Genshin Impact players can't decide if new character Nilou is terrible or overpowered

Genshin Impact
(Image credit: Hoyoverse)

Genshin Impact's newest five-star character, the Hydro dancer Nilou, has caused a rare, arguably never-before-seen rift in the game's community. One camp is convinced she's one of the strongest characters in ages, and the other thinks she may be the worst one ever.

Genshin fans have debated the merits of virtually every character that's been added to the game, but Nilou's been uniquely divisive because of how her abilities work. Nilou basically unlocks an exclusive, buffed version of an elemental reaction called Bloom that spawns explosive seed pods, but only if you put her in a team that only contains Dendro and Hydro characters. You don't have to build your teams this way, and some people still play Nilou with Pyro characters just to trigger the Vaporize reaction for bigger Hydro hits, but any other setup will sacrifice a huge chunk of Nilou's built-in power. 

The restrictions on Nilou's kit are the primary source of the community's divide. Some players argue that Hoyoverse's decision to explicitly lock her to two of the game's seven elements is needlessly limiting and that her kit could've been handled more elegantly, perhaps with tiered bonus effects rather than all-or-nothing triggers. The kicker is that Nilou's special Blooms also damage your own characters – not a lot, but enough to kill you if you aren't careful, which forces you to run one of the two Hydro healers available since we don't have a Dendro healer yet.  

"Nilou is rad. The design philosophy behind Nilou's kit is not rad," says Reddit user LV999Midboss in one highly upvoted post. "It hard restricts team building in a way that we haven't really seen before. Of course, you can ignore her kit and just play her anyway. Genshin isn't that hard so it will work," they add. 

On one hand, teams built around Nilou can deal exceptionally high damage in the right scenario – ideally when fighting multiple enemies that aren't too far apart. The current Spiral Abyss dungeon setup was clearly tailor-made to showcase Nilou's peak potential, and sure enough, she absolutely chews through it even with low-investment teams. To really hammer this home, a Chinese player managed to fly through the Spiral Abyss – the hardest content in the game – with a deliberately weakened team using un-leveled gear, all thanks to Nilou. 

Reddit user _D1N4148 shared a video of their Nilou team rivaling the Abyss clear time of a team built around Raiden Shogun – an archon who, with her first two or three Constellations unlocked, as they are here, is regarded as a game-warpingly powerful unit. There's no doubt that Nilou can work, and work well, but how fun or interesting she is has sparked more heated discussion.  

Nilou's implications for future characters have also been widely scrutinized, with known theory crafters like TenTen and Zajef77 weighing in amongst the game's Western community. Some Genshin players are hoping to see more characters who, like Nilou, have their own special elemental reactions, but the issue of specificity is a recurring sticking point. Others reckon more characters like Nilou would actually limit future experimentation by narrowing team-building, whereas the game's most popular characters can be added to almost any team or combination of elements. 

People are still learning how to play Nilou optimally, and the upcoming release of the Dendro archon Nahida will undoubtedly change the way she plays yet again. In the few days since her release, she's already sparked some of the most intense debates in Genshin's history – which I suppose is a mark of success in some way – and that will probably continue as the game's Sumeru patches unfold. For now, we're putting her around the middle of the pack on our Genshin Impact character tier list – just know what you're getting into when you Wish for her.  

The Spiral Abyss may be the hardest content in Genshin for some time, if not forever, what with the devs apparently avoiding endgame content because "it might end up creating excessive anxiety." 

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.