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Genshin Impact: the video game that’s slowly taking over the world

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October 22, 2020 at 08:30AM

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It is a gorgeous, engaging, free-to-play, open-world role-playing game … but at what cost?

Genshin Impact seems to have come from nowhere. A month ago nobody knew what it was; now ads for it are plastered all over the New York subway and it’s the talk of gaming Twitter. It has raked in more than $100m (£75m) in its first two weeks, placing it among the Chinese games industry’s most successful forays into the global scene. That’s because it’s a pretty good game that looks, sounds and feels expensive, but is available for free – at least at face value.

Like Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – which it heavily resembles, at least on a surface level – Genshin Impact is an action-packed role-playing game with a huge world, chock-full of gorgeous vistas to explore by running, climbing and gliding. The appearance might be similar but the feeling is significantly different. Breath of the Wild’s aesthetic is based on the beauty and solitude of nature; Genshin, by contrast, is the theme park version of that. Where BotW was content to merely hint at hidden treasures and leave vast spaces in-between, you can’t go 30 seconds in Genshin without tripping over some glowy object or mysterious chest. A constant stream of new weapons, trinkets, crafting materials, coins and characters to play with makes it dangerously easy to keep playing.

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