In Genshin Impact, you’ll start out with just a single character, the Traveler. But over time, you’ll work to build out your roster with more characters, each with their own unique abilities. You usually do this by making Wishes on the gacha banners, but if you want to Wish a lot, you’ll need to spend money. Luckily, there are a few characters you can get for free to help kickstart your team’s growth.
Notably, three of the characters listed below (Amber, Kaeya, and Lisa,) are all characters that are rarely featured in the gacha Wish banners. Getting constellations for these characters is extremely rare.
The Traveler (Aether/Lumine) — Anemo, Geo, Electro, or Dendro
When you first start Genshin Impact, you’ll get to choose between the male character (Aether) or the female character (Lumine). This character is commonly referred to as “the Traveler” and they are the protagonist of the game. You do not have to actively use them in your party, but they will star in most of the subsequent cutscenes.
The Traveler starts as an Anemo character, but once you arrive in different regions, you’ll be able to unlock the respective elements for that region. Going to Liyue will unlock Geo abilities. going to Inazuma will unlock Electro abilities, and going to Sumeru will unlock Dendro abilities. You can change the character’s element by visiting a Statue of the Seven in the respective region.
Amber — Pyro
Amber is the second character you’ll come across. Once you meet Paimon, follow the opening quest and you’ll bump into Amber very quickly. You can’t really progress and explore without picking up Amber, so just follow the main story quests until you recruit her.
Amber is known for being one of the weakest characters in the game, but her ability to fire off Pyro-infused arrows will help you solve tons of puzzles around Teyvat.
Kaeya — Cryo
Kaeya is the third character you’ll pick up. Shortly after you encounter Amber and enter Mondstadt, you’ll get a handful of quests. One of those quests, Crash Course, talks about meeting Kaeya at a temple. Follow the objective marker and meet him at the dungeon. After a short tutorial on how Kaeya and Cryo characters work, you’ll finish the quest and recruit Kaeya to your party.
Just like Amber, Kaeya is not particularly strong, but his Cryo abilities will help you solve early puzzles. Additionally, his Glacial Waltz ability does have its uses in niche team compositions.
Lisa — Electro
Lisa’s acquisition method is very similar to Kaeya. Once you visit Mondstadt, you’ll get a quest called Sparks Amongst the Pages. Follow the quest marker to another temple, and go through it. As is the case in Crash Course, you’ll get a tutorial for Lisa, and then add her to your party once you’re done.
Just like the other two, Lisa is far from the best Electro character you’ll get, but you’ll definitely want her around to solve any Electro puzzles you see in the early game.
Xiangling — Pyro
Once you hit Adventure Rank 20, you’ll unlock the Spiral Abyss. This is a kind of floor-based dungeon where you’ll take your squad through progressively harder floors, gaining some bonuses as you go. If you manage to clear Floor 3, Chamber 3 of the Spiral Abyss, you’ll get Xiangling for free.
Xiangling is the best of the free characters, and she remains extremely relevant to the meta, as her Pyronado ability allows her to consistently keep up damage, even when she’s not on the field. Alongside Bennett, another four-star character, she remains a staple in a ton of teams.
Collei — Dendro
Just like Xiangling, you’ll unlock Collei for free from just doing Spiral Abyss. You’ll need to clear Floor 4, Chamber 3, so you’ll need to clear more than you needed to for Xiangling.
Collei is a fine Dendro support, as she can apply Dendro well and help you solve Dendro puzzles in a pinch (especially if you don’t have your Traveler attuned to the right element).
Other free characters through events
From time to time, some limited-time events will reward free characters (or Constellations, if you already have the character). So far, the events have only rewarded four-star characters, but this can be useful if you’re missing important, powerful characters like Xingqiu or Bennett.
The characters available through these events normally reflect the region in which the event is taking place. For example, a big event in Mondstadt may reward Barbara or Noelle, but an event in Liyue may reward Ningguang or Beidou. Either way, it’s worth paying attention to events to score some freebie characters.