Everything New In The Genshin Impact Version 4.7 Special Program

With the third and final expansion to the region of Fontaine behind us and travelers gearing up for the next leg of their voyage across the world of Teyvat, there’s still a few things left to do before Genshin Impact Version 5.0, and one of those is our annual encounter with the enigmatic Khaenri’ahn knight Dainsleif, who usually shows up soon after we’ve completed a region’s three-act Archon Quest to take us sightseeing around some underground ruins infested with Abyss creatures, drop some massive lore-bomb about our protagonist’s sibling, or about the Cataclysm, or both, and then leave. The Traveler is better than me, because if I were given the option, at this point I would gladly beat the living daylights out of Dainsleif until he would just tell me what else he knows that he thinks we’re not worthy of learning yet or something, but that’s why the protagonist is not a self-insert.

Close-up screenshot of Clorinde in Genshin Impact, surrounded by crackling purple lightning as she holds her sword, glowing purple, up in front of her face. She has short dark purple hair, a tricorn hat, and golden epaulets on a purple uniform with white gloves.
Clorinde | dexerto.com

But I think everyone has a bone to pick with Dainsleif this year, because he’s late by a whole patch or two, and the last time we saw him, we accidentally got trapped in one of our sibling’s memories from hundreds of years prior (long story), which revealed to us that they played a key role in the foundation of the Abyss Order when they helped a Khaenri’ahn survivor of the Cataclysm named Chlothar heal his son Caribert, who was cursed to devolve into a Hilichurl along with most of the population of Khaenri’ah (another long story), using Abyssal power obtained from a not-at-all-creepy, sentient, talking, chained-up purple crystal suspended over a void simply called “The Sinner”, who was somehow gone when they went back to talk to him but is now worshipped as a god by the Abyss Order. Dainsleif seems to have a guess as to the Sinner’s true identity, but of course won’t tell us anything, except to say that it can see through space and time and, uh, definitely knows now that we know, bye! All of that, coupled with the fact that we found the skeletal remains of Chlothar but not Caribert, means that Travelers have a lot of questions for Dainsleif the next time we run into him.

And that day fast approaches, because the trailer for Version 4.7 prominently features Dainsleif, as well as the Traveler’s rarely-seen sibling, colloquially known as the Abyss Sibling, because, yes, at some point, after traveling the world with Dainsleif for a while, they went back to Chlothar and joined his fledgling Abyss Order of their own free will, apparently as a result of some terrible, mind-blowing truth they had learned on their adventures, something they are certain we too will come to accept. Well, we’re officially over halfway through Genshin Impact’s overarching storyline, with just two regions left to explore (plus Khaenri’ah), and I still don’t know what that “something” is, but theorists smarter than myself have some good guesses, that it has to do with the gods in Celestia, who may or may not be alien invaders, and would explain why they keep randomly dropping enormous spikes into the planet, annihilating entire civilizations. The Abyss Order’s plan to overthrow Celestia is titled the “Loom of Fate”, and Chlothar called Caribert the “Loom of Fate”, implying that Caribert would be able to weave his own destiny, but in the new trailer it’s said that the “Loom of Fate” is now complete, so it’s also a plan, and…I’m confused, quite frankly. I’m just gonna wait for Dainsleif to explain it to me.

So if the Abyss Sibling could maybe not kill him, as it’s implied she will attempt by the shot of her coming up behind Dainsleif with her sword drawn (because even though it’s not technically canon that the female twin is the Abyss Sibling and her brother is the Traveler, and plenty of players experience the story the other way around, I can’t recall the last time HoYoverse used the male Abyss Sibling in promo, if ever), that would be great! I mean, I know she won’t, but I am interested to learn how things get to the point where she might try. Until now, she’s been content to watch us from afar, confident that we’ll see her side of things and join her, but I could see where Dainsleif might start to pose a problem. It’s not like he’s a completely objective documentarian – he seems to believe Khaenri’ah was playing with fire, and that the Abyss Order is following in its footsteps by trying to revive the fallen kingdom. Maybe the Abyss Sibling is tired of having their side of the story recounted to us by someone who views her with a sort of condescending pity.

I have no idea what to expect from this confrontation, but HoYoverse is definitely hyping it up – even using today’s Special Program to premiere an animated short which beautifully summarizes the Traveler and the Abyss Sibling’s parallel journeys across Teyvat. I’m not sure if we should regard this as a teaser for the Genshin Impact anime that was announced well over a year ago, or something entirely separate, but the animation style and quality is exactly what I’m hoping for from the series, whatever topic it covers. Also, as a side-note, it’s really impactful to see certain moments between the siblings that the game has never shown us brought to life in such vivid detail, even something as seemingly mundane as Lumine, before she was “The Abyss Sibling”, braiding her brother’s hair, or of the two of them goofing around. It strengthens our emotional investment in what is truly the protagonist’s one goal.

But if the Traveler’s story doesn’t interest you (what are you, heartless?), there’s a lot of other cool stuff to do and explore in Version 4.7 – a surprising amount, actually, given that Version 4.8 immediately afterwards will be bringing us the year’s summer event and the closer on Fontaine, and before that there’s usually a bit of a dry spell in Genshin (I guess we already had that with Version 4.5, which I didn’t even cover). For starters, three characters are joining the game’s roster – two of them, Clorinde, a five-star Electro sword-user, and Sigewinne, a five-star Hydro bow-user, have been in the game since Version 4.0 and Version 4.1 respectively, while players only recently met Sethos, a new four-star Electro bow-user, in Cyno’s second Story Quest.

To break down all their kits in full would be exhausting, because to be honest, I still don’t entirely understand how the Bond of Life mechanic works. I just got Arlecchino because I think she’s neat, not because I have any idea how to use her properly. Clorinde applies a Bond of Life to herself when she uses her Elemental Burst, its value based on her max HP. Using her Elemental Skill, she enters the Night Vigil state, during which her normal attacks are infused with Electro, and using her Elemental Skill again causes her to lunge. In each of these different states, she gains different effects depending on the value of her Bond of Life – so for example, if you perform a lunging attack while Clorinde’s Bond of Life is less than 100% of her max HP, she will be healed based on her Bond of Life value, and her DMG and AoE will both be increased. Did you get all that? I hope so, because I sure as hell didn’t.

In the foreground stands Dainsleif, a tall man with shaggy blond hair and a dark blue mask covering one half of his face, wearing black with a high collar. Behind him stands the Traveler, with Paimon floating alongside him.
(left to right) Traveler, Paimon, and Dainsleif | gamertweak.com

Sigewinne’s Bond of Life is applied after she casts her Elemental Skill, which also causes a Bolstering Bubblebalm to bounce across the battlefield (the alliteration!), dealing Hydro DMG and restoring HP to all party members except Sigewinne herself upon impact with enemies (pressing and holding her Skill creates a larger bubble that will gradually reduce in size with each bounce, and these bubbles can even immobilize small opponents). When Sigewinne casts her Skill, two Sourcewater Droplets will be left behind, and picking these up gives her a Bond of Life worth 10% of her max HP, while clearing the Bond of Life restores energy. Her Burst seems fairly simple, a Hydro DMG cannon like Neuvillette’s, but because she’s a doctor, it’s a comically oversized syringe.

Last and unfortunately least, Sethos. He’s a charged attack-reliant four-star main DPS, and to make matters worse, his charged attacks are unusually slow and consume energy – and of course, because he’s a four-star, whatever increase in DMG you get from fully charging his Shadowpiercing Shot will likely be dwarfed by what any five-star bow user can accomplish in less time and without wasting energy. His Skill is a battery, recovering more energy when it triggers pretty much any Electro reaction, and his Burst converts his normal attacks into Electro. It’s not a great kit, which is sad, because I want him nonetheless for his design and personality, but I know in my heart I’ll take him out for one joyride and then never use him again.

Clorinde’s debut banner will run alongside Alhaitham in the first half of Version 4.7, featuring Sethos, while Sigewinne will arrive in the second half alongside a Furina rerun. Additionally, both Clorinde and Sigewinne will receive Story Quests, with Clorinde’s showing us a softer, possibly nerdier side of the stoic duelist, as an avid TTRPG (table-top role-playing game) fan, and Sigewinne’s giving us some insight into how the vastly different worlds of Melusines and humans have come to overlap in Fontaine. Cool, very cool, but now can we talk about the Imaginarium Theater?

Players of Genshin Impact have been asking for new endgame content since…well, forever. Don’t get me wrong, the Spiral Abyss is definitely still challenging in my opinion as somebody who has never fully cleared it, but it’s also really repetitive after a while, and outside of that, domains, and bosses, there’s been nowhere that players can really test their characters’ limits or their own strategizing skills. Until now, that is. Imaginarium Theater is set up so that players accustomed to breezing through every challenge the game throws at them with the same couple of characters will be forced to think long and hard about who to choose from a limited pool of characters. For instance, in Version 4.7, you can only choose Anemo, Electro, and Pyro characters – which all synergize pretty well anyway, so if anyone complains about this restriction I’d point out to them that it could be much worse, we could be forced to pick Anemo, Dendro, and Geo characters. Think about it, absolutely no Reactions. It would be infuriating.

With that said, up to four characters who don’t meet the season’s requirements can be chosen as “Special Guest Stars”, so again, there’s no reason to complain. If you don’t have enough characters to fill out your team, several Trial Characters equipped with flawless Artifacts will be provided, and players can even borrow or lend out their own characters for others to use, which sounds fun but also mortifying, because even my best characters are not where I want them to be and I would hate for someone to take my Lvl. 90 Dehya (hypothetically), only to discover that she’s been using an unleveled ATK goblet since I first got her because I could not – and cannot, try as I might! – obtain a Pyro DMG Bonus goblet from the Crimson Witch of Flames domain. These characters-for-hire are referred to as your “Supporting Cast”, not to be confused with your “Alternate Cast”, more of whom will gradually become available each time you complete a challenge in the Imaginarium Theater (keep in mind that your Supporting and Alternate Casts must meet the actual requirements of the season). Even as characters join your team, however, others will become unavailable. You can also trigger events inside the Theater, either randomly or by using Fantasia Flowers, and some of these will allow you to add more characters to your party while others will throw you into an unexpected battle and completely mess up your strategies.

The characters you choose to form your initial party, your “Principal Cast”, will all receive Fantastical Buffs, not only within the Theater but also outside of it, in the open-world, for the duration of the season. That means if I choose Dehya as part of my Principal Cast in Version 4.7, which I probably will, my Dehya’s max HP, ATK and DEF will increase by 20% until the Theater closes (temporarily: Imaginarium Theater and Spiral Abyss will alternate each month from now on). And there will be plenty of rewards, including Primogems, Original Resin, forging billets, and Toy Medals, the latter of which can be exchanged with the Theater’s concierge to obtain iconic poses for your characters, so that when taking photos, you don’t have to wait around for them to cycle through all their other idle animations and then frantically snap a dozen more pictures than necessary in the hopes of getting the one you wanted….which is an experience I’m sure we can all relate to. That totally isn’t just a me thing….right?

Version 4.7 will also see the return of a cute and fun minigame from way back in Version 3.8, the Spinoblaster, as well as a few other Events – Mutual Security Enhancing Simulation, in which players will take control of various monsters and maneuver them into battle against each other, for a chance to obtain the new four-star bow Cloudforged; Record of Reflective Writing, a platformer game where the objective is to collect coins and evade traps; and Endless Forms Most Martial, a classic combat challenge. Nothing too extravagant, but nothing there that sounds boring, either. If nothing else, it’s a few more Primogems ahead of Natlan’s release.

An aquatic Saurian swimming through a river of molten lava in Genshin Impact, orange streaked with vivid turquoise.
A Saurian in Natlan | youtube.com

I’ve saved our discussion of the upcoming region for last because that’s how they went about it on the Special Program, but of course it was all that anyone could talk about afterwards – our very first glimpse of a land we’ve only heard about from a handful of NPCs scattered around Teyvat, who have spoken highly of its hot springs and graffiti-artists, and described it as a colorful place with fashionable people. It’s hard to form a first impression of Natlan from the teaser because it doesn’t show us the culture, which I find curious and potentially worrying given that Natlan is or was supposed to be based on Mesoamerica, parts of Africa, and also…Spain (knowing HoYoverse, they threw Spain into the mix so they would have an excuse for when 90% of the playable characters and NPCs alike are white). The teaser is Saurian-centric, highlighting three of the different species of adorable dragons that players can apparently shapeshift into in Natlan, including one that burrows into the earth and speeds along the sides of graffiti-streaked canyon walls, one that can swim through rivers of lava, and one that uses its extremely long tongue to grab objects and propel itself through the air. It’s very much giving Dinotopia, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but was exactly what I was afraid of when Neuvillette first mentioned that the people of Natlan live alongside dragons, because it feels like another excuse to steer into full-on fantasy and abruptly away from the real-world cultures that informed everything from the architecture down to the literature of Mondstadt, Liyue, Inazuma, and Fontaine. In Sumeru, those influences are filtered through a layer of orientalism and exoticism so thick as to be almost impenetrable, and I fear something similar will occur in Natlan.

But maybe that’s just me being cynical. What do you think? As always, share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

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!