The Genshin Impact metagame once had shields like Zhongli essentially at the top of the food chain; if you were shielded you were practically unstoppable.
The best way to take out endgame content like the Spiral Abyss was to take on enemy damage with shields while making your way to victory with your DPS, and in the overworld, it was no different.
But since the release of Inazuma in version 2.0, we’ve been faced with enemies like Rifthounds that deal “corrosion” damage, completely ignoring shields.
Environmental phenomena such as Balethunder also bled through shields and dealt continuous incremental damage.
And shields are also null when facing the weekly boss Magatsu Mitake Narukami no Mikoto and she is terrifying Musou no Hitotachi signature bar.
Suddenly, the security behind Geo’s cocoon or other elemental shields began to wane.
Now that we are in version 3.0, the question arises: is it still worth getting the shield characters?
Sumeru is the land of reactions
Upon entering Sumeru, all enemies and nerfing shields appear to have been cast aside (for now).
But that doesn’t mean the Shielders are now back to dominate the game – Sumeru’s unique terrain and new Dendro element require a team built to create more Dendro elemental reactions.
Simply put, Shield Impact has now become Elemental Reaction Impact.
It is not ideal to lose a space on your team due to a character like Noelle or Zhongli, whose only elemental reaction is Crystallization, especially if you are leading an Electro character or the new 5-star DPS Dendro Tighnari.
Electro got the buff it deserved with the release of Dendro thanks to the new Aggravate reaction, which boosts Electro DMG against a Quickened enemy.
Dendro also receives the same treatment with Spread, which increases Dendro’s DMG on a Quickened enemy.
As such, it would be the best option for a team with two Dendro characters to activate Dendro Resonance, which increases your party’s elemental mastery, which in turn increases the damage they deal from elemental reactions.
The remaining members of your Sumeru squad should come from one of the three elements that react with Dendro: Electro, Hydro, and Pyro.
Having an Electro character on your team such as Raiden Shogun, Yae Miko, Keqing or Fischl increases the damage of all, as they can be the main DPS themselves or increase the damage of your Dendro DPS with Spread.
Hydro adds versatility to your team, as they can trigger the Bloom reaction, which can further trigger Hyperbloom or Burgeon reactions, and provide out-of-bounds damage or healing. Yelan and Xingqiu are good at dealing damage out of bounds while Sangonomiya Kokomi provides both damage and healing.
While Pyro isn’t the best element to react with Dendro, you can never go wrong with someone like Bennett around to maximize your damage capabilities.
So where do the shielders stay?
Geo shields like Zhongli and Noelle provide nothing but their shields, unless they are your primary DPS.
Again, you are forgoing any additional damage provided by a character capable of activating elemental reactions.
Diona, the game’s only dedicated Cryo shielder so far, provides both shields and healing, but doesn’t provide much else. Sure, she can also give the group Elemental Mastery buff at C6, but that hardly makes up for her lack of reaction.
Thoma and Xinyan’s fire shields are in a better position, however, as they can react with Dendro.
Dendro’s release appears to have been the buff Thoma desperately needed, as he is now usable as a shield capable of reliably triggering Burgeon’s reaction from out of range.
He was one of the more underwhelming characters in the game, but it’s safe to say Thoma has now found a niche where he shines. In fact, he’s the only shielder worth using in the current meta.
Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for Xinyan, as it can’t reliably activate Burgeon. The downsizing of her also makes her difficult to use effectively.
Embrace the reactions
In short, the Genshin Impact the metagame in Sumeru no longer favors shielders, even if they are not neutralized as hard as in Inazuma.
You can still have one in your party for convenience if you wish, but you will sacrifice damage as a result (unless you have a Thoma built into a Burgeon group).
But then again, and as we’ve always pointed out, play however you want!
With the increase in elemental reactions in the meta, the shielder will suddenly not be null.
The added confidence of not getting harmed while lashing out at your enemies will always be a welcome bonus to your gameplay.
There will always be a place for every type of character Genshin Impact, regardless of whether the meta favors them or not. With enough investment in your characters, anything can work out.
Yan Ku is a full time dog parent, part time player (gacha) and part time writer.
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