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.
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 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.
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!