Genshin Impact does a great job at milking players for those hard-earned gems, but it isn’t always good at rewarding you the 5-Star characters that you want. Luckily, 5-Star characters don’t have to be a cause for FOMO, because there are some fantastic 4-Star characters that are as good, if not better than many of the premiere 5-Star characters you salivate over.
5 – Noelle: The Unkillable Maiden
Noelle has often flown under the radar as a lackluster character simply because you can earn her on the Beginner’s Wish banner, and there seems to be some kind of consensus that if you’ve received a character for free, they can’t be very good. Most of the time, players think of Noelle as a defensive, support healer, but this claymore-wielding geo user is a powerhouse that can carry your entire team to victory with ease.
The main secret of Noelle lies in her constellation. While she can still manage some respectable damage with the right gear and weapon, her 6th constellation Must Be Spotless is the main factor that powers her through, and turns her into a DPS force to be reckoned with. This constellation increases Noelle’s attack by 50% of her defense while using Sweeping Time. This essentially means that players don’t have to sacrifice her support capabilities in order for her to be a substantial carry DPS, and in fact, the stronger her defense – the stronger her attacks!
Even if you don’t have all of her constellations yet, you still have plenty of options that don’t solely rely on luck. Noelle is versatile enough that she can utilize multiple artifacts and weapons. For a balanced damage build Whiteblind with the Retracing Bolide artifact set that can be found at the Domain of Guyun. Other weapon options range from Skyward Pride which is a 5-Star weapon, to The Bell which can work well in a pinch. Artifact alternatives could focus on the Archaic Petra set or even the Gladiator Set for damage, while the Maiden Beloved set would be great if you want to focus on a healing support role.
4 – Xingqiu: The Elemental Striker
Xingqiu is a tough character to enjoy at first. His elemental damage can still scale very well even if you’re at constellation 0, but his usefulness may not seem apparent as a support character until you unlock Hydropathic which will automatically unlock simply by ascending him. Building Xingqiu as damage or support are both viable options. Raincutter is a fantastic DPS ability whether you choose to utilize it on him, or swap characters to make use of an elemental reaction with another character. His main ability, however, and what makes him such a strong character, is his Fatal Rainscreen attack.
Fatal Rainscreen is a move that is almost all encompassing in its power and versatility. It mitigates damage, it heals you once you’ve unlocked Hydropathic, it applies an ongoing hydro field around you, and the damage dealt during activation is exceptional. There are several builds for Xingxiu generally accentuate different aspects of Fatal Rainscreen. As a straight damage dealer, with some fair carry potential, Sacrifical Sword is a fantastic weapon option. With Sacrificial Sword you can utilize Fatal Rainscreen in quick succession, which not only double-dips Xingqiu’s damage potential, but it also builds his Raincutter ability faster. While it makes far more sense to swap away from Xingxiu during Raincutter to a character that can accentuate his elemental damage with a complementing reaction, the ability to battle with Xingqiu as more than just a striker could come in handy.
Artifacts will depend on what parts of Xingqiu you want to accentuate, but as a powerful striker, you can easily choose the Ocean Conqueror artifact set from the Peak of Vindagnyr Domain, which will not only increase the hydro damage he does, but it will also increase the damage your entire team does by 30% for 15 seconds. Alternative options for Xingqiu’s weapon are Festering Desire, which increases elemental skill damage and crit rate, which could also factor in quite well with the Nobless Oblige set from the Clear Pool and Mountain Cavern Domain. Xingqiu’s healing potential scales off of his own HP, while his damage mitigation from Fatal Rainscreen factors off of his hydro damage, so plan your build accordingly.
3 – Bennett: The Versatile Phoenix
There was a time in the past that Bennett flew under the radar, and that his massive support potential and overall damage capabilities weren’t fully explored. Now, most players swear by Bennett and his wide range of uses. Even though a constellation 0 Bennett misses out on the removal of the HP restriction that disappears at constellation 1 with Grand Expectation, you can still manage some high damage numbers and support your team with his damage bonus and healing without gambling all your gems away.
Bennett’s gargantuan potential lies within his skill Fantastic Voyage. The attack itself can put out its fair share of damage, but in addition to some modest initial skill damage, Fantastic Voyage will stay with you for 15 seconds, healing your team up to 70% of your max health, and increasing the damage your party does while standing within the area of effect. Bennett will also get a number of unlocks automatically as you level up, Rekindle and Fearnaught, which will decrease the cooldown of Passion Overload, further increasing your damage potential, and reducing the downtime of Fantastic Voyage.
As with most support characters, gearing Bennett will require that you focus on the role you wish for him to fulfill. Passion Overload will scale off of his pyro damage, while healing from Fantastic Voyage will scale off of his Max HP. Favonius Sword or Lions Roar are both exceptional weapon options, and the new weapon Festering Desire can also work very well. For artifacts, Nobless Oblige is an excellent choice, but if you’re looking to build off of Bennett’s pyro damage, the Crimson Witch of Flames from the Hidden Palace of Zhou Formula Domain is certainly the best option.
2 – Razor: The Lone Wolf
Unlike the others on this list, Razor can be seen as more of a one note character. His support capabilities are nonexistent, but as a main DPS carry character, he is by far one of the best four stars available. What Razor does extremely well, is his ability to sustain physical damage in addition to his electric damage, which compounds what he can actually achieve damage wise. Razor’s normal attack Steel Fang is his primary damage dealer, but with the addition of Lightning Fang, Razor can lay down some heavy electro damage on top of his physical damage, and players interested in maximizing his DPS capability should focus heavily on his physical damage prowess.
The good news is that Razor can become a dominating damage presence even without any constellations unlocked. Razor quickly regenerates his energy and can utilize Lightning Fang often, but in the even you do find yourself with the ability to unlock a few of his constellations, his first constellation, Wolf’s Instinct that increases Razor’s Damage by 10% for 8 seconds will certainly be a helpful addition. After playing long enough you’ll be sure to unlock Bite, his fourth constellation, which will decrease an enemy’s defense by 7 seconds after using Claw and Thunder and will only further cement Razor as a powerful main-DPS character.
Gearing Razor shouldn’t be too difficult, as you’re primarily focusing on physical damage, and therefore anything that focuses on physical damage, attack damage, or normal attacks will work pretty well. The Gladiator artifact set that you can obtain from boss battles is a great place to start. Mixing two pieces of the Gladiator set with the Bloodstained Chivalry set that you can obtain from the Clear Pool and Mountain Cavern Domain will also grant you an extra 25% of physical damage on top of the additional 18% attack. You can be a little more forgiving with the weapons you use, as most 4-star claymores will do the trick, but the Snow-Tombed Starsilver or the Prototype Archaic will provide more than enough additional power on your swings, as they both increase your damage to a varying degree depending on whether you refine them all the way.
1 – Chongyun: The Icebringer
Chongyun is an excellent choice that some utilize as a heavy elemental support character, but his damage potential rivals Razor. As a constellation 0 character, Chongyun may be best utilized primarily for cryo Support, as his ability Chonghua’s Layered Frost covers a wide area of effect in frost, turning normal and charged attack damage into cryo attacks. These attacks can then be combined with fire attacks to apply melt, or superconduct with an electro character. Combining Chongyun’s Layered Frost attack with an ability like Xingqiu’s Raincutter will apply frozen to enemies within the area of effect so frequently, they’ll essentially be permanently stunned until Raincutter runs out.
However, even with a modest investment in Chongyun’s constellations, he can become a very strong DPS character, whether you choose to focus on his elemental or physical damage. Chongyun’s first constellation Ice Unleashed releases 3 deadly cryo damage blades at the end of his normal attack combo, and the damage scales off of his attack damage. His second constellation is also extremely strong, not just for him, but as a team support tool. Atmosepheric Revolution reduces the elemental skills and elemental burst cooldown by 15% for any character that utilizes it within Chongyun’s Layered Frost AOE. This ability also works alongside Frozen Skies, which regenerates one energy every time Chongyun hits an enemy affected by Cryo. Finally, in the event you manage to earn enough of him to get him to constellation 6, Rally of Four Blades throws another 15% damage increase to opponents that have a smaller max HP percentage than he does.
Luckily, gearing Chongyun is quite easy. As a damage dealer, or all-around support, he really does his best with the Icebreaker set, which revolves around his cryo Damage, but also increases his crit rate substantially. For your claymore, there are a few fantastic options. The Favonius Greatsword is a great choice if you’re focusing on elemental DPS, as you’ll be able to earn energy at a very high rate. Other great options are the Prototype Archaic and the Blackcliff Slasher.
BONUS – Traveler: The Sleeping Giant
Selecting Traveler as one of the characters that prove you don’t need a 5-star character is kind of a cop out, because technically he (or she) is a 5-star character. Luckily, this is a character that you don’t have to roll for, and you also get to max out Traveler’s constellations by just playing the game. Traveler isn’t exceptionally powerful, however, so why exactly is he on this list? Traveler is actually quite powerful in his versatility, and working on him early on is a solid investment, plus his damage and support potential as an Anemo character is very good by comparison when matched against the only Anemo 4-Star character, Sucrose.
There are several other 4-Star characters that are much better suited for a main DPS over Traveler. ChongYun, Fischl, Xiangling, and even Kaeya could be contenders for better DPS. The main difference between them is that Traveler will max out his constellation, which actually puts traveler ahead of the others. This is primarily due to the 6th anemo constellation Intertwined Winds that decreases an enemy’s resistance to anemo damage by 20%. It can also decrease the resistance to a corresponding element by 20% as well, increasing the damage you do when swapping characters and creating a swirl reaction. Second Wind can also assist with healing you as you continue your adventure by healing you by 2% of your HP for 5 seconds when killing an enemy with Palm Vortex. By comparison, the next 4-star character Sucrose can outpace Traveler with Anemo damage, but Sucrose requires several constellations to do so.
Gearing traveler is simple. You should generally attune your artifacts to the element you’re using, but for a more generalized build, Nobless Oblige is a great choice if you’re focusing on swirl and support damage, or if you’re expecting to swap elements often and don’t wish to change your gear each time. For anemo damage specifically, the Viridescent Venerer set at the Valley of Remembrance Domain is an excellent choice. For weaponry, The Black Sword is a good option, though Festering Desire or The Flute may be even better options for 4-Star weapons.
Keep in mind that Traveler is also an investment. Building your Traveler early on may help you in the future, when new elements become available for your Traveler to resonate with. In time, you will find plenty of great characters to make new teams from, but Traveler can make an awesome secondary DPS. Most importantly, it doesn’t appear that Genshin Impact has any bad characters, with the right amount of love, you can turn any character into a powerful team-player.
*This article was edited in response to community feedback: Addtl 4* Char Added