Genshin Impact is now well into Version 1.2, featuring a brand new area to explore and introducing Albedo, a new 5-star character. However, even as new content is being released, some may worriy about the balance of certain game mechanics like elemental reactions. As players progress further into the game, it becomes more evident that Genshin Impact favors the use of certain elements over others, and as a result, elements like Electro and Geo are severely underpowered compared to elements like Pyro and Hydro.
While this issue might not be a priority for Genshin Impact, it can make the player experience unenjoyable as investing into certain characters might put them at a disadvantage later into the game. Hopefully, the upcoming buffs to Zhongli signifies a willingness to listen to the players, meaning miHoYo will eventually scale the elemental reactions better.
Intro to Elemental Reactions
For players that aren’t familiar with elemental reactions, it consists of applying a combination of elements together to create different effects. Each character in Genshin Impact has a vision which grants them the ability to use elemental powers. Combining the elemental powers of different characters allows for higher damage, and this becomes a vital mechanic in the later stages of the game. For example, applying the Pyro element on an enemy before combining it with the Hydro element will deal Vaporize damage, a reaction that deals double damage.
However, not all reactions deal damage. Some Genshin Impact reactions might apply damage over time effects, shields, or debuffs on enemies. They have a wide variety of uses and learning to utilize them effectively becomes an important aspect of late-game content. Unfortunately, there are a few elements that are much weaker than their counterparts, and since Genshin Impact’s late game revolves around DPS checks, it becomes difficult for players to use their favorite characters for certain content.
Pyro is The Clear Winner
At this point, chances are that players have seen Genshin Impact tier lists all over the Internet. However, there’s a reason that most tier lists seem to follow a similar structure and that is because of elemental reactions. For the most part, characters like Klee, Diluc, and Mona will appear in the S tier of these categories. However, these characters by themselves aren’t absurdly strong by any means. They certainly have better attack gain or elemental mastery than some characters, but they also don’t really shine until their elemental reactions are taken into consideration.
The biggest reason that Klee and Diluc are always placed in the S tier is because Pyro is the strongest element in Genshin Impact by far. When paired with a Cryo or Hydro element, they will trigger a reaction that doubles the damage dealt, which can then be strengthened by mixing in an Anemo reaction that spreads the debuff to other enemies as well. As a result, Pyro has the highest potential scaling in the game and is the reason that characters like Childe or Mona can deal over a million damage.
However, the best thing about the Pyro element is that it doesn’t require that much setup to deal consistently high damage. Other elements in Genshin Impact depend on characters having a high elemental mastery in order to deal massive damage. However, high elemental mastery requires heavy investment in weapons and artifacts meaning players must depend on good rolls in order to make use of it. Pyro, on the other hand, has a guaranteed value of 1.5x or 2x meaning the multiplier always exists regardless of elemental mastery. Even Dendro, the element that hasn’t appeared on a character yet, is able to buff up Pyro damage.
The Weakness of Electro and Geo
Unfortunately, elements like Electro and Geo don’t scale as well, meaning characters with these elements will need more adjustments and investments further into the game. A good example of this is the difference between lower world levels and higher ones. When Genshin Impact was first released, Fischl was consistently placed in the highest sections of tier lists. Her ability to apply Electro on enemies was extremely useful, and her damage output was solid for a free character. However, as more players reached higher world levels, it became evident that Fischl wasn’t as strong as she seemed. One reason is that physical damage, known as “white numbers,” become reduced by enemies’ defense, yet the bigger reason is that the Electro element scales extremely poorly.
As an element, Electro reactions in Genshin Impact mostly apply resistance debuffs and AOE damage. While these are extremely useful and have potential in late game content like the Spiral Abyss, Electro itself depends too much on elemental mastery. Unless a player gets lucky with artifact rolls, Electro just doesn’t scale as well as its counterparts. For DPS characters like Razor or Keqing that deal a mix of physical and Electro damage, their ceiling becomes much lower as a result. For support Electro characters like Fischl, they become difficult to use since they cannot output another type of damage effectively.
Geo is also an element that is currently balanced awkwardly, as Geo doesn’t react with other elements in a typical sense. Instead, Geo reacts with elements to create shields that absorb damage when placed on a character. This would be an extremely useful mechanic in content like the Spiral Abyss, but unfortunately, scales incredibly poorly. The shields generated from Geo reactions also do not scale well nor do they stack. Thankfully, miHoYo is planning to roll out some buffs after the Zhongli controversy which should indirectly buff the Geo element as a whole as well. Whether those changes will be enough to make Geo on par with the rest of the elements remains to be seen.
Future Buffs to Elements
Of course, Electro and Geo being weaker than the other elements doesn’t mean that players should stop investing in their favorite characters. The majority of Genshin Impact is not difficult by any means, and players should be able to clear most of the content with any team they like. However, as players progress into the late game, they will soon find that certain elemental compositions trivialize difficult content and certain elements will put them at a disadvantage. In particular, floors 11 and 12 of the Spiral Abyss feature extremely tough fights where the player must output a large amount of DPS while managing the aggro of bosses and enemies. While these sections of the game are entirely optional, they also display the disparity between the strongest and weakest elements.
For the most part, miHoYo has created an interesting way of combining elemental reactions together. There’s a wide variety of debuffs, buffs, DoTs, and AOEs that help diversify combat and strategy. At the same time though, elements such as Pyro or Hydro scale far better than their Geo or Electro counterparts. As more and more players enter the higher world levels, it becomes apparent that investing heavily into the weaker elements puts them at a significant disadvantage. While this isn’t something Genshin Impact needs to solve right away, it’s still a balance issue that needs addressing before power creep becomes a problem later on.
Genshin Impact is available now on the App Store, Google Play, PC, and PS4, and is currently in development for PS5 and Switch.
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