Who are the best characters for each Path released in Honkai: Star Rail's first year? Here are our picks

From early release powerhouses to recent strong additions, here are our picks for the best characters for each Path released in Honkai: Star Rail's first year.

In celebration of Honkai: Star Rail's first anniversary, here are our picks for the best characters for each Path that were released in the game's first year. Pictured (left to right, from top): Jingliu, Ruan Mei, Kafka, Seele, Aventurine, Jing Yuan, Luocha. (Photos: HoYoverse)
In celebration of Honkai: Star Rail's first anniversary, here are our picks for the best characters for each Path that were released in the game's first year. Pictured (left to right, from top): Jingliu, Ruan Mei, Kafka, Seele, Aventurine, Jing Yuan, Luocha. (Photos: HoYoverse)

In its very successful first year, Honkai: Star Rail had nine version updates and released 47 playable characters across the game's seven playable Paths as of the second half of version 2.1. While everyone in this colourful cast is special in their own ways, some have stood out more than others.

So, in a continued celebration of Honkai: Star Rail's first anniversary, let's list down the seven characters from the game's first year that we think claimed the mantle of the best from their respective Paths:

Honkai: Star Rail's Path system separates its characters into different classes according to their roles in battle. While the Hunt and Erudition Paths specialise in single-target and area-of-effect damage, respectively, the Destruction Path stands out for excelling in any combat situation, though each Destruction character does come with a drawback of some form to balance out their power.

It is also for that reason that the Path of Destruction is arguably the most stacked, and the one that stands above them all is the Mara-struck Sword Master Jingliu.

Jingliu can obliterate just about anyone standing in her way once she enters her enhanced state, but that comes at the price of the health of her teammates. But when you're paying for top-tier damage output in any combat situation, you just make sure to run a healer for it's well worth the price.

Another good thing about Jingliu is the flexibility she affords the player when running her team. While Jingliu is at her best in a Hypercarry lineup with supports dedicated to buffing her, she is not limited to it unlike other damage-dealers. The fact that she consumes very few skill points means she can also be run alongside a secondary damage-dealer, with her fellow former High Cloud Quintet member Blade being her best teammate in such a lineup.

Honourable mentions: Imbibitor Lunae, Blade

As Honkai: Star Rail's first-ever limited 5-star character, Seele needed to make a good impression for players to get hooked. Since she was considered a top-tier damage-dealer and remains so to this day, it's safe to say that she has delivered on that promise.

What makes Seele so good is her ability to quickly take down single targets and get an extra turn to eliminate another. In any turn-based game, the ability to consistently get extra actions before the enemy is a sure-fire way to make a character strong. Because of this, Seele is arguably one of the very few characters we can say is 'future proof'.

Seele's ability to get extra turns also lets her surpass the limits of what you would expect from a Hunt character. Since she gets an extra turn after scoring a kill, she can defeat multiple enemies when things go her way and still clear an entire group of opponents even if all her damage is single-target.

Not only that, Seele has only gotten stronger now that the vaunted Mono Quantum lineup has been released. With Seele as the damage-dealer, Sparkle as the Harmony support, Silver Wolf as the Nihility debuffer, and either Fu Xuan or Lynx acting as the sustain support, all your enemies will disappear in a sea of butterflies.

Honourable mentions: Topaz, Dr. Ratio

As Honkai: Star Rail's second limited 5-star character in the second half of version 1.0, Jing Yuan had some big shoes to fill in order to follow up on Seele's strong start. However, Jing Yuan became somewhat underrated as he had yet to reach his full potential during his release and thus looked significantly worse than Seele.

But with the eventual release of characters like Topaz and Sparkle as well as the Ashblazing Grand Duke relic set, Jing Yuan and his fearsome Lightning-Lord now have everything they needed to shine and take the top spot for the Path of Erudition.

Similar to Seele, Jing Yuan is also able to surpass the limits of his Path. His Lightning-Lord's multiple attacks having the ability to proc all those hits on one enemy means Jing Yuan's damage output doesn't fall off in single-target situations.

Jing Yuan has only gotten stronger since he was released, especially after he was given more chances to shine with the release of further endgame content like Pure Fiction. Who's to say future releases won't buff him further? Until a new Erudition character can take the crown from him, we can confidently say that 'King Yuan' sits upon the throne of Erudition.

Honourable mention: Argenti

As Honkai: Star Rail's first-ever limited 5-star Harmony character, Ruan Mei boasts an insane kit that buffs her allies' DMG, Weakness Break Efficiency, Speed, and more! In a Path that also includes powerful characters like Bronya and Sparkle, Ruan Mei stands out for being a universal support.

While you can't go wrong with the DMG and Crit boosts from Bronya and Sparkle, their buffs are mostly limited to just one character in Hypercarry teams. While Crit-scaling damage-dealers don't mind that limitation, it does mean that Bronya and Sparkle aren't the most optimal supports in other teams that rely on damage-over-time or follow-up attacks.

Ruan Mei's ability to provide DMG buffs to the entire team lets her support any team from a Hypercarry lineup to damage-over-time and follow-up attack compositions with multiple damage-dealers. And that's not even mentioning her unique ability to buff Weakness Break Efficiency and Break Effect, which doubles as a further source of damage and as defensive utility by preventing enemies from taking action.

And with the metagame in Penacony shifting to new characters relying more towards Break Effect, Ruan Mei will only continue to get stronger. While we don't know if her plan to become an Aeon in the game's story will end up coming to fruition, we can at least say that Ruan Mei is at least the Aeon of playable Harmony characters right now.

Honourable mentions: Sparkle, Bronya

The Path of Nihility, just like the Path of Destruction, is also stacked with many strong characters like Kafka, Black Swan, and most recently Acheron.

And while Acheron quickly became arguably the strongest damage-dealer in the game — as one would expect from THE Emanator of Nihility — our pick for the Queen of playable Nihility characters remains with Kafka due to how central she is to the Nihility damage-over-time playstyle.

When Kafka released back in version 1.2, she quickly became a top-tier damage-dealer even if she did not have the optimal relic sets yet and only had 4-star teammates like Sampo and Asta at the time.

But with the release of a 5-star teammates like Black Swan and Ruan Mei as well as relic sets like the Prisoner in Deep Confinement and Firmament Frontline: Glamoth sets, Kafka has only gotten stronger. And if more 5-star damage-over-time characters for other elements still to come, she will just keep on getting better. Because of this, we consider Kafka a definite future-proof character that won't ever get power-creeped.

Not only that, we also have to consider how much Kafka has contributed to the hype of Honkai: Star Rail in its first year. I'm sure we know so many players who wanted to play the game when they saw Kafka in the first few trailers. And when considering how she is also a prominent figure in the game's story, her impact goes far beyond her already top-tier gameplay.

Honourable mentions: Acheron, Black Swan

The Path of Preservation only has five characters in its roster right now, but that doesn't mean it has any shortage of good members. At the game's release, we already got reliable shielders in the Preservation Trailblazer, March 7th, and Gepard followed by the absolute tank that is Fu Xuan in version 1.3.

But as the latest character to join the roster, we are all-in on Aventurine as the best Preservation character in the game right now. The strength of Aventurine's shield rivals Gepard's, but what makes our gambler king's protection much better is the fact that he creates them automatically at the start of battle and constantly refreshes it over the course of combat.

Not only that, Aventurine even doubles as a sub DPS with his follow-up attacks while also buffing his team's damage output with his ultimate. Other Preservation characters also protect your team like Aventurine, but none of them can also deal damage like he does at the same time.

And that's not even touching on how Aventurine quickly became a fan-favourite character as the emotional heart of the version 2.1 Trailblaze Missions. As more Preservation characters get released in the future, there will be challengers to Aventurine's claim as the best character of his Path. But we're willing to gamble on him retaining that top spot.

Honourable mentions: Fu Xuan, Gepard

The Path of Abundance is arguably the most underrated Path in Honkai: Star Rail, which is to be expected of the dedicated healer class. However, I'm sure many of us have been reminded of how important they are when struggling survive in the highest difficulties of Memory of Chaos, Swarm Disaster, and Gold and Gears.

When it comes to outlasting any and all damage dished out by the game's most fearsome enemies, no one does it like Luocha. With him on the team, you don't worry about survivability anymore as Luocha automatically heals any low health allies and keeps the entire party healthy with his healing field.

Not only that, he is a skill point generating machine as he can just spam normal attacks and heal allies without having to use his skill. And if the enemies you're facing are beefed up by buffs, he can erase those with his ultimate too.

Being a healer is oftentimes a thankless job and hardly warrants recognition from players when they do their job. Luocha doesn't mind, of course, as he essentially trivialises the role and lets you focus on keeping up your offensive. Because of this, Luocha is our pick for Honkai: Star Rail's best healer and we expect him to remain so in the future.

Honourable mention: Huohuo

Honkai: Star Rail is currently in version 2.1, which saw the release of three new characters in Acheron, Aventurine, and Gallagher, reruns for Luocha and Jingliu, and two new areas in Penacony. Not only that, version 2.1 is also Honkai: Star Rail's first-year anniversary patch and as such will give players tons of rewards!

If you're still torn on whether you should pull for Aventurine or Jingliu in the second half's banners, then we can help you decide.

Honkai: Star Rail version 2.2 will be released on 8 May with two new characters in Robin and Boothill as well as tons of other new content. And after version 2.2 comes version 2.3 in June, which which features two more 5-star characters in Firefly and Jade as well as new endgame content in the Divergent Universe and Apocalyptic Shadow.

Yan Ku is a full-time dog parent, part-time (gacha) gamer, and part-time writer.

For more gaming news updates, visit https://yhoo.it/YahooGamingSEA. Also follow us on Twitter, as well as our Gaming channel on YouTube, and check out Yahoo Esports Southeast Asia’s Facebook page!