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How to unlock characters in Genshin Impact

Genshin Impact is a free-to-play open-world action RPG that feels like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but if BOTW had elements of a mobile game. Developer miHoYo was better known for its mobile RPGs until Genshin Impact exploded onto the late-2020 console, mobile, and PC scene. While the base game is free to play, Genshin Impact, at the end of the day, is still a gacha game.




30 minutes

What You Need

  • Fate

  • Story progression

Gacha games are built to have players spend in-game currency for the chance to unlock random items. They are similar to how microtransactions work in other free-to-play games like Apex Legends, Fortnite, and Call of Duty: Warzone. These in-game purchases are one way to unlock new characters in Genshin Impact; however, they’re not the only way. Here’s everything you need to know about how to unlock characters in Genshin Impact.

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Unlocking free characters

The good news is that new players won’t have to spend any money to gather a capable party at the start of the game. Simply by progressing through the main quest, players will add enough characters to field a full four-person team, along with the game’s main character. When you’re first starting out in Genshin Impact, it’s a good idea to follow the introductory Archon quest to round out your party before getting too deep into its open-world exploration.

On top of the basic characters unlocked through Genshin Impact’s story, there are two more free teammates who you can recruit by completing certain challenges. The first of these is Barbara, a healer with water-based spells who makes a welcome addition to any party. To unlock Barbara, players will need to reach Adventure Rank 18 and complete the quest called A Long Shot. Players earn progress toward their Adventure Rank for nearly everything they do in Genshin Impact, from completing quests to opening treasure chests, and the rewards come quickly near the beginning of the game.

There’s another character available without using Genshin Impact’s gacha system. Xiangling is a fire-based polearm user who can be unlocked by progressing through the game’s Spiral Abyss. The Spiral Abyss is an unlockable dungeon that offers players increasingly challenging floors of combat encounters to fight through. You can unlock Xiangling by beating Floor 3, Chamber 3 of the Spiral Abyss. Each floor in the dungeon has three chambers, so you’ll only need to fight through nine separate encounters to unlock her. However, the challenge escalates quickly, so to easily unlock Xiangling, you’ll need a party of characters at around level 45. 

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Unlocking characters with Fate

Players will need to spend an in-game currency called Fate to unlock any additional characters. You can spend a Fate at any time in the game’s Wish menu to get a randomly drawn character or item. There are two different kinds of Fate — Acquaint Fate and Intertwined Fate — that can be used to try to win from different pools of characters and weapons.

Acquaint Fate is the more common currency, letting players wish on a Standard Wish Banner with set odds of earning one of many characters or weapons in the game. New players can also use Acquaint Fate on a special Beginners' Wish Banner, which lets them pull two sets of 10 random weapons or characters at a 20% discount, meaning you’ll spend just 16 Acquaint Fates for a total of 20 weapons or characters. If a player uses 10 Wishes on the Beginners' Wish Banner, they’ll also be guaranteed to receive Noelle, a high-defense character who’s also a capable healer.

Intertwined Fates can be used on Character Event Wish Banners, which offer increased chances of winning certain high-level characters, with a selection that changes over time. Keep in mind that either type of wish can reward either weapons or characters, so it can take several tries to get any new characters at all.

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How to get more Wishes

The only way to unlock new characters through Genshin Impact’s gacha system is by spending Fate, but fortunately, there are a lot of ways to acquire it. The game is fairly generous with handing out Fates to new players to get them started, so anyone joining early should have a decent stock to use on new characters right away. Fates are also rarely offered as quest rewards or Adventure Rank rewards, providing another boost in the early game.

The main method of acquiring more Fates, however, is by spending Primogems, which are handed out as rewards much more often than Fates. You can get them as rewards for completing lots of in-game activities, from quests to dungeons to daily challenges. MiHoYo also offers free Primogems as daily login bonuses and even gives them away to make up for lost time during routine server maintenance. You should be able to earn enough Primogems to buy dozens of Fates just by playing through what’s currently available in the game.

However, Genshin Impact being a free-to-play game, Primogems are also available for purchase with real money. Players can purchase Primogems as part of the game’s battle pass, which offers various rewards including gear and level-up items, or through a separate monthly purchase, which offers far more Primogems per dollar.

There’s one final way of unlocking characters, which requires you to first have Fate to spend. Each time you use a Wish in Genshin Impact, you’ll receive a small quantity of either Masterless Stardust or Masterless Starglitter, depending on the rarity of the item or character you receive. For every few Wishes you make, you’ll receive enough Stardust or Starglitter to purchase more Fate in the in-game store, keeping the character unlocking cycle going a little longer.

In short, there’s a lot to keep track of when it comes to unlocking characters in Genshin Impact. While it may seem overwhelming at first, the system makes much more sense once you’ve actually used it once or twice. Just remember, if you want to unlock the most characters possible, keep looking for ways to acquire more Fate and Primogems, and don’t be afraid to use them. It’s also entirely possible to play through the entire game without spending a cent if you’re willing to wait for those characters to unlock.

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Robin Bea
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Robin is a Pittsburgh-based writer focused on gaming, entertainment, and science. She spend her free time mostly making…
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