Genshin Impact is the sort of game that works when people get invested in it. Maybe it is because the gameplay loop works for someone or they enjoy the narrative. But, given this is also a gacha game intended to convince people to pay real money. Which means, well, the characters have to be appealing in terms of how they behave and work. It’s obvious to see how well some play, but the Genshin Impact Hangout Events offer a first chance to connect a little more.
As a refresher, the Genshin Impact Hangout Events act as something of a dating sim without flat out saying Aether or Lumine is taking part in a relationship with the other playable character. After you pay the “entrance fee” of two Story Keys, which you can earn by taking part in the brief daily commissions quests, you can unlock an opportunity to spend time with Barbara, Bennett, Chongyun, or Noelle. This triggers a quest where you head to a specific area in Liyue or Mondstadt to meet with that person.
What follows… well, feels like a visual novel! Characters have an affection rating and will speak to you about various topics. For example, Bennett broaches the idea of going on an adventure together. Chongyun talks about his job as an exorcist and exploring some “leads.” There are some responses that are the general lines designed to make people like you more or less. There are also a few responses that guide the course of, for lack of a better word, the date. Every one of these Genshin Impact Hangout Events usually takes about 10-15 minutes to complete, and they even involve a mix of conversation and mild exploration or puzzle solving elements.
The combination of the two sorts of dialogue responses can lead to getting one of six different memories and pictures. Keep in mind, these aren’t necessarily bad endings. Just different. And to encourage people to keep playing and see how your time together could change, there are features to promote replays. Like some adventure games and visual novels like AI: The Somnium Files or Zero Escape, there’s a flowchart you can view after your first run to see about other possibilities you might have missed. The game also rewards you each time you see one of the six memories. So you can eventually get a total of 60 Primogems, 15 Hero’s Wits, and character building items like Guides to Resistance or fragments.
They’re also pretty helpful so far in that the four initial Genshin Impact Hangout Events highlight people who haven’t appeared too often in the campaign. Barbara shows up as an aside during the campaign’s prologue and is around during Jean’s story quest. But while people like Bennett, Chongyun, and Noelle can be cool and matter, we don’t really have any chances to meet or connect with them in the campaign quests or other characters story quests. These outings serve as introductions. For example, both Bennett and Chongyun’s each start with the Traveler introducing themselves to them. (You don’t even “know” Chongyun’s name right away!)
But, I also feel like that’s something of a downside. Both Barbara and Bennett are both really popular choices for teams, due to their practical uses. But… none of these Hangout Events involve the people I think of when I consider the top-tier, fan favorite, best Genshin Impact characters. I’m a big fan of Childe, Xiao, and Zhongli. I know all three have plenty of screen time in the campaign and initial events. But I’m such a big fan that I’d also like Hangout Events with them to see more casual sides of the characters. (Especially after the moments Xiao spent with her during the Lantern Rite and first chapter’s last “boss” fight.)
In short, it feels like the Genshin Impact Hangout Events are a good way to test the waters. The initial four offers a reasonable balance of characters, some of whom might already have a following due to how well they fit into a person’s team. They stories are handled well and offer a number of outcomes. Each one has a low barrier of entry, since you only need to have reached Adventure Rank 26 and earned two Story Keys. And best of all, even if you’re not really interested in the idea of a relationship building element, the opportunity to rather easily earn Primogems and character building materials is quite a bonus. I do hope and wish the lineup of Hangout Events will expand to include more characters. But for now, it feels like a good start and I can’t wait to make memories with even more characters.
Genshin Impact is available for the PlayStation 4, PC, and mobile devices. A Nintendo Switch version is also in the works.