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Genshin Impact's 1.2 update adds first new map expansion and two playable characters

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Genshin Impact's 1.2 update, The Chalk Prince and the Dragon, arrives on Dec 23rd and feature's the game's first new map expansion, Dragonspine. 

Dragonspine's a frozen mountain range located south of Mondstadt, which adds a new mechanic in the form of a 'Sheer Cold' bar: the weather extremes will force players to keep their characters warm in both combat and exploration. It also contains "unique creatures, a lost ancient civilization, bountiful ingredients, rare artifacts, and recipes for multiple 4-star weapons."

The Chalk Prince and the Dragon is the name of a seasonal event that will take place in the new location. You set out to investigate "a sword with mysterious power known as the Festering Desire. [Players] can not only obtain and fully refine the Festering Desire but also redeem rich rewards from the event shop, including the Crown of Insight."

Festering desire? That doesn't sound too nice. The update also introduces two new playable five-star characters, Albedo and Ganyu. Introduced by the expansion's new questline, Albedo is "a young yet legendary genius alchemist in Mondstadt, wielding a sword and the power of geo" while Ganyu is "a half human, half-adeptus Cyro archer who serves as an emissary and secretary for the Liyue Qixing." 

One weird thing about this trailer though. The character at the start says: "snow gathers at the top of this mountain, and never melts, which is a most curious phenomenon." I dunno, has the dude ever seen a mountain? Even a picture of one?

At release Genshin Impact seemed astounding for a free-to-play game, and one of 2020's dark horses. That remains true though once you've hit the endgame it also becomes a rather frustrating grind, which can take a lot of the joy out of acquiring new characters. That said, it remains a cracker for the first 20 or 30 hours at least, and if you want to take the edge off further then here's our tier list of the best characters.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."