Genshin Impact has taken the gaming world by surprise, quickly becoming one of the most talked about games to release this year. Players have been flocking to the vibrant world of Teyvat, home to many elemental monsters, and powerful playable characters.
Despite its many successes, Genshin Impact has had its fair share of controversy already, regarding its predatory gacha slot machine system, where players must essentially pay to obtain and level the most powerful characters available. There is a lot that Genshin Impact does right, that future MMO’s can learn from, and here is my list of features MMO’s need, as well as 3 MMO features Genshin Impact would benefit greatly by implementing in the future.
MMO’s NEED: Better, More Rewarding Exploration
One of the greatest things Genshin Impact has going for it, is the exploration aspects. Not only is the world varied, and meticulously detailed with its ruins, mountains, and villages, but littered throughout the world are treasure chests, secret puzzles, and challenging collectibles that requires quite a bit of determination to get.
MMO’s have had forms of exploration rewards for over a decade, and some MMO’s like Guild Wars 2, vastly play up the collection aspect of finding items throughout the world to obtain some type of reward. Unfortunately, in so many MMO’s these days, actual exploration plays second fiddle to the simplistic styling of the humdrum kill quest. Most MMO’s attempt some semblance of exploration. Few have been successful, though probably one of the most overlooked cases of exploration came in the form of an underrated game called The Secret World, which had some fantastic story elements and puzzles that were rewarding in and of themselves.
Rarely do we see features for the explorer in us all. In Genshin Impact, every time I head out into the wild, a small gleam that catches my eye could be a puzzle that leads to a precious chest, or it could be treasure sitting out, waiting to be collected, and, lucky me, I found it. The collections don’t culminate on just another pat on the back, but honest to goodness progression of my characters in more ways than one. The exploration and fun of just being in the world, climbing the mountains, floating on currents and investigating every nook and cranny with actual, useful rewards is something that we’ve lost in MMO’s, and Genshin Impact found it.
GENSHIN IMPACT NEEDS: Real, More Diverse Multiplayer
For anyone that has played the Genshin Impact multiplayer, you understand what I mean here. For the vast majority of what you spend your time doing in the game, very little of it is worthwhile to do in a group. Players that join you don’t get to open chests with you, they don’t benefit from running collection quests, and with very few exceptions as far as bosses and dungeons, it’s virtually useless to be in a group, unless you have a debilitating fear of traversing the world alone.
MMO’s are the exact opposite of this. Everything in an MMO, save for a few games that reserve stories for the main character only, can be played in a group, and with other players. Despite the single-player-ness of Genshin Impact, the game world does feel quite alive, but it could be a breathing, sight to behold, if more players were able to join in on the fun. Even, simply, a shared world option that games like Destiny and Fallout 76 have implemented, would be more than enough to satisfy the feeling of a robust world of adventurers.
Yes, because this is a hero-focused game, there could be some logistical difficulties with seeing the same character as you floating around, but that’s a very minor detail, that can be circumvented by simply providing different skins for your favorite characters. In the very least, at least open up multiplayer so that everyone can benefit from all the activities you do in Genshin Impact.
MMO’s NEED: Cross Play – Including Mobile Support
Love it, hate it, or dismiss it entirely, mobile games are extremely popular. What many mobile games are not, are complex, fun, and satisfying to play. The thought of playing a mobile game that is largely automated, makes it far less a game I’m playing, and more of a sad, interactive video that I’m watching. Enter Genshin Impact, a game that has zero auto-play. It requires you dodge, swing your weapons, cast your spells, and traverse the world on your own terms, not on the pathing some developer created for you.
MMO’s don’t need the mobile treatment. They don’t need auto-play, and gacha boxes. What Genshin Impact has shown me that they do need, is far more accessibility. Sure, MMO’s in many cases, now have cross-play, though there have been exceptions (usually at launch) where servers are often kept separate. We can blame Sony for most of those problems, as it seems their reliance on keeping their platform exclusive to its own players is well known, and almost legendary. However, the insane idea that such a robust and enjoyable RPG, that many players happily play on PC and Console, can be just as easily played on a mobile device.
For my money, I actually enjoy playing it on mobile far more than playing it on my PC. I’ve attempted the game with a controller and a mouse and keyboard, and despite some strange mis-taps every so often, the mobile controls feel the best to me. I can tap the menus I want instead of screwing around with button taps and menus with a controller, but I also have the intuitive analog feel, and reactive button taps that are missing from a keyboard and mouse, and the incessant clicking that is required from mouse-play.
Plus, the accessibility is hands down my favorite part. If I need to be on my game for an encounter, then I can hop on my PC and play with gusto. If all I’m doing is questing and adventuring and I want to do that while I’m away from my computer, I can do that too. An MMO with this kind of accessibility would be amazing, even if they limited what you could do to overworld PvE encounters.
GENSHIN IMPACT NEEDS: Mounts and Pets
Mount and pets in an RPG with a huge open world, and a ton of fun and quirky characters? Need I say more? I will say more, because MMO’s nearly always have mounts for traversal, and at least one, if not more, pet classes. “But why do you need mounts if you can simply teleport everywhere, fly, and climb?” That’s a valid question, but it’s simple, and goes far beyond an answer of “Because I want them.”
Mounts provide faster travel, sure, but they can also bring new elements of gameplay and monetization to the forefront, both of which are things that Genshin Impact will need eventually. The world is also full of dragons, wolves, and weird elemental creatures, all of which would be pretty cool to ride on top of at some point. I could also see new blessing statues specifically for mounted traversal achievements crop up, to further explore the different types of mounts you could eventually obtain, and use them to their fullest.
Pets on the other hand, are a no-brainer. They can add more than just a neat aesthetic, but a complete complement to your 4-character roster, that rounds them out in ways that would be extremely helpful. What if you haven’t pulled a strong fire character? No worries, your pet might be able to supplement some fire damage. What if you aren’t happy with your healer, and would prefer a full damage team, maybe your pet can step in and provide some healing support? Currently Genshin Impact has characters that have dolls, or tiny elemental characters you utilize as your special skill, but they aren’t true pets in any sense of the word. This is certainly a feature Genshin Impact needs.
MMO’s NEED: Better Crafting, Trading, and Mini-Games
In Genshin Impact you can cook, you can craft, and you can create certain resources with alchemy, but with the exception of cooking, which requires very little actual effort, each of these pieces of the game are lackluster at the best of times. MMO’s know how crafting is done. No, there really isn’t variables on your drops, nor are you able to put weapons on any kind of auction house after you’ve leveled them up. In reality, the closed weapon system is quite simplistic, and is all inclusive – whatever you pick up, you pretty much either use it to fight with or upgrade other weapons and gear.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. It would be great if that blue weapon you eventually grow out of when you upgrade to the next rarity, can be sold or traded to a friend, to help one of their characters grow stronger. It would also be nice to put excess materials you’ve obtained on an auction house, or provide a barter system, so you can trade materials you don’t need, for ones you do.
I’ve run into situations where I needed a specific material to upgrade a weapon or character, but it wasn’t the right day to earn that material. If I could pop over to an auction house and barter for what I want, with what I’ve got, it would make progression much smoother and far more fun.
Plus, some MMO’s have fantastic mini-games that are just, fun, and break up the monotony of questing. Whether I’m playing rappy slots in PSO2, or running a race in GW2, mini-games with friends, or even NPC’s are a great way to add value to a game. Sometimes, mini-games can coincide with crafting and gathering too, which could be icing on a trading-post cake, if we were to ever see one implemented.
GENSHIN IMPACT NEEDS: A Payment Model Not Reliant on Gacha
Let’s be honest here, gacha games are becoming the enemy. These predatory gambling practices are catching the eyes of governments around the world, and in some cases, are being outlawed entirely due to their slot-machine nature. Genshin Impact is rolling in green, or whatever color money they choose, but their success in the loot box market could disappear very quickly, with very little warning. The practice of lootboxes is still quite common among mobile games, and even some PC games or MMO’s, but this may not always be the case.
Rather than rest on the idea that their game will always suck at the gacha teet for monetization, it would make far more sense for miHoYo to make strides in monetizing the game in non-predatory ways. This could be, simply migrating lootboxes into the existing resin system (which most people don’t like), selling characters outright, but requiring them to earn level-ups through playing the game, or creating a more robust, tiered subscription system.
MMO’s have many different ways to pay for their game. Some of them sell cosmetics, or dungeon tickets. Others require you to pay for additional content. There is no “right way” to monetize a game in 2020, but according to an increasing number of governments, there is a wrong way, and Genshin Impact should take some lessons learned from successful MMO’s and mitigate the effects of losing their gacha system, before they find themselves in trouble.