Genshin Impact has undergone various changes in the 3 years since its initial launch back in September 2020, and so has its ever-changing meta. The term meta, sometimes explained by its backronym most effective tactic available simply refers to a particular strategy considered by a community to give the best advantages in a game. Meta exists in every game and Genshin Impact is no exception.
Now that players are slowly approaching Fontaine, the fifth region of the game, we look back into the history of how the meta in Genshin Impact has shifted since its release.
What is Meta in Genshin Impact?
In Genshin Impact, the meta is measured through how well a character or team composition performs in the Spiral Abyss, a special gauntlet where players fight through floors of enemies under special conditions within a time limit. The final 4 floors of the Spiral Abyss, named the Abyssal Moon Spire, reset twice a month and is considered to be the most challenging content in the game.
How well a team can perform is also factored by a combat mechanic called Elemental Reactions, whereby applying combinations of elemental statuses onto an enemy would trigger certain effects. This means certain characters associated with certain elements would be favored over others.
Patch 1.0 – 1.1 – First Step into Teyvat
On the release of Genshin Impact, there was not an established meta as players were only starting to explore and understand the game mechanics. The character options were limited but that does not stop players to experiment with team compositions that can yield the best results.
One of the earliest meta teams was the “Turret”, which utilizes summoned units such as Fischl’s Oz or Xiangling’s Guoba to auto-attack enemies and support an on-field main DPS. The team would also use the Anemo Archon, Venti to control the field using vacuum and the most favorable main DPS was Diluc, Keqing, and Razor.
During the version 1.1 Unreconciled Stars event, Fischl was gifted out for free as an event reward which sees the continued growth of the “Turret” team as she was a highly sought-after character that enables such a composition. The “Turret” team however did not lived for long as it lacks any form of actual strategy and players began to understand the importance of Elemental Reactions. Version 1.1 was also when the Fatui Harbinger Childe releases and he has been a consistent returning meta contender ever since.
Then the release of the Geo Archon, Zhongli, unfortunately, sparked a controversy among the community as fans claimed to feel disappointed in his overall kit and numbers. Zhongli never got a spotlight in the meta and the uproar caused HoYoverse to put out an official statement adjusting his overall kit and promise to further buff the character in the future.
Xinyan was also released alongside Zhongli but remained one of the most neglected characters to this day due to her niche kit. At this point of Genshin Impact, Diluc and Childe have overshadowed Keqing while Razor has fallen out of style as Physical Damage was not favorable.
Patch 1.2 – The Bennett Revolution
As HoYoverse slowly rolls out new characters, players began to understand how to build and optimize their team compositions. During this patch until version 1.5, the meta remained relatively the same, favoring Hypercarry teams with a single main DPS taking the spotlight with other characters supporting them off-field. However, a notable change was that the meta began to shift heavily towards Elemental Reaction-based gameplay.
This was also the period when some characters began to shoot up in popularity and are still being used to this day. One of the most notable support characters that began dominating the meta was Bennett who completely pushed the previously popular Fischl out of the meta and established himself as a must-have in almost every team.
For the uninitiated, Bennett is a 4★ support character who has an Elemental Burst called Fantastic Voyage that provides the team with a huge damage buff and plenty of healings. He is a Pyro character that is able to generate Energy at a relatively fast pace to keep his Fantastic Voyage active multiple times. He is also a relatively easy character to build as he does not need high-tier weapons or well-invested Artifacts to bring out his potential. The irony was that before the community found out his potential, Bennett was considered one of the weakest units in many content creators’ early tier lists.
Notably, Xingqiu also began to have his place in the meta together with Bennett as players discovered that he is great for triggering Hydro-based reactions while able to stay off-field. On the other hand, patch 1.2 added Ganyu, a Cryo Bow user who catapulted into the top spot in the meta thanks to her enormous damage output. She is primarily played as a Hypercarry much like Diluc, Keqing, and Childe.
Patch 1.3 – 1.5 – Hypercarry Era
The meta stayed relatively the same during this period however a few notable meta teams began to surface towards the end.
On version 1.3, the anticipated buff for Zhongli and the Geo element was released. This led to Geo characters rising in popularity briefly. Although characters like Albedo and Noelle did not rise into the meta, Ningguang did become a meta unit for a short time. During that time, the Lantern Rite festival event was ongoing and players can redeem Ningguang for free which factors into her popularity. Zhongli on the other hand, became a popular character for his powerful Shield deployment which provides great defensive utility.
On release, Xiao quickly became a meta character due to his high damage and consistent Swirl reaction triggers. Hu Tao followed the release soon and immediately dominate the meta, replacing Diluc and Klee as a Pyro main DPS. Then came the first Windblume festival with Rosaria, who quickly gained a top spot in the meta as a strong support character due to her ability to increase the Critical Rate of other characters, allowing other main DPS to take advantage of the boost.
Eula soon followed and shocked the Genshin Impact community as many fans assumed that she would not be good since she primarily fights with Physical Damage. Fortunately, her high damage output thrust her up to the meta and with her Beidou because of her synergy with Eula to cause the Superconduct reaction that lowers the physical resistance of enemies.
Patch 1.6 – National Team
As players slowly approached Inazuma, many of the popular team compositions that the community know and loved started to take shape. In particular, the National team that consists of Bennett, Xiangling, Xingqiu, and Chongyun dominated the meta and remained a staple team to this day. One of the reasons for the team’s popularity is that it is made up of 4★ characters that most players have already likely owned thus the name “National”. These characters have extremely strong synergy with one another and are relatively easy to build.
One strategy that is often used when utilizing this team is a mechanic called “snapshotting”. Simply put, “snapshotting” is referred to a character’s stats transferring to an ability, causing the ability to have long-lasting effects of any additional buffs applied during the ability activation. This means that any buffs applied to the ability will last until the end even when the caster is on the field.
The National team take full advantage of such mechanic and pairs both Bennett and Xiangling together. This is because Xiangling’s Pyronado can “snapshot”, allowing it to receive the increased ATK Bonus for the entirety of its duration when cast inside Bennett’s Fantastic Voyage. The buff persists, even if Xiangling is swapped out or walks outside Fantastic Voyage.
Multiple variations of the National teams also came to the meta, swapping out Chongyun for other characters, usually a main DPS or a reaction enabler. A popular variant is the International team that swapped out Chongyun and Xingqiu for Childe and Sucrose or Kazuha. This team, named after the fact all characters came from different nationalities, utilizes Childe’s ability to trigger Vaporize reaction consistently and Sucrose’s or Kazuha’s ability for crowd control and team buffs.
Patch 1.6 – Approaching Inazuma
Aside from the National team, another team composition that began popping up in the meta scene is the teams that utilize the Frozen reaction from Hydro and Cryo elements to incapacitate enemies endlessly. These teams are called the Perma-Freeze teams.
One particular team is called Morgana, an abbreviation of the members used to form the team – Mona, Ganyu, and Diona. The reason for its popularity is that freezing enemies continuously while dealing sufficient damage made for a safe comfortable team to run on difficult contents.
During this time of version 1.6, other new teams were also made more prevalent but not as popular as the previously mentioned National and Morgana. One such team was Taser, named after the repeated tick damage from the Electro-Charged reactions triggered using Electro and Hydro elements.
Another notable team was known as Sunfire, a team that utilizes Bennett’s Fantastic Voyage in combination with Jean’s Dandelion Breeze to create a field that applies Pyro continuously and triggers the Swirl reaction repeatedly to enemies within the field.
Right before the release of Inazuma, Kazuha came to the Genshin Impact and immediately became a top-tier support character as he could provide crowd control and buff the entire team’s elemental damage. Kazuha has stayed at the top of the meta ever since, and like Bennett, is used in any team that permits him.
Patch 2.0 – 2.2 – Inazuma Arc
Version 2.0 came with a new region in the form of Inazuma and together with it, a bunch of new characters that would shift the meta. At the beginning of Inazuma, Ayaka was released and immediately catapulted into the meta. She is mainly played as an alternative to Ganyu in the Perma-Freeze teams using her Elemental Burst, Kamisato Art: Soumetsu to continuously damage enemies while applying the Cryo element.
After Ayaka, came the release of Kokomi who quickly replaced Mona in a lot of Perma-Freeze teams due to her consistent elemental application of Hydro. She is also an amazing healer, allowing Diona to be swapped out for a secondary damage support like Rosaria.
A team named Sukokomon was also brought to the forefront, a team that was largely considered a meme but soon became a meta. The Sukokomon team consists of Sucrose, Kokomi, Xiangling, and Fischl, and it’s considered one of the hardest teams to be used effectively.
Patch 2.2 – Almighty Raiden Shogun
Version 2.1 also brought us the Electro Archon, Raiden Shogun who embraced the meta spotlight and became one of Genshin Impact’s highest revenue-making characters. The Raiden Shogun spawned various team compositions because of her ability to regenerate Energy to the entire team as well as buffing up their Elemental Burst damage. She herself is also a powerful damage dealer as well, especially if players are able to obtain her second Constellation which allows her to ignore 60% of enemies’ defense.
Raiden Shogun also formed her version of the National team called the Rational team, having her replace Chongyun and act as the team’s leading DPS. The Raiden Shogun is also found in variations of the Sunfire team, taking advantage of the attack boost provided by Bennett and Jean for a powerful burst of damage. She also enabled and popularized a Mono Electro team, pairing together with Kujou Sara for an additional damage boost. A Mono team is a composition that mainly uses one element and is widely considered non-viable due to the lack of reactions.
Patch 2.3 – 2.8 – Approaching Sumeru
In version 2.3 came the popularity of the Mono Geo team thanks to the release of Itto and Gorou. While the team is widely not considered a meta, its popularity in Spiral Abyss is worth mentioning. The team uses Itto as the main Hypercarry as Gorou, Zhongli, and Albedo support him.
After that Shenhe and Yun Jin came in version 2.4, opening up flexibility when forming previously established meta teams. Shenhe is a Cryo support that made her way into variations of Perma-Freeze teams and improves their capabilities. Meanwhile, with Yun Jin’s support, Yoimiya rose to the meta and formed her own Hypercarry team as an alternative to Hu Tao’s team.
Version 2.6 released Ayato, brother of Ayaka, who cemented himself as a capable Hypercarry for Hydro-related reactions, namely for Taser teams and Perma-Freeze teams.
Then version 2.7 was released with the arrival of Yelan, a powerful support that quickly joined the most popular meta teams as an alternative to Xingqiu. Yelan has a similar role to Xingqiu and plays as an off-field Hydro applicator for meta teams like variations of National, Yoimiya Hypercarry, Hu Tao Hypercarry, and even Taser teams.
Patch 3.0 Onwards – Dendro Supremacy
The release of Sumeru was an interesting time for Genshin Impact as the game introduced a new element for the first time. The release of the Dendro element meant a brand new set of Element Reactions players have to learn and utilize.
A popular go-to Dendro-related Element Reaction that players love to use is the Bloom reaction created by applying Hydro and Dendro together. This reaction creates a Dendro Core on the field that explodes after a short while but what made the Dendro Core so powerful is its additional reactions towards other elements. For example, when the Electro element touches a Dendro Core, it creates a Hyperbloom reaction that caused the core to seek a target whereas Pyro can cause the Burgeon reaction to detonate the cores immediately.
Fortunately, the new Dendro-related reactions brought several characters to the forefront as the element now allows these previously neglected units to finally shine such as the protagonist Traveler who finally saw some use since launch. On the other hand, Thoma, an Inazuma character who was previously considered lackluster was also brought into the frontline as a Burgeon reaction enabler.
For a long time, fans were begging for the Electro element to be buffed as it has weaker Elemental Reactions compared to other elements. While the element did not receive changes in the nation of Electro, Inazuma itself, the release of Sumeru, finally gave the element a much-needed buff in the forms of the new Dendro-Electro reactions – Aggravate, Spread, and Hyperbloom, allowing less popular characters like Kuki, Yae, and Keqing to finally reveal their potential and stay viable in the meta.
The Current Meta
Seeing the flexibility of Dendro reactions since the release of Sumeru, most characters that utilize these mechanics like Alhaitham, Nilou, and Baizhu, quickly became favorites for clearing the Spiral Abyss. Other Hydro and Electro characters were also prominently used to enable Bloom and Hyperbloom teams, such as the already popular Yelan and Raiden Shogun. Of course, we can’t talk about Dendro without mentioning the Dendro Archon herself, Nahida, who still remained one of the most popular characters in Spiral Abyss meta.
While Dendro teams are at the top of the meta due to the current Spiral Abyss challenges, other meta teams such as variations of National, Hu Tao Hypercarry, Raiden Shogun Hypercarry, and Perma-Freeze teams are still fairly popular. Since the meta now focuses heavily on Elemental Reactions, physical damage-focused teams like Superconduct Eula or Mono Geo teams, unfortunately, fell out of fashion in the current Spiral Abyss cycles.
While the establishment of meta in Genshin Impact helps players to have easier times clearing the Spiral Abyss twice a month, the strategies are generally not needed as many players have found unconventional ways to complete the challenges such as finding ways to make less popular characters viable through clever team compositions and Elemental Reactions.
With the anticipated nation of Hydro, Fontaine slowly approaching release, one must wonder how the meta will be shifted again. Fans already speculating wildly on how the Hydro element might be changed as it is one of the favorite elements in the current meta world.