The Genshin Impact story quests and hangout events can be divisive. For example, the Ayaka, Ganyu, Jean, and Kokomi story quests tend to involve the Traveler dealing with someone who is overworked and can involve going on what some might call “dates” with them. Given the status of Inazuma’s Raiden Shogun, an archon, it seemed a bit unfortunate that her Imperatrix Umbrosa story quest’s first act retread some of those beats. But now that its second act is here, it is much stronger story that offers details about the character, the people close to her, and Inazuma’s history. In a way, it even offers hope that other story quests’ next acts could offer a similar sort of “redemption.”
Editor’s Note: There will be spoilers for the first two acts of the Raiden Shogun story quests in Genshin Impact below.
To refresh your memory, the first part of the Raiden Shogun story quest, Reflections of Mortality, involves showing Ei around Inazuma City as it is now. Yes, there is a story-related domain to explore as you eventually help deal with a dispute between the Kujou and Takatsukasa Clans. (You can’t have a character story quest without opportunities to use that person in battle!) But much of it involves casual activities with her. She gets dango milk with the Traveler. The two look at some of the light novels Yae Miko publishes, like The Good Thing About Being Reincarnated as a Hilichurl is That I Only Need to Eat Sunsettias to Become Stronger. She takes a picture. It has the same sort of “date” ambiance as visiting the Amakane Island festival with Ayaka. It was fine. However, it also wasn’t as weighty or informative as the quests for characters like Childe, Itto, or Zhongli.
Transient Dreams, the second part of the Raiden Shogun Genshin Impact story quest, is different in every way. Rather than starting out casual, we see Ei at work. Rifthounds appeared on Narukami Island, and she’s also out there investigating and exterminating them. In so doing, we learn more about the Sacred Sakura, a fog and danger that hit Inazuma during the Khaenri’ah Cataclysm, and Ei’s role supporting her sister Makoto, the original Raiden Shogun. As we go from battle to battle, following the blood-like sap, we’re teased with details and foreshadowing. “Ghosts” of people from 500 years ago appear, hinting at what happened. Ei beings behaving oddly, with things seeming more awry as she attempts to continue fighting. There’s still a solemn moment to connect over tea, along the lines of the photo op and casual discussions during the first part. But throughout this latest segment, there’s a sense it is building up to something. And since its pacing involves conversations with Ei broken up by short battles, they feel like rewards for each fight.
Which all culminates in a boss battle that feels even more satisfying. Especially due to the way it is handled. Yes, this eventually unlocks a weekly fight against the Raiden Shogun. However the first time, the fight is more story-based. We take part in the duel between Ei and the puppet firsthand. The Traveler and players’ characters are cut out of it all. We see her power on full display. We see the puppet’s capabilities too. Then, when we return, we get this multi-phase assault against a foe with callback attacks to the playable character. It’s quite well-executed, both in terms of how the boss relates to the narrative and offering a repeatable challenge.
As for the future, both the Ei and Zhongli second story quest acts suggest hope for future Genshin Impact tales. Zhongli’s first and second acts were both strong. Each installment offered insight into his past. They also offered a chance to learn about others who influenced Liyue’s history. With Ei, her initial story quest followed the “date” concept by sending her around Inazuma City with the Traveler while they had dango milk and looked at light novels. The second act greatly expounded on her past, her role when Makoto was alive, and even some additional references to Khaenri’ah. Given these are the only two characters to get second acts, it suggests this could be a new precedent. Which means that stories that started out more frivolous, like Ayaka’s, could get more serious and look at their lives, their roles in the world, and Teyvat’s history.
All told, the second act of the Raiden Shogun story quest suggests that given enough time, Genshin Impact characters could be better developed over time. The first part of her story was fine. Maybe it was a bit more casual and subdued than someone might expect. Especially since it followed a pattern set for women’s story quests in game so far. But this new installment makes a big difference. It shows continued growth for the heroine while offering increased insight into her life. The whole experience is more enjoyable, and it could even be considered a ray of hope for other character story quests that weren’t immediately satisfying.
Genshin Impact is available for the PS4, PS5, PC, and mobile devices. It will also come to the Nintendo Switch. The first two Raiden Shogun story quest acts are immediately available in-game, and the Raiden Shogun rerun banner will appear on March 8, 2022.