Genshin Impact, the latest open-world MMORPG from miHoYo, was released a little less than a month ago to massive acclaim from the gaming community. With the game having earned over $100 million in its first month, it’s clear that most people are enjoying Genshin Impact for its fun characters and overall concept.
However, there’s a very loud minority who are displeased with how closely the game resembles The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (BotW), not only in terms of its gameplay, but in its artistic direction and overall feel.
So, is Genshin Impact just a shameless ripoff of BoTW? I would argue that it is not, and there are several reasons for that.
Style and Presentation
Many are quick to point out that both Genshin Impact and BotW have a very similar art style. Both games have a fantastic anime-inspired art style with stunning landscapes that will definitely appeal to most players. However, just having a similar style is not enough to say that one game is plagiarising from another.
The style of a game is simply how it presents itself to the players. A game can be cartoony with a lot of vivid colour like Overwatch, or it can be grounded and gritty like The Last of Us. By extension, two games can have very similar style, but play extremely differently. For example, Call of Duty and Battlefield both look alike but they play quite differently for the most part.
Genshin Impact’s cartoony, stylised world may have taken a lot of its design cues from BotW, but it manages to stand out regardless. It has a diverse range of character designs that are much more gacha game- or anime-inspired compared to BotW, which has stronger fantasy elements. The colours used in Genshin Impact are also noticeably more vivid, with a lot of colour-coded gameplay mechanics in use.
It’s also worth pointing out the difference in music. The background music in Genshin Impact is much more epic and ‘in your face’ compared to BotW, which is much more subtle and only stays in the background a lot of the time.
I will definitely agree that both games have a very similar style, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say one plagiarised the other.
Story and Progression
Genshin Impact and BotW cannot be more different in terms of their storyline and progression. Genshin Impact has a heavier focus on its narrative, which will inadvertently become much more epic as more updates come in, much like other gacha games.
Progression in Genshin Impact is also tied to completing quests, dungeons and opening treasure chests, instead of only clearing shrines in BotW. Adding on to that, the open-world MMORPG nature of Genshin Impact means your power level in game is tied to upgrading your character and getting better weapons and equipment, whereas BotW does not use a leveling system at all.
The biggest difference, however, is that Genshin Impact locks away some of its content behind level walls, much like other MMORPG and gacha games. This is completely unlike BotW, where you can make a beeline towards the final boss right after completing the tutorial stages, since there’s no content locked behind any in-game requirements.
Gameplay and Combat
The combat of the two games is probably the most obvious difference – one requires you to carefully switch between your characters to make the most out of their skills, while the other requires you to plan ahead before each encounter while managing your weapons.
The combat in Genshin Impact is much more simplified and direct in that it can only start and end in the same way, with arrows flying and swords clashing. This is unlike BotW where you can be very creative with how you deal with your foes, such as rolling a giant rock onto them, or even using electric arrows in the rain to preemptively paralyse a huge group of enemies.
There’s also the difference in presentation of combat. Genshin Impact’s combat is very high-energy and flashy like a superhero game, while BotW requires more deliberate movement and execution.
However, the general non-combat gameplay in both games are quite alike, with similar mechanics for travelling, stamina management and gliding. The only notable difference between both games is the lack of mounts in Genshin Impact.
Overall, there are enough similarities between both games on the surface that make them comparable, but dig deeper and you’ll find that both games are not at all like each other. Genshin Impact feels like it took the best of BotW and added some gacha spice into it, creating an entirely new game that looks just as gorgeous as BotW.
After all, at the end of the day, isn’t it better for all of us if there’s one more beautiful and well-crafted game out there?