April 14, 2024

This 12 months, I returned to Liyue Harbor to seek out paper kites flying alongside strings of vermillion lanterns. I couldn’t assist however reminisce on the primary time I wandered these docks, grinding by means of mini-games and coaxing a sure delinquent mask-wearing warrior into the town. Like Genshin Influence’s protagonist, the Traveler, I like the busybody organizers and festive surroundings as a customer, despite the fact that I’ve been right here earlier than. What was as soon as a self-contained competition throughout the nation of Geo has developed right into a crossover celebration that embodies Liyue’s most vital values and unites characters throughout Teyvat.

Liyue, one in every of Teyvat’s seven nations, is impressed by China. Lantern Ceremony normally aligns with the Lunar New Yr, an actual vacation celebrated in international locations together with China, Vietnam, and South Korea. It’s the one occasion in Genshin Influence that occurs yearly, which is perhaps due to HoYoverse’s identification as a Shanghai-based developer. However Lantern Ceremony isn’t simply the in-game equal of a significant Chinese language vacation. It’s additionally teaches gamers about Chinese language tradition whereas meaningfully increasing Genshin lore.

Screenshot: HoYoVerse

The beginning of Lantern Ceremony

At its coronary heart, Lantern Ceremony is a competition about celebrating life. Liyue continues to be recovering from the lack of its Archon, Rex Lapis, and lots of of Genshin’s characters from the area are nonetheless grieving mates and family members that fell through the Archon Struggle.

After I first skilled Lantern Ceremony in 2021, I realized about how Liyue residents lit lanterns like needs and launched them alongside what was basically an enormous parade float commemorating the lifetime of a historic determine that 12 months. It’s much like the real-life Lantern Pageant meant for honoring those that have handed away. I bear in mind watching as Xiao, the signature character of that 12 months’s occasion, watched a former comrade’s deer-like kind prance throughout the lantern-lit sky. On the time, it struck me as a heartwarming story about therapeutic and closure. It appeared much less like a celebration of Chinese language tradition and extra like one which frivolously touched upon the themes with out overstating them. It was about unpacking the lore, particularly that involving the relationships between the residents, heroes, the nation’s Geo Archon, and the divine heroes referred to as yakshas. Nonetheless, HoYoVerse’s ambitions with Lantern Ceremony grew a lot grander within the years that adopted.

Fleeting Colours in Flight in 2022 was the place Lantern Ceremony actually began to take kind as a melting-pot form of occasion. This bigger celebration affected each playable character within the area. Keqing, then probably the most uncared for characters when it comes to screentime, had a significant position within the occasion. Along with Xiao, each character from Ningguang, Liyue’s most vital politician, to the rockstar, Xinyan, had a job or cameo within the occasion. That iteration was the beginning of a extra sturdy Lantern Ceremony that had the “crossover high quality” that may apply to future festivals—ones that spanned worldwide waters.

Xiao stares up at a vast moonlit sky.

Screenshot: HoYoVerse

A melting pot of tradition

I’m not Chinese language. That mentioned, I’ve been uncovered to sufficient Chinese language tradition that I crave the occasional dimsum and acknowledge the importance of crimson envelopes in Chinatown, despite the fact that I gained’t catch Genshin’s references to Chinese language opera. Although I can’t personally relate to the best way the competition is well known (as a result of it’s not celebrated in my very own tradition), HoYoverse began so as to add different characters to the combo who have been additionally experiencing the competition for the primary time.

Lantern Ceremony increasing exterior of Liyue was a stepping stone to crossover content material Genshin gamers wouldn’t in any other case get. In 2023, Beautiful Evening Chimes constructed on the standard Lantern Ceremony occasion by together with guests from abroad. A significant storyline that 12 months featured a conductor from Fontaine who got here to Liyue to seek out the descendant of the musician that saved his ancestor. This 12 months additionally featured a music competition that combined inspirations from inside and out of doors of Liyue. It introduced Venti, Mondstadt’s Archon, to the dinner desk with Liyue’s important forged, even when he left as rapidly as he arrived. Nonetheless, as an previous pal of Zhongli, his presence tied in with the theme of reconnecting with folks from one’s previous.

This 12 months’s Lantern Ceremony, Vibrant Harriers Aloft in Spring Breeze, returns with a promising premise starring wushou dancer Gaming (pronounced gah-ming, not gay-ming) and Liyue’s efforts to attach with international locations abroad. Charlotte, one in every of Fontaine’s iconic characters, greets the Traveler whereas planning with Keqing about her nation’s relationship with Liyue. It’s a nod to Fontaine’s long-awaited addition to the sport earlier this 12 months, and on the similar time it looks like passing the torch. It’s additionally one other alternative to function Chinese language tradition on the forefront of the story. As a substitute of opera with Yunjin again in Genshin Influence 2.4, this time it’s kite-flying and lion dancing.

Every Lantern Ceremony builds upon the final. Whereas the competition stays Liyue-centered at coronary heart, it honors the bonds between the characters on a grander scale than different in-game occasions. Lantern Ceremony is sort of a homecoming for Genshin gamers, particularly the die-hards who’ve been enjoying for years now. Virtually like a second anniversary occasion, it honors the expansion of the sport and its group…no less than, more often than not.

Lantern Ceremony Promotional Video: Dream Upon a Lantern|Genshin Influence

HoYoverse doesn’t at all times do the appropriate factor for its followers, as seen with newest Chinese language evaluate bombing and unfollowing incident that ensued after builders revealed that they’d solely be giving gamers three Intertwined Fates (three probabilities to get a personality on a banner) as a reward for 3 years of participation. As per the in-game occasion rationalization and rewards graphics from the livestream, it’s truly 10 Intertwined Fates from the Lantern Ceremony check-in occasion plus the extra three from one other check-in occasion that begins on February 24. Nonetheless, the truth that gamers even anticipated a lot from this occasion serves as a reminder about how massive a deal it’s alleged to be. It’s not simply one other throwaway occasion: it’s a legacy.

This Lunar New Yr, I’m reminded of wushou dancing as I weave by means of the streets of New York’s Chinatown, packed between celebrants setting off fireworks and filming the passing parade. The lion dancers shake their ornate, colourful costumes by means of the sidewalks, echoing what I’d seen in Liyue Harbor this 12 months. I watch with eyes as massive as saucers when fireworks explode above me into a colourful spray of sparks.

It wasn’t my first time, nevertheless it is perhaps another person’s.