Genshin Impact is one of the main mobile games that I play consistently, so I'd like to start writing down my thoughts and reviewing each update as they release.
Also, STORY SPOILERS AHEAD - I'm posting this after 2.3 has concluded, so if you've been playing Genshin Impact throughout the updates then there's nothing here that you haven't already seen.
2.3 Update - Do you wanna build a snowman? And join a gang?
Genshin's 2.3 update first features a return to the snowy Dragonspine mountain, which feels just right for the northeast as the weather gets colder and we start seeing the first drops of snow in real life. The second major content drop features new 5-star character Arataki Itto's story quest, which might be the most heartwarming tale in Genshin yet while at the same time being profoundly sad.
Technically it's all filler content, but it's pretty great filler content.
Shadows Amidst Snowstorms
First up, the Shadows Amidst Snowstorms story quest sees the traveler and Paimon join a whole host of main characters in a quest to find someone impersonating Albedo and who is preventing you from leaving Dragonspine mountain.
You're joined not only by Albedo, but also Eula, Amber, & Bennet (along with other members of the adventurer's guild) as you track down an evil version of Albedo. It's great to see so many characters featured in a story quest, leading to tons of fun interactions and world-building lore. Just one example - I loved seeing Eula and Amber talk about their friendship, and I think it's more than heavily implied that they are dating. The real Albedo also fills you in on tons of delicious Genshin lore, discussing the creation of artificial lifeforms which builds a bit upon what the Raiden Shogun quest started (she was artificially created as well). There's also a hilarious section where the traveler and Albedo paint a portrait of Paimon. Throughout the whole story, Albedo's calm/almost depressed demeanor felt like a breath of fresh air compared to the usual bubbly anime tropes that the other characters fill.
miHoYo does an amazing job with the cutscenes as usual, but after watching the trailer for this release (see the bottom of this page) and then playing it myself I couldn't help thinking that the "evil Albedo" character was a cop-out. Genshin Impact has always hinted at Albedo having more sinister motives, so I was hoping that we'd finally get a new "bad-guy" character. Instead it turns out that Albedo was artificially created, and more or less has an evil twin brother that can shapeshift into anything including Albedo himself.
The rewards for this Dragonspine story quest are good as usual, including the new Cinnabar Spindle sword which feels custom built specifically for Albedo. The actual gameplay of Shadows Amidst Snowstorms is broken into three main activities + a bonus:
Obstacle courses - Easily the most fun of the main activities, it was cool to see the typical Genshin modifiers (speed and power) get applied to running through an obstacle course. I could see how this part of the event could have gone very wrong, as some of the courses even include light platforming elements, but I found them to be quick and highly enjoyable.
Melting ice - Probably the most uninvolved part of the event, all you have to do is melt blocks of ice to earn costume pieces which you can separately use to build a snow person. I would frequently find one high perch where I could see most of the ice and use Yoimiya to shoot them all from one spot.
Fighting - Also somewhat basic, you first need to light up three devices using scarlet quartz that is always conveniently close by. Doing this allows you to negate the freeze nerfs that would otherwise apply while you fight off several enemies. The idea of setting up your arena beforehand is interesting, but I still more or less unga bunga'd my way through the entire thing.
Doing all of the above earns you rewards, and otherwise you can build snow people from the costume pieces that you collect. Building snow people (and one you can eventually earn for your teapot) is a cute side activity, although I was actually kind of sad when the event was over and my snowman community seemingly vanished overnight. Maybe the evil Albedo twin was behind this.
New Domain - Slumbering Court (but don't sleep on it!)
I spent the first 3 weeks of 2.3 pre-farming for Arataki Itto, and half of the new artifacts in the Slumbering Court are a straight buff for geo users. So I did farm the Slumbering Court quite a lot, and am actually still working on it for geo users beyond Itto (still building a proper Gorou).
The other half of artifacts from the new domain seem built specifically for Kokomi, and I don't have Kokomi. I do know that eventually I'll need to build a proper healer however, so I don't regret collecting the healing-focused artifacts from this domain even if I'm not using them right now.
Speaking of needing a healer...
New Boss - Golden Wolflord
More like "lord, this boss is ANNOYING". I understand that miHoYo is pushing for healing characters by introducing enemies that deal the new corrosion effect, which is basically the same thing as bleeding in any other JRPG (the entire party slowly loses health over time). However, even with a weakness to Geo this boss was really annoying to grind head of Arataki Itto's arrival. I was using healing food all the time because characters like Jean (or any healers that can't hit distant targets) just were not cutting it. I almost felt punished for not pulling Kokomi during her banner.
The actual boss design is cool, but needless to say that as soon as I'd gathered enough materials to level up Itto I was straight out of there. Hopefully I won't need to fight this golden pain again any time soon.
Dog Catchin- I mean rescuing (Bantan Sango Case Files: The Warrior Dog)
I could sum up this event with the fact that it's "over way too soon" both in terms of time AND potential. The idea of stealth missions where you need to rescue dogs from other samurai dogs is both hilarious and pretty fun. Once you sneak close enough, you can throw a Pokeba- AHEM I mean "Omni-Ubiquity Net" to catc- COUGH I mean "rescue" the dogs. It's a fun mini-game that's different enough from what we usually do in Genshin, but it's all over a little too quickly. It doesn't take much time to rescue the dogs in each area, and since the activities are time-gated you're basically done within a few minutes each time. At the end you're also provided with 10 one-time use nets that can be used to capture other small animals and add them to your teapot.
If we're going to be catching animals in balls, which is basically Pokemon, it would be really interesting if Genshin Impact were to expand this even further moving forward. Obviously there's a thin line between dog fights and monster battles, and it doesn't help that you're initially rescuing dogs from other dogs, but there's so much potential for a full monster capture/battle system here.
Arataki Itto's Story Quest - Taurus Iracundus Chapter: Act I "Rise Up, Golden Soul"
As the second main attraction in update 2.3 (filling in the latter half), Arataki Itto's story quest has a lot to live up to. Not only was "Rise Up, Golden Soul" even better than Shadows Amidst Snowstorms, it might possibly be Genshin Impact's best story quest yet.
Arataki Itto himself is very lovable, as when you first meet him he's running from the law for crimes that you soon find out he did not commit. He takes care of his adopted family and reveals that he's also trying to cover for his actual oni family. After some brief exposition about the blue oni and the crimson oni, we are whisked away on a journey to catch the blue oni criminal and find out why he's committing such heinous acts.
The story wraps up a bit quickly, as most character story quests do, but there is some great action along the way. I enjoyed miHoYo's attempt at a rotating staircase puzzle, although Genshin's "dungeons" have a long way to go if they're ever supposed to compete with The Legend of Zelda. Itto's story might start off silly but it's incredibly heartwarming because, spoiler alert, the new 5-star character is actually a really good guy who didn't commit any crimes. Still there are also traces of sadness as Itto never fully resolves his relationship with the criminal blue oni, and we never find out where the rest of the blue oni are hiding. I'd love if Genshin Impact can revisit the blue oni and crimson oni relationship again in the future, as there's a lot of potential for exploring the oni people.
Misty Dungeon: Realm of Light (more like realm of blight)
I don't have much to say about the Misty Dungeon event. It's the same exact type of Genshin event that we've seen a lot - explore a dungeon with modifiers such as speed/power/health pickups etc.. The Misty Dungeon does very little to change the formula, and I only did it to collect my rewards.
The one redeeming factor of the Misty Dungeon is that it allows you to use any stock character included, even if you don't own them. So while I may not have Ayaka or I haven't built up Beidou yet, I did appreciate the opportunity to try out characters and team compositions that I haven't used before.
Energy Amplifier Fruition
This is a re-run event, although it's also my first time playing it. The idea of choosing a few buffs for a domain challenge is interesting, but the really cool part is all of the modifiers that you can apply to challenging the domain. There are tons of difficulty selections that you can change such as time limit, enemy health %, attack %, etc.. All of the modifiers can seem overwhelming at first but once you take the time to read through them it's actually an interesting way to approach customized challenge.
Still there was nothing too special about this event - It's another one that you'll complete just to collect rewards.
The only marvelous thing about this event is Liben's hairstyle. I would pull for him if he was on a banner. All you have to do here is exchange materials for rewards each day, which more or less means free primogems. It took me longer to write this summary than to participate in the event each day.
Overall Conclusions On 2.3
I think this was a solid filler update while we wait for the developers over at miHoYo to finish up the next world areas - The Chasm and Sumeru. Although we ARE getting Enkanomiya next and I'm expecting more details on that as 2.4 rolls out soon. Update 2.3's story and lore elements really delivered, but we also didn't get any new gameplay ideas close to the level of 2.2's stellar Labyrinth of Fog dungeon. Not every update can be the Golden Apple Archipelago however.
The Shadows Amidst Snowstorms story had some great cinematic moments and I particularly enjoyed the obstacle course elements. Arataki Itto's "Rise Up, Golden Soul" was an amazing introduction to the character and it clearly did it's job - Getting us to fall in love with Itto so that we'll spend all of our primogems on pulling for him.
It also doesn't hurt that in a game full of waifus we finally got a new 5-star husbando.
Story quests provide more Genshin lore
Arataki Itto is ridiculously hands- I mean loveable
Dog rescuing event could have gone so much further