Lore and estimated release
Now that the Sumeru Archon Quests have wrapped up, players have their sights on the following location on their journey, Fontaine. While there isn’t any official announcement about the nation, we can infer and speculate about a few things revealed in-game. As of the time of writing, we can’t use Genshin Impact accounts to explore the place yet, so these are subject to change.
When is It Going Live?
According to past patterns, HYV will release Fontaine when the 3.x patches are done. That means Fontaine will open for players when the game reaches 4.0.
The first series ended in 1.6 after the first Midsummer Event. The second one ended in version 2.8, also on a summer event (Summer Fantasia).
Since there’s a yearly pattern, we can predict that version 4.0 will come in June or July 2023. That will come after an estimated 3.8 release if the schedule has reverted to the 6-week cycle. To tide you over the long wait, here’s everything we know about the nation.
Things NPCs Told Us
#1 The Nation has an Energy Crisis
Many Fontaine researchers have traveled to other nations to figure out how to avert this. Travelers have met Patrice (Vibro-Crystal Research) and Bertrand (Core of the Apparatus). The former researched Vibro-Crystals to try and use the energy generated as power. Bertrand attempted to do so with his One-of-a-Kind, Never-Failing, Engineer-Grade, Second-Generation Furnace-Powered Machine.
Many players theorize that the finite energy source in Fontaine is the primary cause of their advanced technology. (A question, though: if Sumeru’s technologically advanced ruins are considered ancient, is Fontaine behind or beyond its time?) Gadgets like the Kamera, Xavier’s ‘Film’ Kamera, and the Evermotion Painting originate from there. If it’s running out, what does it spell for the nation?
#2 It is a Hub of Culture and Arts
In contrast to Sumeru (which leaned toward the academe and had shunned the arts for a long time), Fontaine is considered the capital of artistic endeavors. The Steambird is a Teyvat-wide paper from the nation and has writers worldwide. Mona is a part of it as a columnist, so it follows that the paper’s contributors don’t necessarily come from Fontaine either.
There’s also the Fontaine Flyers, a traveling circus from the mentioned nation. Their existence is mentioned in one of Port Ormos’ bulletin boards and could be the characters featured in the Travail trailer’s origin. Curiously, from one of the comments, they don’t perform their shows in Fontaine. Xavier’s films count, and Rock n’ Roll originated from there.
#3 It is to the Northwest of Liyue, bordered by Qiaoying Village
Qiaoying Village is mentioned to have the best tea in Liyue. Natives of the nation of Geo note that part of it is its proximity to Fontaine. The latter is supposed to be where the purest of waters come from. The village is said to be northwest of Liyue, in a still unavailable area to players.
However, the advanced industrialization brought pollution problems, which Santon, a Fontaine hunter in Sumeru, mentions. The first time you talk to him, he relishes the forest’s fresh air, which contrasts sharply with his nation’s toxic fumes.
#4 It Has a Ridiculously Complicated Justice System
Yanfei, Liyue’s affable and most competent law consultant, says in one of her voice lines that the nation’s legal system is notoriously complicated. Patrice also says that it is rather strict and, as a whole, implies the segregation of citizens. Not so much in terms of caste but on whether they are guilty.
Plus, they almost follow it to the letter. Researchers get the brunt of it, as negative results (the experiment did not prove the hypothesis) are treated as a failure and a waste. In authentic academic pursuits, this isn’t a failure but a confirmation of what a phenomenon is not. The researchers still learn something, so it isn’t treated as a failure.
#5 All Lochfolk Come From Fontaine
Lochfolks are elemental creatures, like slimes or hydro mimics, but they develop an identity and ego. Most players would recognize them as Oceanids.
According to Endora, they were servants of the former Hydro Archon, spread across the world to spy for their master. When the former got replaced, they rebelled against the God of Justice and went on self-imposed exile.
They form the water’s essence, and their state of mind can affect nearby water forms. During the event Wishful Drops, Rhodeia of Loch (better known as the Oceanid boss) hated Endora enough to turn the waters around her bitter. Unfortunately, this was also where the Dawn Winery got its water supply, lowering the quality of the products. In contrast, the Spring Fairy of Springvale and Endora can make water pure and sweet.
Endora also mentions that they can join together, an ability some Lochfolk had learned to turn for more malicious purposes. Those ‘assassins’ take over the mind of those they merge with, essentially killing their sense of self. Those who are in self-imposed exile are paranoid about this. They can’t even join with other beings for fear of drowning them.
Perhaps their absence has something to do with the nation’s current problems.
#6 There Might be a Diving Feature in Fontaine
An adventurer in Port Ormos mentions wanting to earn a diving license to prevent a prior mishap from happening to him. Whether or not the Traveler can obtain one is anyone’s guess, but this would be an interesting mechanic to add to Genshin.
Some Facts From Official Announcements or Meta Things
The Chief Justice of Fontaine, Neuvillette
They (as their gender is unspecified) are the ones to introduce Nahida in her official introduction. It implies that they are aware of the latter’s active participation in the situation of Sumeru. A feat to acknowledge since the general population is unaware of it, and most of it is relegated to rumors.
They also seem to hold the Dendro Archon in high regard, compared to their Archon, who is prone to hysterics, according to them.
Their name can be divided into three parts:
- ‘Neu’ means new
- ‘Ville’ means a town or city
- ‘Ette,’ a (generally feminine) term of endearment or diminution
As a whole, it is something like ‘a new small town.’ The wiki notes that if used as a surname, it would be preceded by the nobiliary particle ‘de,’ indicating a village of origin. It might also refer to Christian de Neuvillette, the deuteragonist of Cyrano de Bergerac. That fictional character gets inspiration from real-life Christophe de Champagne, baron de Neuvillette.
Though not much is known about the baron, the play depicts him as fair-faced but dimwitted. With the protagonist’s help, he wins the love of Roxanne, Cyrano’s distant cousin. Unfortunately, he dies during the Siege of Arras.
Inspirations and References
France primarily inspires Fontaine. The center of the arts, the circus’s origin, and the French name seal the deal. However, it may also draw some inspiration from Italy and the UK. The latter is the home of Venice, a city of waterways and the birth country of the mafia, which ties into the justice theme. The UK leans more toward the latter, being the home of the world’s greatest fictional detective.
The nation also heavily references the Bioshock series. Aside from the apparent reference to Frank Fontaine, Ayn Rand’s ‘The Fountainhead’ can be said to inspire both games. The Steambird is a few letters off from the Songbird, Elizabeth’s mechanical bird bodyguard in Infinite. Lyney and Lynette, characters featured in the Fontaine chapter of the Travail trailer, could allude to Chen-Lin, another NPC of Infinite.
Lastly, the first Bioshock game happened in Rapture, an underwater city. Fontaine is the nation of Hydro. If the diving feature comes to fruition, would a similar submerged town be in Genshin Impact?
A Long Wait Ahead
Still, these are speculations. The above could shift and change when more information comes from official channels. Even the estimated release date could be wrong! There are more versions of Sumeru and some Interlude Archon Quests to experience. Though Genshin trading for items isn’t possible, exchanging theories and speculation is open. What’s your favorite theory/headcanon for Fontaine?