Genshin Imapct Free Characters: how to unlock every free character
Genshin Impact has a whole lot of characters. It launched with over twenty, and more will be gradually added to the game as it updates and grows. Many of them have a cost, either in-game or in real cash - but luckily there are a handful of Free Characters in the game, too.
Most of Genshin Impact's playable characters are obtained through doing Wishes, Gacha system draws from banners. You can earn in-game currency to buy these draws, but you can also spend real money to get them. In this sense, any character in Genshin Impact can be free - as you might obtain them through a free-of-charge gacha draw. However, if you don't... that's when your wallet has to open.
That's why the truly free characters in Genshin Impact are important. These characters are unlocked throughout the story, in a specific order, and they'll give you solid access to a good set of abilities and elemental bursts and skills, which in turn will allow you to traverse the world regardless of what you get from your wishes.
Genshin Impact Free Character List: all free characters and how to get them
There are six free characters total in Genshin Impact so far - seven, if you count the protagonist character. We're going to list them all below, and detail how you obtain them. Some of these options require you to hit a certain AR level; hit up our Adventure Rank EXP Grinding Guide if you want help leveling up fast for that.
You might want to know how good the free character options are compared to the others. For that you can either hit up our Genshin Impact Tier List featuring every character, or you can read on - we note what tier we've placed each free character into below, from S-tier down to A, B and C.
The Traveler Twin (Protagonist)
This sort of goes without saying, but the first free character is the Traveler Twin, the protagonist. You start the game, choose which twin you want, pick a canon or otherwise protagonist name, and away you go.
The protagonist is a decent character - we've put them into the B-Tier. The Traveler is unique in that they can either by the Anemo or Geo element, giving them two unique move-sets. They always use a sword, however. As the base protagonist they're a pretty middling jack-of-all trades, but therefore a master of none.
You probably don't need this page to tell you about Amber, as just like the protagonist she's introduced to you pretty much immediately as part of Genshin Impact's opening.
Amber is your first bow user and fire element. She's easy to play as, which is great, but her damage output and ability set is pretty basic - she's in the D-Tier for us, which is currently our lowest tier. Until you unlock another pyro element character she's a must-use, however.
Lisa is unlocked as you continue on with the story of the game. The quest that triggers Lisa arriving into your party is the 'Sparks Amongst the Pages' quest; that's only an Adventure Rank 5 quest, so Lisa will unlock nice and early on.
Lisa uses the Lightning/Electro element. She has some decent area-of-effect magic, a handy ability that makes crafting cheaper, and is deent... but not excellent. She's a C-tier.
Also available around Adventure Rank 5 as part of the earliest main story quests is Kaeya. This all happens at the same sort of time as Lisa. The quest that points you towards Kaeya is 'Crash Course', and tackling the quest will net you his unlock.
Kaeya is more impressive than he actually is. His flashy sword and ice element techniques will impress you, but in the grand scheme of things he's still pretty average - but he's on the better side of the freebies, and is a C-tier character by our reckoning.
Xiangling is the last of the free characters unlocked through quest content in Genshin Impact - and she's the best - and she's the hardest to get. Obviously. She's also available through banner draws, and you may well get her first that way if you're lucky.
To get Xiangling, you'll need to reach Adventure Rank 20 and then tackle the Spiral Abyss Challenge - specifically Chamber 3 of Floor 3, for the record. Access this via the Events tab, where you can enter the Abyss.
We've actually played Xiangling into the S-tier thanks to her powerful distanced Polearm attacks and great elemental burst - though her elemental skill is a little lacklustre. She's not the best fire-element character in the game, but she's close.
Noelle only drops from a wish banner, but here's the good news: she is a guaranteed drop. This comes as part of the in-game tutorials - Noelle drops on your first 10-wish pull from the Beginner's Banner that appears as part of the in-game tutorial that introduces wishes.
Noelle just squeaked her way into our B-Tier, mostly thanks to her great charge attack and generally powerful damage output with a Claymore. Her Geo-element skills are also rare defensive abilities which are incredibly useful.
Barbara is the second-best of the potentially free characters in Genshin Impact, but she's only free for a limited time. To get her, you simply need to hit Adventure Rank 20 - but you have to do so before the game gets its version 1.1 update. Think of her as an early adopter reward. She'll arrive in the mail once you hit AR20.
Barbara is an A-tier character in our list, and she's great because she has useful healing-based abilities. She also has powerful water-based magic moves - but really you want her for her healing abilities as a party support.