Genshin Impact Tier List: best characters and skills listed
Genshin Impact has a lot of different influences. You can see elements of Zelda, but it's also a fully-fledged RPG with more stats and items to manage than any game in that series. It's also a gacha game, which means you're constantly saving up (or paying real cash) to draw new characters and weapons to build a powerful party.
If you're building a powerful party, you need to know what the best characters in Genshin Impact are. In gacha games, the best characters are typically denoted in a Tier List, and so that's what we've decided to go with here. Before we get into the tier list in full, some key disclaimers...
Genshin Impact Tier List: before you read our best character picks
- First of all, Tier Lists are Subjective. Please keep that in mind. We've picked what we feel are the best characters - some might be a tier above or below what you think - or more. With that said, we've tried to consider every character ability and skill, how powerful they are and how they might slot into a variety of play-styles.
- Second, Tier Lists change all the time. This tier list was most recently updated on October 7th, 2020 - and therefore is based on the balance and characters available in Genshin Impact at that time.
- As a live service game, Genshin Impact will constantly add new characters and tweak things - and that will inevitably impact the Tier List. We'll return to this page to update it periodically, but wer also recommend fan-powered communities like Reddit, which will be fare more reactive to Tier List impacting changes to the Genshin Impact meta - probably on the same day.
- A huge part of each character is their elemental affinity - and for the full impact these can have, you need to understand what they can do. Try reading our guide to Elements, elemental combos and reactions for that.
- A handful of characters can be had for free. For more on this, check out our list of Genshin Impact's free characters.
- Finally, try not to get too hung up on tier lists. All of the characters in Genshin Impact are viable, and party composition is more important than one-given character. Don't fall down the hole of spending too much on gacha draws across different promotional wish banners chasing that S-tier character.
With that said, click a link see a tier - or just scroll!
Below are our current top picks of the best characters in Genshin Impact: the s-tier ranking of our Tier List. This list will naturally change as the game is rebalanced and new characters are added....
Diluc (S-Tier, Claymore, Pyro/Fire)
- Diluc is a 5-star pyro elemental character that uses a Claymore as his hefty melee-focused weapon, and for our money he's absolutely the best character of his kind in the game at this point. If you can get your hands on him from a draw, you'll get access to a solid sword attacker who can be your main melee damage dealer while you're waiting for more powerful attacks to charge. As a Claymore user, he also gets access to a powerful charged attack that can dish out a huge amount of damage to weakened enemies.
- Diluc's Elemental Skill is Searing Onslaught, a lunging sword slash that also deals Pyro damage. You can use this attack 3 times in a row before it's locked off by a 10 second cooldown.
- Diluc's Elemental Burst is 'Dawn', which unleahses huge flames and a summoned Phoenix that causes huge Pyro Element Damage.
- Thanks to the above abilities and other additional talents and upgrades available through Ascension and Constellation unlocks, Diluc can become a damage-per-second fiend, dealing out enormous DPS very quickly.
Fischl (S-Tier, Bow, Electro/Lightning)
- Fischl is a 4-star electro element character with a slightly gothic look who appropriately travels around with a raven called Oz. Oz the Raven is key to her fighting ability, and is a big part of why she's such a useful character. As a bow user, she can be used to keep her distance, and can dish out electro element damage with charged attacks. Fischl really comes into her own through her elemental skills, however, which make use of Oz. She can even later get skills where you can hit Oz with bow shots to trigger additional moves and reactions. You're basically briefly summoning a powerful party member onto the battlefield to help you. As a bow user, you'll want to use Fischl from range, or only swap her in to trigger skills at key moments.
- Fischl's Elemental Skill is Nightrider, which summons Oz the raven. Oz will appear in battle and attack nearby enemies with electro damage until the skill is over - then there's a lengthy 25 second cooldown where you'll probably want to swap her out.
- Fischl's Elemetnal Burst is less useful in general situations, as Oz appears to defend Fischl while hitting nearby enemies with electro damage - but it's great for getting Fischl out of trouble when things get hairy.
- With this character, it's all about that electro damage. Fischl has access to several constellation and acension abilities that boost her electro damage output - and that can make her truly deadly.
- One of Fischl's passive talents means she's 25% faster at completing expeditions in Mondstadt.
Qiqi (S-Tier, Sword, Cryo/Ice)
- Qiqi's natural role is as a Healing character, and she's certainly the best healer in the game at the time of writing. That makes sense - this five-star draw is a pharmacist in the narrative, but she also has access to the Cryo Element and can equip swords. Despite being a sword user, don't think of her as too much of a Sword Maiden - her moment-to-moment normal attack damage is significantly lower than even lower-tier sword users like the protagonist Traveler Twin. With that said, Qiqi's Cryo abilities allow her to both dish out damage and regenerate HP for all party members at the same. The more damage dealt, the more healing she can do - which makes her an unstoppable healer, ideal to switch to when you're in a pinch.
- Qiqi's Elemental Skill is Herald of Frost, which deals out Cryo element damage to nearby enemies - but also, as previously mentioned, provides continuous HP Regeneration to both Qiqi and Allies. This also works on allies, meaning it can be huge in co-op.
- Qiqi's Elemental Burst is Preserver of Fortune, which marks enemies for Cryo Element damage-over-time while also providing continued healing.
- If you're lucky enough to draw her more than once, Qiqi's constellations increase both the damage and healing of her cryo attacks significantly. Her Acension does similar - and as she grows, she just becomes an insanely good healer, even if her overall damage output remains lower than other peers.
- Qiqi's passive talent is useful, as it shows up Liyue-exclusive resources on the mini-map, making some rare items easier to obtain.
Venti (S-Tier, Bow, Anemo/Wind)
- You might be tempted in the early game to stick with the Anemo Element Traveler protagonist, but don't - if you can get Venti, he's the best Anemo-element character going, and is also a great party support character. While distributed slightly differently, Venti's bow damage output is similar to Fischl's, so they're not a moment-to-moment fighter, but comes into their own with impressive Anemo abilities that can incapacitate enemies and leave them vulnerable to blistering attacks from her heavier-handed allies. Anemo is also an incredibly useful element for causing elemental reactions.
- Venti's Elemental Skill is called Skyward Sonnet, and it summons forth a Wind Domain atop an enemy that'll then deal area-of-effect wind damage and lift enemies into the air, leaving them vulnerable. If you hold the button, you too can ride the wind, which is even larger and deals more damage - but that more than doubles the cooldown.
- Venti's Elemental Burst is Wind's Grand Ode, which is all based around the bow - you fire an anemo elemental arrow that creates a vortex that sucks in enemies and deals out Anemo damage. This ability is particularly powerful when used to trigger elemental reactions, and deals out extra damage when you do so.
- Think of Venti as something of an Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove; you'll tee up huge reactions with other characters, then bring in Venti to trigger massive elemental combos. Alternatively, you can use Venti to lock enemies down and then do the same in reverse. Her constallations and acension talents improve her skills, but also boost her general weapon damage.
- Venti has a particularly useful passive talent that decreases tamina consumption when gliding by 25%. This can stack with some other characters, and can therefore add up to make a big difference.
Xiangling (S-Tier, Polearm, Pyro/Fire)
- Xiangling is a 4-star character who just squeaks into our top tier - barely - thanks to the fact she provides a different type of normal attack, a Polearm, which has a unique utility in terms of being melee and distanced enough to keep enemies at bay. She's fire-element - appropriate for a chef who spends her time at a stove. The polearm's basic damage is comparable to a more skilled sword user, but it's the fire-based elemental skills that are more useful - though make no mistake, she's not quite in the same league as Diluc. She offers a different style of damage-dealing, however, and has a support-based upside.
- Xiangling's Elemental Skill summons Guoba, a Panda that'll breathe fire on enemies, dishing out area of effect pyro damage. It's useful for crowd control and distraction.
- Xiangling's Elemental Burst is the powerful Pyronado, which is exactly what it sounds like... a huge, fiery tornado, that'll follow Xiangling around for the ability's 10 second duration. It, too, is useful for keeping enemies in check.
- If you spec Xiangling towards elemental damage, you can make her into a powerful support characater who you can bring in to trigger elemental reactions and combos, or simply to get enemies off you and control the situation when things get hectic. Some Ascension and Constellation abilities lean into this, increasing the length of elemental reactions and making Guoba drop buffing items when he despawns at the end of his attack.
Barbara (A-Tier, Catalyst, Hydro/Water)
- Barbara is a 4-star water element character who is a solid healer - and she's also one of the stronger characters to carry and use the Hydro element in Genshin Impact so far. The Catalyst weapon type basically means that she's a mage - which means she dishes out damage of her element constantly. That damage output is therefore impressive where it's effective, but naturally irrelevant where it is less so. However, Barbara has the advantage of elemental skills that dish out damage and provide healing to the party at once, with the healing levels growing as she does.
- Barbara's Elemental Skill is called Let the Show Begin, and it basically makes it rain, in turn making enemies wet and dealing out Hydro damage. There's proportionate party healing as part of this, but also that Wet status effect can be used to trigger Cryo or Electro effects that deal major damage when paired with another character.
- Barbara's Elemental Burst is actually a straight-up heal - it heals around 18% of each party member's max HP, plus a bonus in the thousands.
Jean (A-Tier, Sword, Anemo/Wind)
- If the sword damage output back in the S-Tier with Qiqi wasn't enough for you, the 5-star Jean is an actual, proper, traditional RPG Sword Maiden, a Dandelion Knight - and that means she's skilled with the blade and has great base damage and a decent charged attack. Her elemental options are both wind-based that can set up or trigger powerful reactions or just deal a bunch of damage - but she has a healer upside too, making her a bit like a Paladin. When upgraded with Ascension and Constellation unlocks, she can heal herself through landing basic attacks and lock down enemies with wind and heal the party - a potent combination that almost made her S-Tier.
- Jean's Elemetnal Skill is Gale Blade, and sees her launch enemies into the air with a swipe of her sword, dealing wind damage.
- Jean's Elemental Burst creates a little tornado of sorts, but it's actually helpeful to you - it heals allies while launching enemies into the air and dishing out a bunch of damage.
Keqing (A-Tier, Sword, Electro/Lightning)
- Another decent Sword user, Keqing has decent sword abilities but also powerful Electro element skills that allow her to hit an enemy, mark that spot where the enemy was, and then designate that as an area-of-effect electro damage zone. This is a unique ability that can be used to keep enemies under control and chain together powerful combos, and is meant to be used in concert with her regular attacks. She's all about the AOE attacks - think of her as a mid-to-high tier DPS machine.
- Keqing's Elemental Skill is Stellar Restoration, which as mentioned allows you to deal out damage and leave a marker on the world that deals out AOE electro damage for a short time. This is brilliant for triggering Electro-based reactions.
- Keqing's Elemental Burst dishes out huge Electro damage in an AOE, while also dishing out nasty melee attacks - which basically sums her whole play-style up!
- Keqing has the same useful ability as Fischl that lets her finish expeditions more quickly, but for her it's those in Liyue.
Mona (A-Tier, Catalyst, Hydro/Water)
- That description of Mona looks similar to Barbara up above, right? Well, they are similar - both mages, both water-based, in the same tier. However, they're set apart by their abilities - Mona has a slightly different standard attack damage distribution but also has a more explosive pair of Hydro abilities with a bit of a support upside designed to lead to big elemental reactions.
- Mona's Elemental Skill is Reflection of Doom, which summons a Phantom. This draws enemy attacks while dealing out Hydro enemies. When it can no longer be sustained, the Phantom explodes in a huge splash of water element damage.
- The Stellaris Phantasm Elemental Burst is what you'll come to Mona for, however - it can create a huge bubble with enemies drapped inside. Enemies are made wet by this, and they also suffer additional damage as a result of it. You can, of course, use this as a setup to trigger a brutal reaction combo - and that's where Mona shines most.
Xiao (A-Tier, Polearm, Anemo/Wind)
- Xiao rounds out our second tier of fighters, offering up an A-Tier Polearm fighter and another Anemo element character to go alongside Jean. If you're looking for Anemo Element, for our money Jean is still the way to go in this tier, but Xiao is still a fine damage-based character that can act as your core damage dealer in combat with sword skills and solid wind-based abilities. His Elemental Burst is particularly unique and might not be for everyone, but Ascension and Constellation unlocks significantly increase its utility.
- Xiao's Elemental Skill is a simple thrust froward that dishes out Anemo damage - but it can also be used as a mid-air attack.
- Xiao's Elemental Burst transforms him into a powerful beast - but HP drains for the duration of this skill. The damage-up here is incredible, but you don't want to waste it because of the HP trade-off unless you've got a particularly talented healer in the party ready to go.
- Bennett (4-star, Sword, Pyro/Fire)
- Bennet ius a decent character with okay damage output, but he's ultimately outclassed by many of his other pyro element peers.
- He has a skill that reduces his time spent on expeditions in Mondstadt by 25%.
- Chongyun (4-star, Claymore, Cryo/Ice)
- Great for traversing water using his elemental skill, but generally pretty run-of-the-mill and similar to other Claymore users in combat.
- Has a reduced expedition time in Liyue thanks to a passive skill.
- Klee (4-star, Catalyst, Pyro/Fire)
- If you want constant mage Pyro element damage, Klee is for you - but otherwise, she's just generally outclassed by other Pyro options in higher tiers.
- She does have the 'All of My Treasures' passive skill, however, which shows Mondstadt exclusive resources on the mini-map.
- Noelle (4-star, Claymore, Geo/Earth)
- Noelle is better than she looks - in large part thanks to the Breastplate and Sweeping Time elemental skills, which are excellent. Her damage output is strong too.
- Razor (4-star, Claymore, Electro/Lightning)
- Excellent basic damage output for the tier, but the elemental skills feel mismatched to the way he plays.
- Has a very useful skill that reduces stamina use when sprinting.
- Traveler (5-star, Sword, Anemo or Geo)
- The Traveler Protagonist Twin character is unique as they can be either the Anemo or Geo element, and can switch elements in the world.
- There are different sets of abilities and unlocks for each version, but ultimately the Traveler remains a middle-of-the-road jack-of-all trades - versatile, but outclassed by a higher tier character regardless of which path you pick.
- Xingqiu (4-star, Sword, Hydro/Water)
- Solid attacks with the Longsword and a great Elemental Burst that gives his normal attacks Hydro damage. However, a better damage output/DPS is available from other swors users, and the Hydro/Water element is generally one of the less useful for ones for elemental combos except for when paired with Electro.
- Kaeya (4-star, Sword, Cryo/Ice)
- Kaeya is useful for crossing water as you get him early, and also for unlocking cryo element things in the world, but there's just far better Cryo options. Still, he's a freebie.
- Lisa (4-star, Catalyst, Electro/Lightning)
- Lisa has a chance to refund some of the crafting materials when you craft potions, which is handy.
- Ningguang (4-star, Catalyst, Geo/Earth)
- Ningguang is most useful thanks to the ability she has that shows the location of Iron Ore, White Iron Ore, Crystal Ore and Magical Crystal Ore on the mini-map. She's decent in combat and can take a lot of punishment, but there's other high-end options out there which are arguably better.
- Sucrose (4-star, Catalyst, Anemo/Wind)
- Sucrose has decent wind attacks, but she's ultimately too similar to the Traveler in Anemo form - which you have access to from right at the start of the game - to really stand out.
- Beidou (4-star, Claymore, Electro/Lightning)
- Beidou has a claymore which means she has a great charged attack and can knock enemies down, but the Electro element feels like a mismatch with how she plays.
- However, Beidou does have a great passive skill that reduces the Stamina used by Swimming.
- Amber (4-star, Bow, Pyro/Fire)
- It feels harsh to be too horrid about Amber, as she's given to you right at the start. She's a useful fire element character in the early game, but she's basically a tutorial character - and so she's quickly and easily bettered by other bow users and pyro characters.
- Amber does, however, have a skill that reduces gliding stamina use by 20%, which is always useful.