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Genshin Impact release date, trailer and Breath of the Wild comparisons

In March 2017, Nintendo shook the gaming community by launching the Switch. Furthermore, the hybrid console paired exceptionally well with modern classic The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Critics and fans alike praised the game for its approach to the open world genre. In other words, it breathed new life into one of Nintendo's longest running franchises.

As with any landmark release, other developers would look to the game for inspiration, and that couldn't be more true than with MiHoYo's newest title. Genshin Impact, which was revealed in June, is an upcoming open world action title. If you've seen trailers of it, you might have thought it looked a lot like Breath of the Wild. Despite the fairly obvious comparisons, Genshin Impact still has a lot to offer.

If you want to know more about the upcoming Chinese game, look no further. We've gathered all the information you'll want to know about Genshin Impact. It could be the next big title to fulfill all your open world desires.

Genshin Impact's release date

At the time of writing, we don't have a release date for Genshin Impact, but we have a release window. The game is set to launch some time during spring 2020 on PC and mobile platforms. A PlayStation 4 release was announced in early August, but that won't come out until later.

The spring release window puts Genshin Impact in a fairly competitive spot. Nintendo kicks spring off with the long-awaited Animal Crossing: New Horizons on March 20, and just a month later, CD Projekt Red rocks the boat with the highly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 on April 16. Square Enix also has May 15 with Marvel's Avengers. And those are just the games that have solid release dates within the same window.

Other publishers are looking to put out games in the spring 2020 time frame. Bandai Namco's aiming for early 2020 to release Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, and Dying Light 2 is looking at spring as well. Atlus announced that Persona 5 Royal will hit Western shelves around then too. In other words, Genshin Impact will need to bring its A game to stand out above the rest.

Genshin Impact's trailers

MiHoYo released the first trailer for Genshin Impact back in June. In it, we see our protagonist wake up on the shores of a beach as they're thrust into this open, colorful fantasy world. We get a montage of the player characters traversing the land, until we eventually get a little taste of the story.

Our protagonist, along with a cute fairy-like companion named Paimon, stumble upon a boy talking to a dragon in the forest. Later, we see that same dragon attack a major city. Meanwhile, we hear a voice over make references to something called "The Four Winds," which likely plays a key role in the story.

The developer dropped a second trailer in August during China Joy, and this one takes an extended look at the gameplay in Genshin Impact. Amber, a playable character in the game, gives us a quick rundown of the world over some clips of combat. Later in the trailer, we get a glimpse of how boss battles work too. The video ends with a tease of what's to come, with a mention of another village in the world.

The gameplay of Genshin Impact

At its core, Genshin Impact is an open world action game. You can roam around where you please. You can run up any hill, climb up any wall, and glide across any gap. You'll find many enemies scattered throughout the world, of course. Luckily, your characters all have different ways of fighting them, ranging from magic to swords to bows.

Combat takes place in real time, where every button you press immediately corresponds to an action. Furthermore, based on the gameplay trailer, it seems like characters can unleash a special attack in battle that bolsters their strength. One coated their sword in flames, while another summoned a spectral werewolf-like creature.

Outside of combat, players explore towns and dungeons. In towns, like Mondstadt, players can rest and interact with NPCs. In dungeons, players can master their control over the seven natural elements in the game, including Pyro and Hydro. These elements are key to solving the various puzzles that litter the dungeons. Of course, between the puzzles you'll always find enemies to smash.

Genshin Impact will have multiplayer

Genshin Impact offers a whole slew of characters for you to play as throughout the game. Although you start with "The Traveler," who you choose the name and gender of, you can find more than 30 other characters to control. When you find characters you like, you can build a party of up to four people and travel the world with them. MiHoYo promises that each character will have their own personalities and combat styles, and if they deliver, it'll make for a truly varied experience.

You don't need to travel the world of Teyvat alone, and we mean that in more ways than one. You'll run into many in-game characters on your journey, but you can also invite your real world friends to join your session. We don't know the full extent of the multiplayer yet or whether there will be any sort of restriction on when you can or can't play with friends. Nonetheless, if you're the kind of person who likes to have friends on their side, Genshin Impact can deliver. After all, as Sam Lai of MiHoYo said, "It's unwise to go alone!"

A colorful (and familiar) art style

On first glance, the trailer depicts a vibrant fantasy world full of anime-inspired character models. They all have wild hair styles featuring various colors, and you can expect to find the trademark large eyes that come with the territory. Despite coming from a Chinese developer, the Japanese influence makes itself fairly obvious.

The environments are another story. From the wild plains of Teyvan to the abandoned ruins and dungeons that scatter the landscape, the world of Genshin Impact is full of vibrant colors. Lush green grass and bright blue lakes pop on the screen, especially in the game's cel-shaded graphic style. It helps drive home the fantasy setting, putting it in the perfect place between cartoony and stylish. In fact, it looks so good at first glance that it almost seems like a carbon copy of Breath of the Wild. Needless to say, that was the first thing fans noticed.

Genshin Impact: Breath of the Wild

Let's be honest. You probably heard about Genshin Impact because someone online compared it to Breath of the Wild. It's the game's claim to fame, after all. On a cursory glance, someone could mistake any screenshot with Nintendo's franchise. If you replace the player character with Link, you could fool anyone.

Even bits of the gameplay that we've seen bear a resemblance to Breath of the Wild. In the initial trailer, we see the player character scale walls and glide through the air, much like Link does. A stamina gauge determines how much you can climb, and it seems like you can climb any vertical surface.

Although it doesn't look like you need to climb towers in Genshin Impact, you still need to interact with certain landmarks to lift the fog from the map, revealing the land surrounding you. Granted, this mechanic isn't unique to Breath of the Wild, but it doesn't help MiHoYo's case. Even the menu interfaces look strikingly similar.

People are mad at MiHoYo

The fairly obvious comparisons between Genshin Impact and Breath of the Wild has made fans a little upset, to put it lightly. Some have written off MiHoYo's newest game, calling it a mere clone unworthy of your time. Others have made their dissatisfaction more apparent, especially at the China Joy gaming expo in early August.

Certain fans of Breath of the Wild went to the event carrying their physical copies of the game with them. They posted photos on social media of themselves giving the Genshin Impact booth the bird, all while holding the Zelda game up above their heads. Some brought their Switches with them and held them up around the booth, protesting MiHoYo's efforts.

One particularly disgruntled fan brought a PlayStation 4 with him to China Joy and proceeded to smash it on the show floor. It's worth noting that this is the same event where MiHoYo announced that Genshin Impact was coming to Sony's console. Needless to say, many people weren't pleased with the blatant cloning of Nintendo's property.

Is the comparison to Breath of the Wild so bad?

For all intents and purposes, the comparisons between Breath of the Wild and Genshin Impact make the latter look like a mere clone of the former. At the same time, those similarities are what gave MiHoYo a big boost in attention. More people know about Genshin Impact because of how much the press reported on those similarities.

But is it such a bad thing for MiHoYo to take a few pages out of Nintendo's book? Often, great games inspire new trends in the genre, motivating other developers to meet a new standard of quality. The Witcher 3 raised the bar for open world games in 2015; Ubisoft met the challenge in 2018 with Assassin's Creed: Odyssey. Genshin Impact could do the same in spring 2020.

After all, MiHoYo still brought their own ideas to the table. Underneath the similar art style, the combat moves at a faster pace, and it even changes up during the story. For example, in the closed beta, players saw a segment that involved The Traveler dogfighting with a dragon. As Polygon's Patricia Hernandez puts it, calling Genshin Impact a clone discounts the unique things it brings to the table.

Who is MiHoYo?

Everyone knows and loves Nintendo, but MiHoYo probably raises more eyebrows than interest in the West. MiHoYo is a Chinese developer headquartered in Shanghai, and they live by the creed "Tech otakus save the world."

MiHoYo made a name for itself with Honkai Impact 3rd, a mobile action game that featured cute anime girls fighting evil enemies. Across the iOS App Store and the Google Play, the game racked up nearly 150,000 review scores. Furthermore, it helps us make more sense of Genshin Impact, as the upcoming release also has a penchant for cute anime girls. The mobile release alongside the PC release seems more expected, too, considering their success with Honkai. The variety of playable characters in Genshin Impact likely was a design decision that carried over from Honkai Impact 3rd as well.

What we know about the story of Genshin Impact

In Genshin Impact, you play as The Traveler, who just awakened after years of slumber. They don't recognize this new world of Teyvat, but they know that a god has taken their sibling. Now they have to find their long lost kin. They're joined by Paimon, who acts as the mouthpiece for our silent protagonist.

As with any typical JRPG, our protagonist has a secret power within them, and it's powerful enough to help them fight a dragon. After arriving in Mondstadt, a large city in Teyvat, The Traveler fends off a dragon named Stormterror. The people of Mondstadt respect the hero's power, but at the same time, some worry that the power may represent "a new storm."

Stormterror drains power from The Four Winds' Temples to cause destruction, so it's up to The Traveler to disrupt the foe from doing so. However, major leaders in Mondstadt only task the protagonist with heading to three of the four Temples, for reasons only obvious to them. What does that mean for our hero? That's something we'll have to find out in the full game.

There's a Genshin Impact manga

If what you've seen and heard about Genshin Impact has compelled you so far, you don't need to wait until spring 2020 to get your hands on it — sort of. The property initially started as a manga, or Japanese-style comic, created and published by MiHoYo itself. The manga has been around since late 2018 and tells the story of Teyvat, a mystical land that the seven Elemental Archons watch over.

The Archons created a reality where humanity could thrive, and civilizations rose thanks to their watchful eye. However, 500 years before the story takes place, an empire called Khaenri'ah refused the protection of these godlike entities. These humans started a war that ultimately led to the empire's destruction.

The manga picks up in an era of peace, after the war died down and the survivors found a new lease on life. Characters who have been in gameplay footage of Genshin Impact, like Amber and Jean, can be found in the manga. Considering the game is based on the manga, it only makes sense that they'd show up.

How to get into the Genshin Impact beta

In summer 2019, Genshin Impact wrapped up its first closed beta, where we got to see an early showcase of the game and its mechanics. We got a glimpse at what the opening cutscene could look like in the final product, with Paimon waking up The Traveler.

The beta gave players a portion of the open world to explore, and in it, they could recruit Amber. After inviting Amber to the party, players could freely switch between the two. Considering The Traveler uses a sword while Amber uses a bow, we got a look at two different systems of combat. The beta's climax featured an epic boss fight with Stormterror Dvalin, and if the gameplay trailer is anything to go by, they're only going to get more intense.

It's not too late for you to get into the beta, if Genshin Impact interests you. MiHoYo plans on conducting future tests before it officially launches. You can sign up to be considered for future betas on their official website. The survey will ask a couple questions about your gaming habits, and then you'll officially be in the running.

Some crafting on the side

MiHoYo released a quick update in September 2019 about some new features that they're implementing in Genshin Impact. Essentially, when the game launches, you can expect to find a crafting system, along with some side quests described as "clearing monsters from an area, or couriering an item to someone in exchange for rewards." Dungeons will also be repeatable, but after a certain point, you won't get any more rewards for completing them.

Aside from those confirmed additions to Genshin Impact, MiHoYo is considering adding other mechanics, like secret quests and changing seasons. They're unsure of how seasonal changes (like summer to fall) would affect the game, but it's something they're thinking about. Additionally, they might tweak monster and NPC behavior based on the time of day.

They've outright stated they will not be adding a hotbar for players to quickly use items while in battle. MiHoYo claims that there will already be a lot going on, and they don't want to make the game too complicated. They also don't plan on optimizing clouds in the sky that don't move, although we can't blame them for not prioritizing that.