Genshin Impact's surprisingly good tower defense explained
20:15 - 10/02/21
It's February 10th, which marks the start of Genshin Impact's Lantern Festival, including the Theater Mechanicus, the much awaited tower defense mode. Let's dive in!
Wait, where's the TD?
Players who logged in earlier today eager to start the event might have been caught off guard by how the whole thing is laid out.
To take part in the Lantern Festival, you first have to play Xiao's quest which released alongside it. Don't worry though, it doesn't take too long. I tend to take my time with story quests, and this one probably didn't take more than 30 minutes in total.
Once that is done, you'll unlock a quest that introduces the main NPCs you'll interact with during the festival. You'll also learn how to craft Xiao Lanterns, one of the many obligatory temporary currencies only available during the event. In a few years, the list of event currencies will be larger than the number of cryptos, I swear.
An event where Diluc is Amber-tier
The Theater Mechanicus happens to require one Xiao Lantern per attempt, but the first attempt is free (although it doesn't give you any rewards). Let's see how the whole thing works.
In this mode, each level works just like a regular tower defense: enemies spawn at one end (or multiple ends) of the map, and you build towers to hopefully kill them before they reach your base.
Genshin Impact's version is a pretty nice rendition of the genre, although it is definitely simpler than most dedicated TDs.
Tower placement is dictated by a limited number of squares along the main routes, and there's an actual limit to how many towers one can have online during a run. You won't fill out every single spot, but you can destroy placed towers if you've made a mistake.
At the time of writing, only four towers are available: cryo, pyro, electro and hydro. There's a fifth one, but it doesn't deal damage, it's only there to give bonus tower creation juice, more on that later. A few more tower types will unlock as the festival goes on.
Your characters can't deal damage to enemies, so you'll have to rely on your towers to do the heavy lifting. However, your units can still use their E ability to apply elemental status or more creative things...
The whole affair works pretty well, save for the actual tower placement that feels somewhat clunky to me. Enemies show up, your towers kill them, and you gain a resource that lets you build more towers.
MiHoYo decided to add a few features that make that make the experience more fun. For instance, at the end of each wave, you get to choose between modifiers (called Mystic Arts) that can improve your towers, add difficulty and rewards (Fearless), or let you gamble on greater boosts with a hidden drawback (Fickle).
Winning is simply a matter of getting to the end of the last stage with enough lives remaining. For each enemy that reaches the base, you lose one life.
In the first two difficulty settings (the only ones available on the first day), there's hardly any chance of losing. I fully expect the remaining levels to get a lot harder.
The tower defense currency you earn after each successful level completion lets you upgrade your towers. Contrary to most TDs out there, your towers are only upgraded outside of the main gameplay loop.
Don't worry about wasting your currency on potentially useless towers. For one, I don't think any given tower is a bad choice. Most importantly though: you can play this mode as much as you want and keep getting rewards. You don't have to make a choice, you can upgrade all of them!
This currency will only be used in the Theater Mechanicus, it won't buy you anything. But playing this mode lets you earn the main Lantern Festival currency by performing specific tasks, similar to the usual achievements.
Thoughts on the event so far
After the Hypostasis event, which prevented newer players from earning all of the rewards due to the DPS check (I had to ask for help on the official discord...), this is a welcome change of pace.
Newer players will be able to earn everything on their own because your box hardly matters (although I don't mind having Jean). No need to be high AR, have god artifacts or C6 Ganyu. This is the event for all of you F2Ps out there.
As a fan of tower defense myself, I think this version is honestly a pretty good effort. Outside of a few glaring mistakes (placing towers can be infuriating due to the submenu that locks you in place unless you click cancel), the whole thing is fun and it works well with the game's mechanics (use elemental reactions, people).
I hope it'll really get harder as more difficulty modes unlock, though. As of now, it's really easy to beat the two available levels, even with level 1 towers.
I haven't tried the multiplayer mode yet, because I do not see the point. It might make more sense as new stages unlock however.
Are you all enjoying the event? Let me know in the brand new comments section below!