How Wuthering Waves is Redefining a Stagnant Genre
There’s no denying Genshin Impact reshaped the entire gaming landscape. HoYo proved that you can have a quality game be cross-platform compatible – that Gacha can be implemented, and more than that, accepted into the genre as a form of monetization without forcing pay to win.
Studios all over the world began scrambling in an attempt to replicate the success that Genshin had garnered – bringing in a cumulative total of over $120 million dollars per month between Global and China.
Microsoft and Sony are absorbing studios in China in an attempt to create the “Genshin killer,” Hotta Studio created Tower of Fantasy, we have The Legend of Neverland – an MMO that is about as close a rip as Genshin was of Breath of the Wild.
Yet despite all of the “clones,” attempting to replicate Genshin in terms of aesthetic, world and features, they’ve all failed. Because at the end of the day – they market themselves as “The Next Genshin Impact,” copying the bright, vibrant world, the character style, even some of the cities.
The originality behind these games is honestly severely lacking. You can’t compete with something by copying them with an inferior version of what they offer. What would warrant we play your game? That’s like opting to play Allods Online instead of World of Warcraft.
But there exists a game – entering Global Closed Beta testing next month, that has the potential to change all of that: Wuthering Waves. This is a game that has been in development for the last year or two, and has been slowly accumulating an enormous following online.
And I want to talk to you guys today about why I think this game could not only challenge Genshin Impact for a share of the market, but continue to aid in the evolution of the gaming genre.
Wuthering Waves is not an MMO – let me get that out of the way first. When Genshin Impact was first announced, we were under the impression it was going to be an MMO, but we were ultimately disappointed to learn that it wasn’t.
Although would it have garnered the same success if it were? Doubtful. With this in mind, the vast majority of “Genshin clones” are single-player, or multiplayer-compatible Anime RPGs. Crafting an MMO with the scale and quality of Genshin is impossible. Look at Tower of Fantasy for reference.
Wuthering Waves is a large, open-world Anime RPG. While not an MMO, it could 100% have fully functional multiplayer, like Genshin does. Or, if we want to disregard Genshin, the Wuthering Waves devs have another game online right now that is arguably one of the most played, highest grossing Gacha games every single month.
And has been for the last couple years. Punishing Gray Raven, one of the fastest-paced action Gacha RPGs that is also launching on to PC later this year, and – that I’ve covered over on my other channel, Stix, on a multitude of occasions.
Punishing Gray Raven is an instanced RPG, meaning you take missions, deploy a group of 3 characters into a stage, and run through a selection of enemies or boss monsters until you complete your objective. Rinse and repeat. While it can get a little repetitive at times, this is the route many Gacha games take.
It’s easy, and requires very little effort. Larger, open worlds that have real-time physical exploration are rare, because of the time investment, financial investment, and how much more difficult continuing to release new content in the form of updates is.
Instanced games? Release a few stages that are mostly reusing assets for each fight. Open-world games? An entire section of the world needs to be added – to be built from scratch.
With this in mind, Kuro Games, the studio behind both Wuthering Waves and Punishing Gray Raven have undertaken a gargantuan project. Creating a massive world, filled with monsters, filled with quests, filled with things we want to see, places we want to go.
And instead of looking at Genshin and merely copying what HoYo did, Kuro have opted to use Genshin as more of a basis for the game, and taken it in a very different direction.
Genshin is a game where combat takes a backseat to the narrative, to the world, and to the features present. Over time, Genshin has continued to become more social, more casual-friendly.
Wuthering Waves is a game where combat is the focal point – they’ve taken what set Punishing Gray Raven apart from its competition – its quality combat system, and have implemented, then altered it to fit the current setting.
Showcasing the combat from Genshin Impact and Wuthering Waves simultaneously should provide a little more context.
By now I’m sure you’ve realized that both Genshin and Wuthering Waves look like very different games. Kuro, using Genshin as a template, chose to take the narrative direction down a completely different route.
While Genshin, Neverland and Tower of Fantasy all look relatively similar, Wuthering Waves has chosen to take place in a very dark, grim, saturated world. You could go as far as to say this is Genshin’s emo little brother.
Much like Punishing Gray Raven, Wuthering Waves has a much darker setting, both in terms of aesthetic, and narrative. Aimed at a slightly older audience.
Wuthering Waves does have a Gacha system in place. You can pull for both Husbando’s and Waifu’s – but unlike most Gacha games, Kuro are very free to play friendly with their monetization.
Let me elaborate on that a little bit. In Genshin Impact, you pull for characters via their Gacha character banners. Rolling 10 times provides you a guaranteed 4-star character, but not a maximum rarity 5-star.
Instead, you’re required to roll 90 times for a guaranteed 5-star character, but that does not guarantee you the banner character you want. 90 rolls costs you $225 dollars – so $225 for a 50% chance at the 5-star character you want. For a 100% chance, you’re required to roll 180 times, or spend $450.
That is absolutely asinine. And admittedly I did that to get Eula, Shenhe and Raiden Shogun. Thankfully you can earn a little currency in-game each day.
Tower of Fantasy is much more fair with how they handle their Gacha system. players are guaranteed an SSR – a maximum rarity character after doing 80 rolls. However, you’re not guaranteed a character, meaning even upon hitting 80 rolls, you may need to continue until the RNG gods bless you.
Thankfully, even if you obtain an SSR character on the way to 80 pulls, your counter isn’t reset, and you’re still guaranteed a max rarity unit upon hitting that cap. This is much more fair, but also kind of relies on RNG to get who you want.
Punishing Gray Raven on the other hand has one of the most fair Gacha systems I’ve seen in all of the games I’ve played. You’re guaranteed a 5-star hero every 10 rolls, and a 6-star hero every 60 pulls.
Unlike Genshin and Tower of Fantasy which provide no guarantee at 60 rolls, with Punishing Gray Raven, you’re given the option of selecting a character or a weapon to pull upon hitting that 60 roll limit. And bam, they’re yours. 100%.
This is significantly cheaper than any of its competition, but it’s also a sign that they value their players more than their potential earnings.
Wuthering Waves is likely going to retain that level of free to play friendliness, and while they’ll likely earn less than Genshin, will show other studios that you don’t need to abuse your playerbase and milk them for every cent they have. Not that it’ll matter. Gacha studios are money-hungry bastards.
Wuthering Waves looks like a completely different type of game to Genshin Impact. I know, I know. “This is just another Genshin clone” – I can hear so many people already making that claim. But no, no it really isn’t.
They’ve taken aspects of what made Genshin successful, and they’ve adapted it into something that looks unique – that feels unique. And that shows in the gameplay. That shows in the character models. That shows in the world.
I’m not making the grandiose claim that Wuthering Waves is going to be the biggest hit of 2023 – or that this game is going to have the same affect that Genshin did. I’m saying it definitely carries a degree of potential to.
It doesn’t need to be as large as Genshin Impact. I don’t think any game will manage to cripple Genshin for a couple years, still. But like Final Fantasy XIV did with World of Warcraft, the #2 spot is almost as impressive.
With a gorgeous world, with stunning, not overly sexualized characters, and easily the best action combat in the entire Gacha scene, Wuthering Waves is going to be a massive hit. And they’re holding a Global Closed Beta in April.
So make sure to sign up if you haven’t already, or join me over on Twitch as I’ll be streaming it in real time.