Two years ago, I visited Mondstadt, a large fortified city with huge cobblestone walls in the northern parts of Tevyat. An ordinary looking city fortified with huge cobblestone walls. No matter where I wandered from here, I was met with acres of grassland, towering hilltops, and primitive-looking monsters wearing masks ready to hunt me down with wooden clubs. Things seemed pretty simple in Genshin Impact, and the plot seemed serviceable – purging a now-corrupted dragon that’s been protecting the entire frontier for millennia.
Fast-forward to today, and I find myself in the newly added nation of scientists, Sumero, steeped in the lush foliage of the rainforest and the diversity of its biomes. From giant fluorescent mushrooms, to a grand city built in the shape of a divine tree, every turn reveals something startlingly different. Head west, and you’ll come to miles of sand dunes with massive shrines hiding remnants of the past; The only green spaces the eye can see are those of the occasional oases. Things are greater in Sumeru than in any major region previously seen in Genshin Impact.
And that’s exactly what a live service game should be, every major content update raises a predetermined level of quality.
For many years, the attraction of “live service gaming” has been an ever-growing and evolving experience. While most of these games grow and evolve, their evolution often entails evolving from a broken version to a more stable version. Consider all the major live service releases of years past – Anthem, Halo Infinite (multiplayer), Fallout 76, No Man’s Sky, Rainbow Six: Siege, For Honor, and Call of Duty, to name a few. If you’ve played even half of it, you’ll remember that none of it hit the ground. In contrast, Genshin Impact’s beginning was very humble but pure. No major bugs, solid content, and great overall value. Then it took strides, seamlessly, from update to update, and things just kept getting better.
Not only does the game try to outperform what was there before, but it also tries to diversify its content significantly with each release. Recently, a full Genius Invokation TCG card game mode has been added. You turned me on weeksBecause the rules are simple and based on the basic principles of the game: teamwork and elemental reaction. Rather than flaunting a brand-new system, it makes you feel like you’re in familiar territory, not overwhelmed—or intimidated—by complex sets of rules you have to practice with. Similar to the main game, the mod receives regular updates, with cards added periodically and small tweaks here and there.
As with any live service game, there are limited-time events as well. But these events in Genshin Impact aren’t just about combat, they sometimes get a little silly (but in a good way). Are you telling me you’re not interested in taking lemon tea-brewing bartender academy classes together while the outside world faces all kinds of dangers and might need your help? Or surreptitiously rescuing “baby” animals from kidnapped ninja dogs?
That’s not all. Other limited events added during the game include: item hunt, semi-super mario maker mode, drum beat game, block breaking, tower defense mode, city building and much more in terms of variety of content. The best part? All of this can be enjoyed at absolutely no cost. Not only does it offer variety, but it also, sort of, acts as a nice little break from the daily drumbeat of combat and end-game combat.
Even if we consider the games of the service that did not have a disastrous start, they often end Something Silly in the end, like design decisions that end up not respecting your time and dedication to it. For example, after just a year into the game’s life cycle, The Division 2 raised the gear level cap and locked those extra tiers behind $40 worth of DLC. A year’s worth of grinding up to that point suddenly wasn’t competitive, and you had to make an effort to make progress.
Turn off other Live Service games or cancel previous content. Enjoying most of the service’s games without pouring in hundreds of hours of grinding is rarely possible, and simply asking you to redo it in an expensive chunk of new content is not only daunting but tiring.
Genshin Impact itself doesn’t have a flawless balancing or gear system, but after putting in over a thousand hours on it over two years, I never felt like the game disrespected the work I put into building my characters. I’m still swinging with my team in the geo-dual Xiao that I’ve had for about five months in the game. A team can clear any content the game throws at them, and I clear the hardest content in the game, Spiral Abyss, in the same amount of time that modern teams can. Almost all Limited Emblem characters (locked behind gacha and available for a limited time) are able to keep their own characters.
Genshin Impact is not without its problems. The game sticks to the resin when it comes to grinding gears or leveling up characters – similar to the power systems in other mobile games that limit the number of runs. Conveniently, you can lose the restriction a bit by spending money.
There are occasional meta shifts as well, with the new Dendro item making some units more powerful and some less valuable – with Dendro-related team combinations and interactions packing a stronger punch than all the other core teams. Some of the early released characters, such as Diluc and Klee, are now being phased out. But the game’s lack of an endgame, for better or worse, never forces you to want meta-est characters, which also lets you enjoy the game at your own pace.
Most of the live service games also struggle to keep the game stable and running with every update (hello, Warzone). Surprisingly, I never experienced any server issues while playing Genshin and every update transition is smooth. The industry has seen streaming live service games in the past couple of years, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. While it seems odd to defend a mobile gacha game (a genre often associated with predatory money transfers), the reality is that the industry should look to Genshin as a reference for the right amount and quality of content a service title needs.
Next: Freebie Spotlight: The Evil Within 2 has the most powerful boss in gaming