“Genshin Impact” has taken the world by storm, becoming probably the biggest game out of a China studio in a long time.

Developer miHoYo has boasted over 20 million preregistered players. According to mobile analytics firm App Annie, the mobile game saw 17 million downloads in its first four days of release. That doesn’t include installations on PC and PlayStation 4, ports that brought global market attention to a historically mobile-only genre.

“Genshin Impact” is a high-budget mobile game in the gacha genre, which means it’s free to play and players must essentially gamble for the chance to win other bonuses in the game. In the case of “Genshin Impact,” the focus is on collecting characters.

After playing it nonstop for the last week, I’ve found you need to approach this game much differently than other games featuring loot grinds, like the recent “Marvel’s Avengers.”

Here’s a beginner’s guide to help you navigate the confusing gacha system, how to manage your money, and how best to manage your time so you’re as powerful as you can be in the early hours of the game.

Do not play this game if you’re prone to spending addiction

I know I praised the game last week and also called the drop rates for the gambling portion of the game “egregious.” But I also want to stress this point: This game is straight up gambling, with no monetary reward at the end of each roll. If you have a history of gambling or spending addiction, I advise that you steer away from this title, even if it’s free. The success rates for a good five-star character or weapon are abysmally low (less than 1 percent), and it’s designed to be unlucky and very expensive. And even if you have a good pull, it’ll either not be the thing you want, or a duplicate of something you already have, which has its worth, but for cold hard cash.

I know it may seem harsh to start off a tips guide with this, but it’s important for your livelihood. We’ll get to more tips about how to navigate this system further down the article.

Don’t save your character leveling materials. Use them.

This game’s leveling system is a bit weird. In other role-playing adventures, defeating mobs of enemies will usually make you stronger, but the experience growth in “Genshin” is so small, it would take you ages.

The various notes and books you get as rewards in chests and quests are meant to be used pretty quickly. Pick a character or team you like, and pump them up full of experience. You’re meant to have a fleet of properly leveled characters to explore the world. If it feels weird that you’re already level 20 just one hour into the game, don’t be. You’re right where you need to be to explore the first region.

Artifacts determine your build

Having properly leveled characters is only the bare minimum to leisurely explore the world. If you’re finding that enemies take a few too many hits to defeat, it’s probably because you’re not tending to your artifacts. Having a good set of artifacts means the difference between defeating enemies in 10 hits or two.

Artifacts are essentially accessories or armor pieces that boost a character’s stats. You can’t roll for these, you can only find them by playing the game, doing dungeons, opening chests and finishing quests. And they give you the biggest boosts for damage.

My advice: Pick a main character and boost their attack rating. Feather accessories are the primary attack booster, so either focus on finding a four-star feather or “enhancing” a three-star feather with other, weaker artifacts. Every level up on an artifact boosts its stat significantly. I tested this on a new PlayStation 4 account after taking what I learned on my PC account. My PS4 main character is now already stronger than my PC character, even though the PC adventure is much farther along.

Artifacts are hard to come by and can’t be bought from stores or with real money, so you’re going to have to choose to either spread the resource love across other characters, or focus building one up first at the early hours. But if you want to be hitting harder or doing more damage for your elementals, you need to be mindful of who’s wearing the artifacts, and keeping them regularly enhanced. Once you mind your artifacts, it’ll be like you’re controlling a whole new (and much more powerful) team.

Check your elemental resonances for your team

I started the game thinking I needed a diverse roster on my team, one for each element. But that’s not necessarily the ideal way to play for every situation.

Each character comes with elemental powers, except for the main character which for now can switch between wind and geo. But having different elements in your team can yield different results. For example, having two wind characters like the protagonist and Venti will give you big boosts in stamina, making it much easier to explore the world. And having two fire elemental characters boosts your attack damage by 25 percent.

Make sure you’re checking what bonuses you’re getting for your team makeups in the character menu.

Get these two four-star artifacts

Talking to every character in the game is a good general tip for any role-playing game, and it applies to “Genshin Impact.” At a certain point in the game, you’ll be asked to do a quest in the cathedral of Monstadt, the starting region. Go there and find a nun named Victoria.

Every time a dialogue option with a box or treasure chest icon shows up, choosing it will net you a reward. Victoria will give you a four-star artifact, which is worth investing in for the long run. It also nets you an achievement.

That was an easy one and the first artifact you should nab. The next one is at Dadaupa Gorge. There’s a quest that involves eliminating three enemy camps and lighting three torches with fire, ice and lightning powers (all of which you will have). Once it’s done, your reward is a four-star feather, which will give you a huge boost in attack. If you’re having trouble finding or finishing the quest, here’s a good video guide.

YouTube channel recommendations

Thanks for reading this article and supporting newspaper journalism, but there are also a bunch of YouTube creators who have been covering this game diligently and thoroughly, and I want to give two of them some acknowledgments for not only helping my game, but also explaining things clearly and thoroughly so as to not waste their viewer’s time.

  • Demone Kim: He’s been on top of this game since its beta release, so he’s been well informed of the game’s changes throughout its development. More importantly, he’s very straightforward and entertaining in how he describes some of the game’s more cryptic mechanics, like his video about how the seven elements interact with each other. I haven’t found a creator that’s clearer and more concise than him.
  • Mtashed: He’s a well-known creator who’s covered many games in the past, but he’s recently picked up “Genshin Impact” and has been quickly putting out guides. He offers a good perspective on what it’s like to just enter the game, which is what much of us here in the West are experiencing. He just posted a great video for starting players on the best team to use if you’re determined not to engage in the gambling system, which is going to be useful for a majority of the game’s players. And unlike other popular creators, he gets to the meat of his content fairly fast too.

How to spend real world money wisely

Are you sure you want to play this game? Are you sure you’ve told yourself that you’re only going to spend a little bit of money, or you’re okay in engaging with the gambling system with the pittance of currency the game doles out to you? Then here are a few ways to get the most out of the game by spending no more than $5.

  • Buy the “Blessings of the Welkin Moon” pass: For $5, you’ll be receiving a daily allotment of currency you can spend on a “wish,” the game’s jargon for gambling and rolling for a new character or five-star weapon. It’s not much, but it’ll add up by the end of the month. It’s the only way to spend money in the game that isn’t meant to completely screw you over for literally 99 percent of the time. And that said ...
  • Don’t save your rolls, just spend them as you get them: The game offers a guaranteed good character or weapon if you decide to roll 10 times at once. But this doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get the same chances by doing individual rolls. You don’t have to blow it all once it’s saved up. You can alleviate the itch to gamble by tossing an individual wish down the well with no worry of your odds being worse than when you spend 10 wishes.
  • If you want characters, roll with the event banner: The “standard” banner (which features characters Jean and Diluc) crowds your chances to get better characters by also offering a high chance to get a weapon. If that’s not your focus, use your wishes on the special event banner. At the moment, it’s the one featuring the wind bard Venti, who’s chances are only slightly higher for that banner. But Venti’s higher chances doesn’t crowd out the chance to get other five- or four-star characters, not as much as weapons do for the standard banner. Unless you’re filling out your armory for swords and spears, don’t spend your wishes on the standard banner.

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