Genshin Impact is shaping up to be one of the biggest free-to-play games of the decade thanks to a player base of approximately 50 million users. The game’s rich lore, gorgeous open-world setting, and colorful cast of characters are a noteworthy alternative to the typical 2D-only gacha game. That said, Genshin Impact is still a gacha and if there’s one thing every seasoned gacha gamer knows, it’s that resources in this genre of games are scarce.
That’s not to say Genshin Impact is a bad game, but with how expensive it can be to get your favorite characters, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re pulling for characters that are worth it in the long term and that you’ll enjoy playing.
With the 2.4 patch live, Xiao wanters are the winners of this update. Not only is everyone’s favorite reclusive yaksha back on the RNG menu but so is his signature weapon, the Primordial Jade Winged Spear.
Considering that Xiao has been hailed as one of the “Liyue Big Three”, there’s no doubting his status as a solid DPS unit. The question is, though, how well has he held up? Xiao has been gone for a year and in that time we’ve gotten a ton of new enemies, characters, and weapons that affect how Xiao really plays in the game.
Xiao 101: A Crash Course in Yaksha Lore
Though many of Genshin Impact‘s characters are regular people, Xiao is one of the few characters who aren’t mortal. Xiao in particular is an adeptus — an immortal being gifted with supernatural powers who protects and serves the nation of Liyue as part of their contract with Rex Lapis, the patron god of what is essentially fictional China.
While the Rex Lapis of today is more than content to just chat and sip tea with his adepti, back in the days of the Archon War, he was known for being a brutally pragmatic warrior who used his immortal followers as soldiers in his quest to conquer other gods and defend the would-be people of Liyue from their attacks.
Among the many gods that Rex Lapis killed was Xiao’s master. Not much is known about Xiao’s former master but unlike the employer and employee relationship he had with Rex Lapis, it’s clear in Xiao’s lore that he used to be a slave.
After defeating Xiao’s old master, Rex Lapis freed Xiao. Out of gratitude, Xiao willingly bound himself to Rex Lapis as one of the Six Guardian Yakshas who were sworn to defend Liyue from the residual demons left behind by the hatred of gods slain by Rex Lapis.
Being a senior adeptus and one of the honored yaksha, Xiao is one of the most well-known and high-ranking beings in Liyue’s mythology. Out of the six original yaksha, he’s the only one who has survived.
But even his survival is one of constant pain and agony as Xiao suffers from something the adepti call a “karmic debt” which, given its effects and the lore tidbit that calls it an “invisible war that no-one will ever witness or thank him for,” seems to be a reference to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Despite years spent becoming a hardened warrior, Xiao’s personality belies a caring and protective nature which the game’s developers call his “deepest, most hidden element:” gentleness.
Xiao says we can call out his name anytime we need his help, but the question is: should you?
Should You Pull for Xiao?
Xiao is a beautifully written and designed character. Even if you’re not the type to enjoy the combat aspect of a game, his deep history and connection to other key characters in the game can easily make him your next must pull. He’s also often involved in the Liyue storyline, especially during January during which the Lantern Rite festival is held.
But Genshin Impact isn’t just a collectible character game and many players do want to know what use they can get out of the characters they pull.
Let’s keep it short: Xiao is a solid DPS unit. His damage output is enough to help you get through the game without a lot of hiccups. His massive AOE, smooth gameplay, and high damage multipliers make him relatively easy to play, especially compared to other top DPS units like Hu Tao and Klee who require animation canceling and focused stamina management.
Xiao’s ability to traverse the battlefield with ease makes dodging effortless as you can just plunge to avoid a hit. Not to mention, his plunges are great for staggering enemies and ignoring physical shields.
He also doesn’t need elemental reactions as his multipliers are enough to tide him through the game’s hardest content. Plus, the more resources you put into Xiao, the more powerful he gets, an important aspect for a Hypercarry DPS.
Xiao’s Damage Versus Other DPS Characters
That said, Xiao’s Anemo element doesn’t help him out on the damage front. Compare Xiao to the recently released character, Arataki Itto and, to a lesser extent, the Raiden Shogun. Electro is the weakest element in the game due to the weak damage of its reactions compared to Pyro and Hydro’s Vaporize and Cryo and Pyro’s Melt.
Raiden’s kit compensates for this with big multipliers. The same goes for Itto, a Geo character, who’s also been given an absolutely broken weapon in the form of Redhorn Stonethresher, a tailored artifact set called Husk of Opulent Dreams, and a specialized support, Gorou.
Geo and Anemo are the two “inert” elements of the game. While they no doubt provide invaluable elemental effects, especially the crowd control and Swirl that Anemo has, these effects have support functions that don’t directly help Anemo and Geo units deal damage.
However, it’s important to remember that Xiao is currently handicapped by his element, a lack of artifact options, and limited team composition options. The fact that he’s still managing to compete at the very top of Genshin‘s DPS rankings as one of the “Liyue Big Three” shows that he still packs a punch and can easily be given a massive damage boost in the form of a free event weapon or artifact set that miHoYo will likely release in the following weeks.
Genshin did it before for Sangonomiya Kokomi to whom they gave the Ocean Hued Clam set that made her a solid damage dealer, healer, and Hydro applier in one. Though Kokomi was a newer character, miHoYo has shown that they’re willing to buff their older 5 stars which they did during Albedo’s rerun.
In case you missed it, the developers gave Albedo Cinnabar Spindle, a specialized free event weapon, and ensured that the Husk of Opulent Dreams set would work for him as well. Take a peep at their Spiral Abyss pick rate and you’ll see how that worked out.
Xiao’s Flexibility and F2P Friendliness
Xiao is a very selfish DPS character. He needs to take up most of your floor time in order to deal his damage since Xiao dishes it out in an endless string of fast-paced charged attacks. This locks him into certain team comps that are absolutely necessary to help him maximize his damage. But this is true for every DPS character so as long as you’re fine with that and you genuinely like Xiao, by all means, pull.
However, Xiao’s status as a DPS character means that he’ll soon fall out of favor as newer, shinier DPS characters are released. The fact that he isn’t a support like Kazuha and Zhongli, both insanely flexible characters with absurdly high Abyss pick rates, means that Abyss will become progressively harder for him.
Not to mention, Xiao isn’t an easy character to build if you’re planning to stay completely free to play. Aside from Primordial Jade Winged Spear, a 5-star weapon, Xiao’s next two weapon options are the 4 stars Blackcliff Pole and Death Match. Blackcliff Pole, while obtainable for free, requires a lot of resources as you can only get it from the Starglitter Shop. Meanwhile, Deathmatch is a Battle Pass weapon.
Don’t fret, though. Just because Xiao doesn’t have craftable weapons that are tailored to him doesn’t make him a particularly bad DPS. For example, streamer OkCode’s Xiao easily deals 20k AOE damage per plunge using the Blackcliff Pole and with an all 4-star team.
On top of that, his Xiao doesn’t even use the Viridescent Venereer artifact set which grants an Anemo damage bonus. The point is just that Xiao could be better and that other DPS characters have more craftable weapon options. Still, Xiao is great and is even better if you’re committed to giving him a decent build as he scales very well with higher investment.
TLDR: Get Xiao if you really like him, you don’t have a hypercarry DPS, you’re sick of playing your current DPS, you’re an old player with enough resources, or any combination of those.
Ways to Build Your Xiao
So you’ve just pulled Xiao or you’re going to pull him in the future. What now? At the time this article was written we have the following artifact options for our beloved yaksha:
- Viridescent Venereer: 2-piece bonus grants 15% additional Anemo damage while the 4-piece set increases Swirl damage by 60% and lower’s the enemy’s resistance to the Swirled element by 40% for 10 seconds.
- Gladiator’s Finale: 2-piece bonus grants an additional 18% attack stat while the 4-piece bonus increases normal attack damage by 35% if the character wields a sword, claymore, or polearm. Alternatively, you can use Shimenawa’s Rimenescence for the 2-piece bonus which is the same as Gladiator’s Finale.
- Emblem of Severed Fate: 2-piece bonus grants 20% extra Energy Recharge while the 4-piece set increases your burst damage by 25% of your current Energy Recharge stat. This is capped at 75% bonus damage.
R/Xiaomains has already crunched the numbers. The findings? Xiao doesn’t need a specific artifact set as long as you have all the stats he needs. Often, you’ll see Xiao being run with 2-piece Gladiator’s Finale or Shimenawa’s Reminiscence and 2-piece Viridescent Venereer due to the flexibility of their 2-piece bonuses. Since what you need on your Xiao is Crit Rate > Crit Damage > Attack > Energy Recharge by order of priority, you can easily get extra attack and Anemo damage from this combo.
You’ll want your artifacts to be:
- Goblet: Anemo Damage Bonus
- Circlet: Crit Damage or Crit Rate
- Sands: Attack
And your talents are leveled with a Normal Attack > Burst > Skill priority order in mind as Xiao’s burst only increases his Attack Damage and his skill levels provide a minimal damage boost versus leveling his normal attacks.
With a 70 particle burst cost, Xiao teams that can’t afford a good Anemo battery (like Sucrose or Jean) might stand to benefit from Emblem of Severed Fate’s 2-piece bonus. From there you can mix and match your Xiao’s weapon depending on his artifacts’ substats.
Xiao Team Composition Options
There are three things to remember about Xiao when building his team. The first is that he needs someone who can generate energy particles. Second, is that he needs a healer especially with the new Corrosion effect that deals damage over time and the fact that Xiao’s ult drains his HP. Third, he’s a selfish DPS which means he needs supports that can contribute their damage without being on the floor.
While there are a number of free to play options, Xiao’s current best supports are:
- Sub DPS: Albedo due to his skill or Zhongli because of his shield and it’s Anemo resistance shred.
- Healer: Jean because of her burst and ability to battery for Xiao or Bennet thanks to his Attack buff.
- Battery: Sucrose for her crowd control and ability to carry Thrilling Tales of Dragon Slayers.
At the end of the day, though, your build and comps are up to you. Good luck pulling, Travelers, and Happy Lantern Rite!