3 minutes


  • Genshin Impact last content patch came out last week, bringing a new side questline involving a bunch of beachy islands
  • It’s a solid update if you’re looking for straight content (exploration, puzzles, minigames)
  • Meanwhile, Genshin’s main story is chugging along at a snail’s pace – currently at Chapter 1 of 8 despite being out for 9 months
  • This is not unlike Life is Strange 1, where each chapter came out several months after the previous one; as a player, this feels horrible

The Thoughts on Gaming series is a new “weekly” (doubtful) rambling editorial about well, anything that’s going on in the gaming world.

As I’m playing through Genshin Impact’s latest content patch (which at first seems designed solely to sell Jean’s summer outfit), I can’t help but be reminded of every anime where the characters end up at the beach somehow in some fanservice-y filler episode.

(minor spoilers alert)

In 1.6, your character (“The Traveler”) arrives at a new, previously unexplored area of Teyvat called the “Golden Apple Archipelago”. As you might have guessed, this space is made up of a couple small islands filled with collectibles, secrets and of course, plenty of hilichurls. You also get a boat.

The Golden Apple event stuff is divided into six different parts, which you could say are like six different mini-episodes. There’s an overarching story about some Dodo-King guy that’s brought you and your crew to this mysterious place, but it really takes a backseat to the island exploration, puzzle-solving and minigames.

And the event itself is fine; it’s a nice side diversion to all of the other games that I’ve been playing. It’s just that too much of Genshin Impact up to this point has been a nice side diversion. There have been some huge teases so far, but little in terms of payoffs.

You could definitely make the argument that this game-as-a-service is simply getting started: after all, the main story last left off at Chapter 1, Act IV, with an estimated eight chapters expected by the end of the game.

Considering the timeline of Genshin so far – it’s been nine months since release – that also means we won’t be seeing the conclusion to the story for quite possibly years. Sure, it might be a smart business decision on mihoyo’s side (slow down the progress of the game as much as possible by releasing a constant stream of side content to keep players occupied), but as a player, it’s a tough pill to swallow. Are people going to keep playing daily for the next x years? Am I? For new players, why even bother starting now when the end is nowhere in sight?

I call it Life is Strange syndrome: it’s when you have a game that comes out in an episodic format with huge gaps of time between chapters. In the case of Life is Strange, you’d end an episode on some sort of cliffhanger and then have to wait 2-3 months for the next release. It was maddening. That strategy may have worked for weekly TV shows, but it was awful for story-driven games.

And that brings me to another topic: Genshin Impact has evolved into something other than a Breath of the Wild-clone. It’s become less of an ARPG and more of an interactive anime with optional minigames. That’s not meant to be a slight; it’s just that, for me, the Action elements have long since ceased to be challenging or interesting and the RPG elements have boiled down to simply fetch quests.

But I’ve stuck around so far, because mihoyo has done a bang-up job building up a world filled with all manner of mysteries and memorable characters. The foundations for an epic story are there, it’s just up to them to not only execute, but execute in a reasonable timeframe without alienating the entire playerbase.

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