Genshin Impact’s Ganyu is broken – there’s no other way to put it. Not in a bad way, but probably in the best way possible, especially if you’re one of those lucky people who managed to get her.
On paper, she’s hitting damage numbers way beyond anyone else in the game. Way more than even the premium DPS unit Diluc.
Since I have Ganyu as well, I’ve done my part in building her up and checking out her damage. I can promise that the math isn’t exaggerating, and her damage isn’t even that hard to set up. Hordes of enemies embracing death’s sweet embrace as soon as they spawn, and massive bosses who fall before they can so much as raise a finger. And all from what? Nothing but a few taps from her charged shots, which don’t even take that long to build.
Here are some examples (not for the faint of heart):
So yeah, Ganyu is kind of ridiculous. If you have her (congratulations, by the by), there’s a good chance that you’re on your way to trivializing most of Genshin Impact’s existing content, if not all of it. Especially the new Hypostasis Symphony event that’s pretty challenging.
It’s a little amusing that Mihoyo isn’t even done addressing the controversy that was Zhongli’s underwhelming kit. But now, Ganyu just strolls along by with an absurdly powerful one that presents an entirely different problem for the game’s balancing team.
Other powerful five-star characters, such as Diluc, can also rack up huge numbers, but achieving this has always required a careful combination of skills and effects. Ganyu doesn’t need any of that – so long as your aim is true, she’s going to shred enemies without even needing an elemental reaction.
What Makes Ganyu Broken?
Now, I know what you’re thinking. She’s a bow user, and archers are fundamentally awkward to use in Genshin Impact. Enemies move way too frenetically, making shots easy to miss. Charged shots have elemental properties but take too long to wind up, giving ample time for enemies to interrupt you. Surely, she should have more damage on her shots to make up for all the times a player misses them?
I hear you on this. No doubt that on top of fan feedback -*coughAmbercough*- Mihoyo also has gathered plenty of data to back up the suggestion that bow users are weak. Ganyu’s design seems to be one that’s informed by some of these core flaws. For instance, the elemental effect on her charged shot actually kicks in a tad faster compared to other bow users.
When fully charged, her arrow creates an area-of-effect spread upon impact (even if it hits the ground or a wall). This eliminates a lot of the difficulty in getting charged shots to land.
But here’s where the real problem really comes in. Perhaps Mihoyo underestimated how effective these few changes would be at making Ganyu viable as a bow character. Maybe they wanted to scale the experience so that the new bow unit wouldn’t feel outright terrible to play on a mobile device. Regardless, the fact of the matter is that Ganyu isn’t just missing less often, she’s also doing absurd amounts of damage in the process.
On top of her improved aiming mechanics, she also has massive damage multipliers on her area-of-effect spread. You could aim at the ground and this would still deal more damage than anything even the next best bow user could muster. And that doesn’t even take into account how she maintains a critical hit rate self-buff, as well as a Cryo resistance debuff on enemies with each consecutive shot.
In a game where success in battle often comes through a combination of different characters and elemental reactions, Ganyu stands out as a unit that’s so overpowered that she doesn’t even need most of these systems to perform optimally.
Pay-To-Win And Game Balance In Conflict
“So what’s the big deal?” You may wonder. If Ganyu’s that much of a problem, then all Mihoyo has to do is nerf her. After all, it’s been done in so many games, from multiplayer experiences such as League of Legends to even singleplayer romps like The Witcher 3. Sadly, it really isn’t that simple. At least, not with this type of game.
Just so we’re on the same page: Genshin Impact is a free-to-play game with gacha mechanics. In other words, it’s a free game that heavily relies on the lootbox monetization model. These aren’t cosmetic-only too, as players can obtain powerful weapons and characters by engaging with this system.
Incidentally, Ganyu happens to be a five-star unit, which is the rarest type of unit that can be obtained. So, it goes without saying that obtaining her through the RNG-infested waters that is the lootbox experience can make for an expensive time.
To further elaborate, if you wanted to guarantee yourself Ganyu once without any of the free premium currency, you would have to pay about US$200 (RM838) on average in this game. Some players may also snipe for duplicate units, which can unlock her extra abilities (otherwise known as Constellations) up to six times. On the basis that you’re somehow very rich (and with very bad luck), you could then spend upwards of US$1400 (RM5866) for seven copies of Ganyu to unlock her peak potential.
It’s an incredible amount of money to spend, but make no mistake, there are people out there who have undoubtedly passed threshold. A good fraction probably also did so after hearing about her being the best character in the game.
Though some players may just want her for her looks and personality, there’s no changing that Ganyu’s overpowered kit was already there when Mihoyo put her up for sale. And all the money that players have already thrown at this character, Mihoyo is put in a difficult position where they cannot simply nerf Ganyu.
Well, not unless they want an angry mob knocking on their door anytime soon. Not unlike how fans bombarded Mihoyo with negative feedback and activism after experiencing how weak Zhongli was, nerfing Ganyu down to baseline would likely also be a recipe for disaster.
Rocking The Boat
When it comes to nerfing units in gacha games, developers’ fear of fan backlash isn’t quite unfounded. In 2019, a stylish pinball game called World Flipper faced a conundrum after one of its Wind units, Philia, turned out to enable a broken team composition that would completely destroy any content in the game.
Within 72 hours of Philia’s banner being rate up, the developer Cytail nerfed the game’s wind meta into the ground. Fans who had thrown everything into Philia’s banner were quite upset, with many asking for refunds, sending the game low ratings, and calling out financial exploitation.
A similar situation can be traced to Granblue Fantasy back in 2016, in which the premium character, Korwa, ended up being too powerful that she required an emergency nerf from the developer Cygames. Facing a similar sort of backlash, they were forced to issue out refunds while still allowing players to keep the character. Such situations can be difficult for companies as they actively hurt their revenue streams and goodwill in the process.
What Can Mihoyo Do?
Though having an overpowered character can be fun for a while, it can hurt the enjoyability of the game in the long term. Nerfing is the simplest and most direct solution, but the risks that entail with that suggests that Mihoyo may only consider it as a last resort. So what else can they do?
Adding or changing game mechanics
When you can’t solve the problem, manage it. In Fate/Grand Order, the Servant known as Merlin became infamous for his ability to one-shot bosses. To mitigate Merlin’s effectiveness, the developer Delightworks eventually introduced Break Bars, which essentially divided a boss’ health pool into smaller bars.
Each HP bar must first be depleted completely before the next HP bar is activated. This meant that Merlin users could no longer rely on one-shots and would have to consider different strategies after depleting the first HP bar.
Could Mihoyo also introduce a similar mechanic to control Ganyu’s effectiveness? We’re just tossing ideas around, but what if newer enemies were to gain Cryo resistance through various means, which could only be reduced through elemental reactions? Or what if newer environments or battle arenas started damaging your for using one character for too long?
Options like these would encourage players to stop playing Ganyu as a one-size-fits-all unit but would still allow her to contribute. Being forced to switch her out on occasion would curb her DPS, as most of her damage comes from her consecutive shots.
Of course, indirectly nerfing a character by manipulating the game’s systems can be tricky as it would affect other characters in the process. However, Mihoyo is no stranger to this design philosophy, having also handled overpowered characters in Honkai Impact 3 through an introduction of new enemies, battle modes, and rulesets.
Buffing other characters to match
Dragalia Lost faced a problem with its meta after the introduction of Gala Cleo, a limited-time character who could effectively buff, heal, debuff, and deal damage all on her own. In a game where multiplayer co-op is the appeal, this caused a huge upset in the community as Gala Cleo became the go-to character for clearing the game’s more difficult boss fights.
In an attempt to ensure that players weren’t locked out of content for simply not owning a character, Cygames began buffing Shadow-element characters to match Gala Cleo’s effectiveness. Eventually, the Shadow element became far more powerful than any of the other elements, after which Cygames responded again by buffing other elements for the game’s 2nd anniversary, with enemy stats scaled up accordingly.
If there’s one lesson to be learned from here, it’s that balancing for gacha games can apparently be quite an ordeal. Reworking the skillsets and playstyles of over a hundred characters (maybe more) due to one overtuned unit sounds ludicrous on paper, but it’s been done. Processes like this can even take months to finally see fruition.
But maybe toeing around controversy is a reward in itself to some companies – we’re not here to judge. It’s one strategy that Mihoyo could take, and given Genshin Impact’s financial success, they can certainly afford it. Still, if all characters are to be buffed, then enemies would also need a revamp, so that too would be a challenge.
Ride out the Power Creep
Power creep is a term that describes how developers will introduce new game elements such as abilities, characters, or items, and in doing so slowly but surely cause older content to become obsolete. One example of power creep would be Yu-Gi-Oh cards and how the descriptions on said cards have become more and more complicated over the years, often with effects that can manipulate the flow of a match.
Whether you like it or not, power creep exists as a byproduct of developers wanting to keep games fresh and interesting over a long period of time. It’s something that’s expected trading card and gacha games, but even MOBA games such as League of Legends or Dota 2 experience this phenomenon on the regular.
Riding out power creep runs on the basic principle that future content will one day catch up to Ganyu’s power level. This could happen in a few months, a year, or even longer. Some gacha games such as Fire Emblem Heroes run with this philosophy and allow powerful units to shine until they eventually reach a point in the future when they’re just OK.
Though older units will typically receive new progression mechanics to keep up with the power creep, the developers can simply opt to exclude Ganyu from this process. One concern over this strategy, however, is that Genshin Impact rolls out new units and bosses at a relatively slow pace compared to other games like it.
Essentially, power creep isn’t much of a concern when your modus operandi is to release just one new gacha unit every 20 days. Mihoyo could speed up the power creep on their newer units if they wanted to, but players will no doubt take notice.
That being said, unlike a lot of similar games, Genshin Impact has the privilege of being a mostly single-player experience without any PvP elements. While the game does have multiplayer co-op, content is often designed around singleplayer first before then being adjusted for multiplayer.
In this sense, the developers might consider it fine for Ganyu to remain as powerful as she is. After all, if the result is that some players get to clear their dailies and events 10 minutes faster, then that doesn’t really hurt anyone, right?
At the end of the day, should you worry about incoming nerfs as a Ganyu player? The answer is probably not. Her decisively powerful kit represents a problem for Genshin Impact, but without any social elements such as competitive PvP, rankings, or co-op only quests to benefit from, her presence hardly detriments the people who don’t have her.
There are a myriad number of ways that Mihoyo can tackle the issue without resorting to a nerf. Historically, they’ve opted not to nerf powerful units as well, so there’s no need to lose sleep over it now. Future game content might be designed with Ganyu in mind to slowly reduce her viability, but you should expect this to happen over many months rather than overnight.
And if she does get nerfed anyway? Expect some chunky compensation to go along with the change, as passionate fans will more than likely refuse to take such a change sitting down.
The bottom line is, if you have Ganyu then you’re genuinely in luck. She might slowly become less effective against future content, but you should take this as a matter, of course, more than anything. For now, just enjoy her power because like a lot of things in games like this, it won’t last forever.