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The Untold Truth Of This Breath Of The Wild Clone

Right up top, let's get one thing straight: the influence of the Legend of Zelda franchise cannot be overstated. Over the years, there have been plenty of games that have shared elements of the Zelda series. There have also been more than a few releases that have been seen as shameless Zelda clones. One such game is Genshin Impact, an action-adventure RPG from MiHoYo.


Genshin Impact follows a group of heroes led by "The Traveller" as they journey across the magical land of Teyvat. Along the way, the heroes will battle all manner of beings, from dragons to goblins. Genshin Impact was released in September 2020 for the PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC, and mobile devices. However, the free-to-play game had a rather bumpy road to its release.

In fact, Genshin Impact proved to be a controversial title well before it even made it out of development. Video game clones tend to cause a bit of a stir among fans of the medium, and Genshin Impact was no different. In particular, gamers were in an uproar over Genshin Impact's similarities to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.


The backlash against Genshin Impact

Not only did Genshin Impact seem to have a similar plot to Breath of the Wild, but the cel-shaded graphics seemed to scream that this game was piggybacking off of BotW's popularity. When Genshin Impact was unveiled at China Joy 2019 gaming conference, the backlash against the game was almost immediate. Fans were livid at the very thought of this apparent copycat. 


One of the most infamous examples of the protest against Genshin Impact came when a fan at ChinaJoy smashed his PlayStation 4 in front of a shocked crowd. His reasoning was that this showed his distaste for Sony's promotion of the game.

According to the developers of the game, Breath of the Wild was indeed one of the influences on the making of the game. However, in an interview with FreeMMOStation, the dev team clarified that the game's original story and gameplay based around team-building was enough to set it apart from its inspiration. The developers 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."


People might have been wrong about Genshin Impact

After all of the backlash and protests, it seemed as though gamers had already decided Genshin Impact's fate. However, when it was released and reviews for the title began to trickle out into the world, something else became abundantly clear. Despite all evidence to the contrary, critics quickly discovered that Genshin Impact really is more than just a Breath of the Wild clone. 


Wired considered Genshin Impact "too good" on its own to be considered a clone. In a review of Genshin Impact, PC Gamer acknowledged the visual similarities between the two games, but noted that Genshin Impact plays wildly differently. The four-person party controlled by the player allows gamers to link together interesting combos in combat. The game's magic system is surprisingly in-depth for a free game, as well, offering a variety of different spells that can be leveled up. Although the game does offer microtransactions, they're never actually forced on the player, meaning gamers who enjoy grinding their characters are free to do so.

It remains to be seen if the gaming public at large will reevaluate its position on Genshin Impact. However, now people may be less likely to cry "clone" in the future.


Fans have split opinions on Paimon

Genshin Impact fans have conflicting opinions about Paimon, your guide throughout the game. She plays a similar role to Navi from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, has a high-pitched voice, and refers to herself in the third person, making her a little controversial among players. The fact that she has the same name as a demon king further complicates things. (Any Hereditary fans out there?)


You can see the Paimon debate for yourself across social media chatter and fan communities, and game critics have similar conflicting views.

Some critics, like Austin Walker from Waypoint Radio, have opinions that could fall on either side. He says that he's "sick of gamer dudes not liking Paimon," then mentions later in the same episode that he believes Paimon plans to kill the player.

Others, like Gene Park from The Washington Post's Launcher vertical, needed to give her time to grow on them. He tweeted that although he previously called her annoying, he since started to like her and felt "ashamed of [his] own slander."

Genshin Impact is the biggest international launch of a Chinese game to date

Two days after its release on September 28, 2020, the South China Morning Post declared Genshin Impact's international launch the biggest ever for a Chinese game. It based its statement on observations from analysts and performance metrics such as Twitch viewership. Fans across the world showed interest in the game before it even came out. Nearly 5.3 million people outside of China pre-registered to play Genshin Impact. "I don't think any Chinese-made game has ever had that many pre-registrations outside its home market," analyst Serkan Toto told SCMP.


On its day of release, Genshin Impact had more than 110,000 viewers on Twitch — more than Fortnite. With games such as Fall Guys and Among Us getting spikes in player numbers as a result of their Twitch performance, Genshin Impact's popularity on Twitch shows a high level of interest from fans.

A Japanese analyst who spoke to SCMP, Sho Sato, thought that the game's aggressive marketing in Japan and the COVID-19 pandemic helped it rise in popularity so quickly.

MiHoYo took part in a boycott over high revenue cuts from app stores

During Genshin Impact's release, developer MiHoYo refused to put it on the Huawei, Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo app stores as part of a boycott against high revenue cuts. These app stores took 50 percent of game sale profits from developers, causing a backlash from studios like MiHoYo. Apple's App Store takes a 30 percent fee, so MiHoYo continued to release Genshin Impact there. Lilith Games, the developer behind another major Chinese mobile game release, also participated in the boycott.


If this situation sounds familiar, you might be thinking of Epic Games' clash with Apple. Epic, the developers of Fortnite, sued Apple after it took their games down from the App Store. Apple removed their games after Epic circumvented its 30 percent revenue share by offering a direct payment option. As you might notice, Epic Games found one of the lower revenue share rates among Chinese app stores high, putting the difference between American and Chinese rates in perspective.

The orchestra behind your favorite game soundtracks performed Genshin Impact's music

If you're familiar with game and movie soundtracks, you might be impressed to learn that the London Philharmonic Orchestra performed Genshin Impact's music. Known as LPO for short, its members have a history of performing famous game and movie music. In a behind-the-scenes video from MiHoYo, you can see the collaboration between the developer and LPO involved in scoring the game.


While creating the Genshin Impact soundtrack, MiHoYo's composer and music producer Yu-Peng Chen worked with many talents you might have already heard. The mix engineer, Nick Wollage, worked on the soundtracks for the How to Train Your Dragon movies and God of War. Orchestra members who worked on Genshin Impact performed songs for the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy and Final Fantasy 15.

Yu-Peng Chen put a lot of work into creating a score fitting for LPO. He created three songs for each area to play during daytime, nighttime, and dusk that shared the same tonality. He also implemented a leitmotif, or musical theme, throughout the soundtrack. Many of the game's songs feature elements from its main melody.


Developer MiHoYo is already well-established across the world

While Genshin Impact may be your first exposure to developer MiHoYo, it made a name for itself years ago. Officially founded in 2012, MiHoYo became famous internationally through its 2016 game Honkai Impact 3rd. It started as three graduate students at Shanghai Jiaotong University who considered themselves fans of what they call ACG — anime, comics, and games. The students founded MiHoYo to create games, anime, manga, and other media influenced by Japanese otaku culture.


Before Genshin Impact, Honkai Impact 3rd made waves internationally as a mobile game. In April 2020, the game reached over 200 million downloads worldwide. True to MiHoYo's mission, Honkai Impact 3rd also had a companion manga based on the game.

Genshin Impact, the fourth game produced by MiHoYo, is the developer's first title available on consoles. Previously, it released its games primarily on mobile, with Honkai Impact 3rd getting a PC release three years after its initial launch.

Some fans also accused Genshin Impact of copying Nier

In addition to thinking that Genshin Impact copied The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, some players believed that it copied Nier: Automata. Fortunately, this time around, other fans easily disproved the connection. A poster in the PlayStation 4 subreddit accused Genshin Impact of copying the sword attack animations from Nier: Automata, another anime action RPG. While the comments on the post escalated to the point that the subreddit's mods had to take it down, someone shared the post on the Genshin Impact subreddit.


Compared to the PlayStation 4 subreddit poster, the Genshin Impact subreddit members were much more dubious about any copying happening. User Miraclessy pointed out the Claysword attack postures shown in the video came from animations from MiHoYo's previous game, Honkai Impact 3rd. They also stressed that most of the animations from Genshin Impact were based on motion capture.

Other users argued that even if MiHoYo took inspiration from Nier: Automata, it was just that — inspiration. MiHoYo brands itself as an "otaku" game studio, making it unsurprising if they drew influences from popular anime games.

Genshin Impact's Japanese dub has plenty of famous names

At the time of this writing, you can't find an official cast list for Genshin Impact's English dub. MiHoYo likely dedicated more time and effort to bringing together and curating its Japanese voice cast. The English website highlights the Japanese voice actors used in the game over the English ones. As a team made of self-proclaimed "otakus," MiHoYo pulled no punches with the talents it chose.


If you watch anime, you might see some familiar names in the Genshin Impact cast. Shun Horie, who voices Aether, also voices Kazuya from Rent-A-Girlfriend, a popular anime at the time of Genshin Impact's release. Fans of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure's Golden Wind arc will recognize Soma Saito (Doppio) and Kensho Ono (Giorno and Narancia). If you prefer older anime series, you might notice that Rie Tanaka, who played Chii in Chobits, voices the librarian Lisa.

Genshin Impact fans more familiar with video games than anime, might see that the Japanese cast voices plenty of familiar characters. Baizhu's voice actor, Kouji Yusa, has voiced Shadow the Hedgehog since Sonic Adventure 2. The voice behind Razor, Kouki Uchiyama, brought Roxas from Kingdom Hearts and V from Devil May Cry 5 to life in Japanese.


A certain NPC has a bone to pick with you over birds

An NPC named Timmie has become a meme among the fan community for his obsession with birds. You can find him hanging out on the bridge outside of Mondstadt. If you scare away the pigeons on Timmie's bridge and talk to him afterward, you could call his reaction a little over-the-top. After he scolds you for scaring the pigeons away, you can tell him that they'll come back. Timmie responds that they could come back, then asks what would happen if they went away forever, just like Daddy. You can see the dialogue in action in this video by the appropriately named YouTuber MurderofBirds.


Timmie's fixation on his bird friends' well-being isn't limited to pigeons — watch out if you end up killing the ducks you feed during the quest he gives you. YouTuber Elixr 404 explained how the situation went when he decided to kill one of the ducks Timmie wanted him to feed. He received a special commission quest where he had to give Timmie a hashbrown in apology.

Even the Genshin Impact team pokes a little fun at Timmie. During the closed beta, a post on the official Facebook page mentioned his struggles.

The gacha element of the game balances low pull rates by rewarding patience

Like its predecessor Honkai Impact 3rd, Genshin Impact is a gacha game, meaning that you use in-game currency to draw weapons and characters at random chance. Compared to popular gacha games like Fire Emblem: Heroes and Fate/Grand Order, Genshin Impact has a pretty low drop rate. By default, you have a 0.6 percent chance of pulling a five-star character, the highest tier of character available. Meanwhile, Fire Emblem: Heroes offers a 3 percent rate for five-star drops. Fate/Grand Order, a gacha game notorious for its low drop rates, beats Genshin Impact's five-star rate with a 1 percent pull chance.


Fortunately, Genshin Impact doesn't seem to make you hit a paywall where you have to start paying real-world money to progress in the game. According to Paul Tassi from Forbes, your progress might start to slow later in the game, but you can work around the pay-to-win aspects by waiting. Like many free-to-play mobile games, Genshin Impact has daily energy levels that fill back up over time. You can earn your currency by taking a break from the game or cut through by getting Primogems, a currency you can buy with real-world money.

MiHoYo spent big money on Genshin Impact's development and marketing

Genshin Impact developer MiHoYo invested plenty of time and money in its game. The South China Morning Post mentioned that local media found that they set a development and marketing budget of over $100 million. SCMP compared that amount to the budgets for the movies Mulan and Tenet, which each cost about $200 million. But, how does the Genshin Impact budget compare to those for other games?


According to original reporting from Kotaku, the average budget for a game is about $10,000 per month per person. With SCMP dating the game's original announcement to January 2017, Genshin Impact had nearly 45 months of development time. In a community announcement, producer Hugh Tsai mentioned that 500 developers worked on the game. Dividing $100 million by 45, then 500, brings the cost per person per month to about $4,444. Not too shabby, all things considered.

Despite the per-person numbers going under the average for a video game, Genshin Impact still has an impressive budget for a free-to-play game. MiHoYo also spent more than three and a half years creating its international hit, showing how much dedication went into its development.