Rex Lapis; the King of Stone, is definitely one of the more interesting and fun characters in Genshin Impact. His overall move set is quite interesting, decently capable, and looks quite amazing, besides having a number of very good traits that make him significantly stand out when it comes to the capability of other characters, first and foremost being that he was the second polearm using character in-game.
That said, the drama regarding Zhongli cannot go unstated here. In comparison to other five-star characters in Genshin Impact, Zhongli was seen lacking, and we’ll take note of a comment from a MiHoYo employee later on because it’s based in some rather… Interesting, if completely faulty interpretations of the character which are, quite simply, amusing.
This overview (and most others featuring 5 star characters) is aimed at Constellation 0, or C0 Zhongli. Some of the examples may include usage of the effects from C1, but we’ll go over what that really changes in conclusion.
Basic Attack String
Zhongli’s basic attack chain consists of six inputs: the first three are a rapid set of stabs which are quite effective at juggling an enemy in the aerial state; the fourth attack is a downward stab into the ground with a slight delay which will likely drop a target; the fifth input is a multi-hit strike wherein Zhongli kicks his spear forward, striking the enemy four times; the sixth is a finishing stab which deals knockback.
All characters in Genshin Impact are capable of canceling their regular attack string with a variety of inputs. In Zhongli’s case, there is an optimal time to do this with his attack chain, and that’s immediately after the fifth input. By utilizing an evasion, elemental skill, character swap, or even elemental burst at this time, you can maximize damage opportunities by having an active hitbox up while performing other actions.
Zhongli’s charged attack, much like Xiangling, is a forward rush, however, there’s a lot more going on with Zhongli’s charged attack than Xiangling’s in terms of combat usefulness. Although clearly this attack has multiple active hitboxes, it’s only possible to deal damage once in most cases with this. That said, Xiangling’s charged attack has a number of interesting quirks which make it… Difficult, among other things, to use in combat and in creation of a combo. Zhongli’s charged attack is simply much easier to use for these purposes. That said, Zhongli’s charged attack does prevent character swaps until the end of the move like Xiangling’s.
In fact, as you can see, it’s so easy that Zhongli can easily perform a back and forth juggle with the enemy using mostly his charged attack. In addition, as the attack ends, there’s also a wider window to perform a character swap, allowing opportunity to perform a juggle with a character swap if one is so inclined.
If the player goes from using a Charged Attack into Zhongli’s elemental skill, he’ll deploy a Stele directly in front of him. If, instead the player uses a melee attack, Zhongli will orientate towards the nearest target, such as the enemy who he just hit with a charged attack as he swings.
Elemental Skill Press: Dominus Lapidus (Stone Stele)
Dominus Lapidus creates a Geo construct which then resonates with all nearby Geo constructs (with the exception of another Stone Stele), each construct in range producing its own wave of damage. Similar to other Geo constructs, when a Stone Stele is created, it will hit nearby enemies, and if they’re in the air, it will deliver significant knockback if timed properly.
This hitbox is roughly in the shape of the Stone Stele itself, although it appears to be a little bit larger in circumference than the construct. In terms of determining knockback, the angle of the surface which the Stele is deployed on will alter the direction with which the victim is sent flying – or if poorly timed, you’ll find you just gave them a bit of a bonk.
Although the range at which this happens is miniscule as Zhongli creates a Stone Stele nearly right in front of him, it is one of the rare opportunities to deal knockback at range. This allows for the opportunity to use a Stone Stele to knock an enemy almost back into you in the right circumstances, although you’ll need both the right type of enemy, as well as the right sort of flat ground to get consistent results. An enemy struck by this, if hit right, will likely get launched high enough to experience fall damage when they land, therefore, it may be important in certain situations to be able to strike an enemy with Stone Stele itself.
This overview is aimed at C0 Zhongli, but that being said, it’s important to note again that if you do have a Stone Stele and create another Stone Stele in its range, they will not resonate together but will instead do so individually.
Moving onto some important minutiae about interactions with other characters, if you are looking to maximize the damage output from Dominus Lapidus, Geo Traveler offers the best synergy, so go ahead and grab Aether or Lumine. This is because the Geo Traveler has the ability to create two constructs, and in addition to this, their ultimate does not contribute to the construct limit but does resonate with the Stone Stele. If you were unaware, there is a limit of three Geo constructs from a single player.
Another important note is that the Stone Stele can be used to create a place for the Anemo Traveler’s Gust Surge elemental burst to stay in place, which can be exceedingly useful for crowd control. When it comes to Ningguan and her Jade Screen, it’s important to know that the Jade Screen cannot be placed on top of a Stone Stele, but a Stone Stele can be placed in the middle of the Jade Screen. You can see an example here.
Elemental Skill Hold: Dominus Lapidus (Jade Shield)
When the elemental skill button is held instead of simply tapped, Zhongli creates a Jade Shield around himself. This acts as most other shields do in Genshin, but it’s worth noting that Zhongli’s C6 adds a healing effect similar to Xingqiu’s “shield”. This is also an attack which deals damage, and if there are any enemy Geo elements nearby, Jade Shield will significantly damage or destroy them outright – and it’s also quite excellent for mining.
When the maximum number of Steles have yet to be created, Zhongli will create another directly in front of him until he reaches the limit, afterward, he’ll just create another shield around himself.
The shield itself is effectively permanent: with a cooldown of twelve seconds and an up time of twenty, as long as the total amount of health the shield provides isn’t depleted, it can stay up constantly.
The attack can also connect with enemies a fair bit higher than Zhongli himself, but because of the nature of the Stele that gets created, this can be problematic if you’re trying to work it into a combo.
Elemental Burst: Planet Befall
For his Elemental Burst, Zhongli escalates straight to orbital bombardment. This attack will Petrify enemies, turning them to stone for a duration which is extended by upgrading the talent. It’s tremendous crowd control and can keep problematic enemies suppressed for a decent window besides dealing a good amount of chunk damage.
Unfortunately, Petrify only works on regular enemies. It’s not an option that’s on the table when it comes to bosses, although the damage dealt by the meteor itself shouldn’t be ignored in the situation of a boss fight. There’s a significant window where the player can’t really do anything, so I recommend trying to use Planet Befall particularly during Zhongli’s fifth attack in his normal attack chain, that way, at the very least you still have a spear kicked out and ticking away for a few more chips of damage. It’s not crucial, but, it’ll probably make you feel better about being stuck in that animation for a length of time.
Now, it’s worth noting that unlike freezing an enemy, Petrify tends to let them drop after they’ve been knocked into the air, but it probably takes too long to really hit an enemy while they’re still in the air anyway for this to be of much use.
It’s worth noting that some of the footage used is from 1.2, and therefore, there’s one significant point of difference: he hits significantly harder across the board. In general, however, that detail isn’t so useful for the purposes of going over his moves, and if I’m quite honest it even gets in my way when he’s dealing more damage, therefore I don’t really see fit to re-record anything that only was altered in the form of bigger numbers, just think of it as an ego-boost if you’re playing him and he’s hitting like a bus now.
Obviously, Zhongli synergizes best with another Geo character, but who depends mostly on whether or not he’s Constellation 1 or above because of the three construct limit. Obviously, any character who can create two constructs by themselves is the better choice for Constellation 0 whereas any character who creates a single construct is suitable for Constellation 1 and above.
Zhongli’s C1 after 1.3 does provide a fairly significant buff to his overall damage when multiple Steles are resonating, but I don’t feel it’s particularly crucial although it can offer a significant upgrade in the form of offering broader synergy as said above, but I do think Zhongli’s other constellations as a whole make him significantly more useful.
In terms of weapons and artifact sets: personally, I favor the Favonius Spear, largely for its ability to provide a better up time for Planet Befall, but Crescent Pike offers insane damage given Zhongli’s normal attacks, therefore, one should build appropriately given their preferred weapon. Archaic Petra and Retracing Bolide are orientated towards Zhongli’s elemental abilities, while the Gladiator’s Longing artifact set is excellent if you’re looking simply for physical damage, for which Zhongli is definitely no slouch after the update.
Zhongli’s standout strength is bringing survivability to a party in the form of creating a shield and his better emphasized Dominance of the Earth passive. This is significant with content like the new Primo Geovishap. The fight’s difficulty is largely dependent on the player’s positioning, but Zhongli’s effectively permanent shield makes countering its attacks infinitely easier, therefore, it’s fairly clear that eventually he’ll likely be a core component teams to ease the difficulty of later introduced content.
Finally, regarding the comment made by that one MiHoYo employee, there’s a question that needs to be raised: what sort of Geo characters coming could have possibly made Zhongli better? Albedo isn’t particularly amazing with Zhongli, and if anything, the best Geo character to go along with Zhongli is likely the Geo Traveler, both for their ability to create two constructs, as well as their capability to create additional constructs past the limit with their elemental burst as I’ve already covered.
In other words: Zhongli was more or less already at his peak when he was released in terms of synergy given the game’s systems, unless a character was introduced that specifically ignored or worked around the construct limit, there’s not a lot that could’ve made Zhongli’s elemental skill – and most direct synergy with other Geo characters – a real threat on the battlefield, besides buffing him, of course.