All hail the cat queen. Keqing, one of the most commonly owned 5-star characters in Genshin Impact, finally has a favorable place in the game’s meta. Thanks to the Dendro element, her days as an overlooked Electro 5-star are over… for now.
Many Electro characters besides Keqing can consistently trigger elemental reactions. She just stands out because she’s many players’ first 5-star character and she’s constantly available on the standard banner. Plus, the number of Aggravate reactions she can cause with her Elemental Burst outweigh other low-budget options. Longtime Keqing-havers can see the drastic change in her damage output when Dendro is involved.
In the days before Dendro, the usual Keqing experience went like this: You’d get her after losing a 50/50 on an event banner, or as a 5-star from the standard banner. She could carry you through the 12th floor of the Spiral Abyss, maybe even the entire game if you used her right. But, whenever you saved up enough gems to pull for someone more OP, Keqing became old news. Goodbye cat girl, hello sword boob lady!
“Keqing is the best Electro for any newbie. Fast cooldown. Electro infusion. Traversal. Fast attack. Can use Black Sword. Has invincibility. Kawaii,” Genshin player John Veldad told Polygon. “In terms of damage, she is average. In terms of versatility, she is top-tier.”
Before the latest update, the Genshin Impact community generally treated Keqing like a “beginner DPS” — a character to use until you could get someone better. In a Reddit thread that kicked off by describing her as the “worst 5-star DPS,” players listed their gripes, including the high stamina cost for her skills, her tendency to knock back enemies, her undesirable constellations, and her element: Electro.
Another Genshin player, Lowe Toserero, shared similar thoughts with Polygon about what it was like to play Keqing back in Genshin Impact’s earlier days.
“She is much more viable now compared to when players used her for Overload and Electrocute comp. Now that the Dendro reaction has been added, her lack of DPS is covered by the Dendro reaction,” Toserero said. “I used Keqing around 1.2-1.3 but her Burst multiplier is quite low and her only high-output attack is the charged attack. Now, I’m using her for a longer bit of time.”
Keqing had a difficult time compared to more powerful characters like Raiden Shogun, who excels in multiple team comps thanks to her consistent Electro application, energy particle generation, and buffs. She’s a 5-star Electro character like Keqing, but her Burst scales with the amount of damage her teammates do with their Bursts. Keqing isn’t meant to fill the same niche, though. She’s always been advertised as a Physical DPS or Electro DPS.
Her role as an Electro DPS can now compete with other top picks when she’s paired with Dendro teammates. One Twitter user showcased Keqing’s synergy with Dendro Traveler versus the Magatsu Mitake Narukami no Mikoto boss. When Keqing pops her Burst, the Aggravate damage from combining Electro with Dendro eats at least half of the boss’ remaining health. To be more specific, her teammates and the new Dendro reactions have unofficially “buffed” her.
“Keqing, Fischl, Dendro MC, Kazuha/Sucrose makes Keqing viable and actually quite strong due to Keqing’s attack speed. Keqing mains winning this patch fr,” said Braxophone, a Genshin Impact content creator, in a post on Twitter. However, he also thinks she needs Fischl to reach her full potential.
“Sure, she’s good on her own with Dendro now, but the reason I say she’s actually busted is because of her Fischl interactions on top of her new regular power level,” he explained in another tweet. Despite those critiques, he generally saw the update as a general “win” for Keqing mains. Also, Keqing isn’t the only 5-star DPS who relies on Elemental Reactions. Many of them do, including Hu Tao, Diluc, and Klee.
As one Twitter user put it in a recent thread about Genshin Impact’s meta: “Keqing needs Dendro the same way Hu Tao needs Hydro. If Hydro... or even if XQ didn’t exist, Hu Tao would be an awful character.” Hu Tao mainly relies on Pyro DMG from her Elemental Skill in combination with Hydro/Vaporize reactions. In this case, Dendro Traveler is Keqing’s Xingqiu.
It’s hard to predict whether Keqing will stay in favor with the rumored 5-star Electro polearm user Cyno over the horizon. When asked about the longevity of her popularity, Keqing main Ralph Marbibi said she probably wouldn’t last for long.
“I think those who understand Dendro and those who like to try other comps would still use her,” said Marbibi, who has mained Keqing since Genshin Impact 1.0, “but to be honest, a lot of people like seeing bigger numbers and I feel like a lot of people would still stick to things like Vaporize comps.”