It’s a rough world out there for newcomers who want to learn how to create a fresh character in Genshin Impact. Many guides are filled with in-game jargon, and Reddit posts are often stuffed with incomprehensible walls of mathematical calculations. You won’t find any of that here. Instead of focusing on a specific character, I’ll walk you through the overarching principles of outfitting a new character–any new character–for combat.
This article was first published on Kotaku Australia on January 12, 2022. It has been retimed as a weekend read.
In most RPGs, most of your stats come from levelling a character with experience points. This isn’t true in Genshin Impact, where over half of your character stats come from weapons and artifacts. If you don’t bother with the artefact system, then your characters won’t reach even half their potential. On the flip side, the artefact system allows players to have tons of personal customisation, especially for different types of playstyles.
You really don’t need to deal a ton of damage to overcome most of the challenges in this game. This guide is designed to help you build reasonably decent characters without getting too “in-the-weeds” about min-maxing their damage numbers.
How do I deal large amounts of damage?
It depends on the character. Some characters (Eula) focus on simply hitting the enemy for as much physical damage as possible. Reaction-based characters (Mona, Xiangling) are designed to achieve staggering amounts of damage by combining fire attacks with water attacks. Support characters like Albedo only reach their full damage potential when a different teammate is triggering their special ability.
Before you build any character, you should check their “Talents” in the character menu and figure out where most of their damage comes from. Is it from combining their elemental skills with a different character’s skill (Bennett, Xingqiu)? Are they a “selfish” damage dealer who requires as much on-field time as possible (Razor, Xiao)? If you know a character’s main damage source in advance, you can save yourself a lot of time and wasted resources.
A word of warning: no amount of understanding Genshin maths can fully replace how characters work in actual testing. Some of the best characters for endgame content have gotten pre-release flak because of how their abilities looked on paper. When in doubt, check the /[Character Name]Mains subreddit or YouTube to see how fully built characters actually function.
Elemental Mastery? Energy Recharge? What do all these words mean?
You can see all of your characters’ stats in the “Details” tab of the character screen.
All damage is affected by the Attack stat, and Elemental Damage Bonus modifies how much elemental (non-physical) damage that a character can inflict. Elemental Mastery (EM) is different. EM refers to how much damage enemies take whenever an elemental reaction occurs. For example, hitting a Pyro enemy with a Hydro attack will cause the massively damaging “Vaporise” reaction. When a “wet” enemy is hit by an Electro attack, it causes the “Charged” reaction. The resulting damage is modified by the character’s EM whenever they initiate a reaction. If you’re playing a Geo element character, ignore this stat. The crystal shields that they create are always inferior to the shields created by dedicated support characters.
Energy recharge determines how much energy you gain with every energy particle. Energy particles are generated when you attack enemies. You must completely fill the energy bar for “Elemental Burst” before you can use a character’s ultimate attack.
Some characters’ attacks generate more energy than others. Support characters will often generate a lot of particles. The ones who excel in this role are colloquially called “batteries.” You can give particles to a different member of your team by quickly swapping to them before the particles are absorbed.
Which weapon should I give my character?
Unless you spend money on the weapons gacha, you will almost never have enough four-star weapons for every character. I usually give my characters whatever’s unequipped. For the characters I regularly use, I pay more attention to the main stat that each weapon confers than the weapon’s abilities. This is because most four-star weapon abilities have a low activation chance, or they have a limit on how frequently they activate. So I don’t factor them as heavily into my decision making.
What artefact sets should I use?
At the very beginning, you can get by with the three-star artifacts that you find in the overworld. But you should focus on raising your “World Level” by completing various quests. When you’re at higher world levels, the game allows you to obtain the best artifacts from various bosses and “Domains of Blessing” challenges. As a result, it’s more beneficial to save your artefact farming for when you’re further along in the game.
If you use at least two or four pieces from the same set, then your character can benefit from special set bonus effects. The Ocean-Hued Clam set gives a 15% healing bonus when you have two pieces from the set. When you have four pieces, the set allows your healers to convert excess damage to healing. So four-piece artefact sets don’t only improve stats, but can also improve specific aspects of a character’s playstyle.
While four-piece combinations can be powerful, they’re not preferred for every scenario. Some players use two pieces from two different sets. This is usually the case when a character benefits from more stats, rather than the special ability conferred by a four-piece set.
How do I select individual artefact pieces?
There are five types of artifacts: flower, feather, goblet, sands, and circlet. Remember that you always want a % stat, rather than a flat stat (ATK % is better than ATK).
Flower and feather: The main stat for flower will always be HP, while feather will always be Attack. This means that you just need to focus on picking an artefact with the best substats from this set. If a particular artefact set is annoying to obtain (Viridescent Venerer), then I’ll usually use the feather and the flower to secure the two-piece bonus.
Circlet, Sands: These pieces need to be chosen carefully, since the optimal main stat is highly dependent on the character’s playstyle and how their damage scales. ATK % is usually a safe bet for sands, and either ATK % or CRIT % is usually decent for circlets.
Goblets: Goblets are the only artefact that can give your character an elemental damage bonus. Due to how Genshin maths works, most characters benefit from having a goblet piece that matches their elemental damage type. So don’t be shy about giving your characters an elemental goblet piece from an unrelated set. In most cases, it can give them more damage than a flat ATK % goblet.
What stats should I focus on?
For damage dealers, the main stats are usually attack percentage, critical percentage, and critical damage. There are a few exceptions to this, the most notable being Arataki Itto. His damage bonus scales with the defence stat, so you should raise his defence instead of his attack. Always read the fine text before committing to weeks of artefact grinding.
For support characters, it depends on their role within the team. Sucrose wants elemental mastery so that her Anemo-element attacks can produce powerful swirl reactions. Bennett wants a weapon with a high attack stat, since it affects the attack bonus that he can confer to his teammates.
If you don’t have a “battery” character to charge your damage dealer’s ult (“burst”) as frequently as possible, then it might be a good idea to give them a weapon with the “Energy Recharge” stat. Yes, even team composition can affect what kind of stats you might need.
Which talents should I level first?
Once again, this depends on the importance of talents to a character’s kit. DPS characters will always want to level their normal attack quickly. Support characters prefer their elemental skill and elemental burst (ultimate attack). This also depends on how you intend to use your character. If you want to use your support character as a DPS, then you do want to prioritise raising their normal attack. If you want to use them for a specific support skill, then you can hold off on improving their offensive abilities.
What’s a good critical percentage for my DPS?
The community consensus seems to hover around 65% or so. You can always have more, but you might be better off plugging more points into attack or critical damage. Any points you invest in one stat are a lost opportunity cost for raising a different stat.
Can I build a “support” character as a DPS?
I’m a big believer in playing the game however you want. For the longest time, I gave the shielder Zhongli a weapon that allowed him to use his ultimate attack (“burst”) as frequently as possible, simply because I thought the animation was badass. That’s a valid way to play the game, even if it wasn’t meta compliant at all.
Here’s the caveat though: it’s going to take you considerably more resources to build a support character as a DPS, compared to building a DPS as a DPS. You will be grinding for a lot longer. Helping them hit high damage numbers might also require pairing them up with other well-built support characters. If you think that’s a worthwhile tradeoff, then don’t let anyone stop you.
How do I build a healer? Do I stick them with a Healing Bonus % Circlet?
In my opinion, no. Here’s why: most healing scales off a character’s HP or Attack. Both of those stats also confer some other benefit to the character, such as damage or their tanking ability. Unless you’re running an Ocean-Hued Clam set (where excess healing converts to damage), there’s also not any benefit to healing above a certain amount of damage.
Should I max a character to level 90?
Most likely not. It takes a lot of items to raise a character’s level in Genshin Impact. It’s best to only max out characters who significantly benefit from slightly higher stats. Unless they’re your main DPS (or if you really like that character), most characters are fine with stopping at level 80. After that, the diminishing returns aren’t necessarily worth it.
How do I hit one million points of damage like in those YouTube videos?
I don’t recommend it. The characters who deal outrageously high amounts of damage are equipped with large amounts of critical damage, but barely any critical hit percentage. Which means that they can maybe hit one million points of damage every 20 hits or so.
This is fine if you’re recording a video for bragging rights, but it’s extremely impractical if you intend to play the game normally. You’re better off with trying to maintain a good amount of critical hit percentage, since high crit damage doesn’t mean anything if you don’t actually crit.
Sisi, you liar. This is a ton of information.
It is, and I’m so sorry. Listen. Ignore all of this if it makes you happy. Genshin Impact is a game without any kind of PVP component, and the Spiral Abyss mode is for masochists. As long as you’re not being slaughtered by slimes and hilichurls, you’re probably doing something right with your build.