Monday, October 12, 2020

Spend Your Wishes

Tobold has a strange post up today, in which he seems to be complaining that you if you want to play Genshin Impact you have to... play Genshin Impact. (I know, right? Shocking!) He calls this "hitting a playwall". 

Having reached a point where, in order to progress, he needs to beat a certain boss and then beat it a few more times to farm some materials it drops, he says "This is exactly the sort of gameplay that I abandoned MMORPGs for". I'm not at all sure that having to defeat specific bosses to move a narrative or storyline on or develop a character is a mechanic unique to MMORPGs. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's not. 

Leaving that aside, though, to object to the self-same mechanic in this specific game on the grounds that "You can visit other player's worlds, or let them into your world, but there is no system in place to look for people who want to kill the same elite boss than you do" does seem to me to suggest that he'd find his problem considerably easier to resolve if Genshin Impact were an MMORPG. Not to mention that, as Belghast made clear, you can invite other players to join you in the open world if you want to, which does indeed trivialize downing bosses like the one that's giving Tobold conniptions.

I didn't come here to unpick Tobold's logic, though. The day's too short for that. I mention it only because the post does glance against my own recent experiences in Genshin Impact.

As a general rule, when playing any games with progression mechanics, MMO or otherwise, my tendency is to leave upgrading for as long as possible, particularly if it involves any kind of step-change or decision point. I like to carry on as I began for as long as doing so feels comfortable. Only when I start to run into one of Tobold's "playwalls" do I start to look at what I might need to do to clamber over it.


Until a couple of sessions ago I hadn't really encountered anything like that in Genshen Impact, other than one timed challenge I didn't quite have the dps to beat. I've been treating the character you start with, The Traveler, as "my character" and the handful of other characters the storyline gives you as "her team". That's meant Amber, Kaeya and Lisa for the most part, giving me access to the "elements" of fire, ice, electricity and either wind or earth, the Traveler being able to swap between both.

I also had a couple of other characters, one more from (I think) the storyline and one of whom I'd acquired I when the game prompted me to try out the "Wish" mechanic. 

I didn't understand what the Wish thing was. You get some currency and you can spend it on Wishes and you get a random chance to win weapons and characters and stuff. I tried it the once and it seemed a bit pointless so I did what I do in every game that has systems I don't get but also don't feel like I have any need for: I ignored it.

I've also been ignoring the "Ascension" mechanic. Many rpgs, massively multiple or otherwise, have something called "ascension". It rarely bodes well and I tend to pretend it's not there for as long as possible. I'm pretty sure I could get a good few more sessions out of Genshen Impact without ascending but something came up that made me think it was probably about time.

It's not that I haven't been doing anything to improve my characters. It's just that Genshen Impact has a lot of progression mechanics. In addition to expanding your roster of playable characters and ascending them, they all have levels, as do their individual weapons and each of the five artifacts they can wear. I'd been doing due diligence on all of those so I had all my main characters level 20 with most of their gear partially upgraded.


There's also the all-important "adventure rank", the real benchmark the game uses to gatekeep the storyline. That's the one you can't really ignore. I'd been tickling that along to the point where I was able to access the quest to open Stormterror's Lair and confront the dragon that's been plaguing Montstadt.

The Domain that presents itself at that point is flagged as appropriate for a team of characters around level 26. All my team were level 20, which is the highest you can reach without undergoing the first of several ascensions.

That, clearly, was my note from the game telling me to stop slacking and ascend, already. As Tobold mentions, ascension requires certain material components. At the stage he's reached some of those only drop from bosses but for the first ascension they come from all over the place and I already had everything I needed for my four main characters.

I also had a ton of the dropped books that give huge chunks of leveling experience so it was the work of a couple of minutes to ascend my whole team and level them to twenty-five. As I was fiddling around with that I happened to open the Wish window by mistake and in doing so I noticed that two of the four kinds of wish currency I had were about to expire.

The way my mind works, I'm entirely happy to hoard currencies and containers for the entire life of a game, never opening or spending them before sunset comes, but put an expiry date on anything and I'm damned if I'm going to let it go to waste. With just seven days to use my Wishes I thought I'd better get on with it. 

I still didn't really know what they were for or how to use them, so I did a bit of reading on the subject. It turns out that "Wish" is what the game calls the infamous mechanic that's mentioned in every article and review I've ever read about the game, the "Gatcha". Who knew? Well, everyone except me, apparently. 

Once I knew, I began to see the point of wishing. This is how you get the most powerful characters! Having them makes combat easier, always good with me. As is very well known, though, the gacha mechanic is designed to make getting the best characters a long and expensive process, especially if you have your sights set on one character in particular.

I read a bit about who the most sought-after characters are right now and apparently top of the tree is Diluc. There are a bunch of "guides" on how to get him but as one of them puts it most succinctly "getting Diluc boils down to getting lucky with a Wish".

That guide goes into a lot of detail on how to optimize your chances and concludes "you’re basically going to have to spend money unless you’re prepared to play a lot of the game or just hope to get extremely lucky". Yeah, well, about that...

One of the limited-time currencies I had was for the bizarrely-named “Ballad in Goblets” wish. According to several guides I read, this is heavily weighted to give you a character called Venti, assuming it gives you any five-star characters at all, which isn't by any means guaranteed. 


Since I didn't have any five-star, top-of-the-shop characters, other than the Traveler, who everyone starts with, and since Venti is himself considered a top-tier character, I figured I didn't have anything to lose by spending my free money, especially since it was going to evaporate in a few days if I didn't. 

I had enough for ten pulls of the gacha/wish handle. The first four or five gave me various three-star weapons, each preceded by a shooting-star animation lasting several seconds. I imagine that would become quite annoying if you were spending money hand over fist trying to get the drop you wanted.

I wasn't really paying attention until the next shooting star exploded onto the screen with a markedly more spectacular display of fireworks than any of the others. "Hello", I thought, "something's up!"

What was up was Diluc, in fact. Riding in on the tail of a comet to invite himself into my team. What are the chances, eh? Well, about 1.6%, from what I hear. Or 0.6%. I still don't really follow the fine detail.

Anyway, I have him. He's suposedly the best DPS character in the game as it stands although no doubt he'll be superceded in no time since that's how the monetization works. And I also have the second best damage-dealer, Xiangling, a four-star character who arrived on the very next shooting star after Diluc.


I had plenty of xp boost books left to bang those two up to twenty-five and enough mats to boost their weapons some as well. I swapped them into the roster ahead of Amber and Lisa and now I have to learn how to play all over again. I don't imagine having two fire (or Pyro, if you prefer the language of the game) damage dealers is ideal but, hey, burn all the things! It may not be subtle but it usually works.

At least I have the Ascension and Wish processes a little clearer in my mind now. It seems exceedingly unlikely I'm going to need to spend any money in Genshen Impact any time soon and most likely never. Meanwhile, the story is getting ever more intriguing , the world ever more gorgeous and intricate and the gameplay more satisfying.

I can't say I'm too worried about either paywalls or playwalls right now.


  1. It's not that you have separate currencies for things like "Ballad in Goblets". Those are what the Gatcha Playing community call "banners", limited time offers where the odds to draw particular characters goes up. The idea is you save your currency until a banner that appeals to you is on the market, then you toss your money at it until you're bitter and hateful that you didn't get the specific thing you wanted, then you ragequit the game for two weeks and post on Reddit about it.

    It's a time-honored tradition but I think your nontraditional "luck into a thing" technique is stronger. Hoping that continues to work out for you.

    1. Ah, thanks for clearing that up. So I guess the currency stays but what you can do with it changes. That makes much more sense. I noticed some of the guides calling it "event" currency and I'd worked out that at least two of the "banners" weren't going to be permanent but the fine detail had eluded me.

  2. Congrats on getting Diluc, and I admit I'm a bit jealous now. I have two dungeons ahead of me right now, and both recommend bringing a Pyro character - only I really dislike playing Amber.

    I at least managed to pull Barbara though, and having a proper healer is pretty dang nice too.

    I don't see the need to spend anything on the game either, although I might start to feel the 'want' to do it if I continue to have as much fun as I'm having right now.
    I'm holding off though. Whether the game will be a mainstay for us will largely depend on how good the co-op feature really is.

    1. Amber is useless aside from puzzles. You should have enough primogems to convert free into fates to spend on wishes. Use them on the Ballad banner. You are bound to get a Xiang Li. She is a great character to have.

      I think the co-op is quite weak. Surprising considering how they monetize this game. The new event utilizes it a little better so maybe with more of those, it will improve.

    2. I found Amber really awkward for fire-related stuff but she's great for killing stuff at range from perches, something the game seems happy to let you do. Diluc and Xiangxing are both miles better, though, so I doubt Amber will be seeing much action from now on.

      I hit AR 20 last night and got Barbara and it really does make a difference having a proper healer. Still working on a team combo that covers what I want though. I am hooked on leading as the Traveler in Geo mode which apparently is a bad idea but which I find very comfortable to play. It does limit dps though. It's like leveling as a tank, I guess.

    3. I have tried the tank Traveler and I find it awkward. My suggestion is that you have one or two characters that you level push and ascend and build the rest of the team around. The World Level goes up over time unlocking better rewards but higher level mobs. One uber powerful character with a close second one and Barbara at 20 is a solid start. You have Diluc and Xianling for that great fire dmg boost. The only issue you seem to have is a good combo team. Water and Fire is okay but Geo is a weak combo in general. A great one is lightning and Fischl seems easy to get from wishes. Lisa could work in a pinch just to toss out the lightning buff and disappear. You do have wind traveler though.

      I have only noticed the issue with levelling everyone now that I have hit AR30 and the mobs are now minimum Lvl 40. I have been forced to pay attention to weapon and character levelling to keep doing respectable damage in the open world. Like you, I find them convoluted and tried to ignore them as long as possible. Save some levelling mats for one or two characters to level above everyone else. You use up more and more just to get one level and they can get scarce. My lesson learned.

  3. You have some phenomenal luck. I am supremely jealous of that Diluc. He is pretty much an ideal character to build an entire team around.

    1. Sidenote... I assume you are playing on the European data center? If not and you are on the "American" datacenter and you need assistance with any of the bosses I am more than happy to try and find a time when our schedules are compatible and pop in for some fights.

    2. Thanks for the offer. I may take you up on it if I get stuck! I am in fact on a US server. I would have picked one anyway because I prefer to play on American servers when possible but in fact the game just defaulted to US when I installed it. I don't know if that's a thing for the U.K. only or what.

  4. You son of a gun! I cannot believe you got Diluc. The one I want is Keqing. Having said that, I have Venti and he is great. I also just threw 5 bucks at them for the extra primogems and for making an enjoyable F2P game. Not interested in the gacha thing without free wishes.

    As an aside, you should have a lot of primogems to use for wishes. You might want to convert some to make more wishes. Getting duplicate characters helps you unlock powerful upgrades to abilities.

    Having two fire characters is not a bad thing. Different elemental compositions give different boosts. You get a damage (or attack) boost with two fire members on a team. The game has this elemental synergy info tucked away obscurely.

    1. I've been wondering what primogems were for. As I mentioned in one of the posts, if I'm enjoying a new game I generally try to look up as little as possible about it so as to keep it feeling fresh for as long as possible but the downside of that is I frequently miss stuff if it's not clearly explained in game. Genshen Impact is considerably more complicated than the average Western MMORPG, particularly in its progression mechanics, so there's quite a bit that I've missed.

      I'm now at the point where I really have to look up stuff I've been ignoring so hopefully I should have a better picture of the whole thing soon.

    2. It is unnecessarily so. Partly to push people to spend money and partly their own sloppiness I think. I would only recommend using primogems for fates. Convert them and use them whenever you want to roll wishes. There is no rush to use them as there is no cap as far as I am aware.


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