Illustration of Genshin Impact characters Aether, Paimon, Xiangling, Keqing, and Guoba.

Screenshot: miHoYo / Kotaku

I’ve celebrated my fair share of Chinese Mid-Autumn festivals, but if you’re expecting a heartwarming real life story about my experiences therein, prepare to be disappointed: I don’t usually plan anything. Mostly I just get to eat a lot of Chinese food and pretend that America gave me a public holiday (it didn’t). So Genshin Impact having a long, drawn-out Mid-Autumn event would’ve seemed counterintuitive to the relaxed, lazy spirit of the festival. Fortunately, I was worrying for nothing, as Moonlight Merriment is the most focused Genshin event that I’ve ever played.

Moonlight Merriment is the latest ongoing, two-week event in Genshin Impact, and I’m hoping that it represents the new format for events going forward. If you’ve ever found the game to be too grindy, then rejoice: I’ve been clearing every section of Moonlight Merriment in just two to four focused hours.

The event has three mini-games, plus a good chunk of story content that features the characters from the city-state of Liyue. Both the plot and the mini-games loosely follow the theme of Chinese home cooking.

I don’t actually finish the vast majority of events in Genshin Impact, but I was able to finish all of the mini-games in Moonlight Merriment. I can’t overstate how uncommon this is in gacha games, which usually feature events that force you to grind relentlessly in order to see the last leg of story content. It’s not like that in Moonlight Merriment.

The best example of this is the Trail of Delicacies, a combat challenge in which players can offer food items to gain certain boosts in battles. If you’re a habitual hoarder, then this shouldn’t be much of a problem. But I found myself in Liyue’s market shopping for ingredients, just like I usually do at real Asian markets before the Mid-Autumn Festival. After steaming a bunch of food in far less time than it would take in reality, I started pummeling mobs of enemies with my unreasonably powerful characters.

What I really liked about this mini-game were the wind currents that would take me to the next challenge area, rather than making me run across the entire length of the region like in previous events (I’m looking at you, The Chalk Prince and the Dragon). Sometimes the worst enemy is my own competitive spirit. I appreciated that there were only five mobs for each section, so I wasn’t tempted to grind endless waves of enemies for more loot drops.

I was also similarly compelled to log off after completing a bit of the Moonlight Seeker mini-game each day. While I’m usually pretty annoyed by open-world treasure hunts, Genshin keeps this event’s mini-game manageable by not tellin
g you where all these treasures actually are. Instead, you get around 10 hints every day. As someone who compulsively collects every pickup in Ubisoft games, this was a massive relief: I felt that I could simply leave after doing my bit.

The “Contraption-Contrived Cooking Course” was another series of mini-games in which players could obtain recipes by playing a series of cooking games (not unlike Cooking Mama) with a unique Genshin twist. As I cooked, various elemental slimes would periodically appear to interfere with the cooking temperatures. So while I was watching the heat on each one of my three pots, I’d also be running away from the controls to slay the slimes. There were only three of these stages in total, and they weren’t repeatable: The game just let me leave without exacerbating my sense of FOMO with a grindy reward shop.

I’ve spent years defending the grindiness of gacha games to my peers. “It’s relaxing,” I said. “The grind is part of the lifestyle,” I said. But Moonlight Merriment showed me that it didn’t have to be. Developers just needed to have enough confidence that players would enjoy the seasonal events for what they were, rather than relying on players’ sense of sunk cost fallacy. If you’ve been on a break from Genshin because of the grind, now’s actually a great time to jump back in.