A Beginner’s Guide to Genshin Impact

Move aside, Granblue Fantasy! Genshin Impact (currently available for Windows, PS4, Android, and iPhone) has taken the world by storm and entranced gamers with its highly stylized open world gameplay and colorful cast of characters. It’s highly derivative of many recent popular games – most notably The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – but there’s a confidence in Genshin Impact’s melding of genre clichés that makes it far more than the sum of its parts. Oh, and it’s completely free to play, with the option to purchase digital currency if you want more chances to earn new characters. Can’t forget that little tidbit!

As is the case with most open world games, Genshin Impact will leave some players feeling very overwhelmed. Should you follow the main storyline or focus on side quests? Is it worthwhile to forego quests altogether and simply immerse yourself in the game’s gorgeous open world to seek out its secrets? What is the most efficient use of the various in-game currencies? There’s no “one size fits all” answer to these questions, but we here at Geek to Geek want to help you get the most out of your time in the world of Treyvat with this handy beginner’s guide and FAQ.

Should You Play Genshin Impact on PS4, PC, or Mobile?

All versions of Genshin Impact offer identical content, and each account has its own unique identification number (UID) that allows for crossplay between platforms. The Genshin Impact PC version has the best performance depending on the capabilities of the system, and it and the mobile version share cross-saves. That means you can pick up exactly where you left off between PC and mobile.

The Genshin Impact PS4 version is arguably the easiest to pick up and play, but is less optimized. It has a lower frame rate and experiences occasional screen-tearing. The mobile version is the least appealing visually, but the game’s stylized graphics maintain their anime-inspired charm in any capacity.

The game controls well with a PS4 or Xbox controller, but the mobile version currently does not have controller support. The touch controls are adequate, but given the cross-save capabilities between PC and mobile, it might be a good idea to play through most of the game on PC and simply use the mobile version to collect daily login rewards.

What to do First

It’s hard not to get distracted by all that there is to do in the world of Treyvat, but dedication early on to unlocking a handful of story-centric characters will pay off in the long run. Almost immediately, you will team up with an “outlander” named Amber – an archer who is fiery in both the literal and figurative sense. 

Rather than explore the lands to raise your adventure rank, it is strongly recommended to complete the temple quests to unlock Lisa and Kaeya, who are the remaining “starter” characters. Doing so will give you a party with the elements of wind, fire, thunder, and ice, and allow for some fun experimentation with element combos.

Do You Have to Spend Real Money in Genshin Impact?

No. You don’t.

Free-to-play games such as Genshin Impact rely heavily on “whales,” or people who are willing to dump a lot of very real money into the game in exchange for digital currency that can be used for random items and characters. These “gacha” mechanics have long been the backbone of free-to-play games, but Genshin Impact is a rare example of a free game that can be fully enjoyed without spending a single red cent.

Genshin Impact has no fewer than seven digital currencies, and keeping track of them can be entirely overwhelming.

  • Mora: A currency earned from defeating enemies that can be used to purchase basic items such as food, which is used for health recovery and stat bonuses
  • Acquaint Fate: Used to make “wishes,” which give you a random weapon or character.
  • Intertwined Fate: Also used for wishes, but specifically for event-related wishes that give you a higher chance of earning particular weapons or characters.
  • Primogens: Gacha-related currency that is earned by completing certain tasks. 160 primogens can be exchanged for one Acquaint or Intertwined Fate.
  • Genesis Crystals: Currency that can be purchased with real money. One genesis crystal is equal in value to one primogen.
  • Masterless Stardust: Earned by wishing, this currency can be used in Paimon’s shop (accessible from the Paimon menu) to purchase rare items, including Fates.
  • Masterless Starglitter: A rare currency that is also earned by wishing, used to purchase some of the rarest items in the game.

What You Need to Know about Genshin Impact Combat

Your traveling party consists of four party members, and you can save up to four different parties. Each character is tied to an element, and figuring out which elements complement each other is an important aspect of the game. 

Hitting an enemy with an elemental attack while it is afflicted by another element can cause an “Elemental Reaction” that makes battles significantly easier. Use a hydro element to douse an enemy in water and then blast them with an electro-based attack to inflict the enemy with “electro-charged” status that causes them to take damage over time. 

There is also an “Elemental Resonance” system that grants your party passive buffs if you have particular combinations of elements. For example, having two pyro characters boosts your attack power and having four unique elements boosts your elemental resistance.

You can swap in and out of your party of 4 characters at will, so you can set up combos and elemental reactions with a couple of button presses. As you go through the game, the elemental combat makes more of a difference, so make sure to practice early on with the Elemental Reactions.

Genshin Impact FAQ

Now, all of that covers most of the basics, but here are some frequently asked questions and additional details to help you more confidently start your journey.

What systems can I play with?

All of them. Anybody can play with anyone else within their region, regardless of what platform those players are on.

The only restriction is that players on servers in different regions cannot play with each other – so if you have a friend in Sweden who already started playing on the European server, you’ll have to start as a new character on the European server to join their world.

This is called cross-play, and it is different from cross-save.

Does progress carry over across platforms?

This is cross-save. Your progress is interchangeable on PC and mobile. Unfortunately, PS4 progresses separately from the other versions.

(The reason that PS4 doesn’t utilize cross-save is that your profile in the PC and Mobile versions are tied directly to a game-specific “miHoYo” account, whereas your PS4 profile is tied to, well, your PS4 profile.)

Can you repeat that in an easy-to-read graph form?

Genshin Impact cross-play and cross-save chart
Yes, we certainly can.

What about the Genshin Impact Switch version? When is that release date?

It’s not out yet, and currently has no release date. We don’t know how it interacts with the other versions, either. We hope that it plays nice with PC and Mobile, at the very least. Nintendo has been known to support cross-platform games a lot more than Sony. So there’s hope.

Can I get the game through Steam or Epic or GoG or…?

No. Genshin Impact is only available through a standalone launcher.

How big is the game’s install size?

The Genshin Impact download file is 30GB on PC and PS4, 10GB on mobile.

I’ve heard that Genshin Impact is an online multiplayer game; why don’t I see other players?

Multiplayer is instanced-based, so by default you play in a private world. You can invite other players to visit your world later. You must be Adventurer Level 16 to enable multiplayer capabilities. Most of your time playing Genshin Impact will functionally be as though you’re playing a single-player game – though you have to maintain an internet connection while playing.

When will I unlock the multiplayer features?

Like we said above, you unlock multiplayer at Adventure Rank 16.

This is a level tied to your profile, not your characters. You increase it by exploring, opening chests, and completing objectives. Reaching Genshin Impact‘s multiplayer mode can take about 15-20 hours of playtime for most players.

How many characters can I bring into a multiplayer session?

Party setups look like one of these four configurations. For 2 and 3-player sessions, the host gets 2 characters and everyone else gets 1. In 4-player games, everyone gets 1.

Two PlayersThree PlayersFour Players
-Host’s Character,
-Host’s Character,
-Player 2’s Character,
-Player 2’s Character
-Host’s Character,
-Host’s Character,
-Player 2’s Character,
-Player 3’s Character
-Host’s Character
-Player 2’s Character
-Player 3’s Character
-Player 4’s Character

No, you cannot switch to another player’s character in multiplayer. Duplicate characters are allowed in the same party when exploring, but are not allowed when doing a dungeon.

What can a guest do in a multiplayer session?

Effectively, you can do repeatable and multiplayer-specific content as a guest, but you cannot progress through unique content:

GUESTS CANGUESTS CANNOT
-Daily Commission Quests
-Dungeons
-Hidden two-person chests
-Special Co-op Events
-Gather Resources
-Ley-line challenges
-Main Story Quests
-Open Chests
-Collect Loot from Unique Bosses
-Pick up Amenoculus (the stamina-boosting faries)

Are there Player-vs-Player or competitive elements?

No. At the very least, not right now.

Broadly speaking, how does matchmaking work?

There are two ways to start co-op play: you either have to be invited to a friend’s world or request (and be accepted into) a specific player’s session via a Session Finder tool, again unlocked at Adventure Rank 16. There is a randomized matchmaking system for most dungeons.

How big is the map?

The planned sized of the final map is 20-30 square kilometers, or roughly the same size of the playable map in Breath of the Wild.

That’s big!

That’s not a question.

It’s less overwhelming than it seems at the start. Further areas, quests, and dungeons are restricted behind a certain Adventure Rank, so you need to explore some base amount before you can explore more, so to speak. Additionally, of the seven planned regions in total, only two are finished and available at time of writing.

What is the difference between a Four-Star and Five-Star character?

Mostly, how rare they are. Five-star characters may be slightly more powerful than similar four-star characters, but not necessarily – the four-star Razor is considered by many to be one of the better DPS characters.

I hear some characters are “High-Tier” and “Low-Tier”? What are Genshin Impact Character Tiers?

This is largely fandom speak, comparing the pure stats and abilities of all characters. This will indicate the overall damage and utility for a character, but it is not something you should spend a lot of time worrying about. At least not at first. And especially if you’re a F2P player.

Since this is an action game with a single-player main quest, you can feasibly complete all content with all characters, just like you could beat Pokémon with either a Charizard or a Mewtwo. It’s far more important to have a diverse party than a “high-tier” one, so use the characters that you like and that feel best to play with for you.

Having all high tier Hydro characters will generally be less useful than a low-tier party with elemental diversity.

Go Forth, Traveler!

You are now armed with all the knowledge you need to achieve your goals in Genshin Impact, Traveler! Let us know if you have any questions that aren’t covered in this beginner’s guide. And enjoy your time in Treyvat!


Steve Wittkamp

Steve Wittkamp

I like bad movies, good video games (Dragon Quest, Castlevania, etc.), and all manner of trivia. ...OK, I like some really bad video games too. AKA Falion.

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