with other elements to create reactions like Melt, Overload, and Freeze. Once you’ve fought enough to charge your special ability, you can unleash it to deal massive damage, apply long-lasting buffs, control enemies, or even heal party members. It all depends on your character’s skillset.
Combat is relatively simple at the start, but playing around with elements can, and will, complicate things before long. For the most part, enemies themselves aren’t attuned to an element — but they can utilize the benefits of them for a time.
For example, a Slime with a Cryo icon above its head can freeze you with its attacks if you’re afflicted with Wet, but hitting it with a Pyro attack causes Melt, subduing its ability by reacting to its element. Memorizing how the elements interact with each other can help speed up fights. When there’s some kind of shield of armor involved, mastery of the elements become almost mandatory.
You’re free to switch between any of your four party characters on a whim, and you absolutely should. Talent cooldowns are independent of each character, after all. Get used to exhausting one character’s ability sequence, then switch to another to keep the offensive going, eventually looping back through your roster to keep things flowing.
While adventuring out in the field, you’ll come across any number of monster camps, NPCs, towns, chests, and little puzzles, all of which will keep loot rolling into your inventory like a slot machine.
To ensure you don’t get lost on your way, it’s important to trigger nearby shrines. Not only will you then be able to permanently increase your stamina by spending Anemoculus found on your travels, but you’ll also uncover a large section of the map. You can even fast travel to these by highlighting them on the map.
On a similar note, individual teleportation posts can be found all across the land. Activate these to create a travel network you can use to zip around explored areas with ease.
If you have a knack for noticing patterns, you’ll find plenty of puzzles around Teyvat — ways to conjure up the wind to reach tokens, lanterns to light to reveal hidden objects, and little sprites to follow to unlock hidden chests and pathways. You’ll need to use everything you’ve learned to solve them, but the rewards are usually worth it.
Ley Line Outcrops
Once you’ve progressed far enough into the story, Ley Line Outcrops will begin to appear on the map. These are unique monster camps with high-level enemies. Dispatch them, and you can spend Original Resin to claim random rewards from a predetermined list. Resin regenerates naturally over time, so consider it a reason to log in daily to reap some quick rewards.
You’ll end up in a few trial Domains early on in the story to unlock characters like Lisa, but these double-up as proper dungeons later in the game. When you’re strong enough to tackle them, places like Cecilia Garden and the Hidden Palace of Zhou Formula will become essential in your quest for loot and upgrade materials. You can even toggle the map to show only Domains and the type of loot they offer. You’ll need to use Original Resin to claim the rewards.
Shrine of depths
Curious square prisons can be found scattered around Mondstadt, with one being just above the first Domain you dive into. These are tempting treasure rooms that can only be unlocked with keys corresponding to that region of the map.
You’ll get your first key through Adventure Rank rewards relatively quickly, with the rest being dropped in Domains on occasion. Once opened, you’ll find a single chest containing an assortment of high-level equipment, materials, and even a decent amount of Primocrystals.
No open-world RPG is complete without a few strangers traversing the land as well. Most of these characters will have problems that need fixing, and the quest chains they sometimes lead to can have rewards that far outweigh just roaming around endlessly.
Each character levels up separately from each other, but all characters in your party gain experience points in a fight. Like most MMORPGs, grinding experience with back-to-back fights isn’t the most efficient way to level up your squad, nor is it the only way to grow in strength.
Character experience can be gained in a number of ways: Defeating enemies, completing quests, or using consumable items. It’s the latter you’ll use to quickly catch new characters up to the same point as your others as the adventure goes on, but it’s also something you shouldn’t really concern yourself with early in the game.
It’s not unusual to breeze through enemies many levels higher than yourself early on, so until you hit a boss monster you just can’t beat, you should just focus on exploring the world around you.
When characters reach level 20 and other notable milestones, they’ll become level capped and will need to be “ascended” to level up any further. The requirements for this vary per character and range from using a few key materials in the field or taking down a specific enemy. If you’re struggling to find specific materials out in the open, exchanging Anemo Sigils at Marjorie’s shop in Mondstadt can get you what you need.
You can see big bursts in strength by upgrading the Talents you use in combat. You won’t be doing this much early in the game, though. To get to the point where upgrading talents becomes necessary, you’ll first have to max out your respective character’s level and use items to Ascend them beyond the default level cap, at which point they’ll automatically have additional talents and passives unlocked automatically.
Constellations are traits unique to each character that can do anything from buff existing Talents, level them up, or add new effects.
Each Constellation must be unlocked in sequence. Unlocking a Constellation requires a single Stella Fortune in the respective character’s name, which can only be acquired through pulling a duplicate character in a Wish or bought through the Starglitter Exchange. Characters offered through the shop change almost daily, making acquiring duplicates a time-sensitive endeavor.
Like any good RPG, your character’s equipment plays a major role in their combat effectiveness. Not only will the right weapon catapult your damage numbers through raw power, but the right combination of Artifacts can award set bonuses to complement their skills or fill in for any weaker points of their arsenal.
Both types of equipment can be found in treasure chests and on defeated enemies, crafted back in town, or even in Wish pulls, too. Weapons and Artifacts can be leveled up just like characters, with some even able to be Refined for additional effects.
Enhancement refers to increasing a weapon’s Lv, which in turn increases its base attack stats. Old or low-quality weapons and can be used to level up worthwhile weapons as well as Enchantment Ore awarded through quests.
Weapons of rarity 3-star and up often come with additional passive abilities. The effects of these abilities can be increased, just like a weapon’s overall strength through Refinement. Unlike with Enhancement, where any weapon can be used in the upgrade, Refinement requires consuming an identical weapon.
This can be done multiple times, so pulling a duplicate weapon in a Wish isn’t as bad as it seems — though you may want to hold onto your first few duplicates in case you decide to use more than one character with a shared weapon type.
Food and consumables
Another big reason to adventure around the game’s expansive world is to forage for ingredients. Flora and fauna found out in the field can be turned into ingredients and cooked into nutritious meals at cooking points like stoves and campfires.
With the right ingredients, you can whip up snacks that not only restore HP, but also grant temporary stat boosts to the team like increased critical hit rate, reduced stamina depletion, and extra defense. It’s a good idea to have a variety of dishes on hand to boost your strength in a pinch. You never know when you might come across a creature that needs a bit more power to defeat.
One key ingredient to look out for is Philanemo Mushroom. You’ll find these growing on the sides of most houses and rooftops. We don’t know if you’re doing homeowners a favor by removing them or just stealing their dinner.
Being a F2P Gatcha game at heart, pulling or “Wishing” is the main way to get new characters and equipment or duplicates for upgrades.
Each pull requires 10 Acquaint Fate or Intertwined Fate: The former is used for permanently available banners, and the latter for ones featuring time-limited characters. You’ll earn some of these through quests and other activities as you play, and a limited amount of both in the Stardust exchange shop each month, too, but the fastest way to grab them is by exchanging Primogems — the game’s real-world currency.
Primogems are awarded in small amounts through in-game mail during certain events, in Shrines of Depths, or by completing achievements. If you’re up for opening your wallet, you’ll find them there, too. Once you have enough, you can initiate a 1x or 10x Wish on the corresponding banner. Five-star rates are low, but as you pull more in the same banner without landing a 5-star character, your chances increase until you do so.
Character usefulness is always subject to change in a game like this, but for the first few weeks of launch, Venti is generally seen as the one to aim for while he’s available. Not only are his attacks top-tier, but one can also be used to fling yourself up into the air.
One of the most important aspects of the game is your Adventure Rank. Not only does it control the upgradability of your characters, but other must-have features are locked behind it, too — including co-op play.
You gain Adventure Rank experience points in small amounts by exploring the world and opening chests, so expect to gain a couple of levels just by following your heart. Before long, though, things will start to slow down as the threshold for leveling up increases. Let’s get into how to speed things along.
By far, the best way to level up your Adventure Rank is to complete quests — not only main quests given by familiar characters, but side quests started by NPCs you’ll find while wandering around.
If you’re ready to start progressing beyond just running around for fun, focus your attention on completing quests until you unlock the Adventurer’s Guild and the Adventurer’s Handbook. At this point, you should have completed a chapter or two of the Experience tab, which can easily get you another couple of levels. The bosses tab can help, too, but they can be tricky.
Keep going until you hit Adventure Rank 12, and you’ll unlock the Commissions feature, which is basically a series of four randomly-picked objectives you complete each day. They’re worth around 1,000+ Adventure Rank experience altogether and will prove to be a great way to get some fast and steady progress in small bursts each day.
When you start to climb high enough to unlock harder Domain runs, they’ll become the primary way of advancing your Adventure Rank — so long as you have the Resin needed to reap the rewards.
One of the major boons Genshin Impact has over Breath of the Wild is the ability to explore the world together with your friends. You can substitute your four-person squad for your pals, but only at a certain point in the game.
To unlock co-op play in Genshin Impact, all you have to do is hit Adventure Rank 16. It will take a full day or two of solid play, but keep the tips above in mind, and you’ll get there.
Once unlocked, co-op play can be instigated through the dedicated button or by adding people to your friend list. You can then explore dungeons with friends, take on wave-based challenges, or even explore the party leader’s open world with them.
There are limits to exploring another person’s game, but they’re not too restrictive. It’s simple stuff like not being able to start or progress your own quests or loot their treasure chests. The party leader can still do those things, though — you’ll just be there to help out and chill out between instanced-based battles and events where you’re all able to reap the rewards.
There’s a lot to take in with this game, but it’s all explained relatively well across a not-too-lengthy tutorial period. The prologue will show you the ropes, but if you don’t have time to take in the tips above, here are a few choice tips you might not pick up along the way.
- Switch characters frequently in battle. Normal Attacks alone will prolong a fight, so cycle between characters as their attacks come off cooldown to keep things flowing. Once you’ve used a character’s burst potential, swap out.
- You generally use less stamina by climbing or swimming as opposed to dashing, but you can still use a dash with the smallest amount of stamina left to finish a trip. This is good for a tough climb or when you’re right by the coast and don’t have the energy to finish it slowly.
- If the worst should happen and you’re sent hurtling off a cliff (or run out of stamina high up), holding your Normal Attack button can help you break the fall. The use of your mid-air attack negates the damage of landing, saving you from potential doom.
- Think about hitting up a nearby Shrine for some quick healing if you’re running low. Shrines have large energy reserves you can spend on healing characters, so you’ll save yourself from depleting your food reserves.
- Explore far and wide. You’ll find chests virtually everywhere — in camps, on the docks, and even on the tops of houses, ruins, and churches. You’ll need to use the elements or solve puzzles to get some to appear, but the vast majority can be found just by strolling and climbing.
- Collect ores. You’ll need these to craft weapons later. Iron can be had by just swinging at veins, but others will need to be struck with elemental attacks before they can be gathered.
- Remember: Persistent element attacks carry over to characters you switch into battle. For example, you can activate Noelle’s shield ability Breastplate and immediately switch her out to protect the character you’d rather fight as.
- Many of the super-specific missions in the Adventurer Handbook include locations. You don’t need to scour the earth looking for a boss — just highlight the task, and you might see the Navigate prompt ready to show you exactly where to go.
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