Genshin Impact: Elemental Reactions Ranked & Explained

At first glance Genshin Impact looks like a straightforward “mash A to win” anime-fantasy RPG, but as you encounter more bosses and become familiar with your talents, you’ll eventually realize that careful planning and deliberate team building can make or break your experience.

Elemental strengths and weaknesses are a common feature of every RPG, but few games make them as important in combat as Genshin. All elemental reactions in the game scale with “elemental mastery” but this seemingly simple stat obscures the complexity of elemental reactions and the damage they deal or mitigate — read on for a comprehensive explanation of reactions and how they stack up.

Burning

This reaction is the hardest to evaluate because it has already been adjusted once and will be once more with patch 1.2. Burning occurs when pyro and the not-yet-fully-implemented dendro element interact, most of the time you’ll see it happen when grass ignites. Burning simply accelerates the amount damage over time received by a unit standing in fire. Not particularly useful unless you’re trying to cook Paimon. The damage also increases per world level, burning is the only reaction to scale this way.

Dendro should be fully functional by the time upcoming character Yaoyao is released so hopefully its other reactions will be more exciting

Crystallize

When a geo attack collides with any elemental status inflicted upon a target a crystal spawns that grants you a shield against all damage and slightly absorbs damage from the element that spawned it. The shield’s HP increases with the geo unit’s elemental mastery.

Incoming damage in Genshin is rarely a problem so shields are rarely necessary. Even if shields do become important some non-geo characters can form shields without relying on crystallize. This coupled with the fact that shields can’t be stacked (the animations stack but HP does not), means that geo characters are the least efficient way to shield yourself… pretty bizarre considering that’s their primary job. (miHoYo is revamping geo so this info will likely change by patch 1.3.)

Swirl

Swirl, the first reaction that new players encounter, isn’t bad but isn’t great. Swirl is caused when anemo reacts with any other element aside from geo or dendro, and the effect is always the same: minor anemo damage is dealt and the combo element is dispersed across the battlefield and applied to enemies in swirl’s range. This reaction is most noticeable when pyro is involved as it will set nearby grass ablaze.

Swirl on its own isn’t much to write home about, fortunately it is complemented by the skill sets of anemo characters, Sucrose, Jean and Venti. They have excellent crowd control capability, which is perfect for rounding up enemies and applying status effects en masse.

Overload

Overload is the hardest hitting reaction pound-for-pound, scaling faster with elemental mastery than any other reaction,  it’s also the biggest double-edged sword. When electro and pyro interact overload is the result. It’s the highest single instance of reaction damage and knocks back everything caught in its blast radius… including you.

It’s unclear whether patch 1.1 broke overload or if this change was intentional, but after this update electro damage you deal in the presence of pyro makes your character explode too. This means A-tier characters like Fischl now have to watch out for even the most unassuming candlesticks, so buyer beware.

Electro-Charged

When electro and hydro combine enemies with the wet status, as well as bodies of water, become electro-charged. Overload has the highest single instance of damage of any reaction but electro-charged hits twice, so it can be more powerful. This effect also arcs between all nearby wet enemies, causing additional stuns and damage.

Electro-charged scales with character level and elemental mastery. Using electro in rainy weather creates a show of sparks that fortunately won’t harm the player the same way that overload can, be careful about using electro when you’re standing in a body of water though…

Frozen

The frozen reaction is as intuitive as it sounds, hydro and cryo come together to turn your enemies into popsicles. Freezing enemies is meant for crowd control, not dealing damage, but it’s still a handy reaction for any time you feel like you’re being overrun by mobs. Frozen enemies can’t move until the status effect expires. Frozen lasts for the duration of the element that was cast first so be sure to use cryo and hydro in quick succession.

Frozen (Shatter)

Shatter isn’t technically an elemental reaction but it applies a damage bonus in much the same way. Shatter occurs when crushing damage, from the fan-favorite claymore weapon or geo magic, hits an enemy that’s frozen, making it the only 3-step reaction in the game. Cast hydro, then cryo (or vice versa) and finish with crushing damage to break your frosty enemies apart. Shatter deals more damage than electro-charged but less than overload, it also scales with elemental mastery and character level, instead of elemental damage bonuses. Shattered enables unorthodox teams such as Ningguang, Chongyun and Barbara or Xinqui.

Superconduct

Superconduct is the combination of cryo and electro statuses, this reaction does the least damage up front, even less than swirl, but it allows for some big follow up hits as it halves the physical defense of all enemies caught in its area of effect. The only flaw of superconduct is that it doesn’t lower elemental resistances, so make sure you’re using physical damage dealers to capitalize on this debuff — catalyst users are better left on the bench for the 12-second duration of superconduct.

Vaporize

Vaporize, naturally, is triggered by combining pyro and hydro. This reaction is one of two (equally powerful) combos that actually do deal damage differently depending on which element is applied first. All prior reactions will always yield the same effect regardless of status application order.

Vaporize doesn’t have a set damage value that gets multiplied by character level and elemental mastery like every other reaction (melt and dendro excepted). Instead, vaporize multiplies the damage of the specific attack that caused it — 1.5 times for a pyro attack hitting hydro, and 2 times for hydro hitting pyro. For this reason vaporize seems underwhelming when you start the game, before you’ve upgraded any talents, but once you’ve upgraded your elemental skills and element bonuses vaporize will hit like a truck.

Melt

Melt works just the same as vaporize but is the combination of pyro and cryo. This time pyro should be the one triggering the reaction — your second attack — hitting cryo for a 2 times multiplier. Cryo on pyro likewise rewards a 1.5 times multiplier. It helps to remember Pokémon elemental relationships. You’ll never lose damage in Genshin, but vaporize and melt hit harder when hydro hits pyro, and pyro hits cryo, respectively.

Once again, the goal here is to upgrade the talents that will be triggering the reaction. The fact that Diluc, Bennett, Mona, Tartaglia and Xinqui are considered the best units in the game, and together will trigger melt, means that melt itself is thought of as the best reaction as well.

Next: Genshin Impact: The 5 Strongest Enemies In The Game (& 5 Weakest)

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Joseph Burrell is a University of Toronto journalism alumnus, a wedding & events photographer, a soon-to-be law student, and of course, a lifelong games enthusiast. He likes to break up the monotony of drilling LSAT questions with a spirited tabletop RPG session. When he isn’t writing for The Gamer, or playing Bioshock again, he’s probably out expanding his catalogue of Toronto’s spiciest vindaloos.

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