All through 2020, Genshin Impact has felt like a game that was almost too good to be true, and yet here it is launching for all to play today. Here’s a game that takes inspiration from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but then transforms it into its own style of open-world RPG, losing none of the vibrancy and feel in the process. Oh, and it’s all free-to-play as well.
The game is now available to download for PS4, PC, iOS and Android, and with over 10 million players having pre-registered to play, it can already be seen as a rousing success for miHoYo, the Chinese developer that’s little known in the West.
We’ll be working to deliver some impressions of the full release soon – you can catch our closed beta preview here – but in the meantime, we were able to put some questions to miHoYo, asking about the game’s origins and how the company plan to lead it to a bright future.
What was their reaction to the infamous Zelda fan responses that did the rounds a while back?
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the most popular and respected titles in the industry, and one which our staff hold in high regard. In a post that our team circulated to players last year, we mentioned that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was one of our inspirations for creating Genshin Impact as an open-world action RPG.
That said, it is important to note that once you actually pick up the game, you will find the experience of Genshin Impact to be very different from that of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Genshin Impact features a fully original story and characters, and the core gameplay revolves around assembling a party of multiple characters and engaging in a combat system based on interactions between different elements. In the first few closed betas we invited select players to experience the game and provide us with feedback. With the game launching on September 28, we are hoping that players can experience the uniqueness of the game first-hand, and of course that they will enjoy the experience.
What challenges were faced when developing Genshin Impact?
Genshin Impact is our first title developed simultaneously for multiple platforms. It is far more complex than any of our previous projects, with more than 400 staff involved in its development and publishing. Collaboration and effective use of resources has therefore been a major challenge throughout the process.
Genshin Impact is also our first title on PlayStation. We have a relatively young team with limited experience developing for console, and while the intricate design of the PlayStation platform offers a lot of developmental freedom, it also places great demands on developers.
The launch on September 28 is only the first step in an ongoing process as we continue to update the game based on player feedback, delivering new main quest and side quest content, challenges and characters. One could say that the real work has only just begun.
It is not easy to develop a game and be confident that players will continue to enjoy it, and we expect that many more challenges lie ahead. However, we are very passionate about Genshin Impact, and we believe that this will give us the motivation to overcome any such challenges.
During the betas what were the main issues that were discovered? How have they been addressed for launch?
Beta testing helps us collect feedback and comments from players, which in turn allows us to make continued improvements to the game. Genshin Impact has gone through three rounds of beta testing in the past year, each test helping us identify areas where we could make improvements. In the second round we released a new area of the map (Liyue), while the third round was the first test to focus on the PlayStation platform, with tweaks being made based on player feedback.
Each test has resulted in meaningful improvements, such as optimizing the game UI for different platforms, addressing bugs on new areas of the map, cross-platform co-op mode optimizations, and hardware optimizations for different platforms to ensure smooth performance. Players will be able to see these improvements first-hand when the game is officially launched, and the game will continue to be updated to deliver a better overall experience for players.
As the game expands post-launch, will you be able ot earn new characters through new story content or will they primarily be made available through the gacha system?
As Genshin Impact is updated, additional characters will be added to the game. By progressing through the storyline, players will be able to unlock four characters with whom they may explore the world. Players can obtain materials, equipment, weapons and other characters by completing challenges and quests. Of course, the Wish system is also available for players who want to have access to more characters and equipment.
Will there be advantages playing on PS4 or PC compared to playing on mobile devices?
Each platform has distinct characteristics and advantages, and we have strived to optimize the game based on the advantages of each platform, in order to deliver a satisfying gaming experience regardless of which platform the game is being played on. Genshin Impact delivers a consistent experience across PS4, PC, and mobile, with players on PS4 also receiving the exclusive Sword of Descension weapon and Wings of Descension wind glider.
Will there be content parity between devices or will updates be rolled out at different times?
We will do our best to release updates for all three platforms simultaneously.
What kind of post launch content do you have planned for Genshin Impact?
We will be making continuous improvements based on player feedback and suggestions. More characters and stories are in the pipeline, as well as richer social interactions, more variety in the gameplay experience, and more optimized domain farming. As new features are implemented, any materials required will be added to the game world, with the goal of having the open-world experience permeate every part of the game. Domains will become increasingly dynamic, increasing player engagement and the importance of team planning. Ways to customize your appearance are also being discussed.
Thanks to miHoYo for answering our questions. Genshin Impact is available now for PS4, PC, iOS and Android.