It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Zhongli is one of the most easily recognizable characters in Genshin Impact. Since his first release with the 1.1 patch back in November 2020, this mysterious gentleman from Liyue has been charming people into playing the game and exploring the world of Teyvat.
But the Genshin community’s fascination with him quickly turned to anger and disappointment. After the game’s developers had presented him as a DPS unit, Zhongli could barely keep up with the dominant DPS units at the time, particularly Diluc.
This proved to be disastrous.
The controversy that followed was dubbed by some players as Zhongligate. Zhongli had been the game’s most hyped-up character up until that point and the fact that he hadn’t become one of the strongest units in the game.
The issue quickly got out of hand and players from the Chinese server began to threaten miHoYo with accusations of committing unpatriotic acts. Zhongli’s role in the game made him the face of its fantasy version of China hence the claims that making him a subpar unit was unpatriotic.
Eventually, miHoYo relented, giving him and Geo resonance a buff. What they created was one of the most timeless characters in the game so far.
Zhongli’s ability to shield your DPS, contribute off-field damage, and provide enemy crowd control quickly made him a highly desirable unit. And you know what? He still is.
Who Is Zhongli?
If you haven’t played through the Liyue Archon Quests yet, you’re going to want to skip this part because it’s filled with spoilers. Or maybe you’re fine with that, in which case, let’s continue the tale.
Zhongli first shows up in the game as a funeral consultant for the Wangsheng Funeral Parlor, Liyue’s premier conductor of death rites. His suspiciously deep knowledge of Liyue’s religion, culture, history, arts, and economy make him one of the most sought-after men in the country.
Throughout the duration of the Archon Quests, your Traveler will often meet him at tea houses where he listens to storytellers and opera performers recount the tales of Rex Lapis, the Archon of Liyue, and his adepti.
Even though Zhongli already knows the story because he lived it.
Later, your Traveler discovers that they’ve been sipping tea with none other than Rex Lapis himself. There’s no single definitive story about him as his tales depict him as brutal yet merciful, reasonable yet violent. But according to him, he’s just Zhongli now because it turns out, even gods want to retire at some point.
Gacha game players who like to collect characters as “sets” will be interested in pulling for Zhongli because he’s an archon. Being one of the three archons released so far, the other two being Venti and Raiden, he’s part of the seven archon characters that Travelers can collect during their journey. Not to mention, his status as the boss of the adepti makes him a stylish character for players who want to collect Liyue’s divine cast.
But lore isn’t the only reason you’ll want to pull for Zhongli because he’s one of those rare gacha characters who have a great story, a fantastic design, and an even better kit behind him.
A Look at Zhongli’s Kit
Zhongli has three primary talents: a normal attack string called “Rain of Stone,” his elemental skill “Dominus Lapidis,” and his burst “Planet Befall.” Of these, the one you want to level up first is “Dominus Lapidis” which summons a Stone Stele. Holding E creates a Jade Shield to go along with your Stone Stele. It’s this feature that makes Zhongli so desirable.
The Jade Shield scales with Zhongli’s max HP. New players might not appreciate a shield immediately because of the availability of Barbara, but the shield provides 150% damage absorption along while lowering the resistance of nearby enemies by 20%, an effect called “Shred.”
This does two things for your team. First, it makes it easy to face tank damage and keep up your total damage per second, and, secondly, it boosts your damage.
Zhongli’s ability to keep your other units alive while eliminating the need to dodge and minimizing the need for healing saves you precious seconds in Spiral Abyss and negates the necessity of a dedicated healer, leaving you free to swap, say, Barbara for Bennet, a support that heals while providing an Attack boost.
Planet Befall AKA “I Will Have Order”
Don’t underestimate a retired god. Zhongli is the only character in the game that can “freeze” enemies without the need for Cryo and Hydro. Casting his “Planet Befall” talent causes Zhongli to drop a literal meteor on his enemies, dealing Geo damage and petrifying all enemies within the meteor’s crash site. Petrifying enemies freezes them in place but does not allow for reactions like Superconduct or Melt because the only element involved in this process is Geo.
Stone Steles and Other Geo Constructs
After casting his elemental skill and switching him out so your now-shielded DPS can take the field, Zhongli leaves behind a Stone Stele that deals Geo damage to enemies standing near it. Placing another Geo construct near the stele, like Ningguang’s Jade Screen or Albedo’s Solar Isotoma, causes them to resonate with each other, creating a massive field of Geo damage that gradually chips away at enemy HP.
Should You Pull For Zhongli or His Constellations?
There are few characters in Genshin Impact that can be called a must-have character. Zhongli is one of them.
Zhongli’s shield alone allows you to face tank the game’s most difficult enemies, letting your DPS make the most of their burst’s duration. His burst, “Planet Befall,” is another reason to get him. No other character can provide you with the advantage of the Freeze reaction without making you bring two separate characters.
With Zhongli, you get a shield, a sizeable amount of burst damage, and a crowd control effect, all in one character. That level of role compression opens up spots in your team for additional supports that can amplify your damage.
The only question to consider when thinking about whether you should pull for Zhongli is this: do you have him or not? If you don’t, pull for him.
Players who already have him at C0 and are considering getting additional constellations should stop and consider the value of each one. Zhongli’s C1 isn’t as necessary as the C1 of characters like Hu Tao. All you get is an additional Stone Stele and considering the costs of 180 wishes, the returns are minimal.
As for C2, it only lets your Zhongli shield other players in co-op so unless you’re rich and have a ton of friends, you might want to skip that as well. If you have the money for C6, though, it may just be worth it. C6 allows your Zhongli to heal the active character whenever his Jade Shield takes damage, removing the need for a dedicated healer altogether.
Building Your Zhongli
Four words: Tenacity of the Millelith. This artifact set was one of the first artifact sets that were obviously tailored to a character instead of providing an overall damage boost for certain elements or roles. Both of Tenacity of the Millelith’s effects synergize with Zhongli’s kit.
The 2-piece set bonus grants an additional 20% HP, a massive boost for Zhongli whose shield scales with his health. Moreover, the 4-piece set is specifically stated to function for the entire team, regardless of which character is carrying the set. This means that anyone can trigger the 4-piece set’s 30% shield strength increase and 20% attack increase.
Other options for a Zhongli build include Noblesse Oblige, Archaic Petra, and Retracing Bolide. Noblesse Oblige boosts Zhongli’s burst damage and provides a 20% attack increase whenever a character uses their burst.
Archaic Petra is a solid all-around Geo damage set and Retracing Bolide’s set effect reinforces your shield by 35% along with giving a 40% normal and charged attack damage boost as long as your character is shielded.
Don’t let Vortex Vanquisher’s looks fool you. While the 5-star polearm is undisputedly Zhongli’s signature spear, it is not his best in slot weapon. That honor goes to Staff of Homa, Hu Tao’s signature weapon.
But then again, staff of Homa is good on every polearm character mainly because its substat is crit damage but it’s even better on Zhongli due to the HP-based effects that it grants. Not only does the weapon boost Zhongli’s HP but also his burst damage based on his max HP.
Pair that with the fact that Planet Befall increases its damage by 33% of his max HP and you can see where this is going.
A good 4-star option is the Catch, an energy recharge weapon that helps your Zhongli spam his burst. If you missed the Catch, Prototype Starglitter or even Favonius Lance will suffice as a budget alternative.
If you really don’t have weapons to spare, White Tassel, a Crit Rate weapon, can be found in chests all over Liyue. You could also opt for Black Tassel, another 3-star weapon, which provides an HP percentage increase. Don’t fodder your White Tassels for weapon ascension. White Tassel, Dark Iron Sword, and Jade Nephrite are Liyue chest exclusives that cannot be obtained through the wish system.
Zhongli Team Comps
Putting two characters of the same element in one team allows you to take advantage of their element’s resonance. Geo’s resonance effect “Enduring Rock” increases shield strength by 15% and boosts all shielded characters’ damage by 15%.
If one of those Geo characters happens to be your DPS, you’re in luck because dealing damage to enemies also lowers their Geo resistance by 20% for 15 seconds as long as your character stays shielded.
Before you abandon the idea of running mono Geo, remember that you don’t have to run Itto in a mono Geo team. Mono Geo has existed even before the release of Itto and Gorou because the characters that take the most advantage of this resonance have been in the game since 1.1.
Zhongli and Ningguang form the core of the original mono Geo team as Zhongli’s shield lets Ningguang deal damage without interruption. Unless your Noelle is at C6, your Ningguang is going to be the DPS of an Itto-free mono Geo team. The fourth spot usually goes to Albedo but with Gorou around, he may be a better choice of your Noelle is the DPS.
Dual Geo Teams
Geo characters are generally unfavored when it comes to elemental reactions so why not pair your Zhongli with another Geo character and then two Anemo characters? Geo and Anemo characters tend to be rather flexible supports, making double Anemo and double Geo teams a viable Quickswap option.
This robs the team of an accessible element for Swirl, however, so you might want to reconsider swapping one Anemo character for a different element. This way, you can still take advantage of the shield strength increase effect of Geo resonance.
Last but not least, we have rainbow teams which are called that way because all of the members of the team have different elements. This gives your team the “Protective Canopy” resonance effect, granting them 15% elemental and physical damage resistance.
If you’re worried about the loss of shield strength bonus, don’t. Zhongli’s shield is typically sturdy enough to hold its own, but you will have to be more mindful during combat in case your shield gets popped.
Rainbow teams with Zhongli in them benefit from having a shield that can compensate for under-leveled Flower of Life artifacts and barely built characters, helping you focus all of your resources on your team’s DPS and your second team’s survivability. It’s just a question of where you put your Zhongli as teaming him up with Qiqi or Kokomi is rather redundant due to the two healers’ ability to out heal most damage sources in the game.