Genshin Impact is a free-to-play RPG that launched just a few days ago, but despite having 10 million players across PC, consoles, and mobile, it feels like a sleeper hit that came out of nowhere. Taking inspiration from Breath of the Wild, Genshin Impact has a sprawling open world to explore, a fully voice-acted story, and some mobile-game microtransactions that might make you roll your eyes, even if they don’t really get in the way of the core game.
Just like Breath of the Wild and the other games that obviously inspired it, Genshin Impact is loaded with secrets and features that are easy to miss. Here’s some advice that’ll help you get your bearings as you begin exploring the world of Teyvat—including how to make the most of its “gacha” loot boxes that unlock new characters.
Exploring is fun, but focus on the story too
The big appeal of Genshin Impact is its massive open world full of hidden secrets, puzzles, mini-games, and bosses. It’s pretty evident that developer MiHoYo took a lot of inspiration from Nintendo’s Breath of the Wild, as you can climb up mountains, parasail across chasms, and very quickly lose track of time bumping into all sorts of fun secrets.
But Genshin Impact also has a full-on story campaign that’s worth doing, because a lot of features are locked until you complete certain missions—like your handy wind glider. So while you might be tempted to just set out in a direction and not look back, it’s better to do a combination of both story missions and exploring. Missions will frequently take you out of the main city of Mondstadt, and this is the perfect time to take the scenic route to your objective to collect resources and fight optional bosses. The good news is that every activity rewards experience points to your individual party members as well as your overall level called the Adventure Rank.
I’d also recommend not using the fast travel system to teleport around the map unless you’re absolutely sure you’ve found everything in that area. Hidden chests, upgrade materials, and secret quests are everywhere, and you’ll easily miss it if you’re just zipping from one location to the next.
You won’t unlock all the main features until Adventure Rank 20
Genshin Impact starts pretty slowly, so it’ll take a little while before you unlock certain core features. The biggest thing you’ll want to focus on is leveling up your Adventure Rank (AR). Like I just explained, most everything you do will contribute some experience toward it, so don’t fret too much about how you’re leveling up.
Here’s a quick rundown of some major features and what AR you need to be to access them:
- AR 8: Ley Line Blossoms (a kind of world boss)
- AR 12: More Ley Line Blossoms and daily missions
- AR 14: Expeditions that let you send unused characters out for resources
- AR 16: Multiplayer co-op
- AR 20: Spiral Abyss, a massive, multi-floor dungeon, and the battle pass for extra loot
- AR 22 and 27: More dungeons (called Domains)
Only use your Wishes in groups of 10
So Genshin Impact uses a “gacha” system for earning new characters and some powerful weapons, which essentially means you can buy loot boxes for a slight edge. It sounds concerning, but you’ll also earn plenty of loot and the currency needed to buy these loot boxes just for playing.
These loot boxes are called Wishes. Some are seasonal, others are always the same, but you should always save your Wishes and spend them in groups of 10. The reason being is that when you open 10 at once, you’re always guaranteed a four-star weapon or character, which is the second highest tier available. The drop rate for four-star rewards is a measly 5 percent, so take what you can get. (Five-star rewards only have a 0.6 percent chance to drop. Yikes.)
Save your Prismogems and Stardust for Wishes
Though Wishes can be bought with real money, you’ll also earn them at a healthy pace just by playing Genshin Impact. The two currencies that can buy them are Prismogems, which you’ll earn for doing basically anything like fighting bosses or doing missions, and Stardust, which you earn for opening Wishes. An in-game shop will tempt you to spend those currencies on a variety of items, but don’t fall to temptation: Save your Prismogems and Stardust to buy more wishes.
Prismogems can be converted to Wishes directly in the Wish menu, but Stardust has to be converted using the shop menu, in the section called “Paimon’s Bargains.” You can only buy five of each type of Wish a month using Stardust, though.
Swap your characters often, especially in combat
It won’t take very long until you find yourself with a handful of characters to play in Genshin Impact. Each one has an elemental damage type that, when combined with different elements, triggers all sorts of explosive effects. Hit an enemy soaked in water with an ice spell, for example, and they’ll freeze solid. Or if you aim your tornado through a campfire, it’ll turn into a fiery vortex. The tutorial will explain all of this, but I really want to hammer home the point that you should be swapping between characters frequently in combat to trigger these effects.
Because you start off with only a single party member, it’s easy to get locked into the habit of fighting as just one character. But by pressing the associated number key, you’ll quickly swap to other members of your party. You can use this to set up devastating combos, like casting one character’s water-ability, swapping to a fire character, and using a fire spell to trigger the vaporize effect. Each character also has their Elemental Burst ability, which is kind of like their ultimate attack. You can quickly trigger your other character’s Elemental Bursts by pressing Alt + their associated number as long as that Burst is ready to go (an icon next to their name will indicate when it is).
Here’s a handy chart breaking down some elemental damage effects:
Talk to every NPC, as they often have secret quests and more
Most RPGs are inundated with NPCs who have absolutely no purpose other than feeding you a few useless lines of dialogue. That’s not the case in Genshin Impact: A lot of characters secretly have quests or will sell you rare items. That’s why it’s worth talking to most everyone you meet, especially if you’re out in the wilderness. At the very least, they’ll probably have a clue about a nearby secret.
Spend all your Resin as you get it
Aside from the loot boxes, Genshin Impact’s other big influence from free-to-play mobile games is a system that limits how often you can get rewards from certain activities. It’s called Resin, and it’s used to open up withered flowers that appear after defeating some bosses or completing the Ley Line challenges you’ll find listed in your Adventurer Handbook.
It sounds limiting, but Resin recharges fully once per day and you get quite a bit of it, too. So don’t just let it sit there because once it caps out you’ll stop generating more. At higher levels, there’s specific activities that use quite a bit of Resin at once that you might want to save for, but starting out, it’s absolutely worth it to burn through all of it as quickly as possible. It’ll slowly recharge over the next 24 hours anyway.
Use the map to mark everything
The world of Teyvat is full of secrets, but occasionally you’ll run into one that doesn’t have a clear solution. You might need a certain elemental ability or better stats, or you’re just not smart enough to figure out the puzzle. Whatever the reason, make use of the pins on your map to mark that location for later. You can also use these pins to mark the location of rare resources so you can venture back that way after they’ve had time to respawn. You can lay down up to 99 pins, so there’s no reason not to use all of them.
Some other things you should know
Always stop to collect any Amenoculus you see floating nearby. These collectibles can be traded into the Statue of the Seven scattered around the world to level it up. Doing so gives you a bunch of rewards, including more stamina so you can climb higher or paraglide for longer.
Complete all the mini objectives in your Adventurer Handbook. It gives you a ton of resources and helps ensure you’re not forgetting about some crucial progression system. If you’re lost and unsure of what to do, this is always a great place to look.
A character who uses the greatsword will break rocks way quicker. If you’re going to go mining, bringing a greatsword-wielding party member will help a lot. Failing that, Amber’s Explosive Puppet ability will destroy most ore veins almost instantly.
Level your entire party evenly. Dungeons have level restrictions based on the average level of your party.