Screen Rant chats about Genshin Impact’s 4.0 release, covering the nation of Fontaine, new characters, and player feedback!
With Genshin Impact 4.1 freshly released, players have an even larger array of reasons to dive into the new nation of Fontaine. It’s also a good point to take a quick retrospective on how the area has impacted the game.
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Screen Rant recently chatted with the Genshin Impact team about its art exhibition in New York and the release of 4.0, which introduced Fontaine and some new playable characters, alongside exciting design decisions. Fontaine features underwater areas for the first time in the game, and its quest and treasure chest design is noticeably different from previous regions as well. How much of that is based on player feedback? What were the goals with Fontaine? Did underwater exploration work out as hoped?
We’ve got those answers and more. Check out what the team has to say now that Genshin Impact 4.0 has run its course!
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Screen Rant: Fontaine’s design feels like another step forward for Genshin Impact environments. Was underwater exploration always going to be part of it, or is that something that came along later in development?
Genshin Impact Team: Our discussion about adding underwater exploration can be dated back to two years ago. Genshin Impact is an open-world game that’s still evolving with new content, and it would be a pity if the aspect of underwater adventures is missing. We didn’t want the underwater experience to mirror what we already have on land, but instead, we were aiming for something impressive and brand-new. That’s why we eventually decided to make it a part of the core gameplay in the Nation of Hydro, Fontaine, and devoted large amounts of energy and resources to developing it.
The art exhibition featured some eye-catching player-made art. How does the team go about sourcing the art? Has fan art ever played a role in inspiring new costumes or designs?
Genshin Impact Team: We released the first look of Fontaine during the Version 3.8 Special Program at the end of June and received a lot of positive feedback from players and creators. Thus, we contacted some artists and creators who have been part of our community to express their feelings about Fontaine and Genshin Impact through their art. The overwhelming support from artists, creators, and numerous fans has surpassed our expectations. We are deeply honored to have received so many wonderful creations to be displayed in various cities. The art exhibition also showcased initial sketches and concept art. It definitely illustrated how much things change over time.
Who or what was the biggest shift from initial concept to final release so far in Genshin Impact?
Genshin Impact Team: The design draft shown in the exhibition brings to mind the contrast between the early concept and eventual designs for the Fontemer Aberrants. When designing the underwater creatures of Fontaine, we found inspiration in some real-life creatures. For example, the inspiration for the Armored Crabs and the new boss, Emperor of Fire and Iron, came from hermit crabs. We then fused the design with more fantastical elements of Genshin Impact and eventually created the adorable Armored Crab family and the imposing boss that you see today.
4.0 is following up what many consider to be the best main update in 3.0. Was there any added pressure knowing that Sumeru was so beloved by players and you had to kind of leave it behind for a little bit to focus on the next big region?
Genshin Impact Team: We would like to thank everyone for all the love and support given to Sumeru. Regarding the development and worldbuilding of Teyvat, we already had a long-term plan before Genshin Impact was launched, and we kicked off working on Fontaine a long time ago. However, we really appreciate the feedback on Sumeru, as it has encouraged us greatly in the creation of new regions, and provided us with many valuable suggestions on how to optimize the game design.
4.0’s introduction of Lyney and Lynette feels like the first time a major update has come with such intrinsically connected characters. We’ve had siblings both be playable characters before, but having them release at the same time was exciting. What was the reasoning behind that decision? Is it one you might make more in the future?
Genshin Impact Team: As companions along your adventures, playable characters and their release dates are closely related to their backstories and the current narrative developments. Speaking of their backgrounds, Lyney and Lynette are not only tight-knit siblings, but also perfectly complementary partners in magic performance. Thus, they often appear as a duo in the storyline. In the current phase of the Archon Quest, Lyney and Lynette not only guide the Traveler in Fontaine but also went through immense challenges with the Traveler. As such, we decided to have Lyney, Lynette, and their youngest sibling Freminet debut as the earliest playable Fontaine characters.
The visuals in Fontaine are such a big departure from other Genshin Impact areas thus far – again, a big reason being the underwater exploration.How much freedom do you have in really challenging player expectations about what they’ll see and hear in a region?
Genshin Impact Team: The gameplay mechanics of Genshin Impact in the last three years appear to be within a standardized framework. However, our underlying infrastructure does allow us to add many functions that surpassed many previous restrictions. In some cases, what’s limiting us is not our imagination, but the controls of devices, the data storage capacity, and the power consumption of hardware devices. Should there be more devices with better performances gaining traction in the future, we might be able to bring even more amazing mechanics and presentations to the table.
Fontaine also features some more challenging exploration puzzles, building off what we’ve seen in Sumeru. Were there any puzzles the team was worried might not be a big hit with players – or any that were especially challenging systems to design?
Genshin Impact Team: Puzzle and challenges are part and parcel of game design, but how the developers approach them will make or break the experience. An ill-placed puzzle or challenge only results in boredom, but a well-designed one will motivate players to rise to the challenge. Our greatest takeaway from Sumeru was that high-intensity and brain-teasing mechanics might not be a good match for lighthearted and repetitive gameplay. Therefore, we have not increased the difficulty of these mechanics in Fontaine, but instead placed them at more suitable spots, for example, the Local Legends and certain underwater challenges.
Fontaine feels like it’s been built a lot on player feedback. Treasure feels more commonplace and with some higher quality chests on average. Nothing is really locked behind major quest progression the way some areas of Sumeru were. Underwater exploration provides a “chill” environment that’s got a dozen photo ops in every area. How much of the player response to regions like Inazuma and Sumeru were key in developing Fontaine? Was there any one specific point that was majorly due to fan feedback?
Genshin Impact Team: A noteworthy point is that if you compare V3.0 with V4.0, there are actually more expansive maps, more gameplay content, more stories, and more rewards in Sumeru than in Fontaine. But I suppose we made a common mistake as we saw things from the dev’s point of view: sometimes polishing the details on the right scale is more important than packing in tons of content. Let us take what you mentioned as an example: treasure chest quality feels better because challenges with rewards have been reduced in quantity but increased in quality. Thanks to more streamlined and smoother quest guidance, although some regions need to be unlocked with quest progression, the gameplay routes that players are likely to take will be aligned with what the devs envisioned when designing the quest.
The same amount of effort was put into the underwater and desert areas, but the former was deemed more relaxing and pleasant. As we have mentioned repeatedly, Genshin Impact always strives to bring a better experience for our players. Our energy shall be focused on enhancing the positive feelings of players. On that note, we would like to express our gratitude to players for giving us feedback in-game and through our community, and helping us make Genshin Impact better.