Zhongli’s arrival into Genshin Impact as the featured Wish character back in Patch 1.1, people were extremely hyped to see how he played out in combat, especially after his prominence and reveal in the then-latest chapter of Liyue’s story. While he did match the aesthetic sense of being the “God of War" and Geo Archon Rex Lapis, in terms of playstyle and actual feel into the game there was much to be desired.
Clamor quickly picked up steam from the community as those who were lucky enough to get Zhongli realized that he was not up to par to the other featured characters before him - Childe, Klee and especially a longtime friend of his, Venti.
This did not go unnoticed and miHoYo heard the people’s grievances (albeit they defended his state at first), thus just days before the Dragonspine patch (Patch 1.2) would be available they made the announcement that Zhongli will be getting a buff—alongside a Geo Resonance buff that was thematically and coincidentally accurate given his backstory—and it will be arriving on the following Patch 1.3.
While Zhongli is currently unobtainable, his popularity is sure to keep him a name worth following, and it is a question of when will he make a return as the featured Wish character. For those who were lucky to be graced by the soft-spoken gentleman, and for those who wish to see him make a return, let this be a guide that should help him be ready for future adventures.
Zhongli 1.3 Changes
What put off players initially about Zhongli was his lack of power in his overall playstyle, where people were simply just reliant of his skill—his hold-down skill in particular, the Jade Shield. This also meant that players were forced to make a choice between setting up a Stone Stele (which didn’t do much damage on its own) or creating the shield. As of 1.3, he doesn’t have to pick anymore; holding down the Skill lets him create the shield and the Stele at the same time if the latter hasn’t reached the maximum number yet.
The shield has also become much more useful outside of soaking up damage. When Zhongli sets up the Jade Shield, all enemies in short distance around the protected character will have both Elemental and Physical RES down by 20%. This upscales the damage of the party if they’re close enough to the target while the barrier is up.
Lastly, Zhongli’s auto attacks get a dramatic increase with the new stats added to his second passive Talent, Dominance of Earth, where it adds bonus damage to all normal attacks and both versions of his Elemental Skills based on a percentage of Zhongli’s total HP value. This rewards more aggressive use of the Jade Shield because of the focus on his overall vitality.
But because Zhongli is actually the Geo Archon Rex Lapis, the arrival of his buffs doubled as a sort of passing of the torch to current and future Geo users with the Resonance improvements. Now, with a stronger shield, a shielded character not only will get a damage increase, but will inflict Geo RES down for fifteen seconds as well. Running double Geo teams are finally viable for offense, and not just used as protection fodder.
Best Zhongli Artifacts
The Jade Shield has become Zhongli’s most reliable tool in his kit after the buffs, so it’s always a safe bet to invest on its strength with the Retracing Bolide artifacts. Doing a full set is fine if you’re keen in activating its four-piece passive (increasing normal and charged attacks while shielded), but mixing it up into a split set can let Zhongli be flexible without sacrificing the strength of the Jade Shield:
- Gladiator can increase overall damage across the board with a flat ATK% increase;
- Bloodstained Chivalry makes use of his very unique normal attack;
- Archaic Petra focuses on the Geo damage from his entire kit;
- And Noblesse Oblige maximizes the damage brought bout with his burst, Planet Befall.
You can do a full set of them with a focus on HP increases to make full use of the new numbers in his auto attacks, alongside a stronger barrier.
With the right build, you can easily have Zhongli be set with over 50,000 HP with a max-level artifact set, resulting into a pretty beefy Jade Shield if Dominus Lapidis has a high Talent level.
Subsequently, you can trade one HP-percentage artifact with one for ATK or Physical Damage Bonus to fully make use of the Physical RES down within the area of effect.
Best Zhongli Weapons
Because of Zhongli’s buffs and Geo Resonance being given new life, he’s pretty flexible when it comes to the arsenal that he can pick.
All three 5-star Polearms can work well, augmenting his offensive capabilities in their own styles:
- Primordial Jade Winged-Spear gives a CRIT rate bonus and incremental damage increase over time;
- Skyward Spine makes it easier to charge his Elemental Burst, increases both damage and attack animation speed, and may provide occasional area-of-effect damage
- And his signature spear, Vortex Vanquisher, further amplifies the strength of his Jade Shield, and rewards the frequent use of it with a damage boost while shielded.
4-star weapon recommendations are also budget-friendly as well—the Dragonspine Spear that boosts physical damage is a reward in one of the quests in the titular mountain, and Crescent Pike is a good spear all-around because of the constant collection of Elemental Orbs that can come from the stele, shield or meteor. If you have it thanks to the Gnostic Hymn, Deathmatch can also work for raw damage.
Black Tassel is a noteworthy 3-star polearm for a special reason; if you ignore the passive that only works against slime enemies, it provides an HP% boost as its secondary stat. This is fun to experiment around if you’re keen in building Zhongli as a tanky bruiser that has invested all stats into maximum HP.
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Best Zhongli Team
Pairing Zhongli with another Geo user is a must if you want to bring his Jade Shield to its fullest potential through the Elemental Resonance. Noelle would become extremely hard to kill once she has her Burst (Sweeping Time) active, and doubling down on the shield makes it hard for them to even take damage. Both the Geo Traveler and Albedo help out Zhongli with the Stele pulses with their own Skill and Burst creating Geo formations as well, thus creating a bigger area of effect.
By far, however, Zhongli’s best Geo teammate (as of writing) is none other than Ningguang. Her attacks result in pure Geo damage, and she doesn’t always have to make use of the Jade Shield’s AoE Elemental RES down, when the Resonance itself brings down Geo RES just from her firing her gems. Her Jade Screen skill also widens the pulse area of Dominus Lapidis, and it keeps the vitality of the barrier alive from all projectiles.
Outside of Geo teams, Zhongli can work as a cross between a support and a sub-DPS because of the new effects of his hold skill, especially for melee users. Characters like Diluc, Keqing, Childe and Xingqiu can make full use of both RES shreds which results in amplified damage across the board. Though, he himself is also up to the task should he be brought into the battlefield.
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Does Zhongli Need Constellations?
Prior to his buffs, Zhongli needed to have his first Constellation activated to be even considered good, and worse he needed the second one that grants a Jade Shield to everyone under his Burst’s landing zone to be thought as capable in Co-op mode.
With augmented power now, he’s actually pretty good on base form, so should he come back on a Wish banner in the future, getting just one copy of him is fine enough. For those who got more constellations, it’s simply icing on the cake that needed time to taste better towards his supporters.
It took Zhongli about two patches to get to where he is now, but he’s finally matching the awe-inspiring aura that captured everyone’s attention in story appearances and his demo trailer. The God of War has finally shown his true power.