Do you remember the video that went viral featuring a Chinese guy at an expo that threw his PlayStation 4 to the ground and smashed it? In case you forgot the context, he did this because Sony was working with Mihoyo to showcase their brand new multi-platform game, Genshin Impact, which has been accused of being somewhat similar to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The gentleman in question was so outraged at the thought of a Zelda "clone" finding its way onto the PS4 that he publicly destroyed his PS4 to make a statement. A bit of an overreaction, if you ask me.
- Genshin Impact, the iOS-bound, Breath of the Wild-inspired open-world RPG, is heading to Nintendo Switch
Especially since the team here at Pocket Gamer is finally getting to go hands-on with the Android version of Genshin Impact, and while I can't speak for everyone, I think it's safe to say that we are impressed.
Genshin Impact is an open-world action RPG that will see you travel across a huge map, uncovering dungeons, defeating enemies, looting chests, and generally exploring the landscape. Games with those kinds of lofty ambitions on mobile devices usually have to sacrifice something in the process, but I've been able to play Genshin Impact with its very highest graphical settings, and honestly? This absolutely looks like the kind of game I'd expect to play on a home console like the PS4. It really does look that good, and the world really is that big - though, if you're running an older or less powerful Android device, your experience might not be so promising.
I genuinely feel bad, because only a few weeks ago I was singing the praises of Netmarble's Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross, stating that it had some of the most impressive anime-style visuals on mobile. Well, now Genshin Impact is blowing away every other cel-shaded anime-style game on the market because I genuinely cannot believe a game that looks this good is running on mobile. Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross had some beautiful cutscenes, but this game looks amazing non-stop, cutscene, gameplay, open world, it's incredible.
You can absolutely understand where accusations of it being a "Zelda clone" come from, mind. You can climb pretty much anything, but you are limited by a stamina bar, which will also limit how far you can run. Fire arrows and explosions will absolutely set grass alight, causing gusts of warm air to stream upwards, which you can then use your glider to ride, coasting high into the air… Yeah, this should all sound very familiar if you've played Breath of the Wild. Heck, you even find small enemy camps that unlock a chest once you've fought them all off.
But can you blame the team at Mihoyo for wearing their inspirations on their sleeve? The fact is, Breath of the Wild is still one of the most unique and best open-world games available on any platform, and Genshin Impact looks to be the very first game to release since that takes the unique world and physics of Zelda and turns it into something new. And there is plenty new, too.
You will earn and be encouraged to purchase premium currency as you play through the game which will give you access to more weapons, and even different characters that will each have a unique battle style, so you can mix up how encounters play out and swap characters according to your strategy, elemental attributes, etc. As of the first few hours of the game the gacha system is very underplayed and easily ignored, but only time will tell how necessary it will be to pull more equipment and characters in order to min-max your stats and come out on top.
And that's… pretty much it? In so many free to play gacha RPGs, it feels like the primary goal of the game is to just pull better loot and equipment, but here it feels like the primary goal is just playing the game. Again, this could absolutely change as the game progresses, but as of right now, I'm too mesmerized by gliding off of cliffs and down onto sunny beaches.
Genshin Impact is a game that does so much right. An unbelievable amount, in fact. As long as this game runs on your mobile device, you should consider it to be an absolute essential. This is guaranteed to be one of the most impressive open-world adventures you've ever seen on a handheld - and I'm sure console players will love it too.