HOW DO I OPTIMIZE MY HU TAO? SHOULD I GET HER?
Like many of you reading this, when the Hu Tao banner dropped, the first thing I was curious about is how she would work. Was she compatible with a team build? Is she was worth dropping primogems on after the OP Xiao banner? So I whaled so you didn’t have to. Unlucky for me, my first pity was C3 Jean, so I had to roll a full second pity to get her. Here’s my analysis:
FIRST IMPRESSION AT C0 HU TAO (Minimal Artifacts | 4* Polearm):
So right off the bat I knew I was going to have an HP problem. In order to activate her E ability, Guide to Afterlife, you have to take an HP hit for what looks like over a third of your health bar. This switches her normal attack, which is one of the lowest in the game, over to a Pyro attack. The Pyro attack does elemental damage with a % bonus and the charged attacked leaves blood blossoms on your enemies with a short burn time. I quickly learned not to use this effect in grass or around any electro fatui, as I would activate the ability, which hit her health bar hard, take a bit of burn damage from the grass, and get oneshot by an electro bolt. Never have I ever felt more like I was living life on the edge then using her with basic +4 artifacts and talents unleveled. She was level 60 in a level 70 zone, as I always see how characters match up against enemies higher than them for those increasing world level or unable to farm the ten levels needed to hit world cap.
So she was fleshy. After Guide to Afterlife ended, which was enough to take out one or two enemies, her health was below half and I was nervous to activate it again in fear of getting one-shot by a spawning archer. Against the big enemies who can hit you for 75% of your health it was absolutely a no for her. Even with my C5 max heal Barbara I had trouble keeping her alive.
The idea behind her health loss is focused on her Elemental Burst, Spirit Soother, which has a massive AoE and restores a bit of health with each enemy hit. However, if you are down to a single enemy or two, good luck restoring the portion of health you lost. This means you have to be willing to take that hit with no recovery if you still want to dish out the pyro damage instead of the lowest attack in the game.
All-in-all, looking at her ten levels below enemy level and with low artifacts and zero talent investment, Hu Tao simply is not a viable option for a main DPS. I haven’t seen any builds that focus on her causing elemental reactions simply because the blood blossom pyro effect is gone when she leaves the field. So how exactly do you build Hu Tao to be viable and is she worth the resources and primogems?
SECOND IMPRESSION AT C0 HU TAO (Witch Set +12 | 4* & 5* Polearm | Level 4 Talents):
Okay, let’s go round two. Hu Tao is now level 80 against level 80 enemies. She has a hard farmed Witch Artifact Set (4) at +12 Artifact level. She’s equipped with a Level 80 4* Polearm with Elemental Mastery and her Talents are up to Level 4. Basically this is the typical medium effort build for a character stan. I invested her bonus substats in Attack %, HP %, and Pyro Dmg %. Crit Rate is a bit low for my liking at 10% and 20%
Already she feels a lot better. To test her out I rolled 10 Geovishaps and went in with 2 friends to support my research. When she activates he Pyro Attack, she is hitting for the normal damage I would expect from a medium effort hero. At this point I am getting used to judging her health bar drops with only the occasional issue of being oneshot by its slam. Sprint dodging has become my absolute best friend when using her. However, as her Spirit Soother Elemental Burst relies on her health being under 50% to hit hard, I’m struggling a bit between keeping her two shots from death and at the 50% mark. The heals are boosting her out of range for the AoE burst, but I have to also keep her alive to use it. And everything is becoming so incredible situational and timing has my brain whirring as I spin around the Geovishap.
It’s an experience. She feels like an increased difficulty to use and I’m onboard with the design. However, her base attack makes her have to constantly reduce her health to be useful and her AoE, which can do massive damage if invested in HP and Crit, can rely too heavily on timing. I don’t think she’s OP like Diluc or Xiao or even Venti, and I’m not entirely sure what her team roll is. She doesn’t provide any abilities that remain after she leaves the field for her teammates to utilize, but she also can not solo carry a boss battle. So for now I am slotting her into DPS main and see if MiHoYo adds some needed adjustments. I would like to add that when I added Xiao’s Jaded Spear Polearm, her attacks felt better and I could use her as a main DPS, as the damage output more closely was on par with Diluc. Crit Rate should 100% be an investment.
HU TAO BEST BUILD: UP IN FLAMES
BEST WEAPON: THE STAFF OF HOMA PROBLEM
The main problem is the weapon. Hu Tao’s best weapon is the Staff of Homa, which is available in the Weapon Banner as a 5 Star. Reminder, there is no guarantee you will get it on first pity (I didn’t) and no guarantee you will get it on second pity as it’s a split feature between the Staff of Homa and Wolf’s Gravestone. This weapon fixes the problems with Hu Tao. The Staff gets the Crit Rate high enough to make damage on par with other five star characters and is geared to balance out the constant health problem by increasing your already increased damage output when your health is below 50% so you can take out the enemies that could finish you to 0HP.
Effectively, in order to bring Hu Tao from zero to hero, you need her other half. Her other half is this 5 Star weapon. This is a serious issue for F2P players and to people who save up for one banner as they now need to double their wishes for no guarantee of completing the set.
If you got lucky to pull a Jade Spear, I highly recommend using this as an alternative. Other than that, you want a 4 star weapon that increases your crit rate or if you don’t have that go for elemental mastery. Just be aware that you may need to switch her out a lot to finish enemies while she recovers.
ARTIFACTS: THE MORE THE MERRIER
When it comes to your artifacts, if you don’t already have the Crimson Witch of Flames set, it’s time to kill a lot of Electro Mages. I recommend hitting the Hidden Palace of Zhou Formula Domain with a couple friends at the highest level available for you. If you aren’t spending fragile resin, it may take a few weeks to farm. Here’s what they can roll with (I have color-coded what I recommend for main stat with blue text, subsets are trickier but I recommend Crit Rate and HP):
If you don’t feel like grinding for them or don’t have the time, I recommend Lavawalker or even Beserker, but the set is highly worth the farm. A 2-Piece set increases Pyro DMG Bonus +15%. A 4-Piece set increases Overloaded and Burning DMG by 40%. Increases Vaporize and Melt DMG by 15%. Using an Elemental Skill increases 2-Piece Set effects by 50% for 10s. Max 3 stacks. As you can see, when on a pyro user like Hu Tao, this set increases damage output when an elemental skill is used. With Guide to the Afterlife changing all base attacks to pyro, this set is a must have. For the fifth slot feel free to use whatever main stat you are missing from the recommended.
TEAM BUILD: PROTECT THE PAYLOAD
So there are limited team builds you can do that revolve around Hu Tao, but the best ones to utilize enhance her as your main DPS. Now that she is head of your party, who can give her the support she needs to be explosive?
REACTIVE EXPLOSIONS: ADD A PYRO SUPPORT
Adding a second Pyro character to the team will increase your Pyro attack output. A strong contender for this slot is our number one unlucky boy Bennett. With his strength lying in increasing attack and burst heals, he can give this fire enough spark to be stronger, but also keep it from going out. A very solid option, but it does limit your all-around elemental coverage, leaving electro and hydro enemies to eat you for breakfast.
WALLED EXPLOSION: ADD A SHIELD SUPPORT
Whether you add Noelle or Xingqui, protecting your Hu Tao is incredibly important to your build. In order to keep her alive after her health bar takes the Guide to Afterlife hit, you’ll need a strong shield to take hits without regening your health over the 50% range (for optimal DMG). I highly recommend Xingqui for this slot especially if you have the Crimson Witch set as the Vaporize Reaction will also trigger increased damage. However, if the aristocrat scholar eludes you, Noelle can protect her as well. Noelle also can help with sustain. If sustain is important to you and you nabbed a Zhongli, he will also be beneficial to you.
DON’T LET ME DIE: YOUR HEALER SLOT
By now if you read up to this point, you realize that Hu Tao’s health is a very important bar to pay attention to. If you have thrown both Bennet and Xingqui on your team, feel free to use this slot to instead have field coverage or equip another DPS main like Ganyu for melt and range or Xiao for damage output. However, if you decided to not have one of the previous healers, this is a slot that needs to be reserved for a Healer main. What I recommend here is Qiqi to best enhance the damage bonus and health moderation you need for Hu Tao. If you don’t have Qiqi, Barbara is also a viable option, but can be situational. For example, if you are up against Cryo enemies, your Hu Tao will be a strong option with her Pyro damage. But, if Barbara is providing your heals, prepare for the wet status to constantly freeze you at the most inconvenient times. Just something to be aware of. If you pulled Jean and you are confident with her, be my guest! I personally did not even feel confident enough with my Jean to test her in this slot and enjoy having at least one ranged attacker on the field.
All in all, there are viable teams for you to utilize with Hu Tao, but sometimes you may have to suffer element coverage or other dps to focus all talents on supporting Hu Tao. Skill level is definitely going to make maining her tougher with a hard learning curve, but the results could pay off in the end if built properly. This may also be a pain to build for F2P players with so many premium multiple-constellation characters needed.
FINAL THOUGHTS: TO WHALE OR NOT TO WHALE
I hate to say it’s on you, but it all comes down to how much you enjoy her as a character. She is not game breaking, but with the game constantly changing direction she could be a viable asset down the road. Regardless, MiHoYo needs to adjust her. If you would rather save up for repeat banners and aren’t personally invested in her design or Voice Actresses like I am, then this may be a banner you skip. It’s an expensive one for sure. If you did pull and get her, congratulations! I hope some of my guide helped you put together a strong setup for her.
What’s everyone's thoughts and opinions on Hu Tao? I’d love to hear what you think of her or some builds you are using down below!
If you want to see me double pity her, or want to watch some Genshin Impact gameplay from the new story quest or past events, I stream Genshin twice a week or more over on my Twitch. Just search for Aetherlore! My community loves playing together during events and I’m always down to talk about Genshin Impact and a variety of games over there and on my discord.