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It's wild how many great updates Genshin Impact has gotten already

Genshin Impact
(Image credit: MiHoYo)

When Genshin Impact first launched last year, it was astounding that such an enormous and gorgeous RPG could be totally free and work on both PC and mobile. But what amazes me now is how rapidly developer MiHoYo has expanded the world of Teyvat in the seven months since. MiHoYo has put out four major updates since Genshin Impact's release back in September, and each one has added new regions, bosses, minigames, festivals, quests, characters—hell, Genshin Impact even has dating sim mode where you spend some quality time with four of its collectible heroes. These updates aren't just skin-deep additions. Each of the characters you can court in the dating sim mode, for example, has branching dialogue trees with multiple endings to discover. It's wild.

And that's just the big stuff. Every week or so there's also some kind of mini-event going on to entice players to keep coming back. Altogether it makes Genshin Impact a lively game that always feels like it has something new going on. The pace and quality of Genshin's updates puts other live service games like Destiny 2 and even traditional MMORPGs like World of Warcraft to shame.

Stop and smell the flowers 

Genshin Impact is beginning to feel like home in a way few games ever manage.

Genshin's latest update, Invitation to Windblume, introduces a multi-week festival complete with a fully voiced questline that will slowly unfold over the coming month. It's a cute celebration of the spring season that sees the city of Mondstadt covered in flowers as its citizens write love poems to one another or spend time picking flowers. The main quest is all about joining Venti, the charmingly lazy bard, on his mission to milk the citizens of Mondstadt for money by helping them solve their romantic issues so he can get drunk on wine.

There's a lot more than just a new quest, however. The Windblume Festival introduces a bunch of new minigames that reward materials needed to upgrade your main party. For the past few hours today I've been taking part in archery competitions or gliding through aerial obstacle courses trying to rack up a high score—and everything can be completed in co-op too.

My favorite of the new minigames is a new dungeon with random trials you have to complete before taking on a boss. It's simple stuff ripped straight out of Fall Guys (minus the chaos of a hundred other players bumping into you), like memorizing the exact right path to cross a chasm or carefully traversing a stone path while avoiding decoy stones that'll drop out from under you.

All of these new activities are lightweight and breezy, but it's a nice detour from the regular grind of Genshin Impact's endgame. And, honestly, it's refreshing how often Genshin Impact's story veers from the world-saving antics that drive its main quest to stop and smell pick the flowers. These events and updates are often obsessed with fleshing out little details of Genshin Impact's world and its characters, and I'm enjoying it a lot.

But that's exactly what I love about Genshin Impact: very little feels like cheap filler.

What's impressive is that these festivals never really skimp on Genshin Impact's incredibly high production values. The new Hangouts mode, for example, is entirely voice-acted and even uses a completely different dialogue setup so that your focus is squarely on the character you're going on a date with. It feels bespoke. It's surprising because I'm so used to other live service games using activities like these as cheap filler to keep me distracted between meatier updates.

But that's exactly what I love about Genshin Impact: very little feels like cheap filler. Sure, going on innocent dates with a character won't appeal to everyone—especially if you're hoping for some kind of romantic payoff—but it's easy to see all the effort that went into making it. And because everything feeds back into the core loop of leveling up your party and upgrading their weapons, it's worth it to complete these side activities just for the rewards they give. Very little in Genshin Impact doesn't feel worth my time.

These updates have also done a lot to flesh out Genshin Impact's endgame. When I reviewed Genshin last year, one of my biggest gripes was how frustratingly barren its endgame was. Without more story quests, the only thing to do was to log in for a few minutes each day to knock out a few dungeons or a boss. But now there's a lot more going on, including a new bounty hunting activity, side quests that flesh out character backstories, and new bosses to farm. 

There's a nice cadence of big and small stuff, too. Back in December, MiHoYo released an entirely new zone to explore, the Dragonspine Mountain. It is a surprisingly dense area filled with all sorts of secrets to uncover, and even months later I've yet to complete all of its associated quests or find its hidden collectibles.

My only gripe is that MiHoYo is clearly exploiting my fear of missing out by making many of these events time-sensitive. If you don't log in to play until after the Windblume Festival is over, for example, there's no way to go back and experience that whole questline about Venti. On the one hand, the ephemeral nature of these events makes Teyvat feel alive and constantly changing, but it sucks that you can miss out on whole chunks of story if you're busy doing something else. But at least I haven't paid for anything, unlike that time Destiny 2 experimented with paid DLC that effectively disappeared after a few months.

It's a relatively small gripe, though—especially when weighed against how much more MiHoYo is promising. Though Genshin Impact's upcoming 1.5 update has already been leaked, MiHoYo has promised that future updates will eventually triple the size of the map with whole new countries to visit. And given the pace at which these updates have been coming out, it seems like we're fast approaching the impending reveal of one of these new zones. I still haven't fully explored the three regions currently available, but I'm also so eager to see what else MiHoYo has up its sleeve.

Even if new areas are a long ways off, these smaller updates have done a fantastic job of keeping me invested over the past seven months. I don't play Genshin Impact as obsessively as I used to (which I'm totally okay with), but its world is quickly beginning to feel like home in a way few games ever manage. 

Steven enjoys nothing more than a long grind, which is precisely why his specialty is on investigative feature reporting on China's PC games scene, weird stories that upset his parents, and MMOs. He's Canadian but can't ice skate. Embarrassing.