Honkai: Star Rail has many, many characters, some more worth investing in than others. Since the game’s launch, new patches have introduced additional characters to shake up the meta. The latest update, version 1.4, and more to come in the future will do the same.
But even with all these cool characters, the ones that you get for free or from the standard banner should be enough to get you through much of the story. In fact, I’d consider some of them to be better than the characters on the special banner. You can probably build most characters to work if you level up their Light Cones and apply effective gear, but some will make it easier for you than others.
Our tier list ranks characters based on their skills and utility without any Eidolons (copies of the same character), but it does account for their potential for improvement. That means a character who doesn’t get better after a couple of Eidolons will rank lower than a character who does. Overall, it considers how useful characters are in a variety of team comps, even if they can work in niche settings.
Here are all 34 Honkai: Star Rail characters, ranked.
Sampo is entertaining comic relief but not a very reliable teammate. He deals Wind damage to multiple targets with a chance of slowing them down. Overall, he doesn’t change the pace of battle much. Spend your resources building someone else.
Hook can deal decent damage as a fire character. However, it’s difficult to recommend her over better damage dealers and support characters like Asta, especially since Asta is free.
Qingque is one of the only Quantum characters in the game, so she will be an important addition for anyone who doesn’t have Seele. Unfortunately, her strength relies on random chance. You won’t get consistent damage with her, even if she’s extra strong when she strikes the jackpot.
The Trailblazer’s Physical abilities offer flexibility that lands them between a Hunt and Erudition character because they can attack more than one target. Their attacks don’t have as much potency as Sushang, though, so you should build her over the Physical Trailblazer if you value higher damage.
Herta is one of the first free characters you get. However, because she’s also an Ice character, it’s hard to recommend her over March 7th early in the game. If you ever need someone that applies Ice to multiple enemies, she’s your gal. She’ll be especially useful in the Simulated Universe for freezing enemies for buffs.
Pela is the best four-star Nihility character you can get at this point in the game. She’s especially helpful for removing enemy buffs. For example, some robot enemies erect an annoying shield that takes a while to penetrate. Pela can remove that buff with her skill and sometimes even freeze them. She can also stop persistent Mara-Struck enemies from recovering with the same skill.
Serval works wonders for breaking Lightning weaknesses, but her utility fades in comparison to other characters like Tingyun, who can buffs teammates. That said, her AoE Lightning damage is unrivaled.
Arlan’s biggest gimmick is that he does more damage the lower his HP goes. However, that’s not what makes him good. He uses HP instead of Skill Points, which is especially important in a game where skill point management can be the difference between victory and defeat. If you use him, you’ll need a healer on deck.
Asta joins your party early in the game, which will be especially useful for breaking Fire weaknesses and buffing allies’ attacks and speed. If you ever get Tingyun, she might be worth using instead of Asta simply because of the energy regeneration she offers over the space station lead.
March 7th will serve as your initial defense until you either pull a better shield character or a healer. Her follow-up attacks and ability to freeze enemies also add utility to her kit outside of her shielding. Freezing becomes even more viable if you increase her Effect Hit Rate.
Dan Heng is one of the game’s best damage-dealers, even as a free four-star character. He also has the chance to reduce enemies’ speed whenever he lands a critical hit. Other Hunt characters can still outperform him in terms of pure damage, but extra Eidolons can give him an edge over his competition.
Like the Physical Trailblazer, Sushang is a high-damage Physical character. However, she succeeds much more in the damage department thanks to her Sword Stance ability. Whenever she inflicts a weakness break, she performs another attack that inflicts more damage than it would without it. Many of her passive abilities also increase her speed, ensuring she can strike an enemy earlier than other attackers.
Yukong is great for buffing other party members and a good build relies on boosting her SPD so that she can activate those buffs more often. While Yukong has the potential for buffing the party, her skills only last two actions which makes them costly to keep activating. Though as one of only three Imaginary characters in the game, she mays till have a spot on your team.
Clara and Svarog come as a pair of offensive yet defensive support characters. Clara’s ult reduces damage and taunts enemies into attacking her. That’s especially useful because of Svarog’s counter, which can destroy anyone who hurts Clara.
Himeko is one of the few exceptions to the currently underpowered Erudition class. Erudition characters deal damage to multiple targets, but don’t do as much damage as the single-target DPS characters from the Hunt. Himeko balances damage and utility with her multi-target attacks and follow-ups.
While not as powerful as the other Abundance characters in the game, Lynx’s ability to dispel all debuffs on allies with her Ultimate gives her a unique utility for encounters with enemies that constantly throw debuffs out.
Luka is best when paired with Kafka, as his ability to apply damage to enemies over time and to increase the damage a single enemy receives perfectly complements her skillset. If you don’t have Kafka though, Luka loses his usefulness.
Welt deals multi-target damage and slows enemies, which can make a load of a difference in battle. After all, enemies won’t get a chance to retaliate if your teammates annihilate them first.
Natasha will likely be a mainstay in many F2P teams because she’s one of the only healers right now. Even so, Natasha gets the job done more than well enough. I can’t count how many times she’s saved my ass with her multi-target healing Ultimate ability. Stack her HP and Outgoing Healing Boost to get the most out of her.
This foxy lady might not do much damage, but she more than makes up for it with buffs. Tingyun raises her teammates’ damage with her skill and adds Lightning damage to their attacks with her special ability. She also recharges Ultimate meters, which can help teammates cast earlier than they otherwise would.
Silver Wolf’s unique skill that adds a random weakness of your team’s attack type to an enemy has so much use in difficult fights. While her toolset can hinder the enemy the biggest downside of Silver Wolf is that she can only apply these skills to one enemy at a time.
Luocha is the most unique healer in Honkai: Star Rail thanks to his skills that heal based on ATK output. His ultimate also does solid AoE damage and can wipe away enemy buffs.
Many players (including me) prefer the Fire Trailblazer over Gepard because of the flexibility their defensive skills offer. They apply a small shield to their team members whenever they use their basic attack, skill, or Ultimate. In that sense, it’s much easier to a create a shield during any given turn. Meanwhile, Gepard needs to charge his Ultimate before he can shield all of his allies. Fire Trailblazer also reduces damage their team members take and taunts enemies, which gives them overall more utility as a defender than Gepard.
If you don’t have Gepard, the Fire Trailblazer is currently the only way to get a shield that simultaneously affects all your allies. It’s also easy to trigger. Note that March 7th still provides a stronger shield for single units.
Bailu can continuously heal allies during battle with Invigoration. She can also revive a downed character with her Talent once per battle.
Seele has a naturally high attack stat that you can improve with her Traces, and her Talent gives her another turn whenever she dispatches an enemy. She can sometimes attack four times in a row. If you build her right, she hits hard.
Jing Yuan and Seele are about the same level when it comes to wiping out opponents. Seele may be able to take over the turn order, but Jing Yuan can demolish fields of enemies with his multi-target attacks. The Lightning Lord, one of his unique summons, has his own place in the turn order and essentially acts as another attacker for Jing Yuan.
As a Hunt character, he deals heavy single-target damage and even has a chance to perform a follow-up attack like Sushang. His Sword Link ability also makes it less likely for enemies to attack him, so you can focus your defenses and healing on other team members.
Gepard has a reputation as the game’s best defender. His Ultimate shields all allies, giving him a clear edge over starting character March 7th. However, some players may prefer the flexibility March 7th or the Fire Trailblazer offers.
Bronya is by far the best support character. She doesn’t do as much damage as Seele or Jing Yuan, but she does much more damage than the average Harmony character and offers more than enough in exchange. Her Skill makes it so that you can choose whenever a character takes another turn. It’s especially important in battles where turn order can turn the tide, almost as important as how quickly some characters can activate their Ultimates.
Kafka is an essential part of any team build that centers around damage over time (DoT). The ability to activate her DoT skills on the enemy imminently and often makes her the centerpiece for these powerful team builds.
Blade has quickly become one of the best damage dealers in Honkai: Star Rail thanks to his skills that sacrifice HP for attack output. When used correctly, Blade has the potential to wipe the enemies away in only a handful of moves. When paired with the proper support characters he is unstoppable.
Dan Heng – Imbibitor Lunae
As far as raw damage output, Imbibitor Lunae is up there with the likes of Jingliu. He takes little skill to use and always delivers, turning the already reliable Dan Heng into an even more powerful player.
Fu Xuan is a preservation character who acts as a tank, redirecting damage to herself and mitigating enemy attacks. In addition to rebuffing the enemy with a general DMG reduction, Fu Xuan is the best preservation character currently available.
Yanqing used to be the best Ice damage dealer in the game… then version 1.4 introduced Jingliu. With a reliance on CRIT Rate and unique skills that drain ally HP to increase ATK, Jingliu’s ability to decimate the enemy makes her an incredibly powerful addition to any roster.