Genshin Impact is one of the more gargantuan and, after a certain point, grindy games currently in existence, but its players remain ravenous for Content. On February 3, they will be briefly sated by a big new event: The Lantern Rite Festival, which will bring with it a new playable character, stories and challenges, and a tower defense-like mode.
During a stream today, developer Mihoyo announced that the Lantern Rite Festival will be the centerpiece of Genshin Impact’s 1.3 update and outlined what it will contain. Taking place in Liyue Harbor, the event will deck the place out in—what else—lanterns. Because Mihoyo knows what keeps players coming back (hint: it’s hot anime characters), your first order of business will be completing a story quest centered on a new playable character: Xiao, the conqueror of demons.
Xiao is a polearm-wielding Anemo (read: wind) elemental, and one of his abilities allows him to initiate a plunging attack from any height without taking fall damage. The attack’s damage is determined by how high up he is when he starts, so I’m excited for the inevitable flood of YouTube videos in which players one-shot tough bosses by skewering them from the top of the world. Xiao also has an elemental burst ability called “Bane of All Evil,” which sees him don a cool mask and increase his damage and AOE, but at the cost of his HP.
During the Lantern Rite event, players who are Adventure Rank 23 and higher will be able to undertake Xiao’s quest, no story key needed. After the event wraps up, however, you’ll need to be 32 or higher, and if you don’t have a story key, then you’ll need to earn one by completing eight commissions, which are basically daily quests. In case there was any doubt, Mihoyo wants players to come back and resume playing (and purchasing Primogems) sooner rather than later.
Driving this point home, the Lantern Rite Festival will also include a Ley Line overflow event, during which the special challenges (which require Genshin’s frequently maligned “resin” currency) will grant double rewards. This event will run for a limited time alongside the Lantern Rite Festival. Currently, neither has a set end date, though players are speculating that it’ll probably be mid-February. At that point, the Lantern Rite Festival will not be gone forever, but it won’t recur until next year.
After you’ve completed Xiao’s quest, the Lantern Rite Festival will begin in earnest. It will be composed of several parts, including a special event store called the Xiao Market, which, according to the voice actors hosting the stream, confusingly has no connection to the character Xiao. The store will unlock new goods in stages, as you complete requests and stories to fill up a “Festive Fever” meter.
You’ll be able to earn event currency by completing various activities, including a new mode called Theater Mechanicus, which appears to be a hybrid of Genshin Impact combat and tower defense preparation. In it, you arrange Mechanici—little robot chess piece-looking dudes—to defend a territory, and then you fight waves of monsters alongside them.
There’s also a new photography-based activity that seems like a fun (though slightly coercive) change of pace. Each day of the event, there’ll be a new photo subject. You’ll have 10 chances per day to use a new item called the “Kurious Kamera” (lmao) to snap a photo of the corresponding object, which, in turn, will net you a random photo as a reward. No, that’s not a typo. Yes, you’re getting a photo for a photo. Each photo has a color. If you collect a complete set of five colors, you can exchange it for a fortune trove, which contains Primogems and materials. Now, because photo rewards are random, there’s a chance you’ll get multiple matching colors. The system, then, is designed to encourage you to make and trade with in-game friends.
Alongside those major features, the update will also include quality of life improvements like a “living beings” archive category that lets you see detailed info about everything you’ve encountered in the game world, as well as additions to your character screen. Character ascension—that is, improving characters after they’ve hit max level—will also become easier, with new unlockable items that will allow players to craft one elemental material into another and transmute materials.
Lastly, there’ll be threatening new rock dragon monsters called Geovishaps for you to hunt, first by sending characters of your choosing (including one belonging to a friend) on expeditions, and then by going to their location and finishing the job yourself. The ensuing boss fights will apparently be pretty tough. Hopefully there will be some very high cliffs overhead.