Genshin Impact is a fantasy open world action RPG in which you build a party of 4 from a large pool of unique characters and explore the world of Teyvat in a style similar to Breath of the Wild.
Being free-to-play, Genshin uses a gacha system as its monetization model, a style similar to loot-boxes but implemented in a more player friendly way. The name comes from a type of vending machines popular in Japan called Gachapon (also called Gashapon) that dispense small capsules with a random toy inside.
This monetization method translated well to the Asian mobile market where free games of almost every genre used this system, having people roll for characters,weapons and sometimes skins, some notable Gacha games are Fate/Grand Order, Kantai Collection and Girls Frontline.
(Image above: Girls Frontline)
Whilst both loot boxes and Gacha involve some sort of random rolling to determine what you get, making both essentially gambling, gacha tends to be a more player friendly system using premium currency (instead of a flat money) cost that can be gained in game, usually by completing quests, taking part in events, logging in or just as compensation for maintenance or a bug in the game. The random drops tend to be more generous as well using different “banners” (essentially different drop tables) that have certain characters or items at a higher drop rate meaning you can save and choose when to roll, the vast majority of gacha games also have a “pity system” implemented into the banners in the form of a currency you get every roll that can be spent to buy the character or a roll threshold that when hit will guarantee a character of a certain rarity.
Wishes and Banners
Once you have reached Adventure Rank 5 and have completed the quest “Knights of Favonius” as part of act 1 of the prologue you will unlock the in-game store and the Wish system, which is this game’s gacha system that you can access by either clicking the Wish icon in the top right or the Wish tab in the pause menu.
Wishes are made using 2 kinds of currency which can be bought using Primogems (Genshin’s premium currency) Starglitter or Stardust (obtained when you roll a duplicate of something you own); these are Intertwined Fates (used on the limited banners) and Acquaint Fates (used on the standard banner) both currencies cost the same amount to purchase.
There are usually 3 banners made up of weapons and characters available to roll on at any one time, rolls can be done 1 at a time or as a stack of 10 at a time. The banners are; the limited character banner having the latest 5 star limited character and any new 4 star characters added that patch (5 star weapons are never in this pool so any 5 star will be a character).
The limited weapon banner that has a rate up on certain 5 star weapons, usually ones that match the rate up 5 star on the limited character banner. This banner, mirroring the limited character one, has no 5 star characters so any 5 star will be a weapon.
The standard pool, which has no rate up, contains both 5 star weapons and characters in its pool. This banner will always be available to pull on: although the characters displayed on it may change from patch to patch, the pool will stay the same. New characters get added to this pool after a certain period of time past their rate up banner has ended.
For players who have just unlocked the wish system, there is also a Beginner Banner which has a reduced cost and the character Noelle as a guaranteed drop on your fist roll, however only a maximum of 2 x10 pulls can be done on this banner.