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.
“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.
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 façade 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.
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!