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Genshin Impact update 1.2 bringing new characters, a free weapon, and the first map expansion

Genshin Impact update 1.2 is coming December 23, and as developer MiHoYo revealed today, it's packing two new five-star characters, a new snowy region called Dragonspine, and plenty of events and quests dishing out loot and XP. 

The headliners are Albedo, a new geo sword character who leads the Mondstadt knights investigation team, and Ganyu, a half-human, half-adepti cryo bow user. Albedo will be available on the first banner of the update, with Ganyu to come in the second half. Ganyu will have a personal side quest as well, while Albedo will join you as you explore the new region. 

Dragonspine is Genshin Impact's first major map expansion, and while it isn't as big as Mondstadt or Liyue – it's just a sub-region, not a full city – it will add a pretty sizeable chunk to the map, and it's chock-full of new quests, enemies, and secrets. One unique aspect of Dragonspine is its Sheer Cold environmental hazard. This will feel familiar to Breath of the Wild fans: you'll need to find ways to stay warm while exploring the snowy peaks, otherwise you'll find it hard to get anywhere. 

Genshin Impact update 1.2

(Image credit: MiHoYo)

Dragonspine will become the stage for a big new event called The Chalk Prince and the Dragon. Like the Unreconciled Stars event in update 1.1, this will award players with a Crown of Insight used to max out a character's talents. It also comes with a new four-star sword called Festering Desire which can be refined to grade five through the event. According to datamined info on Honey Impact, this sword comes with energy recharge and increases the damage and critical hit chance of your elemental skill. Naturally, players can expect plenty of Primogems, XP books, and character materials from the event as well. 

Update 1.2 will fill in a few gaps in artifact sets as well, with dedicated hydro and cryo sets added via Dragonspine. The cryo set increases your cryo damage and provides a crit rate boost against cryo-inflicted or frozen targets, while the hydro set boosts your hydro damage and gives a normal and charged attack boost after using your elemental skill. These seem tailor-made for Tartaglia, one of the new characters in update 1.1, and Ganyu. They'll drop from a new domain in Dragonspine.  

Based on translated information from the Chinese reveal stream, we're also expecting a few other minor events. One features amped-up Hypostases bosses that drop extra loot, and another focuses on treasure hunts that reward pet Seelies. Upcoming quality of life features include nicknames and DMs for friends, an autoplay option for cutscenes, and updates to photo mode as well as a "kamera" gadget or quick photos. MiHoYo also released a batch of codes that players can redeem for a total of 300 Primogems and a mix of character materials:

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More good news for low-budget or free-to-play players: update 1.2 will give you one free Acquaint Fate for each level 20, 50, or 70 character ascension on your account.  

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a staff writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature.