When the 1.5 patch dropped for Genshin Impact, it offered a better look at Zhongli via a new Historia Antiqua story quest. While this is a clear case of miHoYo catering to players by offering more details about an in-demand character, it does more than that. While many of the other character-centric chapters focus on offering insights into the person, Zhongli’s instead tell us more about Liyue’s dragons, gods, and past.
As with every Genshin Impact story quest, there are certain shared experiences. You’re still guaranteed time with Zhongli. This means you can see how he interacts with others and what his daily life is like when he isn’t involved in the Archon Quests or called upon to work on behalf of the Wangsheng Funeral Parlor. You’ll also go through a Domain where the featured character is in your party, even if you don’t actually own them, and the area could have challenges involving their special skill. For example, in the Sal Flore Domain, you’ll need to use Zhongli’s Stone Stele to reach places.
But things get really interesting when you get to the actual investigative parts of Historia Antiqua. Sal Flore involves Zhongli and the Traveler joining archaeologists from Liyue and Snezhnaya as they research the God of Salt. Each one has their own motivations for their excursions. Each leg of the journey involves visiting notable locations relevant to the ancient god, searching for relics, and visiting notable spots. As we reach each area, Zhongli lets slip more that he knows about that particular person. I felt like it was a little like an archaeological expedition.
Conversely, the No Mere Stone storyline shows how the events of the past might not stay buried. Once again, we’re learning more about a major figure from Liyue’s past. Except in this instance, some unfortunate happenings are leading up to the new insight into Azhdaha, a new boss teased in 1.5 streams and teaser trailers. While the previous story involves a more insightful and analytical tone, this one makes us wonder about the strength of past figures and their possible influence on the present.
But what I especially appreciated is how this second Zhongli Historia Antiqua quest connected to the greater Genshin Impact plot. While we wait for Chapter II, which presumably will take us to Liyue, a number of smaller threads involved the Traveler learning about Teyvat’s history. “We Will Be Reunited” involved hints that some of the more long-lived residents of the world hold vital information. The end of this latest excursion references that, tying things together yet again. And, due to Adventure Rank requirements, it ideally does so in a way that doesn’t spoil anything for the player.
All of the Genshin Impact story quests are there to offer insights into people who don’t always get to play big parts in other plotlines. They’re chances to test people you might not be lucky enough to acquire. But when it comes to each Zhongli story quest, it’s a way to find out more about the game’s lore. He’s a focal point, sure, but he’s not the only star.
Genshin Impact is available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, and mobile devices. It will also head to the Nintendo Switch. The Zhongli rerun banner is available until May 18, 2021 and includes Yanfei.