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At the end of the (glitch-ridden) Genshin Impact version 2.8 preview livestream on Saturday (2 July), players were treated with a teaser of what's to come after that upcoming version.
A young girl's voice, offering a bit of knowledge in return for the Traveler's story, wondered aloud as we were given breath-taking views of a lush sea of greenery, with humongous flowers sprouting from the ground and monolithic trees towering over the sky.
The trailer ends with a shot of what the Statue of the Seven would look like in that area, that of a child sitting on a leaf.
If you aren't already aware, after Genshin Impact version 2.8 comes version 3.0, and with it the new region of Sumeru.
So who was the voice speaking to the Traveler in the teaser? And what does it tell us about Sumeru?
Considering how the trailer started and ended with a child, we can make an educated guess that the voice is that of Kusanali the Dendro Archon.
The Archon of Sumeru is confirmed to be the youngest Archon in Teyvat, only having ascended to godhood after the Cataclysm caused the death of the previous Dendro Archon 500 years ago, which explains why her voice is that of a child.
It makes sense, as the Statue of the Seven in Sumeru does depict a childlike countenance for the Archon.
From what Kusanali said in the teaser, it also seems like what has been officially shown of Sumeru so far is just a part of it.
In one of her lines in the trailer, the Dendro Archon wondered aloud, "If only the desert sand and the jungle rain can get along like this, that would be perfect!"
The region of Sumeru is divided into two sub-regions, with one side being the lush rainforest landscape shown in the teaser while the other is a desert. Judging by the Archon's words, it seems that these two sides of Sumeru may also be at odds with one another.
Fan favorite NPC Liben also mentioned this fact in the January 2021 rerun of the Marvelous Merchandise event, where he said that "Sumeru is all rainforest and desert."
The pursuit of knowledge
Aside from housing two very different biomes, Sumeru also boasts of its national identity as the hub for scholars and thinkers in Teyvat.
Sumeru is a veritable paradise for those seeking knowledge and wisdom to be educated in various disciplines in the illustrious Sumeru Academia, where beloved Mondstadt Librarian Lisa studied (and excelled at) magic.
If you’ve read Lisa's character stories, she was the best student the academia had in two hundred years.
Prequel Manga readers may also remember the mage Cyno being a part of the Sumeru Academia. At the end of it, he also brings protagonist Collei back to Sumeru Academia with him.
And all the Sumeru NPCs we’ve met during our cross-continental travel across the available maps so far have been scholars doing research and fieldwork.
Soraya in Wangshu Inn, Khedive in the Chasm, and Sayid in Mondstadt are just a few of the scholars we are introduced to.
Sumeru may have seemed like a peaceful nation in the reveal trailer, but everything is not what it seems. What could be in store for us when we finally enter this sea of green and sand?
In the Teyvat Chapter Storyline Preview: Travail, Dainsleif says that "... the God of Wisdom's enemy is wisdom itself, and the oasis of knowledge is a mirage in the desert of ignorance. In the city of scholars there is a push for folly, yet the God of Wisdom makes no argument against it".
This philosophical turmoil on wisdom is also further expounded after the end of the "Omnipresence Over Mortals" Archon Quest Chapter II we get to play through when we enter Inazuma.
The quest ends with Yae Miko allowing us to ask questions, one of which was about Sumeru. She commented that in Sumeru, "the quest for knowledge and wisdom is never-ending".
Miko then pointed to some problems that arose from the people of Sumeru's fixation on amassing knowledge and wisdom.
"Their obsession gives rise to some truly inexplicable things, for example... in Sumeru, knowledge is holistically managed as a resource,” said Yae Miko.
Lisa’s character stories further confirm Sumeru’s and the Academia’s deadly obsession with erudition as one of the reasons for her not having a good opinion about her Alma Mater.
We can surmise that the quest for all-knowing wisdom and knowledge is so pervasive in Sumeru, it can twist a person into committing wickedness.
The Prequel manga does hint at this with the Fatui Harbinger Dotorre using his extensive knowledge to murder, harm, and experiment on children in Sumeru, one of his victims being Collei.
And, according to Dainsleif's comments Teyvat Chapter Storyline Preview, it seems like Kusanali is doing nothing about what has been plaguing her nation.
Is the Dendro Archon somehow powerless to stop what's happening, or are there more sinister forces at work?
If you can recall the most recent rerun of the Marvelous Merchandise event in May, Liben had choice words to say about the situation brewing in Sumeru and even mentioned some strange people showing up in the continent…
“Some strange people have showed up in Sumeru lately, and that was when my gut told me it was time to leave. There's an ominous air hanging over Sumeru, I can feel it. I can't say, friend. But I do hope that the unrest in Sumeru will be swept away, as if by divine might," said Liben.
The wandering merchant then gave the Traveler a warning.
"Take it from me: Don't go to Sumeru. It's a dangerous place — or at least it has been of late,” said Liben.
There are a lot of things waiting for us in Sumeru.
Breath-taking rainforests, arid deserts, a new element in Dendro, a new Archon in Kusanali, new characters, and more.
And, of course, there's also danger hiding somewhere in the seas of green and sand in the Nation of Wisdom.
But since when has that stopped the Traveler from boldly charging ahead to continue their adventures?
Genshin Impact is currently in version 2.7, which will run until 12 July.
The upcoming version 2.8 will then be released on 13 July. Should version 2.8 have the same 40-day duration as all other versions, then Genshin Impact version 3.0 should come out on 22 August.
Yan Ku is a full-time dog parent, part-time (gacha) gamer, and part-time writer.
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