For someone who doesn’t really get along with people and is rather solitary, Xiao is a rather productive team member in Genshin Impact. The 1.3 update’s new five-star character is, as you might expect, a fantastic fighter and incredibly useful. All of them have been, and even the one that had an issue initially was buffed. But what I love most about Xiao after spending a weekend with him is how much more fun exploring Teyvat is with him.
Xiao is unquestionably powerful. Even though I don’t immediately have the items necessary to invest in him and bring him up to level 60 like Klee and Tartaglia, his attack and speed make him quite useful. And putting him on a team with Tartaglia, Qiqi, and Zhongli works for me. Xiao is there for damage. Tartaglia is there for ranged attacks and extra DPS when needed. Qiqi and Zhongli are there to help Xiao stay in the field longer thanks to heals and shields. But it’s how great he is for exploring that stands out.
Everything about Xiao’s kit is not only designed to ensure he zips around a battlefield, but quickly traverses areas without being damaged. But what’s great about this moveset is that each attack or benefit from it also can help the player better explore the world. For example, he takes no plunge damage. This is huge in so many areas. I’ve been collecting Ascension materials for both Qiqi and him the past few days. It’s so much easier to immediately drop without fear after getting the Qingxin or Violetgrass. A dive that might really damage someone does… nothing.
Lemniscatic Wind Cycling is also such convenient when exploring Liyue. There are so many cliffs, hills, and ruins where we see a gap. Gliding makes you lose altitude and can take some time. A quick dash or double dash with his Elemental Skill can get you there faster and without sacrificing height. I use it to dodge Ruin Guard missiles. Sometimes, I do it if I want to quickly dash somewhere out of battle, but don’t want to waste stamina running. It’s efficient and fun.
And while I definitely don’t recommend wasting the Elemental Burst Bane of Evil while exploring, it helps with getting Xiao places too. I’ve not only used the boosted jump from it to repeatedly spam the plunge attack on a group of enemies. But it’s also great for getting him, and the ally you’re about to switch to if his health is getting a bit too low, to a ledge briefly out of enemies’ range. It feels like an accessible means of getting some distance to prepare yourself.
What I also love is how Xiao’s backstory explains and supports all this. He’s thousands of years old. This adeptus protected Liyue for years in Rex Lapis’ service. Of course he knows every inch of the world, and that knowledge would make it easier to climb with Transcension – Gravity Defier. He knows areas well enough to handle them more efficiently.
I’ve been lucky enough to pull some great Genshin Impact characters so far. My roster includes people like Childe, Keqing, Klee, Qiqi, and Zhongli. But Xiao quickly became my favorite character for moving around the world. Sure, he isn’t doing Keqing or Klee-level damage yet. It also feels like he needs Zhongli along as a buddy. But he’s so much fun when exploring. Especially since he makes it feel like I’m spending less time ascending or descending.
Genshin Impact is available for the PlayStation 4, PC, and mobile devices. A Nintendo Switch version is on the way. The Xiao banner will be around until February 17, 2021, with a Keqing one coming after it.