Everything We Learned From Genshin Impact’s Version 3.3 Special Program

My fellow Ittorou shippers, our time has finally come.

What’s that? You thought I’d start off by talking about the long-awaited gameplay preview for Scaramouche, who graces the thumbnail of the Genshin Impact Version 3.3 trailer (above)? Well, if it’s commentary on Scaramouche’s redesign and unique gameplay mechanics that you’re looking for, allow me to redirect you to a post from earlier this month where I went over most of the information that was only officially revealed in yesterday’s Special Program, including what I would consider to be a far more concise description of his Elemental Skill than what was offered on the livestream, which got a little bogged-down with ornate names for everything under the sun. Seeing as that post has not yet been outdated by any new information from the game developers, there’s actually not too much more to say about Scaramouche – I mean, besides the fact that he’s getting his own Archon Quest, apparently. Don’t worry, we’ll go over all the details in due time.

Arataki Itto in Genshin Impact
Arataki Itto

But first thing’s first, and the thing in question is Ittorou – which I suppose is its own kind of ornate term, so let me explain. “Ittorou” is the nickname for a popular queer ship in the Genshin Impact fandom that involves the characters of Arataki Itto and Gorou. The one is a Geo on-field Main DPS, the other a designated Geo support, and they are apparently both at their best when played alongside each other (I wouldn’t know, having never gotten my hands on a copy of Gorou, despite him theoretically being the easier of the two to obtain as a four-star character). They debuted simultaneously in December 2021, and Gorou has only ever received a drop-rate boost on Itto’s limited-time banners; in fact, he is likely to reappear on a banner next month when Itto gets his second rerun. Yet despite their obvious synergy, they’ve never interacted onscreen.

Until now, that is. For the main Event of Version 3.3, Akitsu Kimodameshi, characters from all over Inazuma have been invited to participate in a “test of courage” organized by the Yashiro Commission…and the trailer confirms that Itto, Gorou, Heizou and Yoimiya are amongst the champions hoping to venture into Chinju Forest on Narukami Island, where malevolent spirits roam under the cover of eternal darkness, and come out the other side unscathed both physically and mentally. Now, as much as I hate to see my favorite characters suffer, just think of the potential interactions we could see – Itto cowering behind Gorou at every strange sound, Gorou leaping into Itto’s arms in a moment of weakness, Gorou’s fur bristling and Itto trying to comfort him by patting his head like a dog. Even though we know damn well that MiHoYo has no intention to put any of its characters, straight or queer, in canonical relationships, they’re giving me what I want, which is a canonical basis for the very much non-canonical fanfic I intend to consume in massive quantities after the Event.

And to be fair, despite never having interacted with each other previously, Itto and Gorou are already about as blatantly queer-coded as the male characters in Genshin Impact can get (it’s a very different situation for female characters: although they’re just as unlikely to ever state that they’re queer, it’s no secret that Jean and Lisa, Ningguang and Beidou, and Ei and Yae Miko are more than just extremely close friends). The reason fans started shipping Ittorou in the first place is because Itto has a voice-line where he talks about the warm, fuzzy feeling that he gets around Gorou, and also because he has a massive crush on Gorou’s alter ego, the advice columnist “Ms. Hina”, who is depicted on posters and standees as Gorou wearing a dress. But we still don’t know how Gorou feels about Itto, so this new Event is sure to be very illuminating in that regard.

As an additional incentive for participating, one of the limited-time rewards obtainable through the Akitsu Kimodameshi Event is a new weapon named the Toukabou Shigure, technically classified as a sword but more closely resembling an umbrella with a claw-like handle, a leering mouth, and a single eye. The weapon’s distinctive design is based on depictions of the Kasa-obake, a type of yōkai or demon, found in Japanese art and literature dating back to the Edo period. And looking at the amount of research that went into this one weapon, I can’t help but again be reminded of the stark difference between how MiHoYo lovingly takes inspiration from Japanese culture when expanding the region of Inazuma and its accompanying lore, and how they grabbed a bunch of random, orientalist stereotypes of Southwest Asia and North Africa when it came time to do the same for Sumeru.

Kaeya in Chinju Forest posing with a Tanuki, in Genshin Impact
Kaeya posing with a Tanuki in Chinju Forest

In fact, despite the region still being fairly new, Sumeru and its roster of characters are already being neglected by MiHoYo in favor of Inazuma, Liyue, and Mondstadt, with only one Sumeru-based Event announced for Version 3.3 and no Hang-out Event for the new four-star character, Faruzan, whom I was excited to learn more about after it was revealed during the Special Program that she’s over a hundred years old and knows a great deal of lore pertaining to Sumeru’s desert-dwelling ancient civilization, having spent decades trapped in the ruins beneath the desert. Unfortunately, it’s possible we won’t see or hear from Faruzan until some random side-quest or Event brings us back to the desert, and that could take a while. She was not mentioned in association with Misty Dungeon, a popular Event that will return in Version 3.3 with a desert theme.

Cyno posing in the desert of Sumeru, in Genshin Impact
Cyno in the deserts of Sumeru

Misty Dungeon first appeared in the spring of 2021 under the title Battlefront: Misty Dungeon, and was so popular it was brought back later that same year as Misty Dungeon: Realm Of Light. This year’s reskinned version of the Event is titled Misty Dungeon: Realm Of Sand, and will take place in Sumeru, but it will still follow the same general concept, requiring players to move through a labyrinth, completing puzzles and timed challenges until they unlock an encounter with a final boss. And it won’t be the only fan-favorite Event making a comeback in Version 3.3 – Windtrace, Genshin Impact‘s version of hide-and-seek for co-op mode, will also be returning with some cool new perks for both hiders and seekers, including giving players the ability to continue participating in the game even after being captured.

And if you don’t share in the nostalgia for Misty Dungeon and Windtrace, well, Genshin Impact has got you covered with Across The Wilderness, a brand-new Event where players run around rooftops capturing balloons. From the description and preview, it looks relatively stress-free, but there’s no doubt that having multiple Anemo characters like Venti, Xiao, Kazuha, and Scaramouche on your team will give you a literal boost while running, jumping, and climbing (if you needed any more reasons to pull for Scaramouche, he’s about to make exploration in this game ridiculously easy).

On that note, I guess it’s time we talked about Scaramouche’s Archon Quest: Interlude, which presumably picks up right where the final chapter of the Sumeru Archon Quest left off, with Scaramouche hidden away at the Sumeru Akademiya in the care of the Dendro Archon and making a full recovery from the traumatic head injury he sustained after falling from the cockpit of his giant robotic exoskeleton (long story). But of all things, an Akademiya inquiry into the events on the island of Tatarasuna leads the Traveler back to Scaramouche and forces the former Fatui Harbinger to begrudgingly sift through his scattered memories and construct a full account of what happened there roughly four-hundred years ago.

Scaramouche getting an Archon Quest in place of a Story Quest is interesting because Archon Quests aren’t optional, so whatever dark secrets are contained in Scaramouche’s backstory, MiHoYo wants us all to know this stuff. The only other characters in the game with that level of personal significance to the overarching storyline, besides the literal Archons of each region, are…honestly, maybe only Dainsleif and Kaeya, and they’re both so integral to the story of Khaenri’ah and its destruction that they literally can’t appear for too long or one of them will inadvertently spoil the game’s ending. I pray that we get a little more time with Scaramouche before he’s put in a similarly awkward position.

Genshin Impact Genius Invokation TCG gameplay
Genius Invokation TCG | pcgamesn.com

One more thing before we finish up here: new, completely optional permanent gameplay is coming to Genshin Impact in Version 3.3, in the form of an animated card game named Genius Invokation TCG, but for the time being there are no plans to offer rewards or allow players to track their progress in the game, and it’s subsequently unclear how MiHoYo intends to keep players from growing bored of this after the novelty of challenging friends and random NPCs to duels wears off, as I’m sure it will sooner rather than later. Until I sit down and actually read the rules, my first impressions of Genius Invokation TCG are neutral. Admittedly, I’m a little bitter about the absence of Itto – he literally plays Genius Invokation TCG! How is he not featured on a character card? – but the art and animations are the only things catching my eye in the gameplay preview.

Anyway, what did you think of the Version 3.3 Special Program? Will you be spending your hard-earned Primogems on Scaramouche’s banner, or waiting for another character? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

Scaramouche And Faruzan To Debut In Genshin Impact Version 3.3


For almost two years, ever since his very first appearance in the Unreconciled Stars event of November 2020, the Fatui Harbinger Scaramouche has been one of the most eagerly-anticipated characters in Genshin Impact, but until now HoYoverse has stubbornly tried to keep his eventual playability a secret from players – a futile and some might say pointless endeavor, seeing as Genshin Impact is the type of game where anyone with a unique character model is almost guaranteed to be playable in some way, shape, or form. The one notable exception to this unwritten rule is La Signora, another Fatui Harbinger with a resilient fanbase who don’t care that she got incinerated back in Version 2.1, but there may be hope for her too, now.

Genshin Impact
Wanderer, a.k.a. Scaramouche | pcgamesn.com

You see, Genshin Impact has a rigid internal logic for when, why, and which certain characters become playable – and something that’s generally agreed upon in the fandom at least is that a character has to be on good terms with the Traveler to earn a spot on their team. Hence why the only playable Fatui Harbinger to date, Tartaglia, is the one who literally has to remain friendly with us for the sake of his kid brother, Teucer. Of course, there are eleven Harbingers, and only so many excuses for them not to kill us the first chance they get, so in time we may start to see the rules bend ever so slightly to allow some morally ambiguous characters to join our teams, but I have a hard time believing that the rules could bend around characters like, say, Dottore or Arlecchino, two unapologetic sadists directly responsible for the deaths of multiple children, without breaking entirely.

In the case of Scaramouche, a twisted take on Pinocchio if he became a serial killer, Genshin Impact is experimenting with putting a different version of the same character in the Traveler’s team, and gauging fan response (which has been overwhelmingly positive). Near the end of the Sumeru Archon Quest, Chapter III: Act V, Scaramouche literally falls into a coma after tumbling from the cockpit of his colossal mechanical exoskeleton and is carried away to a safe place by the Dendro Archon, Kusanali, who promises to look after him while he recovers. We will presumably learn more about what the Archon’s treatment entailed in Version 3.3, when Scaramouche becomes playable, but we can already ascertain a few things: at some point between now and then, Scaramouche will be granted an Anemo Vision by the gods in Celestia (or by whatever entity distributes Visions), change his name to “Wanderer”, and subtly alter his appearance until he no longer resembles the Fatui Harbinger we once fought.

There is some evidence in the Version 3.3 beta test leaks to suggest that Scaramouche will retain his old memories and a little of his original personality, but Wanderer is essentially a different person, spiritually reborn. I can’t call it a redemption arc, because Scaramouche didn’t ever actually do the work of bettering himself, but it’s enough to justify the Traveler taking him under their wing and helping him reacclimate to the world, this time endowed with a sense of morality he was previously lacking – and if angst is what you’re looking for, I can assure you that our self-righteous protagonist will not pass up the opportunity to remind Scaramouche of all his past crimes and misdeeds, probably even encouraging him to personally apologize to his victims.

Genshin Impact
Scaramouche Boss Fight | gamerbraves.com

Off the top of my head, I can think of three other Fatui Harbingers who will probably receive similar treatment in the near future: Dottore, Sandrone, and La Signora. From what we know of these characters (not a whole lot in Sandrone’s case, admittedly, but I’m making a few assumptions here), they’re all much too evil to redeem properly but at the same time much too cool to waste entirely, and all three of them could very easily be swapped out for nearly identical alternate versions of themselves – Dottore for one of his clones, assuming any survived his self-imposed purge at the end of the Sumeru Archon Quest; Sandrone for one of her sentient puppets, perhaps even Katheryne, if the Adventurer’s Guild’s robotic receptionist is one of her creations; and La Signora for her younger self when she inevitably gets resurrected as the shy, soft-spoken Rosalyne. These alternate versions would conveniently all possess functional moral compasses as well as Visions.

And speaking of Visions, whether by chance or by design on HoYoverse’s part, Scaramouche possessing an Anemo Vision lends further credence to the widely-held theory that Anemo male characters are uniquely distinguished by their intimate understanding of loss – all stemming from the original tragedy of the Anemo Archon, who adopted the physical form of his best friend after the latter’s death in battle so his memory would never fade. Xiao, Kazuha, and Heizou are also well acquainted with grief, having all lost people close to them, but Scaramouche has not only been abandoned but outright betrayed by many of those who claimed to care for him, leading him to misinterpret every abandonment as betrayal. Beyond that, being an Anemo character makes Scaramouche ten times more desirable than he would have been if he belonged to any other Elemental type.

Scaramouche is, rather surprisingly, a catalyst user (making him only the second male catalyst user after Heizou) with the ability to move about in mid-air after casting his Elemental Skill, gradually consuming “Sky-Dweller Points” instead of regular stamina points until he either casts his Elemental Burst or runs out of Sky-Dweller Points and descends to earth. While hovering above the battlefield, he can jump to gain height, and his normal and charged attacks will still hit enemies on the ground. His Elemental Burst creates an Anemo vortex like Venti’s which pulls enemies towards each other, and that alone will make him very popular with the part of the player base that adores Anemo characters for their ability to quickly and efficiently carve through large mobs.

Genshin Impact
Faruzan | pockettactics.com

If you can’t get your hands on Scaramouche, a five-star character available for a limited time on a single banner, you have a pretty good chance at nabbing at least one copy of Faruzan, his more easily obtainable four-star equivalent on the permanent standard banner. Faruzan, a scholar of linguistics at the Sumeru Akademiya, is an Anemo bow-user whose gameplay also revolves around crowd-control – after casting her Elemental Skill, her first charged attack will fire a small vortex, while casting her Elemental Burst summons a polyhedron vortex that flits around the battlefield, pausing to knock clusters of enemies off their feet and simultaneously reduce their Anemo RES (resistance). She sounds like your run-of-the-mill Anemo character, honestly, but perhaps players can find a niche purpose for her. Her lore is what really excites me, because she sees visions of Sumeru’s ancient history.

With all that said, which of these two characters will you be pulling for? Both? Neither? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

Everything We Learned From The Genshin Impact 3.2 Special Program

Every update to Genshin Impact is immediately preceded by a “Special Program” highlighting all the new features coming to the game in that particular update, as well as anything else the developers might want to share regarding the game’s future – such as the stunning announcement of a Genshin Impact anime series that made last month’s Version 3.1 Special Program one for the history books. Unfortunately, while it was always unlikely that the high bar set by that Special Program would be cleared anytime soon, a string of almost-impossible-to-avoid leaks at HoYoverse have resulted in most, if not all, of Version 3.2’s potential surprises being spoiled for players long before they were meant to be announced, and the Special Program on Sunday suffered from having virtually nothing to add to these leaks.

Genshin Impact
Scaramouche Weekly Boss | vg247.com

Most egregiously, the unveiling of the new Scaramouche Weekly Boss was met with uncharacteristic apathy from the very same people who have been waiting for this for years – not because it doesn’t look absolutely terrifying, but because footage of this new Boss has been floating around on social media for weeks at this point, giving everyone who’s seen it far too much time to absorb the shock, process it, and move on. And that is a damn shame, because next to Scaramouche, most of Genshin Impact’s six Weekly Bosses look like child’s play. Sure, the Raiden Shogun is difficult (I’ve fought her exactly once, and have no plans to challenge her to a rematch until it’s absolutely necessary), but even she can’t use five of the seven playable Elements against us simultaneously.

Scaramouche, in his final form (or rather, his penultimate form, since it is very likely he’ll become a playable character in Version 3.3 following a name-change, a slight redesign, and the gift of an Anemo Vision), resides within a colossal robotic exoskeleton that hovers in mid-air above the player and is capable of swiftly dashing from one side of the arena to other. This robot, constructed by the corrupt sages of the Sumeru Akademiya with assistance from the Fatui, is powered by Divine Knowledge extracted from the minds of scholars who study the Irminsul Tree (the world tree at the heart of Teyvat, and the source of the Dendro Archon’s power), and is intended to serve as the vessel for a new God to replace Lesser Lord Kusanali, the current Dendro Archon. Ironic, then, that one of the two Elements the robot can’t wield is Dendro: instead, a vaguely bug-shaped drone infused with Dendro Elemental Energy will assist the player throughout the fight, firing missiles at Scaramouche – with the catch being that it requires recharges.

The Elements Scaramouche will be hurling at us include Anemo, Cryo, Electro, Hydro, and Pyro, so plan your own team composition accordingly. And if you’re wondering why Geo is the only Element not represented in this battle, know that I’m right there with you. The Fatui have quite literally been in possession of the Geo Archon’s Divine Knowledge since the final chapter of the Liyue Archon Quest, and now you expect me to believe that they won’t even use it in their attempts to replicate an Archon? I get that Geo is underrated by many players because its Elemental Reactions suck, but I didn’t realize that was the case even in-universe. I almost feel obligated to bring a whole Geo team to this battle out of spite.

Players will have two brand new characters to test against the Scaramouche Weekly Boss in Version 3.2 – Nahida, a.k.a. Lesser Lord Kusanali, and Layla. Nahida, the Dendro Archon of Sumeru, is a five-star character (available only through a limited-time banner) with a bunch of unique qualities: not only will she become Genshin Impact‘s first Dendro catalyst user, she will also be the first catalyst user with the ability to aim her Elemental Skill – a small viewfinder, through which she can mark multiple opponents with a “Seed of Skandha”. Up to eight opponents can be marked at once and they will be linked to each other for a time, meaning that if one marked opponent is affected by an Elemental Reaction (or by the explosion of a Dendro Core), they all take Dendro DMG. This effect is called Tri-Karma Purification. Off the battlefield, Nahida can use her Elemental Skill to quickly collect any natural resources caught in her viewfinder, including flowers and fruits…and scanning over certain NPCs with the viewfinder will reveal secret internal dialogues, which sounds cool and slightly invasive.

Genshin Impact
Dottore in the Sanctuary of Surasthana | blog.playstation.com

Nahida’s Elemental Burst casts a Court of Dreams around her, within which different effects will occur depending on how many characters of a certain Elemental Type are in your party – for example, having one Pyro character on the team will increase the DMG dealt by Tri-Karma Purification, but having two will increase it even further. She is obviously going to be an excellent character to have on your team, and it’s a shame her design is both terribly boring and (not coincidentally) devoid of any cultural influences from the actual regions that theoretically inspired Sumeru and its characters, or else I would probably have pulled for her when the time came. As it stands, I’ll be saving my Primogems.

The other new character arriving in Version 3.2, an insomniac student of astrology at the Sumeru Akademiya named Layla, is a four-star Cryo sword user with the potential to supplant Diona as Genshin Impact‘s best four-star shielder. Her “Curtain of Slumber”, which forms around her after she falls asleep, creates Cryo shooting stars that multiply every time a character in the party uses their own Elemental Skills – when four such stars have appeared, they will break away from the active character and target nearby opponents. Layla’s Elemental Burst summons a ceiling mobile that hovers above the battlefield, firing off shooting stars.

It was mentioned during the Special Program that Layla would also be at the center of an event in Version 3.2, Fabulous Fungus Frenzy, wherein players will have to capture, name, feed, and train their very own small army of sentient fungi with the aim to collect Primogems and other rewards, including the four-star Electro claymore user Dori. Besides Layla, a character from another nation will apparently be arriving in Sumeru to witness the Fungi battles – and while I’d be overjoyed if it turned out to be Arataki Itto, I have a suspicion it’s either Yae Miko or Tartaglia given that their limited-time banners will be rerunning concurrently with this event.

My most-anticipated Event in Version 3.2, however, is Adventurer’s Trials – a series of diverse and peculiar challenges designed to give players a reason to use characters strategically, for their unique skills rather than for their DMG output. Events of this sort could help to combat the trend amongst higher-level players of using the same four or five characters to brute-force their way through all of Genshin Impact‘s Events and endgame content alike, and that to me is even more exciting than the addition of new endgame content (though Genius Invocation, the competitive card game set to be released in a future update, does sound promising).

In other news, the most noteworthy of several miscellaneous adjustments to Genshin Impact‘s system announced in the 3.2 Special Program is the addition of Serenitea Pot Replication, allowing players to directly recreate their favorite Serenitea Pot designs without the hassle of actually building them. Granted, you can only take what other, more talented or more dedicated players are willing to share with the world, but this is a very exciting feature for amateur architects like myself.

Genshin Impact
Kusanali | sirusgaming.com

As for the hotly-anticipated Genshin Impact anime, no word yet on when that will air, who will star, or even what the story will consist of – but you can bet that whenever that information is revealed, that will be a Special Program to remember. The events of Version 3.2’s Special Program, however, are likely to be forgotten by this time next month: and that’s even counting the official reveals of the Scaramouche Weekly Boss and the Dendro Archon. What HoYoverse would ideally learn from this is that beating leakers to the punch is essential, but I’m cynical and I’ve given up on expecting them to learn anything from their mistakes. Anyway, what did you think of the Special Program, and what has you most excited for the upcoming version? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

Genshin Impact Version 3.1 Introduces Three New Characters

With the release of Genshin Impact Version 3.0 just around the corner, game developer HoYoverse has already begun hyping up the playable characters arriving over a month from now in Version 3.1, as part of a carefully coordinated process dubbed “drip marketing” by fans. Today’s 3.1 drip marketing consisted of official splash-art of three new characters – two we’ve seen before, and one we haven’t (well, unless you’ve been following Genshin Impact leaks very closely, in which case you’ve seen all these characters and probably more).

Genshin Impact
Cyno | Twitter @GenshinImpact

All three of these characters hail from the soon-to-be-released region of Sumeru, which will receive its first expansion in Version 3.1 alongside a new chapter of the Sumeru Archon Quest, Story Quests for the five-star characters Cyno and Nilou, and presumably a Hangout Event centered around the four-star character Candace. In other words, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to spend time with the characters you like (as long as you do your Daily Commissions and save up Story Keys), before obtaining one or more of them through a limited-time banner. Like all four-stars, Candace will head directly to the permanent Standard Banner in Version 3.2, but if you want either Cyno or Nilou you’d better start stockpiling Primogems and strategizing, because with so many five-stars in the game at this point there’s a chance they won’t rerun again for months.

But who to pull for? The answer to that age-old question will vary depending on your personal preferences – someone who pulls for characters based purely on their damage output and the comfiness of their gameplay might feel differently about, say, Nilou, than someone looking for visually appealing characters with an endearing personality and/or lore relevance – but with the limited information at our disposal I think I’m ready to hazard a guess at how different players will answer that question for themselves, and which of these banners will be most successful as a result (with the caveat that we’ll never really know how many people pulled specifically for Candace, because she’s free).

Going in alphabetical order, let’s start with the character we know least about, Candace – a Hydro Vision-wielder who is rumored to have healing and shielding capabilities befitting the fierce “Guardian of Aaru Village”. With the help of her trusty polearm, Candace ensures that the inhabitants of Sumeru’s humid rainforests and its arid deserts alike respect her village’s neutrality in the conflict between these two forces of nature, and that no harm comes to her people that is not at once reciprocated. In terms of gameplay, she’s very likely either a sub-DPS or a niche support for Nilou and other Hydro characters, but there haven’t been many leaks regarding her kit.

As for whether she’s lore-relevant or will be going forward, that too is difficult to determine – she will play a role in the Sumeru Archon Quest, but as of right now, so will every playable character in Sumeru, so we’ll just need to wait and see if her role is especially prominent. It could be one of those situations where she shows up for all of thirty seconds to help us finish a fetch-quest (i.e. Sayu in the Inazuma Archon Quest), or she might deliver a thirty-minute long, exposition-heavy, unskippable monologue about the ancient history of Sumeru (i.e. Albedo, Dainsleif, and Zhongli any time they open their mouths).

One thing about Candace that we can discuss here and now is her name and her design, which are greatly at odds with each other. Candace is the Latinized form of Kandake, a title reserved for the sisters of Kushite kings in the ancient kingdom of Kush (which sprawled across most of modern-day Sudan and Egypt). There were several notable Kandakes of Kush, but most if not all of these women were Black, just as the population of their kingdom was predominantly Black. The character designers over at HoYoverse must have conveniently glossed over that little detail while “researching”, because they’ve transposed the sacred title of Kandake onto a light-skinned woman in vaguely Egyptian clothing.

Knowing that Candace ought to have been depicted as an unambiguously Black woman, that her name ought to have been spelled a certain way, that she ought not to be wearing garments inspired by those of the Kushite kingdom’s culturally distinct rival to the north…all of these things combined make it a lot harder to celebrate the fact that Candace is at least somewhat darker than the other characters in Sumeru (though still significantly lighter than either Kaeya or Xinyan, who are theoretically German and Chinese, respectively). And on top of all this, the list of countries on which Sumeru is loosely based just keeps growing – at this rate, we’ll be lucky if Genshin Impact doesn’t compress the entire continent of Africa into this one corner of Teyvat.

Genshin Impact
Candace | pockettactics.com

Cyno is yet another example of how HoYoverse is playing mix-and-match with cultures that aren’t theirs to experiment with, although in his case it’s subtler. His name is derived from the Ancient Greek word for dog, kúōn, while his official title, General Mahamatra, comes to us from the Maurya Empire in India, and his design borrows heavily from depictions of the Ancient Egyptian god of mummification, Anubis. Once again, I’m not sure whether to be excited for Cyno’s release because he’s almost as tan as Candace or just disappointed in HoYoverse for their lack of focus.

Well, at least Cyno’s kit sounds promising. The five-star Electro polearm user is intended to be used as a main DPS, synergizing particularly well with Dendro support characters via the “Catalyze”, “Quicken”, and “Aggravate” reactions when Electro encounters Dendro or vice versa. Dendro reactions are a bit complicated, but Cyno will probably be useful in just about any Electro-centric team comp, thanks to his Energy Particle generation and an Elemental Burst that infuses all his attacks with Electro for a short period of time. I am tempted to pull for him; I just need to save up enough Primogems that I can ensure Dehya comes home shortly thereafter or whenever she releases.

And if you’re pulling for characters based solely on their appearance and aesthetics, you could do a hell of a lot worse than Cyno. His hat has jackal-ears and the jackal-ears have ear piercings, need I say more? His personality is also highly endearing – at first glance, he’s stern, severe, even a little intimidating, but once you get to know him you’ll soon learn that he’s a bit of a dork, who tells really bad jokes and collects trading-cards in his spare time. He’s also one of the highest-ranking members of the Sumeru Akademiya, so he’s got lore-relevance if that’s a deal-breaker for you.

Then again, Nilou is also lore-relevant with an endearing personality, and I happen to think she’s the least appealing of the three characters HoYoverse promoted today. Sure, her dance moves are mesmerizing (unsurprisingly, given that she’s modeled on Persian dancers of the Sassanid Dynasty), but her outfit is almost exclusively rooted in orientalist stereotypes of Arabian belly-dancers and bears little resemblance to the dresses and long jackets worn by Persian dancers, which were – and still are – typically very colorful, almost floor-length, and modest, exposing significantly less of the stomach, arms, and legs than Nilou’s. Her design is overtly sexualized in a way that feels extremely disrespectful to the women of modern-day Iran, and to the entire region in general.

But even beyond that, her kit and intended gameplay don’t sound all that interesting at the moment, given that she basically has to be used as an off-field sub-DPS alongside Dendro characters to unlock her full potential, and my initial reaction to all the Dendro reactions is that they’re overly complicated, requiring more strategy than I typically dedicate to the combat in the game (I play primarily for the lore and the characters, if that wasn’t already clear). Nilou’s greatest strength is her ability to activate and amplify the “Bloom” reaction when Hydro (her element) encounters Dendro, but you still need to run a Dendro main DPS with her and at the moment we have exactly one of those, Tighnari, to choose from.

Genshin Impact
Nilou | sg.news.yahoo.com

Additionally, there are rumors that Nilou will require a shield to sustain damage from the very reactions she causes (which could be where Candace fits into her teams), so all in all we’re looking at a potentially very niche character with an uncomfortable playstyle. Without access to Dendro reactions, Nilou is a sword-user whose viability, if she has any, will likely derive from her consistent Hydro application – and still, I can’t see her ever beating out all-purpose characters like Yelan and Xingqiu in that department. But I’m not a Genshin Impact theorycrafter, either, so I could very well be overlooking whatever redeeming qualities to her kit there may or may not be.

Anyway, those are all the new characters we were officially introduced to today, and I’m very curious to know which of the three you intend to pull for, which you’ll skip, and how you feel about their designs and rumored gameplay. Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!