At first glance, the Genshin Impact community seems positively obsessed with hitting the biggest possible numbers with the characters they’ve rolled from the gacha. Content creators on YouTube and TikTok regularly showcase damage totals of six or even seven figures. Online discussions are dominated by math nerds who write walls of damage equations. Whether you’re new to the game or a veteran Abyss player, not using the meta-approved competitive teams can feel like a cardinal sin.
But chasing big numbers can lead to severe burnout, which plagues even the game’s most dedicated players. I know firsthand. While Genshin Impact was undergoing its first-ever delay this April, I undertook a deep cleanse, dropping out of grinding the battle pass and chasing the meta. I revisited characters who I hadn’t played in awhile, such as Kaeya and Chongyun. I dusted off Childe and started pairing him with Kokomi for safe and consistent damage output. Then I started getting really chaotic about using Raiden Shogun on a team with Xiao, even though his slower plunge attacks didn’t benefit as much from her signature skill.
I found myself having more fun than I did when I cared about min-maxing. Executing flashy combos is much more satisfying than watching numbers go up. Genshin Impact has fantastic combat animations that showcase characters’ personal lore. For example, Mona’s ultimate attack allows her to create a field that looks like a small galaxy, which fits her occupation as an astrologer. Fighting in Genshin can also be an incredibly zen experience because of the beautiful visual effects, well-delivered voice-overs, and how attacks affect the environment. Oftentimes slipping into the mental “zone” to just chill and experiment with new combos is more satisfying than trying to figure out how to maximize damage numbers. When I spam Diluc’s burst attack, he sets a whole field of grass aflame. Every electro-based attack is a dazzling light show. If you execute Zhongli’s normal attack to the final sequence, he finishes by kicking his spinning spear toward the enemy.
I started to look for other Genshin players who played the game in less efficient, non-Reddit-recommended ways. Twitter user Sagrinne told me over DMs that they use Ayaka, Beidou, Noelle, and Qiqi because most of the characters are “pretty women.” I can’t even begin to judge this immaculate lineup because my own overworld team is often Zhongli, Venti, Raiden, and Albedo for story reasons. Normalize using characters you like, and to hell with the best teams in practice.
Archbishop is another Genshin player who runs an unusual team, but they’re more strategic about it. They use Yae Miko, Sucrose, Albedo, and Zhongli. They said this team works for them because Yae Miko’s damage increased when Albedo used his flower attack. The boost also helped Sucrose attain more swirl damage when she used anemo-based attacks. This team is non-optimal because Yae isn’t a very good on-field DPS (she’s had such severe targeting issues that HoYoverse was forced to significantly adjust her abilities, which the studio rarely does). However, Archbishop says that they wanted to build a team that could allow them to use Yae Miko for as long as possible, since she’s a pretty character.
“I didn’t want to just slap National on Yae and call it a day,” they said, referring to a popular meta-compliant team composed of Xingqiu, Xiangling, and Bennett. “It’s a shame that National is so common in a literal team-building game. Team-building freedom is one of my favorite parts of Genshin.”
Another player, Henry Chan, believes that “any team comps work in Genshin for non-Domain and Abyss purposes.” They built a favorite team of Yae Miko, Raiden Shogun, Beidou, and Zhongli, and he uses all of them as the main damage dealer. This is highly unusual because the highest-damaging teams usually rely on one damage dealer and three supporters. When he’s trying to be optimal about challenges, he uses Zhongli’s shield, Beidou’s support skill (which adds additional electro damage to normal attacks), and then uses Yae Miko as the main DPS. So the rotation doesn’t even utilize every member of the party if Yae Miko’s damage is high enough.
Just rolling what you like and saying to hell with the meta can even be necessary in a gacha game like Genshin, in which players may not even be allowed to roll for a specific character for months on end. I realized early on that I would never be one of those high-damage YouTubers because I didn’t have the money to burn on the weapons gacha. And if us mere commoners must settle for less than perfection, then we might as well pursue the kind of gameplay that produces the joyful chemicals in our brains.