Genshin Impact (Android (64-bit devices only), iOS (64-bit devices only), PC, Sony PlayStation 4 – free-to-play, with microtransactions) – Extended First Impressions

By Abdul Hussain

Platforms Tested:

  • Android OS: Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S (codename: Curtana), Android 10 (MIUI 11)
  • Android OS: Xiaomi Redmi Note 3: Special Edition (codename: Kate), Android 10 (custom ROM: ZenX-OS)
  • PC: Microsoft Windows 10, Intel Core i7-6700k, 32GB RAM, nVidia Geforce GTX1070

Progress/Gameplay Status as of the date of the completion of this article:

  • Adventure Rank 32
  • 10 Characters – Lumine, Amber, Kaeya, Lisa, Noelle, Barbara, Fischl, Xiangling, Ningguang, and Sucrose)
  • Approximately 64 Hours of Recorded Gameplay

Nota bene: this game censors “Taiwan”, but not “Hong Kong” in my playthrough, but both of these names have been reportedly censored according to other gamers, causing massive controversy, especially when this game has been made in China, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been overly sensitive when it comes to Taiwan and Hong Kong, as they feel that it goes against their “One China” narrative, while those who are sceptical of the CCP feel that the CCP are being geopolitically aggressive against Taiwan and Hong Kong to the point that it is threatening their sovereignty.

Therefore, how you react to political matters here, and how you deal with this game, going forward, due to this political controversy, is solely up to you, but in the interests of maintaining good journalistic practices, I felt that this needs to be included here.

Notice how “Taiwan” is censored, and that I tried circumventing that with an ‘@’ sign in place of one of the ‘A’ letters, but Hong Kong isn’t censored in this screenshot. Other gamers have reported that both both mentions of Taiwan and Hong Kong are censored though.

Where do I personally start with this very game? A Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild-“inspired” (bordering on outright copy-catting, a la Giana Sisters on the Commodore 64) action RPG from Chinese waifu/otaku-centric game developers, miHoYo, with some elements taken from games like NieR Automata with the floating weapons on the characters’ backs, and a human character artstyle that is, in my opinion, like the rest of the things that I have said earlier, and further into the article, similar to Rooster Teeth’s (originally created by the late Monty Oum) RWBY webseries. Oh, and the game is playable across smart mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets powered by the Google Android operating system, and the Apple iOS operating system (Apple devices only), and on the PC running Microsoft Windows, and bespoke gaming systems like the Sony PlayStation 4, making this game very accessible, especially when one is having a toilet session.

Microtransactions – the not-so-basic rundown

Is there any surprise that with free-to-play games that Genshin Impact would include microtransactions? No, not really, and one shouldn’t be surprised by this. However, in the case of Genshin Impact, the game slowly introduces to you the game mechanics, and the good old staple of free-to-play, repeat monetization games: the Battle Pass system, whereby you are greeted with rewards for busywork-tier tasks that you do, depending on what Battle Pass you have, with those spending zero money in the Battle Pass system, called “The Sojourner’s Battle Pass” getting, naturally, the least rewards for their efforts in the game, and those spending money to get the “Gnostic Hymn” version of the Battle Pass system getting more rewards as a result. Additionally, buying the “Gnostic Chorus” pack gets you the “Gnostic Hymn” Battle Pass with some extra rewards and the ability to skip 10 Battle Pass levels without having to grind, in which this game will extensively force you to do so, which is to grind extensively, if you do not pay for microtransactions, especially in the latter Adventure Ranks whereby it is vital to have higher-levelled characters, artifacts, and weapons, but in typical free-to-play gaming fashion, the game teases you with rewards you could have got if you part ways with your money.

The Battle Pass: a staple of free-to-play games, because shekels, yuan, dollars, and all things repeat monetization.
Want to get more rewards? Cough up some more money for a Battle Pass upgrade
Hope you like doing daily tasks. =P
The Battle Pass also encourages its gamers to try and do some more complex tasks as well.
…but there some tasks that are not easy to do to boost up your Battle Pass level.
Want those shiny weapons? You better upgrade your Battle Pass then, otherwise, you won’t get those weapons, as usual.

In addition to the Battle Pass system, there is a system known as “Wishes”, which allow you to spend in-game microtransactional currency called “Primogems”, or Wish-exclusive gems called “Intertwined Fate” and “Acquaint Fate”, to get a really small chance to win really high-tier characters and weapons that change at varying intervals throughout the game: key words being “really small chance”, as out of the four to six attempts to spend Primogems on these Wishes, except for the “Beginner’s Wish”, which guarantees a character acquisition for the first 10 draws, I only got a bunch of three-star weapons that could have easily been acquired through extensive grinding, and two four-star characters in the game, and those Wishes can set you back around 1500-1600 Primogems, and for 2 Primogems per treasure chest with weapons, artifacts, and ores (for weapon upgrades), 10-20 Primogems per quest on certain occasions, and 1 Primogem for a new game hint (hold down L1, and press Up on the Directional Pad if you’re playing on the Sony PlayStation 4), it is a struggle to even earn them as it is without spending money, let alone spend them on the Wishes system without receiving much in return.

The “Beginners’ Wish”, while guarantees you with Noelle, is available to encourage you to spend more Primogems on other Wishes in my opinion
Good luck getting a character out of these Wishes, or even a very high-tier weapon. My luck here has been mediocre in this regard, with Ningguang and Sucrose being two of the only characters I have acquired through this system, and I did not even spend a penny on this game, but rather, grinded hard to earn enough Primogems to try out this Wish system. My advice: don’t expect much.

Also, if you think the microtransactional currency system stops with Primogems, Intertwined Fate, and Acquaint Fate, then I have got some bad news for you: it doesn’t, and this game throws such systems at you in a manner so overwhelming that you will end up being confused rather than entertained. First off in the crazy list of additional microtransactional currencies, is the Genesis Crystals, which can only be acquired with real money, as seen below

Yep, want Genesis Crystals? Cough up some more money here.

Then, you have Stardust and Starglitter, which is a rare asset to acquire in-game, and is most likely easily acquirable if you spend money, as usual, which in turn, can be spent in the Stardust Exchange and Starglitter Exchange, should you wish to do so, but personally, I would stay away from this as the items on offer in said exchanges are not worth the expenditure in all honesty.

Struggling to keep up with these microtransactional currency systems? If you are, then welcome to my world.

Then, you have Genesis Crystals, which are only acquirable via real-world monetary means, usually through bundles like the one shown in the image below and through the Crystal Top-up section mentioned earlier:

Bundles, bundles, bundles, bundles, bundles…

If you are intending to NOT spend any money on this game, then I would only pay much attention to the Primogems, as that currency system is the most versatile of the lot in terms of game content acquisition, but even then, spending money on this game is a confusing mess as it is due to the numerous systems being presented to the end-user all at one fell swoop, at the expense of the end-user’s mental wellbeing.

With the currency systems fully presented to the best of my ability – yes, I have to say this, as even this is very confusing for me – heck, even Call of Duty: Mobile wasn’t this complicated at all, as it only had two currency systems: one called “Credits”, which can be earned in-game but cannot be used to spend on the more exquisite bundles, and another called “COD Points”, which is used to spend on the flashier bundles and guns, and can only be acquired with real-world currency, there are bundles that are offered in the game which give you in-world items to accelerate game progression at the expense of your wallet getting lighter

“Yay, more bundles; just what I wanted”, I sarcastically remarked.

Game Progression and Story Structure/Pacing – how fast, or slow, one progresses through the game, with, and without, spending money on the game, and how the game story is in terms of storytelling, story concepts/premise, and pacing (no major spoilers).

In the start of the game, you play as one of the two unnamed travellers in the game, canonically named as Lumine (female traveller), and Aether (male traveller), separated by an unnamed antagonist at the very start, only for you to end up having to explore the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild-styled world of Teyvat while trying to find the seven gods and making sure that their curses are removed, their respective regions freed from adversities, and eventually reuniting with your sibling (probably, if the game finishes its development process from a storyline perspective). During your adventures though, you get to meet other characters to aid with your adventures as the story progresses, while having the opportunity to acquire new characters via the methods outlined in the Microtransactions section of this article, like Lisa, who is a librarian, Kaeya, who is a blue-haired weirdo with an eyepatch, because videogames, and Amber, who looks like a freaky mashup of Blake Belladona and Ruby Rose from RWBY, and is apparently a “gliding champion”, and an “outrider”, all of which mentioned here join you early on in the story.

The game’s story largely consists of Japanese-style (not that Genshin Impact is Japanese, as it isn’t, but merely shares some of these traits) role-playing game tropes that are largely generic in nature, ranging from multiple gods, to multiple characters that look like a bunch of wacky misfits, to having extensive amounts of cutscenes and dialogue, all of which, can either be good or bad, depending on the execution of the storytelling, and the story concepts/premise itself, and it also depends on the game player as to how he or she feels about the game’s premise. Unfortunately for me, the game’s story is not exactly its strongest point in terms of execution and concepts, as you have to sit through copious amounts of dialogue and cutscenes to follow what is, to me, a borderline average-at-best story through, and has the aforementioned tropes executed in a similar manner to an average JRPG at best, the extensive dialogue and the cutscenes can become a chore to even sit through, admittedly to a point whereby I ended up listening to radio shows and podcasts uploaded onto Youtube and Spotify whilst playing the game, during said moments, and whilst grinding to get to higher Adventure Ranks. I would be more forgiving for the extensive cutscenes and dialogue if the story was entertaining and thrilling to follow through, like the Metal Gear Solid games.

As for the game progression in terms of start-to-finish gameplay, game progression speed is surprisingly fast to the point that all the initial characters in your roster can reach Level 10 after around 6 hours’ worth of gameplay, though your mileage may vary. However, starting from around Adventure Rank 20, in which Adventure Rank 16 unlocks co-operative play, and earlier ranks unlock Commission Quests which are vital towards game/story  progression, as completing random Commission Quests and claiming the rewards for said quests at the Adventurer’s Guild, which serves as the hub for tracking player progress and reward-claiming service for levelling up, help towards levelling up, and unlocking story chapters via a feature called “Story Keys”, which in turn, is locked behind high Adventure Ranks, with the lowest Adventure Rank being Adventure Rank 32 as of the time of writing (30th October 2020), and when you add all of these convoluted progression features, it adds to the tedium of the very process of wanting to see the whole Genshin Impact story through, especially when doing so at no monetary cost.

This game really loves to slow you down
Complete those Daily Commissions to get Story Keys… while you have to grind excessively to get to the required Adventure Ranks
Here’s the rundown of how that system works, straight from Satan’s mouth

As for this game, and whether it has special events designed to help entice new gamers, and perhaps retain older gamers, especially when using such tactics to play on the “FOMO factor (Fear Of Missing Out)”, yes they do, and they can range from daily login rewards in the form of the “Seize the Day” event, whereby you will be given Primogems, to time-limited character trial/map exploration events whereby you will be rewarded with in-game items that will aid you with character development, in the form of Test Runs (correct as of October 2020) and “Marvellous Merchandise” (correct as of 26th October 2020, which has finished on the 1st November 2020), the latter being whereby one has to roam around Teyvat to find a merchant named Liben (who dons an 1980s’ retro look), while you try to figure out the clues of his whereabouts, in which that changes on a daily basis throughout the event.

In addition to all of this being mentioned, you may also get rewards handed to you for registration, gameplay, reaching levels, et cetera, in the Adventurer’s Handbook, and Achievements, which function almost similarly in terms of what kinds of game tasks they ask you to do, and in the Genshin Impact Mail, whereby you may receive mail from miHoYo that contains rewards ranging from in-game progression/character enhancement items, to, in very rare cases, some in-game characters. Therefore, I must stress that if you want to have a remote chance of relatively reasonably progressing further in the game, I strongly suggest making the most of these monetarily free-of-charge in-game handouts where and when possible, as non-monetary enjoyment is a more grind-laden experience than some free-to-play titles like Call of Duty: Mobile.

Gameplay, Controls, and Game Mechanics

This is where Genshin Impact largely shines, and is thus arguably its strongest point, though this part of the game is sadly not without its flaws either. Character setup, is easy, with having a choice of four characters deployed out into the wild at any one time, and the choice of characters that you want to deploy can be made outside combat scenarios, but not in combat scenarios, whether out in Tevyat, or inside Domains (Genshin Impact’s answer to Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s shrines). Character controls are quite easily adaptible from mobile, touchscreen controls, to tactile, PC/console game input device controls and vice versa, though naturally, tactile input is better than touchscreen input.

As for character control change-overs, this is assigned to either the numerical input buttons on a PC keyboard, for immediacy, or the directional pad on your bespoke game controller of choice, and in cases whereby you need to play with a character in a trial state in a story/critical mission, the L2/LB shoulder button and a face button, like Y/X/B/A or Triangle/Square/X/O. This is effortless, and in good Internet connections (~40-50ms), the game will respond to such change-related inputs immediately, and it works similarly to the character control mechanics in games like Final Fantasy XV, but when your Internet connection exceeds the latency rating of ~120ms and above, the game input/output processes start to lag dramatically, even in solo gameplay sessions.

Regarding the character combat though, character move feedback for melee characters like the Traveller (Lumine/Aether), Kaeya, and Noelle are very satisfying, and are the most enjoyable, while bow-and-arrow characters like Fischl and Amber are fantastic for long-distance attacks, in which the game manages to pull off well. However, the least exciting, but still fun, characters to use are those whereby books/orbs/hands-off approaches are used as the basis for attacks, like Lisa, Sucrose, Ningguang, and Barbara, though Barbara is a massive godsend for health-deprived situations in the game. Combat is very responsive and functional, but changing enemy lock-on is difficult as it is automatically controlled by the game, and therefore, there is no dedicated enemy lock-on controls in the game, like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’s Z-Targeting. It would have been nice if this feature was included in the game so that one can change who to focus on when it comes to attacking enemies in the game, especially for tougher enemies. Another drawback to this game is that the enemies sometimes regenerate automatically to full health while walking away to its “home” positions, even though you are either in the middle of a battle and/or you’re attacking them anyway, making this game very frustrating to play at times, especially when you add to the fact that you will need to constantly press the B/Circle button to attack enemies with basic attacks, which can trigger and/or exacerbate repetitive strain injury symptoms if you do not take proper care. Speaking of health warnings, the PC version of the game presents to you the Photosensitive Epilepsy/Health Warning screen the moment you start up the game, but not the Android OS version of the game surprisingly.

The Health Warning screen – only available on PC, and probably PS4 and iOS, but definitely not on Android.
Combat is fun as a whole, but can be tedious, and thumb-aching at times.

Looking into world navigation controls, you can simply jump, walk, run, sprint (by tapping R1/RB shoulder button, or the Shift key if you are playing the game with a keyboard and mouse), and climb on mountains and ladders. Sprinting and climbing though, uses up the stamina bar, much like in Zelda: Breath of the Wild, in which if that is empty, you cannot climb or sprint until said bar is regenerated by standing or eating food/potions that replenishes stamina.

Run, climb, and stand and look around like as if it’s Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Making food though is largely similar, albeit more restrictive than, again, Zelda: Breath of the Wild (these comparisons cannot be helped, largely in part due to how eerily similar the two games are). You cannot experiment with putting in ingredients to make up new recipes on the fly, but rather, you have to navigate the world to find written-down recipes, in which you need to read them to learn them, and only then you are able to make the food that you have learned the recipes for, but once you do that, you are then required to “improve your proficiency” rating of the recipes that you have learned, until you have maxed out the proficiency rating for a recipe by perfectly timing the “cooking bar”, in which you will then unlock the ability to auto-cook the recipe, or recipes in question. However, the more sophisticated (see the “star rating” above the food/recipe items) the recipes are, the higher the proficiency requirements are for such recipes.

The whole culinary process, for work-in-progress recipes
The whole culinary process, for perfect proficiency level recipes

Whilst navigating the world, you can grab chests, which will help with earning Adventure Experience Points, which in turn, will help you level up your Adventure Rank, though some of them may require you to do challenges scattered across the world.

Open up a chest to get a bunch of in-game character/weapon enhancement items

Navigational teleporting points are also, unsurprisingly similar to Zelda: Breath of the Wild (BotW) as well, to the point that the game’s similarities cannot easily be ignored as stated earlier, with Statues of the Seven being as functionally equivalent to BotW’s towers in the sense that using them will allow you to unlock sections of the Teyvat map, though the former does not have the height advantage, thus not being able to be used as gliding hotspots as a result, but what it does have is that you need to acquire Anemoculus/Geoculus tokens, which are scattered across the world to upgrade these Statues to higher levels, thus giving you in-game items, upgraded stamina attributes, and Adventure Experience Points, and you can heal and/or resurrect your party members via the “Statue’s Blessing” feature, should you need to do so. There are also shrines in the game itself, but those consist of only treasure chests in which you get in-game character/weapon enhancement items.

A small section of the Teyvat world map, showing where one of the Statues of the Seven is – get to one of those to unlock a section of the Teyvat world map, and heal your party members, and level up your Adventure Rank/Experience Points
The Statue of the Seven Level-Up process, in pictures
The Statue’s Blessing feature allows you to heal up your party members

One of the more unlikable features that this game has is a moon-like collectible item called “Original Resin”, which is shown to you in the top-right corner of the Teyvat map screen, and is used to collect rewards from blue (character enhancement items)/yellow fog (in-game money called “Mora”, used to spend on items like salt, pepper, tomatoes, et cetera)-like blobs called “Ley Line Outcrops”, alongside rewards from certain Domains and certain major/tough enemies scattered across Teyvat.As of the time of writing (30th October 2020), you are assigned with a maximum of 120 Original Resin tokens, and replenish at a rate of 1 Original Resin token per 8 minutes of real-world time, whether you are logged in the game or not. This limit serves to only slow down game progression under the guise of “folks coming in via co-op sessions to steal all your loot”, which can happen and is a valid complaint, but there has been reports that miHoYo may make changes to the way this system works. Co-op sessions have also largely been restricted to Original Resin-requiring/linked activities at the moment as well as of the time of writing (30th October 2020), and thus, I have briefly played the co-op sessions, and while it is fun for a brief while to play with people in Original Resin-based missions, I have decided to stop doing so on a regular basis as a result of the lack of things to do in co-op sessions, perhaps until co-op improvements are made, according to this PC Gamer article.

A Ley Line Outcrop: Blossom of Wealth gives you Mora, the in-game currency that is spent on food, consumables, and crafting items, like Zelda’s Rupees
A Ley Line Outcrop: Blossom of Revelation gives you character level-up items
Tough enemies like Geo Hypostatis gives you a lot of items that help you improve your characters and weapons, and in some cases, help you jump over the Ascension barriers, which serve to slow you down in terms of grinding to progress in the game.
A Domain in this game is similar to Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s shrines in the sense that you have to do challenges and quests, to earn you character/weapon enhancement items
The Original Resin system is a damn nuisance, and only serves to slow you down in terms of doing shrines/Ley Line Outcrop challenges to grab loot
How the Original Resin system works, which generates at 1 token per 8 minutes of idle time.
Want to replenish Original Resin? Spend Primogems (ugh)

The one additional problem with the game, is how in-game conversations/cutscenes work, or rather, how technically problematic they are, as sometimes, the non-player characters do not point out directions when they mention which direction an event is, leaving their arms on the side like as if they are merely standing normally, they don’t actually give out food or non-food items that are not entirely crucial to the story but rather, act like they give out food/non-food items by executing the animation frames of someone giving out items, without rendering the items, and lip-syncing is god-awfully incomplete/broken, whereby the characters’ lips are not moving but they somehow are verbally producing lines and lines of dialogue like a 20th Century pullstring toy with a loudspeaker shoved up one’s rectum, and speaking of dialogue, English voiceacting is not spectacular, with some lines from NPCs being poorly “acted out”, sounding wooden, and devoid of emotion, though there has been reports that Far Eastern voice acting efforts are better than the English voice acting efforts, though I have yet to try this out myself as of the time of writing (30th October 2020)

The More Technical Aspects of the Game – game saves, graphics and graphical configurations, technological struggles, installation methods, et cetera

Firstly, game saves: you get cross-platform save-sharing, which is convenient and beneficial, but that sadly means that you will not be able to save your game locally, complete with local game save files as a backup. Also, while you can choose servers geographically nearest to you, your game saves cannot be shared across several geographical servers, so please pay attention to the box that mentions the continents, as that is the “Server Choice” option, and please choose wisely based on how geographically near you are to miHoYo’s server choices, as you cannot change your server choices later, unless you want to start afresh.

The Start screen – there are 4 server choices in the game, one of which is “Europe” (see the blue-grey box)
All of the server options available here, but do note that saves are not transferred when you change servers.

Speaking of logins and server choices, you can login to the game via your Facebook, Twitter or miHoYo account, as this is used to store your game progress, and if creating several accounts is not your thing, you can choose either of those options, depending on your personal preference.

As for Android installation, the game is accessible via the Google Play Store, without any need to jump through convoluted hoops, like sideloading APKs in normal circumstances, and can be played once you install the game via the Google Play Store, AND you start up the game, and perform an in-game installation process which takes up approximately 7 gigabytes of data storage space.

The PC version however, requires you to install a frontend launcher, and then you need to install the game via the frontend launcher, which takes up around 15 gigabytes of data storage space. However, installing the game on PC leads to you installing miHoYo’s anti-cheat kernel system, which is deemed to be a contentious issue in terms of PC operating system security. Another game that has caused controversy due to the same issue is Doom Eternal, developed by Id Software, which has since been removed due to a barrage of player complaints that came flooding in.

Genshin Impact storage space consumption on a Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S running MIUI 11 (Android 10)
Genshin Impact storage space consumption on a Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 running Zen-X OS (Android 10)
Genshin Impact storage space consumption on a PC running Microsoft Windows 10

As for the graphics settings in the Android version of the game, the graphics setting options are quite scalable, with the ability to change framerate settings, texture settings, motion blur, shadow quality, and more, though framerate settings are unfortunately quite limited, with the only two options being 30FPS (choppy, game console standard), or 60FPS (baseline for a smooth framerate). The PC version has an astonishingly similar set of settings, which is to be expected for a game that comes out on PC, and is therefore nothing to brag about in this regard, but unfortunately suffers from the same lack of framerate options that the Android version has, which is more unforgivable, especially when some PC gamers have higher-end hardware that allows a fair amount of PC games to run at high framerates and have PC visual display units that run at higher refresh rates, so this is a missed opportunity from miHoYo.

Graphics settings on the Android version of the game
Graphics settings on the PC version of the game

Audio options are woefully barebones across the Android and PC versions, with only volume adjustments and the ability to adjust the music/dialog/sound effects sound levels, and that is about it. There is not much to say about this other than it is the minimum standard, but in this case, “standard” is mediocre, and even more so when the PC version features the same level of audio setting customization. Good luck making use of more sophisticated audio setups with this game, because you will need it.

Barebones sound settings on the Android version
…and the same applies to the PC version too

Language settings, across the Android and PC versions (both of which are exactly the same) are textually diverse, with limited voice acting language support, which makes the game immediately accessible to the masses, though with voice acting, while that is limited in terms of the languages available, the text support circumvents issue somewhat, though some folks may not like having to pay attention to both the closed captions/subtitles and the in-game/menu text and the voice acting at the same time.

Language settings are plentiful on a text/UI front, but not so much on the voice acting front, which is understandable

Regarding game controls, the Android and PC versions lack customization in terms of button assignment for in-game actions, though with the Android version, customising in-game action touch icon placement would be nice, but that is not included in the game, but rather, you can only choose whether you want to aim with a phone’s built-in gyroscope, which is a nifty feature, and whether you want a separate walking touch icon. As for the PC version of the game, you can only get to configure X and Y-axis configurations for gamepad configurations, and you are only presented with a picture of a gamepad with fixed button assignments. Don’t like that? Tough luck, and it is made worse by the fact that most Occidental gamers are more familiar with X (Sony – cross)/A (Xbox syntax) being the “accept” key, and O (Sony – circle)/B (Xbox syntax) being the “decline” key in menu choices.

On the upside though, you can change key bindings if you are playing the game via keyboard and mouse, but that is restricted to just that: the keyboard and mouse, and you can adjust camera sensitivity on the PC and Android versions of the game.

Controls options on the Android version of the game: the choice of gyro aiming is nice, but overall, it is a little barebones
Controls settings on the PC version of the game with a gamepad: no customizable bindings – what a joke
Controls settings on the PC version of the game with a keyboard and mouse: at least you can change what keys you want to use here

Looking into the in-game screen layout, the touchscreen controls are reasonably spaced and located in the Android versions of the game, though there is more margin for user error for these controls on Android devices with ultra-wide aspect ratio screens, like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S as the additional space on the leftmost and rightmost sides of the screen aren’t used up to accommodate for camera notches and curved screen corners. Android handsets with more conventional screens, like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, do not have that extra space on the sides, making the controls look crammed, and there is a slightlyincreased chance of accidentally tapping on the icons while holding such devices in normal use. Also, accessing the menus can easily be done by tapping on the icons presented to you on the screen, though tool-tips that pop up after one second of holding down on an icon would probably ease with navigation as some of the icons are not immediately obvious in terms of what functions they serve, so as it stands, paying attention to the first few hours of the game is of vital importance if you want to even have a good idea as to what the icons serve without having to pause the game and experimentally, yet briefly browse the game menus.

Android screenshots of the game, in-game, on a Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S

Note the presence of leftmost and rightmost vertical empty space here, as that is done to accommodate for the dumb smartphone design decisions like camera notches and rounded corners on smartphone screens, which has an unintended upside of minimizing accidental tapping/presses on the touch icons in normal handling of such a smartphone in the game
Android screenshots of the game, in-game, on a Xiaomi Redmi Note 3.

Note the lack of leftmost and rightmost vertical empty space here, as this was taken on a phone that did not have a camera notch, a screen with rounded corners, or even an ultra-wide screen.

The PC version of the game is similar in terms of presentation and layout, and has key prompts to tell you which keys or buttons to press for certain actions, and if you are playing the game with a keyboard and mouse, you can even click on the icons scattered across the screen, thus having the same level of access to menus on the in-game screen as if you were playing the game on an Android device. However, if you are playing the game with a game controller, then you will need to hold down the LB/L1 button and push the Right Thumbstick in a particular direction to choose an option, or press any presented button for certain actions, and that is slightly more cumbersome than the keyboard and mouse controls in the game as a result.

PC screenshots of the game, with gamepad controls
PC screenshots of the game with keyboard and mouse controls

After playing the game across three devices over a span of 64 hours, the gameplay in terms of framerate and performance has been the most stable on the PC by far, with a near-consistent 60FPS at almost all times at maxed out settings, with some minor dips in effects-heavy situations. Sadly though, the same cannot be said for the Android devices that I have, with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S, a 2020 mid-range device, running at 20-30FPS on the maxed out settings, with some hard pauses and some framerate dips to 10FPS on effects-laden stages and situations, and on bare-minimum settings, the game runs slightly better, but not by much, and the pauses still exist on certain occasions. As for the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, another mid-range Android device when it came out in 2016, the performance is far more horrid, with the game running at 10-15FPS maxed out, whilst browsing the game world, with the game running at 20-30FPS at the bare minimum settings, with the framerates dipping to 10-15FPS in more graphically challenging scenarios, and the game sometimes pauses mid-action and fails to respond to menu navigational taps. Additionally, on devices with 32GB of onboard (internal) storage, it is very challenging to install the game, as you would need to free up 7 gigabytes of storage space, and most of that can easily be occupied by personal storage like media files sent via instant messaging apps like WhatsApp/Telegram, and photos and videos stored in the Camera folders (usually labelled “DCIM” – /storage/emulated/0/DCIM/). To make matters worse in terms of low-end Android device gaming, Android devices with 32-bit ARM CPUs are simply not supported, like the Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Moto G LTE 2013, et cetera.

Therefore, if you want to play this game on an Android device, grab yourself a higher-end Android device, as none of the devices that I have would run the game satisfactorily without struggle. Playing this game on a PC however, is absolutely easy, especially if you have a PC with mid-range specs, or even, a Sony PlayStation 4.

Closing Statements (Final Words)

To summarise this ridiculously lengthy first impressions rundown, this game does have its fun moments, such as the melee combat, and the bow-and-arrow aspects of the gameplay. Browsing the world also has its breathtaking moments, and dealing with some NPCs, like the annoying assistant that tags along with you throughout the game named Paimon and listening to them, and their dialogue, does have its giggle-worthy moments, but the game is fraught with technological issues, especially the anti-cheat kernel on the PC release, and the woeful performance on mobile version of the game, weird game bugs, incomplete character lip-syncing and animations, and microtransaction-encouraging practices that handicap the game progression, alongside a slightly mediocre overall story that can be a chore to follow, not to mention the political controversy surrounding the game which is bound to cause disagreements amongst certain gamers, the health struggles that this game may cause or exacerbate, like repetitive strain injury in certain cases, and the fact that this game is largely based on Zelda: breath of the Wild in terms of game world design cues, enemies, and the game world navigation, which is also another contentious point.

Would I personally suggest that you should try the game out? As the game is free-to-play, there is no harm in trying it out if you are willing to do so in spite of its flaws, and you are the sort of person that likes some of its design choices that miHoYo has taken, but if any of the flaws mentioned above are deemed “game breakers” to you, then avoiding/not wanting to play the game is frankly understandable.

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