This is an open-world, anime-styled RPG that features beautiful characters and fast-paced battles centered around a character-swapping mechanic. It’s not Genshin Impact but it’s very close.
Many have wondered whether another Genshin-like will follow in the footsteps of the gacha giant. Tower of Fantasy by Hotta Studios & Level Infinite, Tencent, is the latest game to join this fray.
Tower of Fantasy was marketed as a Genshin competitor, and it is hard to believe that this wasn’t the intention. Genshin creators jumped on board the sponsored content ship for ToF digital advertisements that appeared to target the average Genshin players, and controversy surrounded Tower of Fantasy farming Genshin ratings and passing them off to Apple App Store to improve their rating.
However, the results of this campaign were tangible. Tower of Fantasy had a global launch day that was explosive, with over 267,000+ Twitch viewers. Genshin Impact, on the other hand, saw its audience drop to only 3,500+ viewers at that time.
What really matters, putting aside drama and marketing, is the way ToF is played – how Genshin like is it?
Stories from the future and past
Tower of Fantasy, set more than 500 year in the future on a planet called Aida that has been ravaged by war, takes place there. The story revolves around Omnium, an unstable source of energy that was once responsible for a massive explosion that destroyed humanity. The explosion was the catalyst that led to the formation of two factions – the pro-Omnium Hykros and the anti Omnium Heirs Of Aida. You begin your journey against this political background. Your main character is unknown, except that they were mid-mission when they fell unconscious and woke up in the Astra Shelter without any memories.
Genshin is less sci-fi than you might think. It’s more like a ‘ye-olde-fantasy’ mix of German architecture in Mondstadt and Chinese culture in Liyue. Inazuma has a mixture of Japanese folklore and style, as well as Japanese folklore.
There are, however, some similarities. In both Tower of Fantasy and Genshin Impact, the opening shows a pair of characters in mid-fight against an unknown god. In both games, players choose between a female or male character to begin with, and strangely, post-epic battle memory loss is a common theme. It seems that on paper it’s a matter of personal preference. Sci-fi or Fantasy?
ToF, as funny as the similarities may be, is still very young. It’s not fair to compare the plot or story yet. What matters most is how both games play.
Same same (or swap swap), different
The core gameplay loops of both Tower of Fantasy (ToF) and Genshin Impact (Genshin Impact) are centered around world exploration and combat. Both games allow you to unlock new areas by solving puzzles in the open world map, finding chests and unlocking checkpoints.
Genshin’s mobility is much more ambitious. Jetpacks, vehicles and drones are all available to help you traverse the world. You can also do double jumps, airdashes and use jetpacks. It’s cool, but it can be a bit unwieldy and janky at times, because the game is unable to keep up.
ToF’s combat system is basically a hack-and-slash-style, with some combinations possible by adding a jump or dodge to your attack. Simulacra are weapon-characters you can switch to change your fighting style.
These weapons, when fully charged and equipped with the appropriate accessories, can ‘discharge,’ unleashing an even more powerful set of moves. However, they do not work in synergy as they are independent.
Genshin combat relies on planning character rotations, optimising team compositions and causing elemental reactions. Both games allow players to fight in the overworld or in challenging domains against mobs and bosses. However, only ToF offers PvP – a feature that the Genshin Impact Community has requested since the launch of the game.
Gacha is always the Gotcha
This wouldn’t be an accurate commentary on ToF or Genshin if we didn’t mention the gacha system. It’s a slots mechanic that allows players to use in-game money for a chance to get their desired character.
Both games have several banners that drop at different rates for characters with four stars/SR or five stars/SSR. ToF players can spend Gold Nuclei (or Red Nuclei) and Proof of Purchases to purchase Matrix and Simulacra banners. These banners guarantee a SR character, Matrix material that boosts stats, or a Matrix with every 10 orders. However, the base chance of receiving an SSR for each special order is between 0.75 and 1.7 percent.
Genshin’s equivalent to these figures is a 4-star guaranteed at 10 wishes, 5-star guaranteed at 90 wishes and 5-star drops at a pitiful 0.6 % each pull.
ToF has a Black Nuclei Banner, which is easier to farm via world exploration, but does not have a ‘pity system’ that guarantees SSRs or SRs.
These are low rates in the context of the gacha game genre. Most other games range between 1-10% for a character or weapon that is considered to be top-tier.
Genshin is still able to retain its players, perhaps because of the strong fan base for its characters. Many players are drawn to the “meta,” i.e. Many people are drawn to the most powerful damage-dealer, or supporting character. But others love a person’s personality, their design, or their voice actor.
ToF lacks this emotional component, since the main character can be customized by the player. Simulacra, on the other hand, are usually used only as weapons. The game character that is associated with them does not appear. Simulacra also aren’t introduced much in the story at first, making it hard for players to connect with them. ToF’s Gacha is a lot more utilitarian.
Under the waifu- and husbando’s-ridden surface, there are two complex games that share as many similarities as they do differences. ToF appears to have more content and features than Genshin when compared.
The inclusion of PvP and character customization, as well as at least one banner that allows for 10 pulls a day, is a strangely close match to the many pain points the Genshin Community has been asking developer MiHoYo MiHoYo MiHoYo MiHoYo MiHoYo MiHoYo MiHoYo MiHoYo MiHOYO to address.
A game is not just the sum of its components. ToF’s over-engineering in game mechanics makes it lack the finesse and refinement of Genshin. The overall visual sheen of ToF isn’t as good as Genshin, and the characters don’t have the room to tell their own stories.
The genre lovers will benefit from a real competition between these two gacha giants. Tower of Fantasy may not be a Genshin killer, but the fact that both games are competing for the same audience and space could be enough to motivate developers to improve their games and create a better experience for their respective communities.