There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding a game called Genshin Impact ever since it was revealed back in June 2019, and not because it looks fantastically original; quite to opposite in fact. It didn’t take long for fans to see similarities between Genshin Impact and the latest mainline entry in the popular Zelda series, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Well, the game’s actually out now on PS4, PC, and mobile devices, and we’ve spent a good ol’ amount of time on it to see what exactly it is about the game that draws such conclusions. We’ll likely be taking an even closer look at the game when it eventually comes to Switch, but for now this’ll do.
If you’re wondering if it falls under the banner of being an out-and-out clone of Nintendo’s open world extravaganza, then we can say with conviction that it isn’t – you only need look at the combat to know that – but the “inspiration” from Breath of the Wild is definitely here all right.
Let’s go over some of the game’s features. You have a big, cel-shaded open world to explore in which you can just walk, or you can sprint, swim, free-climb, and use a glider to soar through the air, all of which drain your stamina meter. In an older trailer, you could even light grass on fire and use the updraft it creates as a means of gaining crazy height using your glider, and although grass is still absolutely flammable in the final version, this mechanic seems to no longer be present.
As you explore the world you come across camps of enemies who attack you on sight. Defeating all the enemies in an area often rewards you with a chest containing weapons and other goodies. These enemies consist largely of bipedal semi human-like creatures called Hilichurls with (as the game describes it) limited mental capacity; they often use wooden shields and clubs that you can burn with fire attacks if you wish to disarm them. If you’re too far away from them to get a good whack on you – and they’re not armed with bows – they can dig small stones out of the ground to inflict you with some hitstun and potentially break your rhythm as you try and kill their chums.
There are also larger Hilichurls called Mitachurls that are brutish, more difficult, and use more distinct tactics in order to take you down. Other enemies include small jelly-like creatures called Slimes that can harbour various magic elements, and come in both large and small variants. Mitachurls can also rip these Slimes out of the ground and throw them at you, causing their friend-com-projectile to damage you and itself. There are also Abyss Mages, strange cloaked creatures with indistinct faces that cast magic at you from a distance using their wands.
If you’re low on health at any point you can find a cooking pot to rustle up some of the many ingredients you’ll find throughout the world such as fruit from trees, vegetables from the ground, or you can hunt wild animals for their meat, in the form of red meat and poultry. There are various recipes you can use to create meals which have significantly better healing effects than the raw ingredients, although you can eat these as well if you’re in a pinch. These ingredients and other items can also be found in wooden crates that can be broken open with an attack or burnt with fire.
You’ll also come across mysterious stone doorways that open up to small, enclosed ruins that task you with completing various challenges and reaching the end. These seem to be leftover from a previous, ancient civilisation with technology so advanced that no one from the current period is able to properly understand or harness it, so these ruins remain largely untouched except for the inexplicable presence of random Hilichurls and Slimes. Occasionally these ruins are guarded by large, mechanical enemies designed to keep intruders away. Their weakness is their single glowing eye. Yeah.
We think it’s safe to say that whilst none of these mechanics are necessarily 100% unique ideas that have never been seen before The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, having all of these ideas and elements in one place is definitely eyebrow-raising. There is more to this game that certainly differentiates it from Nintendo’s offering, such as the combat being far closer to something like Hyrule Warriors than the free-form and experimental physics fun of Breath of the Wild. The story, the RPG elements, the more restrictive nature of the world and level-walling, the fact that it’s online, the ability to switch characters on the fly even if it does completely and utterly destroy the narrative, it’s certainly not a direct copy of everything that makes Breath of the Wild what it is… but perhaps saying it used Zelda merely as an ‘inspiration’ is slightly underselling things.
What’s even more interesting is that many of the game’s differences feel highly polished, but the more Zelda-like elements don’t seem to have that same level of care. Crates can be burnt with fire, but not all crates, even if they can be destroyed by other means. The animations for climbing and gliding feel oddly stiff and basic compared to what you see from characters in combat, and there’s no inertia from updrafts or when cancelling your glide. The ruins that you fight through feel samey and often copy-pasted from one another, and frequently end with a large room that’s completely empty save for some power stone thing that you can destroy with a few hits, and thus completing the stage.
It’s purely speculative but it feels like the Zelda-like mechanics were potentially introduced later in development, and as such not given the attention or care required in order to make it gel with the rest of the far more polished areas. Again, this is purely speculative, but in our time playing the game that’s the feeling we were left with.
So is Genshin Impact a clone of Breath of the Wild? In short, no, but it is clearly ripping DNA from Nintendo’s efforts and not always successfully. Games have always taken inspiration from other titles, that’s how ideas and mechanics evolve after all, but at what point does it stop being inspiration and start being plagiarism? Let us know with a comment below.
Alex is the man responsible for the daily videos you’ll find on our YouTube channel. Excitable and fuelled by coffee alone, his floppy hair has charmed many a sceptic into subscribing.
It’s also probably easy enough to copy a good idea, but very, very hard to pull it off like Nintendo does. Shame to hear it’s still so similar; its similarities to Zelda really do seem to be the reason anyone is talking about the game at all.
It reminds me of the kind of GTA clones we got back in the day – it adds stuff, but if you play it you get the itch to play the real thing.
I’ve been enjoying it so far, the game looks great on my phone and it handles well.
It taking some stuff BotW does is hardly a bad thing, exploration in that game was fun.
Gliding doesn’t feel right. But still, instead of trying to complain again on how it looks like BotW, let’s focus on how this is a mobile game!
Literally insane, like, sure, it may feel like discount BotW, but it’s on mobile! And it’s a free game! My only problem for this is that this might as well be a full console release.
The progression doesn’t seem gated, nor are you required to spend money on trying to get better chars, so I’m not entirely sure how MiHoyo will profit from this other than the lolwaifu gacha.
VA seems decent; like, for a mobile game, this is top notch; but when comparing it to it’s main inspiration in BotW, it falls short, sure. They have been times where I expect the wonkyness of BotW physics but it feels stiff, and sometimes I get the impression you can mess around with mobs with the janky physics but you cant. Also, the game is too “waifu” focused, but w/e, can’t complain much on a game I didn’t spend anything (yet?)
Still, exploring the vast world is pretty great on it’s own, but I rather play it on PC than mobile, since on PC you can get 60fps and better graphics, which the game does looks pretty indeed. Looking forward playing coop!
They may as well have gone all in on the name as well – maybe Breadth of the wild?
For a game that’s meant to be FAITHFUL to Breath of the Wild as opposed to being a direct rip-off meant to compete against Breath of the Wild, this game does look incredible (aside from the micro-transaction side of things).
I’m going to wait to play it yes I have a ps4 but I want to play it on the switch first, so I don’t go like: OMG the graphics are so much lower on here thin on ps4 oh look frame rate drop never got that on the ps4.
I played the game yesterday and was pleasantly surprised. The combat feels good, the overworld is expansive and, even on my terrible PC, the game looks really good! My only problems with the game is the gatcha system and the ‘fan service’. I won’t get into the second point but the gatcha system makes it to where you are stuck w/terrible party members. For example, I didn’t care all that much for bows and magic tomes; but the only characters you get with the Pyro and Electro elements wield the bow and tome respectively. The only way to get characters with the other weapon types is to do a “Wish” and hope you get the character that you want. Otherwise, this is a pretty good F2P game.
@Snatcher you could try the mobile version to get an idea of how the Switch version will be. It actually looks and runs pretty good on a decent phone so I would think the Switch should be on par with that experience.
It’s not like Breath of the Wild was completely original either, I think it’s the combination of ideas and polish that sets Nintendo apart from the competition.
This is only version 1.0, and it’s free to play. I’m sure this will grow in many ways – hopefully in a good direction!
@Thundertron55 same here. I dislike bows and tomes aren’t fun to use for me, however, I was looking into the gacha system currency, and you can get around 30 tries each month by doing in game events and challenges. Sure, it’s not that much either and the chances of getting something decent is abysmal.
However it seems the company is running events that give characters for free, so I suppose as one enjoys the game and plays it a bit every here and then, one will be fine 🤔
Like alex said and I said on previous articles on this game when I predicted its problems (I’m surprised how many actually came true lol) this game actually lost more than it gained in being a botw clone (partially at least). It feels painfully obvious they had a pretty good game with interesting ideas that just hastily included botw bits in. Now, the problem with this for me at least is these similarities and the art style combine to give me a forgettable clone kind of look and it pains me to say this but if they had a good game they might have ruined it by making it this close to botw, thus making it always that cheap version of botw and not it’s own thing which in my opinion will risk throwing what might be a pretty good game into obscurity when it could have just been its own thing and maybe been more successful in the long run (although with all this media they are getting it might be good for the game lol)
Gacha mechanics aside I think this is an Amazing jrpg which zelda isn’t, it has some of the best graphics I’ve ever seen from an anime styled game and I’ve played a lot..Yes it does have some zelda mechanics mixed in but does have some better additions than zelda and the combat is better in my opinion
Well, Nintendo isn’t taking legal action and are even willing to let it be published on Switch, so I see no reason to be upset. Directly copying assets is one thing (like when Flappy Bird’s pipes were identical to the ones from Mario; that’s not cool), but duplicating a specific gameplay style-even if you aren’t adding a while lot new–shouldn’t be frowned upon, in my opinion.
Take Mario Kart, for example. It basically pioneered the kart racing genre. There were racing games before it, but none that I know of where you used items to make other racers peel out. The Mario Kart style has been copied time and time again, to varying degrees of success. I love Crash Team Racing, but I would argue it is fundamentally a Mario Kart “clone.” Still, it’s the most competent Mario Kart clone on the market, and the fact they were able to capture the same magic is pretty admirable. Even if Mario Kart has a very specific and unique gameplay style, its popularity proves there is a strong demand for it, and companies are within their right to try and copy it.
Another example, SpongeBob SquigglePants is a collection of five-second “nanogames” you play in rapid succession with four lives to try and get a high score. It’s literally just WarioWare with SpongeBob characters, but you know what? It’s awesome! For as good as WarioWare is, it really could stand to be copied more. I would love to see more people take on the “microgame” genre. Also, look at how games like Spyro and Jak and Daxter copied the collectathon nature of Super Mario 64. Last example, Fortnite and PUBG. (Although, I think Epic may have had a failed lawsuit against then or something, but still.)
Whether capitalizing on a trend while it’s popular or filling a niche that doesn’t exist anymore (A Hat in Time before 3D platformers had their big resurgence) I don’t think every game needs to seriously push the envelope. Clones don’t have the same risk-vs-reward involved–they know they aren’t gonna be the next Mario or Zelda–but their familiarity means they’re likely to be at least a moderate success. If the developers are content with that, more power to them.
Edit: I may as well ad Undertale on here, too, which of course takes a LOT of direct inspiration from Earthbound. Given how successful Undertale and Fortnite are, maybe I should retract my statement about “clones” only ever being modest successes. If anything, their popularity just further proves how consumers can still appreciate a game that doesn’t offer a completely unique experience.
Great little game, lots of fun on PC. Mobile has no controller support, so that was a instant delete.
Rather play this than the 100th Indie that looks (and plays) like it was made in a basement because of “inspiration” from a game in the 80s. At least ZBOTW has some modern ideas.
Have a full squad just from playing the Story at this point. But gave them their $4.99 month thing just for the effort they put into the Art and music.
I’ll wait for the Switch version, really wish they just did a normal ‘premium’ version for consoles, but the game itself is getting mostly positive feedback. Can’t go wrong with a good game inspired by BotW.
Only a few hours in and the game already has more story than BotW did in all its hundreds of hours. Lol. And to me, story holds A LOT of weight.
Constantly forcing your audience, be it gamers or reviewers, to compare you’re game to one of the best video games ever made is just setting yourself up to fail. The primary conversation around this game is “it’s not as good as BOTW” rather then asking if it stands on it’s own, and I can’t see that helping sales or reception.
the art style looks like a cross between breath of the wild and fortnite. i dont like microtransaction games, so ill skip this one.
My biggest draw to this is the multiplayer. I loved BotW, so the idea of getting that game (or even just a knock-off of it) w/ multiplayer gets me excited. This & Immortals: Feynx Rising are on my list.
I think it is unfair to call this a BotW clone. I actually think it has a lot of Dragon Quest elements also, but it isn’t a clone of each one, but draws a lot of inspiration from them.
This is a great game. Yes, the micro transactions suck and it would be far better as a single transaction game where you play through the story. For that reason I probably won’t stick with it for long. But for the several hours I have played it has far exceeded my expectations.
For this game I rather have a varied selection of games to choose from even if they lookalike doesn’t mean they are the same gameplay. Open word game similar to BOTW will always have some connections why because that’s what gamers one some want linear and some want just to go all wild. So Nintendo is smarter to let it go as it is since that will more or less Showcase the Switch as a viable platform for gamers on the go. And that will be Genshin biggest selling point your not stuck to the couch to just game the game.
@Agramonte At 4K/60fps on my home PC it looks (and plays) amazing.That’s something no consoles will ever do or catch up to. Gaming Rigs will always be the top DOG even if they have smaller selections they have the GPU to show it and flout it AnyDay/AnyTime. And no xbox/psx(5) can say otherwise.
Yes, this game may be a Zelda BotW clone for those of us who played Zelda BotW on Wii U and Switch, but for the millions of people on mobile, PC and PS4 who haven’t owned a Wii U or Switch, tjus may not seem that much like a clone to them.
When it finally comes to Switch then it may seem like a clone, but that’s still a limited number of people to the amount potentially playing it now.
I was part of one of the closed betas, so I’ve spent a lot of time with the game. I think that if they had just made some of the enemies look a little less similar to BOTW, and changed up the music at points, it wouldn’t have been the controversy that it ended up being. The gameplay really isn’t that similar.
Ah yes, asking a fandom to define the semantic boundaries of plagiarism. What could possibly go wrong?
I’m really enjoying it tbh. Looks bloody great on my phone and perfect for lunch breaks. Spent hours on it so far without spending any money at all so the gacha/ftp mechanics don’t get in the way of progress as far as I can tell.
@sethharris1191 Don’t be obtuse. This game was very much trying to be an anime Breath of the Wild rip-off when it was first shown off.
It is a great game so far.Combat is simple but got some nice depth to it.Am only AR14 but the story so far is engaging and i want to see where it leads.If you like these kind of games i would highly recommend to try it. I was lucky and got a 5* on my first 10 pulls but so far it does not seem like you need them to enjoy the story. That might change towards the end but who knows.
@rjejr roughly 2/3rds of switch owners haven’t played it either. I think most people don’t think it’s a clone, and most of the people that do think it’s a clone don’t care that it might be a clone.
It’s been a blast so far. Me and my friend have been exploring together as soon as we leveled up to 16. Last time I remember staying up past 3am to play a game with a buddy. I love breath of the wild but the characters in this are great!
@Menardi users brought that up since due to privacy corncerns and the likes, and MiHoyo actually responded and the anti cheat system doesn’t runs anymore when the game is closed.
@Cool_Squirtle The Switch owners have a choice though, Zelda or Genshi, so for them it may simply be a matter of play the original or play the clone, but for everyone else it’s Genshi or nothing, so they probably aren’t too worried about it being a clone b/c they don’t have that option, this or nothing.
@Kimyonaakuma Yeah. I dont think any game is 100% original anymore and if games can steal what works from other games, they should. BOTW was innovative though and superbly designed.
And this title seems like a somewhat poorly designed mish-mash of mechanics taken from lots of different titles.
@Not_Soos to your point, in the early 90s every FPS was called a Doom clone now its an entire genre with SUBgenres.
It’s totally not a BotW clone you guys because even though everything else is identical, the combat was stolen from a completely different Zelda game.
@rjejr I have play BOTW on the switch and Genshin on my ps4 and have thoroughly enjoyed both.
Genshin does clone a few things from zelda but it’s is a more filled out game and to me is an improvement over zelda, in terms of story, graphics, voiced content, better combat, things to do in the world, skills and no weapon breaking every 10 seconds lol
“It’s purely speculative but it feels like the Zelda-like mechanics were potentially introduced later in development”
THAT explains everything. It’s like the game originated as a good effort for an unique JRPG that needed more ideas. Then Zelda: Breath of the Wild came and the devs suddenly felt a huge inspiration urge, perhaps too much.
Was intrigued but microtransactions make this a no no for me. I’d rather pay full price for a full content game than that.
What are people so worried about? BOTW has had what… 2-3 years now to rake in the cash. This game may have been inspired by BOTW, but is hardly diverting any $$$ from Nintendo. The developers have worked hard to make Genshin. It deserves a fair run. And it’s in mobile. Pretty impressive. Maybe Nintendo should wake up and take notes, especially if this game does well.
As an aside, this whole “waifu” culture is really interesting to me. I do agree it can be really cringe, but as someone who is gay i’m not gonna act like i wouldn’t mind having a Gladiolus from FFVX type character in literally every game.
Could be the opposite, where Zelda mechanics were added, and stripped back once the backlash occurred. Seems that way with the fire / glide mechanic at least?
What’s more interesting to me is whether or not it’s fun? Can it tide us over till breath of evil?
Mobile versions don’t support controllers? What about the iPad version? Also is there any puzzle’s at all?
@Valhalla91 Thanks. Good description. Convinced me to download it to my PS4 just now. I was going to download it to my phone to try it out but the lack of controller support isn’t for me. I won’t even play Pokemon Cafe on Switch b/c it wont’ let me played docked.
@TheFrenchiestFry This is supposed to have a Switch port IIRC, it’s just delayed. So I guess it still counts.
Been playing on my iPad Pro and it looks better than any Switch game I’ve seen.
@Snatcher Well I’m playing it on my OnePlus 7 Pro and at the highest setting and it looks/feels great so I doubt it’d look any worse on PS4.
You understand that “Zelda” is a genre right? Like you call games like OCEANHORN “Zelda like” in the same way you call a game a shooter or a MMO. It doesn’t mean it’s ripping off Zelda. The problem here is that the art and design clearly rip off BOTW, and think what you want of this game, that is simply a fact.
By your failed logic, “this site” (as well as every other site) call like 50% of all games ever made Metroid or Castlevania ripoffs
Any similarity to Zelda games living or dead is strictly coincidental. 😉I laughed reading Alex’s rundown of similarities, but I won’t smash and burn any video game hardware in protest over this.
@Snatcher the mobile to PC comparisons Ive seen so far are very impressive… After all this is a mobile game ported to PC and console. I am pretty sure the Switch will handle it very well.
Clone or not, this game has been impressive so far. I’ve been playing for hours and for a free online game with Gacha system, I haven’t encountered any paywall nor do I need to grind too much that could have prevented me from progressing the game. Doing quests can reward you enough and I’m not sure if I’m just lucky but I got some descent characters from their Gacha but even without it, you’re still given some good characters in the first few hours.
Still can’t believe that for a free game, this has been quite rewarding and fun to play around with. I honestly want a more standalone offline version of this and I’d be willing to pay for it. There are some elements that “borrowed” from BoTW but it still has its own unique features.
I still want to play it. I think it looks pretty good! Not a fan of free-to-play, though I guess that eliminates the buyer’s remorse of paying $60 for it and hating it after an hour.
The reviewer says it is not a Zelda clone, everything else says otherwise. In my opinion it is a Zelda rip off from a chinese company, but adding what we gamers hate the most: Micro transactions. I pass.
Seems to have a lot more going for it than botw for me as a new age open world game, loving it so far. I really dont see the botw comparison, nothing here steals any of botws original ideas, just builds on Botws pre-existing amalgam of inspirations from games like Witcher 3 and Shadow of the Colossus. Ive yet to see a strong argument to how this is a complete ripoff of botw and is a clone. Clone became such a misused word in gaming nowadays.
Also why are people saying the art style is breath of the wild? Really? I guess Mihoyo previous games are riping off Botw art style before botw came out too. Geez Nintendo fanboys really do make nintendo fans look bad.
man, I’m loving this game! Installed on the Ipad just out of curiosity and cant stop playing… it’s just so beautiful, the UI is clean and polished and even the gacha mechanics are fun.
about the BOTW controversy, I though it was merely aesthetics but wow they really cleaned that bone. that’s fine too…BOTW is plain perfect and every anime game should copy it.
actually, playing Genshin Impact I can’t help but wish the latest Fire Emblem, Dragon Quest or Mana games were just.this.good.
It’s much higher quality than I was expecting. Just super lame the FPS is locked at 60… ugh 60fps sucks so much.
Been playing to game on PC, and if nothing else, this is easily one of the best F2P games I’ve tried out so far.
The further I get into the game the more it diverges from BOTW. It’s about as much as BOTW as Okami is to OOT. That is, it shares quite a bit, but it defiantly has it’s own identity.
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