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Genshin Impact rival brings the HoYoverse charm but with better combat

Genshin Impact rival and anime gacha game Wuthering Waves hopes to stand out from the crowd with more of a focus on challenging combat.

Wuthering Waves is not just a Genshin Impact clone - A man with long, silver hair wearing sunglasses.

The fight for the title of everyone’s favorite anime gacha game is set to get a new contender in 2024, with the arrival of Wuthering Waves, a more combat-focused open-world RPG with an emphasis on player-driven action. PCGamesN got hands-on with Wuthering Waves at GDC 2024 and spoke to PR director Anthony Chau along with members of the development team at Kuro Games about how it’s hoping to stand out from the crowd.

Wuthering Waves is an open-world anime game that at first glance bears close resemblance to the likes of Genshin Impact and the upcoming Zenless Zone Zero, along with genre rivals such as Tower of Fantasy. Chau says, however, that Kuro Games is hopeful that Wuthering Waves’ challenging, soulslike combat system will help it stand out from its competitors. The free PC game is set to launch this year, and recently wrapped up its second extensive closed beta test.

“The focus for Kuro Games is the combat,” Chau tells us, emphasizing that the developer hopes to offer “a more refreshing take on the genre” and dismiss “the assumption that this is a Genshin Impact clone.” During combat, circle indicators show up on enemies to warn you of incoming danger. “Watching the cues, you’ll have to figure out exactly when best to attack them – if you attack with the heavy attack, they’ll stun and stagger back, it’s basically a perfect parry.”

“What I like is that you’ll have all these techniques from the get-go,” Chau adds. “So if your character is level five, as long as you know what to do, you can still defeat high level enemies.” With seventeen characters planned to be available at launch, some of which are accessible out the gate and some of which are unlocked through the game’s gacha system, you’ll have plenty of options to switch between.

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Kuro Games’ previous game, Punishing Gray Raven, is often considered to be one of the more accessible gacha games for free-to-play players. We ask if that’s something the team is looking to keep in place for Wuthering Waves, and are told, “definitely yes.” Players can play all of the content in the game without paying a penny, the developer says.

The time we spent testing the combat was good fun – its tougher encounters striking a balance between challenging and approachable. Exploring the world, you’ll encounter plenty of challenges to test your skills, from combat-oriented showdowns to races that push your movement to the limits, and puzzles to keep your brain thinking.

Towards the endgame, you’ll also encounter a self-contained roguelike mode where you have to take one character through a series of combat challenges, earning upgrades and buffs as you progress. These push your knowledge of each character to the limit, and are a great way to earn unique echoes and materials to upgrade the character you’re using in the main progression.

Wuthering Waves - A white-haired man wearing a red suit grins down at you through falling playing cards.

The team has also rewritten an estimated 90% of its story since the first closed beta test. Responses to the narrative during the first closed beta suggested many players found the original story content to feel “uncomfortable” because characters were too inherently suspicious of the player, so the team has worked to rebuild it for the final version.

Wuthering Waves is set to launch in 2024. There’s not yet an announced date, although it’s likely we’ll see at least one more closed beta test before launch. For now, you can visit the game’s official website to pre-register your interest.

Additionally, we’ve picked out the best anime games you should be playing in 2024, or – if you’re looking for more ways to challenge your skills – you can check out the best soulslike games on PC right now.

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Additional reporting by Nat Smith for PCGamesN at GDC.