Genshin Impact

I’ve said this before, but I really like to grind in video games. I find it comforting to know that I can turn the dial on my brain to “low-effort mode” and still make progress in a video game I enjoy. Sometimes, this helps me process other things I’m currently thinking about. Sometimes I just sit zombie-faced and knock out some critters for XP. Either way, I find the video-game grind to be a good way to relax after a stressful work day.

So when I hopped into Genshin Impact, miHoYo’s phenomenally gorgeous free-to-play action RPG, it wasn’t because it promised a grand, epic tale of adventure; it was because it promised an enormous list of carrot-on-a-stick micro-goals that would take dozens of hours to get on top of.

And let me tell you, Genshin Impact is a grind and a half. Its Breath of the Wild-like visual aesthetic and terrain-traversal mechanics belie the complex beast that slumbers beneath the surface. And man, once you awaken that beast, you’re really in for a wild ride.

Genshin Impact, like so many free-to-play titles, has a depth of obscure, convoluted micro-systems that try to pull you into a hundred different directions at once. Just one example of this is all of the game’s different currencies.

This comes with a huge learning curve upfront, where you’ll have to figure out what various currencies do and how to earn them. This will likely take you hours of focused playing (though you can speed up that process by finding some good Genshin Impact currency guides).

Yet that’s only one example. The game also features a complex leveling system, where you’re not only leveling up individual characters (of which you have several), but an overall Adventure Rank as well. And your weapons and artifacts all have their own systems for leveling up, and so does even the game world. Add to this the fact that many of the game’s level-up systems include tiered “ascensions” (which require very specific items that you might have to grind for), and you’ve got yourself a serious bit of work ahead of you.

Genshin Impact

So you can maybe see how I would approach the game’s story with vacant eyes and a burning desire to work on the grind rather than to be regaled with tales of rogue dragons and demigods. Plus, Paimon’s squeaky voice (and her insistence of only referencing herself in third-person) is grating on my nerves a bit. Just stop talking for a second, Paimon, so I can go conk some hilichurls over the head with my newly upgraded club.

Genshin Impact is a gorgeous game with a lot of complex systems that I want to dig into. But its story barely feels like a necessary part of that experience. I appreciate that it’s there (and I even appreciate some of its finer moments), but at the end of the day, I’m in this thing for the grind.

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