Screenshot by Destructoid

Adventuring as an Aloy main in Genshin Impact offers a good lesson in ignoring meta

S tier in my heart.

Aloy is one of my favorite characters in all media. She’s a certified badass in the Horizon series, with crossover appearances in various other games. One of these crossovers is Genshin Impact, where Aloy is considered one of the worst playable characters in the roster. 

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So, what happens when you decide to main an objectively bad character in a character-based RPG like Genshin? I’ve definitely gone through some Aloy-induced stages of grief thanks to my decision. Lots of negotiating that choice, too, but as they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way, right? 

Aloy arrived in Teyvat on September 1, 2021, for PlayStation users. Since I didn’t have a PlayStation, I forced my friend to log into my account on his console to claim her. When I got my account back, there she was. Anime-fied, but definitely still Aloy. She even had her own special Vision shape.

As a theorycrafter, I immediately looked at her kit. To my delight, Aloy could deploy bombs that looked identical to the Freeze Bombs in Horizon Zero Dawn. She also had a unique Coil stacking mechanic whereby she could infuse her Normal Attacks with Cryo damage.

That’s where the good news ended. Aloy’s Skill had a punishingly long cooldown, and there was another long wait between when she could obtain Coil stacks. Without sacrificing her damage with Sacrificial Bow, it was nearly impossible to consistently gain her Cryo infusion, rendering this part of her kit virtually non-functional.

Interestingly, Aloy’s Burst had a much shorter cooldown compared to her Skill. Maybe the optimal play was to ignore Aloy’s Coil mechanics and just spam her Burst? I hunkered down to try to make it work.

Aloy as she appears in Genshin Impact
Screenshot by Destructoid

Stage 1: Denial

I changed Aloy’s build again and again in an effort to make her functional. Freeze Aloy didn’t have the consistent damage to compete with other Cryo options. Mono Cryo Aloy made more efficient use of teammates, but didn’t fix Aloy herself. Reverse Melt Aloy resulted in the biggest numbers, but much of the team’s overall damage came from Xiangling or Rosaria.

I even created detailed spreadsheets to try to simulate Aloy’s damage in various teams with different builds. The numbers were always abysmal.

There’s no way HoYoverse released a character this dysfunctional, right? Every character in Genshin Impact is viable. I must be doing something wrong.

Stage 2: Anger

I turned to my Genshin friends on Discord, who had mostly reached the same conclusion. We commiserated on how terrible Aloy’s kit was. She may have been a free character, but she deserved better than this. After some private bitching and letting off steam, I turned again toward finding a solution.

Stage 3: Bargaining

At this point, I threw all of my fancy spreadsheets into the trash. There was no graceful way to play Aloy. Higher numbers had to come from stronger gear alone.

I stole my Skyward Harp from Fischl and gave it to Aloy. I pulled for Shenhe to boost Aloy’s Cryo damage. Surely, a 5-star weapon and 5-star support would make Aloy’s damage worth it. 

It didn’t matter that Fischl was an actual meta unit who would make better use of the weapon. It didn’t matter that I spent valuable Primogems pulling for a dedicated support character. I was the crazy Aloy lady pouring everything she had into a terrible character.

Horizon Zero Dawn's Aloy, displaying her character UI in Genshin Impact
Screenshot by Destructoid

Stage 4: Depression

Alas, it was to no avail. No matter what I did, Aloy just was not up to par. Her teams could clear the Spiral Abyss, but they struggled to achieve the full 36 stars.

And so, sadly, I benched my Aloy. For months, she sat unused, gathering dust. Instead, I went to work on finishing my ultra hard playthrough of Horizon Zero Dawn. Genshin Aloy was just a sad shadow of Horizon Aloy.

Stage 5: Acceptance

Over the course of the next several updates, HoYoverse continued to release powerful new characters in Genshin Impact. The introduction of Dendro shook up the meta in unpredictable ways. There were now lots of different ways to build powerful teams, and it became easier than ever to clear the Spiral Abyss.

Before even starting an Abyss run, I already knew that my Raiden National, Nilou Bloom, and Ganyu Freeze teams were up to the task. I wanted a challenge.

It turned out one of the only challenges left was doing a full clear of Abyss with Aloy.

Clearing the Abyss with one of Genshin's weekest characters, Aloy
Screenshot by Destructoid

Aloy is no longer benched. It takes her longer to clear difficult content, but I don’t care anymore. It makes me happy to see my favorite video game character living her best life as an adventurer in Teyvat.

As an added bonus, Aloy is one of the only female characters in Genshin Impact who wears proper pants. If I’m going to explore the rugged open world of Teyvat, I don’t want my character wearing an evening dress and heels. Aloy looks like she belongs in the untamed wilds.

The co-op experience has been surprisingly wholesome, too. It’s been years since Aloy was distributed to players, so having her at all has become something of a flex. I’ve never gotten a negative reaction from other players regarding Aloy’s damage. Most people are just excited to see a rare character.

Aloy is a lesson in playing what you love, not what’s meta. I’ve long uninstalled Horizon Zero Dawn to make space for other games, but seeing Aloy in Genshin Impact makes it feel like she never left my hard drive.

Still, I can’t wait to start shredding machines in Horizon Forbidden West when it comes to PC. Aloy deserved better.


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Author
Christine Choi
Contributing Writer - Christine has been gaming since she first stole her brother's Game Boy as a kid. She's come a long way since then and has been creating content for Genshin Impact since 2021.