Everything We Learned From The Genshin Impact Version 4.0 Special Program

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I for one am happy to have the monotonous golden-brown deserts of Sumeru in the rearview mirror at last, after several months of increasingly enormous expansions to the Nation of Wisdom that brought as many new convoluted gameplay mechanics, exhausting environmental hazards (I’ll never need to equip the racist sandstorm-dispersing bottle again!), and overpowered monsters (Consecrated Beasts, you will not be missed), as they did fragments of intriguing lore, a couple of fun Events, compelling character stories and well-written World Quests. We’ll surely be passing through the desert again on our way to Natlan, the volcanic Nation of War, around this same time next year, but that’s a long time from now (until suddenly it’s not). Up ahead, it’s crystalline lakes, misty fjords, and winding rivers set amidst lovely alpine vistas as far as the eye can see. We are now less than two weeks away from the long-awaited release of Fontaine, the Nation of Justice – fifth of the seven regions that altogether make up the world of Teyvat in Genshin Impact – in Version 4.0.

Screenshot from Genshin Impact Version 4.0 of Navia, a tall woman with long honey-blonde hair, wearing a ruffled yellow and black dress with high black boots and a hat, standing with her back turned to the camera at the edge of a plaza in the Court of Fontaine. It is dusk, and rain is falling. Fog blankets the city.
The Court of Fontaine | pockettactics.com

Friday’s Special Program, consisting of interviews with writers, combat developers, and environment designers at HoYoverse, concisely introduced the setting and key players in the next chapter of the game’s over-arching storyline, with a particular focus on underwater exploration and gameplay, a new feature in Genshin Impact which sets Fontaine apart from previously released regions – because while Mondstadt, Liyue, Inazuma and Sumeru each have their own large bodies of water, players have only ever been able to swim across the surfaces of these (and even then, only for as long as their rapidly depleting stamina bar allowed). In Fontaine, and only in Fontaine, the stamina bar will no longer be a hindrance because it will no longer exist, and players will have no restriction on how long they can spend underwater (no frantic ascents to the surface for oxygen!), or what characters they can use underwater.

The one major difference between underwater and aboveground gameplay is in the adaptation of Genshin Impact‘s unique combat system for an environment with weaker gravity, greater pressure, lower visibility, and permanent Hydro infusion, all of which proved to be insurmountable challenges for the developers, leading to the implementation of a theoretically simplified underwater combat system where characters use basic aimed attacks to absorb temporary special abilities from sea-creatures called Fontemer Aberrants that will assist them in more difficult battles. Besides the Aberrants, an abundance of sea monsters exist in the waters of Fontaine, some unfortunately rather cute. Prioritizing players’ comfort underwater, the developers opted for bright colors and soothing shapes wherever possible, which is strangely both a relief and a disappointment to me, as someone with thalassophobia (fear of the deep ocean). Perhaps a future expansion to Fontaine will allow us to dive into darker, polluted waters filled with the kinds of nightmarish creatures that I’m realizing now I was subconsciously hoping to encounter in Version 4.0.

It’s not that far-fetched a theory, given that mention has been made of a horrific explosion with wide fallout at the inaccessible Fontaine Research Institute of Kinetic Energy Engineering, and each of the previously released regions has a subarea that’s been scourged from within by some toxic influence, whether it’s the corrosive blood of a dead god on Yashiori Island, or Forbidden Knowledge leaking out of the Abyss in the Nursery of Lost Dreams, or radioactive fragments of a Celestial Nail on Dragonspine. In-game sources like the traveling salesman Liben have been warning us for some time now that the urgent threat facing all of Fontaine is an environmental disaster brought on by an energy crisis. The nation’s automatons (including an elegant duo who together comprise the Icewind Suite World Boss) are powered by “Arkhe”, the product of destructive reactions between volatile new elements called Pneuma and Ousia, and every playable character in Fontaine uses one of these two mysterious forces in their kit alongside the Element bestowed on them by their Vision (so, for instance, Lyney is a five-star Pyro Pneuma bow-user and Lynette is a four-star Anemo Ousia sword-user). An uncontrolled reaction between Pneuma and Ousia is assumed to be responsible for causing the explosion at the Fontaine Research Institute.

And if all that isn’t complicated enough, the capital city or Court of Fontaine runs on a separate, far more nebulous energy source called Indemnitium – derived from the citizens’ belief in their Archon’s Ideal of Justice and generated in the courthouse during the judicial process by a somewhat sentient mechanism titled the “Oratrice Mecanique d’Analyse Cardinale”. The people of Fontaine have come to rely so heavily on the condemnation of their own neighbors for everything from lighting to public transportation that they have turned the pursuit of justice into a spectator-sport to assuage their guilt. Trials are held in the Opera Epiclese, and are full-day affairs with intermissions featuring magic-acts, music, and dance. Justice is served by the Oratrice, and the onlookers are so giddy from the experience that they have no reason to doubt the absolute and unequivocal fairness of its strict sentences until they’re inevitably put on trial themselves.

But the Oratrice is finally breaking down, whether because people are losing their faith in the Hydro Archon or because there’s simply not enough people left to judge. Rainfall, interestingly, is seen as a sign of the mechanism’s failure. The people of Fontaine have a paranoid obsession with rising sea-levels, having unwisely built their capital upon the subaquatic ruins of a city that was flooded centuries ago, when the waters were last in a state of flux. If it’s truly the Oratrice that keeps out the heavy rains, then without it Fontaine will soon be submerged, fulfilling an ominous prophecy that has been circulating around the region, which states that the Hydro Archon alone will remain, “weeping on her throne”, when all of her people have dissolved into the waters. To avert this grim fate, Lyney and Lynette, twin magicians regularly employed at the Opera Epiclese, have covertly been collecting data on the Oratrice right under the Hydro Archon’s nose. But if the shot of Lynette drowning while trapped in a water-tank onstage is anything to go by, it seems they may have underestimated the lengths to which Focalors will go to stop anyone from getting close to the truth.

Screenshot of the Icewind Suite World Boss in Fontaine. Two tall graceful automatons, one wearing a ball-gown, the other a hat and cape, hold hands while standing on an ice-rink with a spotlight shining upon them. Particles of ice drift in the air. It is nighttime.
Icewind Suite | everyeye.it

It’s reasonable to assume, however, that at the center of everything is Celestia, the island floating in the skies somewhere above Fontaine where the gods dwell, armed against the world with Nails that can reduce thriving civilizations to ash and destabilize climates – and wherever Celestia is, it’s safe to assume the Fatui are there too, plotting to overthrow them with the accumulated power of the seven Archons. We know that the Fatui Harbinger Arlecchino plays a significant role in the Fontaine Archon Quest, and is possibly even pulling the strings on Lyney and Lynette, but another Harbinger appears in the trailer, and this one we’ve met before. Tartaglia, a.k.a. Childe, a.k.a. Ajax, has been a frenemy of the Traveler’s ever since that time we helped babysit his younger brother. If he’s in Fontaine to help Arlecchino, he’s presumably back to being our foe, but that didn’t stop him from befriending us in the first place, and his loyalties have never really been with the Fatui, but rather with the Tsaritsa of Shezhnaya.

Coinciding with his second appearance in an Archon Quest, Tartaglia will be returning on a limited-time banner in the back-half of Version 4.0 alongside the Geo Archon Zhongli, following the debut of Lyney’s limited-time banner and an inevitably successful rerun for the coveted Hydro bow-user Yelan. Lynette will be featured on Lyney and Yelan’s banners, but most players will be able to obtain their first copy of her for free, through the Events page, along with enough of her Ascension materials to reach Lvl. 40. Freminet, a four-star Cryo claymore-user, will be featured on Tartaglia and Zhongli’s banners, before both he and Lynette go to the Standard Banner in Version 4.1. On top of that, one of the best all-purpose characters in Genshin Impact, Pyro sword-user Bennett, will be a reward for completing Mega Meka Melee, which looks like a fairly pleasant Event where players will construct clockwork toys based on “Champion Duelists” such as Bennett himself, and the enigmatic Clorinde from Fontaine.

Other Events in Version 4.0 will include Relic Records, the aim of which is to help players get acquainted with the locations of various local specialties and opponents in Fontaine, and Studies In Light And Shadow, a photography game that will lead players to some of the most scenic spots in the new region. Finally, Verdict Of Blades is a strategic combat challenge where players can test out Pneuma and Ousia reactions against different enemies – and if these new elements aren’t enough, a whole treasure-trove of new weapons will become available in Version 4.0, including a forgeable weapon-set matching the classical aesthetics of Fontaine obtainable through the region’s smithy, a sword sold by the Fontaine chapter of the Fishing Association, and Lyney’s signature five-star bow, featured on the limited-time Weapon Banner. However, players will have to spend a small amount of money if they want one of the five new weapons going to the Battle Pass.

Two new Artifact-Sets, Golden Troupe and Marechaussee Hunter, will be available through a Domain in Fontaine that players should consider prioritizing, as both sets are very good and likely to get even better. Golden Troupe isn’t even out yet, and it’s already widely considered the new best-in-slot set for Fischl, Yae Miko, and almost any character who can make use of the 4-piece set’s 25% Elemental Skill DMG increase and additional 25% Elemental Skill DMG increase when the wearer is off-field, on top of the 2-piece set’s existing 20% Elemental Skill DMG increase. Marechaussee Hunter is a little more niche, tailored specifically for Lyney, but the 2-piece set’s 15% Normal and Charged Attack DMG increase would also work well on Yoimiya. The 4-piece set offers a 12% CRIT Rate increase for 5 seconds after the wearer’s HP increases or decreases, making it very suitable for Xiao, Hu Tao, and possibly Dehya.

Last but certainly not least, much-needed adjustments are finally being made to Genshin Impact‘s map and character selection screens. Given how much of Teyvat (and Sumeru in particular) is underground, it’s long been a source of frustration that the in-game map is essentially no help in navigating intricate cave-systems and buried ruins, and ever since the Interactive Map on the game’s companion app HoYoLAB was updated to have multiple layers, it’s felt like a massive oversight on the game developers’ part that they wouldn’t do the same. But in Version 4.0, the in-game map of Teyvat will become multi-layered, and players will no longer be expected to go raving mad as they explore beneath the deserts of Sumeru. The character selection screen, meanwhile, is getting a new look, with beautiful backgrounds that change depending on where players are in Teyvat, and unique animations for every character in the game so that they’re not all just staring blankly ahead.

Screenshot of Fontaine, a plateau covered in water, elevated above the ocean. A tower stands at the base of the plateau with its foundations in the ocean, where ships from foreign lands are docked. High in the sky and out at sea, an island floats amidst the clouds.
Fontaine, viewed from Sumeru | itechpost.com

Of course, with all this new content, Version 4.0 is presumably going to be massive, so you might want to start cleaning out some extra storage space on your devices. As someone who plays Genshin Impact on a PC that already runs relatively slowly, I can’t even imagine how much worse it’s going to be for mobile gamers, and I don’t know how HoYoverse realistically intends to keep expanding the world of Teyvat with the addition of at least three more regions in the next few years, because at this rate, my computer will probably burst into flames by the time we reach Natlan, land of the Pyro Archon. How are you preparing for the release of Fontaine, and what are you most excited for in the new region? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

Genshin Impact Just Revealed The Cast Of Fontaine’s Archon Quest

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since the map of Teyvat, the world of Genshin Impact, expanded to include the region of Sumeru. In some ways, it feels like just yesterday, and I can clearly recall how I charged through the overgrown tunnel connecting Liyue to Sumeru moments after logging in that night (having positioned myself at the border of Liyue the day before) and found the landscape changed before my very eyes; and yet, it seems like so long ago that Sumeru’s lush green jungles and blazing golden deserts were unexplored still, almost inconceivable that there was a time when Withering Zones were still an issue for me and Dendro reactions were still strange and unfamiliar (today, I’m nearing 100% completion on all of Sumeru, I can hardly remember the last Withering Zone I encountered on my travels, least of all one that posed a problem, and it’s rare that I step out without at least one Dendro character in my party).

Official screenshot of Clorinde from Genshin Impact, a tall woman with long blue hair and purple eyes, aiming a white revolver at the camera. She wears a blue tricorn hat, a blue-and-white uniform, and white gloves.
Clorinde | dotesports.com

But while I can’t definitively say if my time in Sumeru flew by or passed slowly, it is coming to an end now, that much is indisputable. With the Fatui plot to install one of their own as Sumeru’s Archon foiled and their allies in the Sumeru Akademiya stripped of their titles and banished to the forests, Sumeru is in the hands of its “rightful” Archon, Nahida…and while I don’t trust her or any Archon to govern humans better than a Fatui Harbinger would, the game is downright insistent that I should, so I suppose I’ll just headcanon that Nahida delegates most of her responsibilities to Alhaitham and other sages while she and Scaramouche do the work that mortals cannot, burrowing deep into the Irminsul Tree in search of answers to their (and our) questions about Khaenri’ah, Celestia, the Traveler, and the truth of Teyvat.

Until they stumble across something big and call us back to Sumeru, however, the Traveler has no pressing business in the Nation of Wisdom and must continue their own journey of discovery, which leads northwest to Fontaine, where the deep blue waters of an inland sea are darkened by the ever-present shadow of Celestia, home to the Heavenly Principles that have for centuries watched silently over humanity, distributing Visions almost as freely as gifts, but not with good or generous intentions, if they’re anything like the Gnoses that Celestia uses to pull the strings on Teyvat’s seven Archons…or used to, perhaps. Four Archons have recently exchanged their Gnoses with the Fatui, whose Tsaritsa is the Cryo Archon and in possession of a Gnosis already. Just two remain, and one of these is in Fontaine. But the Fatui would be fools to try and take the Hydro Archon’s Gnosis literally out from under Celestia. I guess that would explain why the name of their organization is derived from the Latin word fatuus, meaning fool.

That being said, the Harbinger Arlecchino doesn’t strike me as a fool, not based on what we saw of her in A Winter Night’s Lazzo last year and certainly not after the release of a new trailer for Fontaine just last night, titled The Final Feast, that sets her up to be the Fontaine Archon Quest’s main antagonist. The governess of Snezhnaya’s House of the Hearth, where children forcibly taken from their homes are shaped into Fatui assassins and encouraged to kill everyone close to them who could become a potential weakness for them in the future, Arlecchino has experience with covering all her bases, and I can’t imagine that the Tsaritsa would entrust her with this delicate task if her plan wasn’t waterproof (get it, cuz Fontaine is the Hydro Archon’s nation?). I’m personally invested in Arlecchino’s success, because if she fails, my character will have to kill her, and I don’t know if I can physically bring myself to do that again, not after La Signora died for good. I’m sick and tired of HoYoverse killing off their villains unceremoniously when they know damn well that people would spend their entire life-savings on a devilishly hot evil woman. In a suit, no less!

Anyway, back to Arlecchino’s plan for capturing the Hydro Gnosis. Fascinatingly, it may involve Lyney and Lynette, two of the three characters from Fontaine who will become playable in Version 4.0, all three of whom are siblings. Lyney, a five-star Pyro bow-user, is a renowned magician who performs most nights at the Court of Fontaine (apparently a theater and opera-house, not to be confused with the Opera Epiclese, which amusingly is the only actual court-house in Fontaine, a paradox that cleverly illustrates the degree to which justice and spectacle have become hopelessly intertwined under the current Hydro Archon), with his eerily emotionless sister Lynette, a four-star Anemo sword-wielder, acting as his “Multi-Function Magic Assistant”. If you’ve been following leaks, you may have already been aware that Lyney, Lynette and Arlecchino are…acquainted, but the trailer essentially confirms it, with the siblings putting on a show for the Harbinger that earns stiff, short applause before she ascends to the stage herself and steals the show.

Official screenshot of Arlecchino from Genshin Impact, standing between Lynette on the left and Lyney on the right. Arlecchino is a tall, very pale woman with short, spiky white hair streaked with black, and red eyes. She wears a high-collared, long-sleeved white suit-jacket over a gray bodysuit. Lynette and Lyney have their heads bowed. They both have ashen hair, and similar magician's outfits, though Lynette's has teal-blue bows and Lyney's has wine-red bows, and Lynette has cat-ears in her hair.
(left to right) Lynette, Arlecchino, and Lyney | videogames.si.com

I’m also curious as to what role the third sibling, four-star Cryo claymore-user Freminet, plays in all of this, and why the trailer opens with him apparently drowning, given that he’s supposed to be one of Fontaine’s most accomplished and professional deep-sea divers (though I suppose if we’ve learned anything this past month, it’s that experience with the ocean doesn’t make it any less perilous). I assume it’s his voice that whispers the words “My mission…” as his body hits the water heavily and begins to sink, which is interesting because his official biography states explicitly that “as a classic lone wolf, [Freminet] never accepts commissions from others”, meaning this mission of his is likely something personal, something related to his siblings and the Fatui scheme in which they’re entangled. I guess we’ll have to wait for more details, but my mind is racing as I run through all the potential avenues this story could take.

And that’s before we factor in a dozen other characters, whom the trailer introduces in a cleverly-edited and cheerfully-scored montage that moves briskly through the streets and sewers that bridge the gap between the two sides of Fontaine’s capital city, the side belonging to the ruling class, all airy plazas, clean boulevards, and houses built to endure, and the side begrudgingly allocated to the working class, a dark, grimy, hazardous maze of tunnels and catacombs. All the while, Lyney is explaining to his audience how a cunning magician wins control of the surprisingly gullible human brain by fooling their senses – “People don’t realize how much they expect their eyes to tell them the truth”. I have to wonder if this magician’s strategy will be used on a much grander scale in Fontaine by the Hydro Archon herself, and if Genshin Impact has the courage to make a firm stance against political propaganda, censorship, and the aggrandization of law-enforcement.

The characters introduced in the trailer presumably comprise the main cast of Fontaine’s Archon Quest, and include Charlotte, an upbeat journalist from The Steambird whom many players will have already encountered in Version 3.7; Navia, a fancily-dressed woman with a Geo Vision (I’m only being slightly hyperbolic when I say that Genshin Impact remembering to make new Geo characters is more shocking than anything else I’ve seen thus far from Fontaine); Wriothesley, a handsome fellow named for the historical figure Thomas Wriothesley, remembered primarily as a power-hungry advisor to King Henry VIII who happily betrayed Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, to his death; Clorinde, possibly a police-captain by the cut of her uniform, who carries a revolver, earning a name derived from the female warrior Clorinda in Jerusalem Delivered, an ahistorical account of the First Crusade, by way of frigates in the French navy during the Napoleonic War; Siegwinne, a half-Melusine character whose name, according to one source, comes from the Medieval German epic poem Wolfdietrich, the titular protagonist of which is a dragon-slayer; and Neuvillette, the Chief Justice of Fontaine, who shares a name with a small town in northern France.

With the exception of the Hydro Archon, Neuvillette is probably the most powerful person in Fontaine and also the most interesting, not only because he’s tall and attractive with a veritable mane of white hair and a deep, luscious voice (though he is interesting for all of those reasons, don’t get me wrong), but because of the peculiar arrangement between him and his Nation’s Archon, who sits in on trials and apparently has a habit of being loud and disruptive, presumably swaying the opinions of jurors, intimidating witnesses, and throwing tantrums if “her side” doesn’t win. Her very presence in the courtroom is a stark reminder of the ways in which the Nation of Justice has failed to live up to its own Ideal, but Neuvillette can’t throw her out if she won’t go, so he tolerates the complaints and rude remarks she hurls at him from her theater-box, perhaps by assuring himself that the public will rise up against her and clear his path to the top.

Genshin Impact has gone back-and-forth and back-and-forth again on the subject of Archons, what ought to be done with them and what can be done with them, but if any an Archon deserves to be deposed, it’s Focalors or Furina (the former is her “true name”, also that of a demon in the Ars Goetia who sinks warships, while the latter is the name she uses in her day-to-day life, and belongs to a little-known Roman goddess of springs). That’s not a bad thing. I adore Focalors and I’m tempted to start saving for her debut banner based solely on the fact that she has the personality of a gremlin. But I also know that Genshin Impact has a tendency to try and hand-wave away every Archon’s mistakes with elaborate excuses for why they didn’t know and couldn’t possibly have known what was happening under their watch. That worked once, just barely, with Ei, but even in that case I was disappointed that the game didn’t allow her to be truly morally ambiguous, and I don’t think they can realistically get away with it a second time. It’s okay for characters to be really rotten!

Official screenshot of Focalors from Genshin Impact, waving a burning photograph in front of her face. She has short white hair, with streaks of light-blue through it, and blue eyes, the left somewhat darker than the right. She wears a small blue top-hat perched on the left side of her head, a dark blue jacket with a frilly black collar and large golden cuffs, and gloves, one black, the other white.
Focalors | pockettactics.com

And that’s not to say Focalors can’t have noble motives for doing really horrible things. I have to assume that she’s been living in fear of Celestia for a long time, and that she’s so quick to condemn others, even many of her own citizens, to a life of suffering in the shadows because it’s better for everyone if the gods in Celestia only see perfection when they look down on Fontaine, or they might decide one day to wipe the entire nation – and its people – off the map, just as they did with Khaenri’ah when they disapproved of what they saw there. Hence the need for all these layers of illusion, all the smoke and mirrors…maybe it started as a way to keep Fontaine safe (as an Archon should), and inevitably spiraled out of control as more and more people were condemned for increasingly smaller and smaller crimes. Ironically, when this environment Focalors has created becomes unsustainable the nation will collapse in on itself and then they’ll be screwed, but change is needed and however it comes about, the people of Fontaine will probably be better off rebuilding their nation from scratch than they are with an Archon passing judgement on every move they make.

Well, I’ve rambled long enough. What do you think of the trailer for Fontaine, and the drip-marketing for Lyney, Lynette, and Freminet? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

Everything We Learned From The Genshin Impact Version 3.8 Special Program

Before Genshin Impact players leave behind the golden sands of Sumeru for the fjords of Fontaine, HoYoverse has prepared one last desert adventure for the Traveler to undertake in Version 3.8, meaning that this year there will be no sojourn to the Golden Apple Archipelago that has traditionally brought players so much joy every summer since the game’s launch. Still, we’ll have a new map to explore for a limited time that will provide rich rewards ahead of Fontaine’s release, a grandly whimsical Event Storyline which we can safely assume will segue into the upcoming nation’s Archon Quest, a main cast of four seemingly random characters with entire chapters worth of hidden lore between them, and a voice cameo from the Hexenzirkel’s mysterious leader, Alice. So it’s basically the Golden Apple Archipelago, in all but name and aesthetic.

A screenshot from Genshin Impact Version 3.8. A small wooden vessel, shaped vaguely like a boat with helicopter blades on top, propels itself forward along a slender wooden track suspended in mid-air above a jungle.
Adventures in Bottleland | gematsu.com

“Bottleland” is perhaps not the cleverest name for the setting of this summer’s cornerstone Event, whose participants have been personally selected by Alice to fill the roles of archetypal characters in an in-game series of short plays collectively titled The Magic Bottle, but the area itself is visually distinct, an emerald-hued oasis encircled by the desert, where an abandoned theater and carnival rides in various stages of dilapidation are linked by the circuitous track of a treacherous roller-coaster that I can’t wait to climb onboard. The Traveler has appropriately been cast in the prominent role of the “Adventurer” seeking the Magic Bottle of legend, with Paimon, Collei, Eula, and Sangonomiya Kokomi joining the ensemble in bit-parts, but the stars of the show are Alice’s own daughter, Klee, playing the “Little Mage”, and Kaeya, the “Dagger Thief”, who are also the only two actors who have made any effort to get into-character with new outfits, soon to be available as alternate skins (Klee’s can be purchased in the shop for roughly $30, while Kaeya’s is a reward for collecting tokens scattered throughout Bottleland).

Other activities in Bottleland include minigames galore, and if tons of easily obtainable Primogems aren’t incentive enough for you to shoot balloons with a water-cannon, dance in the spotlight to burn up enemies on the theater’s stage, or play pinball with finches (I didn’t fully understand that last one, either, it’s not just you), then a free copy of Layla might sweeten the deal. No new characters will join Genshin Impact‘s roster in Version 3.8, but players will have the extremely rare chance to pick up Cryo claymore-user Eula, who holds the record for the fewest reruns of any five-star character (exactly one, over five-hundred days ago) in a game that has the ability to rotate character banners either more frequently, or consistently, but won’t, for whatever reason. If you don’t pull on Eula’s banner now, there’s no knowing when she’ll come back, if ever, but is it worth it when Fontaine is right around the corner and even in Version 3.8, other tantalizing options include Sangonomiya Kokomi, who synergizes beautifully with Bloom-reaction based teams, Wanderer, an exceptional Anemo unit, and Klee, who is not great but might see more use with her new alternate skin coming out?

Version 3.8 will wind down with a couple of smaller-scale Events – Shared Sight, in which players will use an experimental device to locate animals by seeing through their eyes; Perilous Expedition, a classic combat Domain; and a rerun of Adventurer’s Trials, a really fun Event where specific characters’ special abilities must be utilized to complete challenges tailored just for them (for instance, using Heizou’s unique combination of punches and high kicks to play soccer with Slimes). Additionally, a Hangout Event for Kaeya was announced, but very little of the story was teased. It’s not much, but there’s never much to do in the last few weeks before a major update, which I figure is intentional as it encourages players who didn’t speed-run an entire nation upon release to go back and finish up outstanding quests.

A screenshot from Genshin Impact. Melusine, a diminutive pink creature wearing a blue police uniform, strolls down a wide boulevard between rows of tall, elegant buildings advertising, among other things, fine clothes and whimsical mechanical toys. Outside the stores, colorfully-dressed aristocrats are window-shopping, small dogs wearing wigs and hats wait for their owners, and golden robots trudge along carrying heavy bags for their owners. The atmosphere is one of lazy opulence.
Fontaine | Twitter @GenshinImpact

But I can’t blame any player for having their sights set on Fontaine, to the exclusion of all else, especially today, following our first (official) look at the upcoming Nation of Justice, where colorfully-dressed ladies and gentlemen waited on by servient automatons flaunt their exorbitant wealth on the wide, straight, boulevards and in the plazas, for the most part blissfully unaware or deliberately ignorant to the fact that their pride and joy, their beautiful, modern capital city, stands precariously poised above a seething crowd of lower-class laborers who make their cushy lifestyle possible, but are forced to live in the sewers that sunlight does not breach. Why does the Hydro Archon allow the scales of justice to be unbalanced, and who does she serve; her people or the gods who reside above Fontaine? Perhaps she is to them what her nation’s poor and oppressed are to her, barely of note? Whatever’s going on, one thing is for certain: Fontaine’s glittery fa├žade hides ever-widening cracks in the nation’s foundations that could swallow all of its people, rich and poor, gods and mortals alike.

Also, mermaids. Fontaine has mermaids. Specifically melusine, a lesser-known sea-spirit from Western European folklore that has as much in common with descriptions of dragons as with mermaids, typically being depicted as a woman with a fish’s tail and wings, often with the ability to shapeshift. The Melusine of Fontaine are a diminutive species like the Aranara and Pari of Sumeru, not particularly humanoid but fully integrated into human society and working alongside them, and I can’t wait to find out how that came to pass, and whether the connections between the French melusine and dragons implies a similar link between the Melusine of Fontaine and the dragons that once ruled Teyvat.

Screenshot from Genshin Impact. Melusine, a diminutive pink creature in a blue police uniform, creeps through the dimly-lit sewers of Fontaine, where underpaid laborers in aprons toil away at dangerous jobs. In the distance, a circular window lets in a little natural light.
Sewers of Fontaine | Twitter @GenshinImpact

But now you know what I think, I want to hear what excites you about Version 3.8 and about Fontaine, as well as what worries you, like the possibility of some infuriating oxygen mechanic hindering endless underwater exploration, or of squid enemies that hit you with ink and leave you blinded, hopelessly disoriented, in the dark (can you tell I have thalassophobia, a fear of the deep ocean, and teuthiphobia, a fear of squid?) As always, I’ll ask you to refrain from discussing leaks regarding unreleased content, but feel free to share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

Everything We Learned From The Genshin Impact Version 3.6 Special Program!

HoYoverse, the game studio behind Genshin Impact, has been fighting (and losing) the battle with leakers since before the game even launched. In recent months they’ve gone to great lengths to try and deplatform particularly prolific leakers like the notorious Ubatcha, subpoenaing Discord and later Twitter to expose users’ information, and they’ve been partially successful at what they set out to do, forcing all but a few of the most high-profile leakers using both these platforms to deactivate and go into hiding…for a little while, at least. Not long enough, evidently, because the contents of yesterday morning’s Version 3.6 Special Program were already being distributed on social media weeks ago by leakers who have probably deliberately remained low-profile because they’re the very same people resuming operations under new identities.

Baizhu from Genshin Impact, standing in the doorway of Bubu Pharmacy. He is tall, with long green hair and spectacles, and a white snake wrapped around his throat. He wears a purple-and-black crop-top, trousers, and a white coat as a cape. A jade orb levitates over his  gloved left hand.
Baizhu | clutchpoints.com

Now, I have no personal problem with leaks, and I think they can be very helpful for players who want to be strategic about where and when they spend their money (even if it’s just in-game currency, because that stuff is hard to earn). But there’s leaking details about an upcoming character’s kit to give folks a slight head-start when pre-farming Ascension Materials and Artifacts, and then there’s spilling an entire version’s worth of information, right down to the minigames – and this is the latter. I mean, you’d think HoYoverse would have learned from the wildly positive reception to the completely unexpected announcement of the Genshin Impact anime during the Version 3.1 Special Program that they should always have something more to offer than what leakers have already spoiled, even if it’s just a tease of future content, but the bare minimum is too difficult for them most of the time, so…

Anyway, what did we learn from yesterday’s Special Program? Well, not much, but for the sake of my upstanding readers who don’t look at leaks and were genuinely surprised, I’ll feign shock wherever necessary, although I personally suspect that HoYoverse knows they were beaten to the punch this time, given how little energy was put into organizing this Special Program. Not convinced? The limited-time character banners and weapon banners were “announced” during an intermission, fighting for attention with redemption codes. And it’s not like Yoimiya’s on the banner or anything. Version 3.6 features the return of Nahida, one of Genshin Impact‘s most successful characters, alongside the extremely popular Nilou, followed by the release of fan-favorite Baizhu and his signature weapon (and a random Ganyu re-run). Two new Artifact sets were later revealed in the same fashion, including the Vourukasha’s Glow set supposedly designed to buff Dehya (it won’t, unfortunately, but it’s a nice gesture).

The release of a whole new area in the desert of Sumeru was almost as hastily glossed over during the actual program, remarkably given the sheer size of this map-expansion and the amount of content waiting to be discovered there, including a new weekly-boss – the leafy dragon Apep, unlocked after completing Nahida’s second Story Quest, which explores what happened to the dragoniform deities named Sovereigns who once ruled Teyvat – a new world-boss – the Iniquitous Baptist, whose ability to wield three Elements at once will make her a pain to fight in the Spiral Abyss – and a whimsical new gameplay mechanic that allows the player to maneuver through difficult terrain in the form of an adorable dragon. A limited-time Event in Version 3.6 will also make use of this mechanic, giving players the ability to drop bombs on enemies.

The male version of The Traveler from Genshin Impact, wearing a black-and-gold outfit with a long blond ponytail, facing off against Apep, a giant leafy green dragon under a dome of what looks like green stained glass.
The Traveler fighting Apep | theloadout.com

The centerpiece of Version 3.6 is the Akademiya Extravaganza being held on the grounds of the Sumeru Akademiya, during which representatives from all six Darshans (schools of thought) will be competing for a grand prize in what is described as a trial of wits as well as physical and martial prowess. Representing Amurta, the school of biology and environmentalist philosophy, Forest Ranger Tighnari is returning to Sumeru City all the way from Gandharva Ville. Faruzan, the four-star Anemo bow-user available as a reward for participating in the Event, represents her alma mater Haravatat, the school which studies semiotics. Kaveh, the so-called “Light of Kshahrewar”, is the obvious choice to represent that Darshan, the school of technological sciences and innovation. Rtawahist, the school of astronomy and astrology, has put forward the sleepwalking Layla as their champion. Spantamad, whose members specialize in studying the Elements that make up Teyvat, settled on Cyno, the Akademiya’s General Mahamatra. And Vahumana, the school of historical studies, has selected a mysterious new student at the Akademiya whose name will be different for each player.

Each Darshan will have their own booth set up at the Akademiya while the Extravaganza is ongoing, and players will find minigames here that represent the schools’ six highly individual ideologies. For instance, Kshahrewar challenges you to create the shortest possible path to a destination by assembling random objects in different ways, while Haravatat tests both your skills of deduction and your ability to read between the lines by presenting you with a puzzling story and letting you guess what really happened. Meanwhile, unrelated to the Extravaganza, Akademiya scholars wandering in the desert will enlist the player’s help defeating giant sandworms known as Wenut in the Fulminating Sandstorm Event, and a maverick student will hire you to test out a potion that provides your team with random buffs in the Brewing Developments Event. And finally, the Overflowing Mastery Event will make a comeback, boosting rewards in various Domains for a short while.

Besides Nahida’s second Story Quest, a Story Quest for Baizhu and a Hang-out Event centered around Layla will also be made available in Version 3.6, giving players the opportunity to get to know these two characters better at their leisure. No Hang-out Event for new playable character Kaveh, though, which is extremely disappointing given that he might just be one of Genshin Impact‘s most popular characters already, despite having appeared only two or three times in-game. Claymore-users are generally known for their brute force and aggressive animations, but Kaveh, the first Dendro claymore-user, refuses to get his hands dirty while fighting and lets his sentient toolbox Mehrak do all the heavy lifting for him, while he strikes a pose. He’s not only ridiculously endearing, however – Kaveh brings to the game an interesting new playstyle built around the Bloom reaction (as opposed to Hyperbloom or Burgeon, its offshoots), with an Elemental Burst that immediately detonates all Dendro Cores in its vicinity. Obviously, he’ll need to be paired with someone who does an insane amount of Hydro application, and with Nilou on the banner preceding his release, I’m guessing that would be her.

Kaveh from Genshin Impact, standing in Sumeru City in front of a fountain. He has light-blond hair, and wears a billowy white shirt with a red shawl, and carries a suitcase in his left hand.
Kaveh | genshinresource.tumblr.com

As for Baizhu, the five-star Dendro catalyst-user is a nice addition to our current line-up of healers and shielders, his ability to heal the whole party during open-world exploration just by picking up certain plants and flowers would be incredibly helpful, his voice is soothing, and his attack animations are graceful, so I see the appeal. I’m probably not gonna pull for him (though I might pull for Kaveh on his banner), but that’s fine: I spent most of my Primogems on Dehya’s banner anyway, and I want to start saving up for the new Hydro characters that will presumably release alongside the region of Fontaine in Version 4.0 or earlier. Unless a new Geo character comes out before then and throws a wrench in my plans.

What do you think of Genshin Impact Version 3.6 so far, and which characters are you planning to pull for? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!