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The problem with Genshin Impact multiplayer

Is Genshin Impact multiplayer? Well, yes, though it leaves a lot to be desired. But with some tweaks, it could be great. So… Co-op Spiral Abyss when?

Official Genshin Impact art to commemorate the Twitter getting 1.3m followers. Shows Ayaka, Yoimiya, Lumine, and Paimon enjoying a snack together

I’m a huge MMORPG fan, but recent years have left me disillusioned with the genre. From Activision Blizzard’s abhorrent behaviour putting me off WoW, to the tedium of FFXIV’s story quests, and the general lack of pizzaz in ESO, I was desperate to find something that could scratch that itch. Then Genshin Impact came along – and while, admittedly, it’s not an MMO, the vast, lore-driven open world with domains in place of dungeons, multiple combat styles, online events, and co-op elements ticked all the boxes I was looking for.

Unfortunately though, the Genshin Impact multiplayer system leaves a lot to be desired. I know it’s not at all central to the game, and I’m sure there are plenty of people who play it completely solo or enjoy what co-op action there is. In fact, one of the things I love most about this brilliant title is there are so many ways to engage with it. It caters to those of you who are meta chasers, constantly seeking out the best build for the S rank characters, farming top artifacts, and upgrading weapons to watch your damage numbers sky rocket.

It’s great for those of you who play casually (like my boyfriend), who only dip in to do your dailies and spend your resin then duck back out again. And it’s got so much for those of you who are explorers and completionists (like me), who delve into every corner of the map in search of secrets, puzzles, and tidbits of lore as you slowly 100% each section of the map. There’s so, so much to love about Genshin.

However, when it comes to co-op, there’s not all that much you can do. Outside of multilayer events like Windtrace, which are usually only available for two to four weeks, you’re limited to a handful of weekly bosses (which you can only claim rewards from once a week), domains, leyline blossoms, and random exploration (harvesting items, some of which only one player can collect, or killing random mobs) – and while that sounds like a lot, the majority of it is restricted by your resin count.

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You also can’t engage with most puzzle-solving tasks in your friend’s worlds (which I do agree with, but that’s just another element that you can’t play together) and there are no co-operative quests or friend trading systems to supplement this. To top it all off, you can only join a friend’s game if you have a similar adventure rank and have the right world level.

Once again, this hasn’t truly robbed me of any enjoyment – I still play this game daily, and am so deeply enshrined in its lore and characters that it’s near enough always on my mind. But I feel Hoyoverse is truly missing out on some great opportunities to expand and cater to an even larger audience, while also offering more enjoyment for existing fans, giving us all something extra while we wait for the next Genshin Impact update.

In my humble opinion, there are a few things that would take Genshin Impact from a wonderful solo open-world adventure with lacklustre co-op elements, to a true contender in the online co-op leader boards. The first is something many of you have asked for for a very long time – a co-op version of Genshin Impact’s Spiral Abyss.

Yae Miko stood outside the Spiral Abyss

While I get why Spiral Abyss is single-player, and personally believe it should stay that way – it’s a great way of testing personal skill and team formations (and snagging some primos) so it makes sense that your friends shouldn’t be allowed in to simply carry you to the top floors. But a separate co-op version would be a shining jewel that I’m pretty sure most people would welcome.

Offering a tough, multi-level domain with rotating enemies, no resin limit, and a basic set of rewards like mora and hero’s wit could be the perfect way to invite both groups of friends and random members of the community to work together, strategise, and test their skills without feeling limited to a bunch of those two-minute battles against a circin mage and a bunch of slimes that costs 20 of your 180 resin a shot.

Keeping the same matchmaking tool from the domains, and using both the 12-floor system and three tiers of rewards that refresh fortnightly from the original Spiral Abyss would be everything we need. I truly believe this would offer a fresh breath of life to the stale cooperative elements many of us have gotten bored of over time.

Gorou and Itto looking happy

Another thing that we’ve been discussing in our team is the possibility of a trading system. While I totally understand trading items at a base level comes with plenty of risks (we don’t want people selling 200 violet grass or a pocket full of dandelion seeds for an extortionate price on eBay), the way to get around this is pretty much staring us in the face.

You guessed it – Genshin Impact friendship levels, like the ones you build with your characters. Limiting trading to friendship levels could prevent the likelihood of a weird, Genshin black market erupting, while also rewarding players for engaging in co-op gameplay together. If Hoyoverse is to introduce a player-to-player friendship level system, it could allow you to gain co-op exp from fighting alongside each other, helping your friends gather materials and unlock chests, and generally spending time in their world.

Trading specific items could be gated behind certain levels, and have a specific limit per week like shop items – for example, basic materials like qingxin, silk flowers, sweet flowers, and fowl could require friendship level five and cap at 50-100 units a week, and when you hit friendship level ten, you could have a weekly allowance to trade things like Genshin Impact artifacts and cooked food.

Zhongli looking pensive by some cor lapis

The number of times I’ve received an artifact with stats that render it completely useless for my characters, but make it perfect for my boyfriend’s main, or Ruby’s sub-DPS, is honestly infuriating. I also have a bunch of Geoculus Resonance Stones, even though I’ve already found all the geoculus, which is truly a pointless waste of materials and inventory space when I can’t even use them to help in a friend’s world.

Even if trading with friends requires an item of equal quality or a certain amount of mora in addition to a specific friendship level, it’d be far better than me hoarding items I’m never going to use, but someone else could really benefit from. I understand Hoyoverse may see this as a potential loss of money if people are trading instead of purchasing more resin (I’m not being cynical here – Genshin Impact is a free game, and at the end of the day, Hoyoverse is a company, and every company’s goal is to make money).

But, when it comes to the wild RNG of artifact farming and the long respawn times of specific materials, I feel trading wouldn’t damage sales, as most people spend their primos on characters and weapons, not more resin. If anything, opening this level of cooperation may, in fact, bring in a wider audience of friends, family members, or couples that are looking for the next big adventure they can embark on together.

Official chibi art of Genshin Impact characters having a picnic

There are plenty of other ways Genshin Impact multiplayer could be improved, such as co-op side quests being woven into the world, daily friendship commissions, or more permanent multiplayer-focused battles similar to those shown in events. It’s clear that this element needs a little TLC, but with how huge Genshin Impact has gotten and how many of us have cried out for a more well-realised multiplayer system, I feel now is the perfect time to start building on this. It has heaps of potential, and I think it could easily make an already amazing game even better.