I’m usually a skeptic whenever Genshin Impact fans whine that an upcoming character will be underpowered. We did this song and dance with meta-definers like Kazuha, Kokomi, and Alhaitham. Now it’s happening again with Dehya, a mercenary captain who had been integral to helping us save a troubled nation. Even while theorycrafters denounced her leaked kit, I remained hopeful that her in-game performance would differ from the numbers that leaked ahead of her release date. It turns out, she’s not at all like her leaked kit. In fact, she’s worse. She’s so bad that some players have started to accuse HoYoverse of being prejudiced against brown characters.
Dehya is a premium five-star character who uses fire-based powers in combat. She has a militaristic design that suits her background as a mercenary-for-hire. Genshin fans loved her no-nonsense attitude and stalwart loyalty towards her friends. What they didn’t love were her ability descriptions, which were officially released two weeks ago.
Here’s how her kit works. Her elemental skill allows her to conjure a field that works similarly to the popular alchemist character Albedo. Every time an enemy takes damage inside of her field, the ability also hits them with a blast of fire damage. When your active character is attacked (and Dehya is off-field), the field transfers some of the damage to Dehya. When she has enough energy to trigger her ultimate attack (burst), she enters a “lion” state that automatically attacks the closest enemies in her vicinity.
Genshin’s endgame mode is all about achieving high DPS numbers, and so shielder characters are usually considered less valuable. Except she absorbs damage, so most shield bonuses wouldn’t apply to her. Defensive characters normally have additional bonuses based on a substat, since their attack is low. Dehya’s damage was revealed to scale off both attack and health points. This is a similar scenario to Xinyan, another fire user whose heavily distributed scaling rendered her non-competitive in the meta.
There were still fans who hoped that her playstyle would compensate for how rough her numbers looked on paper. When HoYoverse unveiled her gameplay demo, they had not displayed her damage numbers. Worse, it was clear that she was struggling to kill a basic slime.
Genshin allows players to demo new characters when they become available in the gacha. I tested Dehya for myself, and I can confirm that she’s not great. Her fire-infused attacks were dealing chip damage, and her ultimate attack is set to auto. This means that she can’t really dodge while she’s attacking. There are ways to mitigate damage, such as using shields from a different character. But that locks you into a specific team composition, and Genshin players are used to having the freedom to build their characters how they like.
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Dehya fans reported other problems. If you jump while using her ultimate attack, then her super-charged mode is canceled out. One player actually filed a bug report about this, and customer support told them that it was an intended feature. Literally no other Genshin characters experience this drawback, leading to another round of anger and memes.
A dedicated player might assume that Dehya fits some other gameplay niche. Genshin is built on elemental reactions. Melt (ice/fire) and vaporize (water/fire) are some of the most powerful combinations in the meta. There’s just one problem, though: Dehya’s ultimate attacks don’t activate the abilities of some of the most popular reaction characters. She can’t be optimized with popular support characters such as Yelan or Xingqiu. Remember how people panicked over Raiden Shogun and Beidou having zero synergy with one another? This is arguably worse.
Oh, and one streamer reported that her damage transference can actually kill Dehya. Even poison (corrosion) damage from enemies won’t bring any character to zero health points. So not only is her damage potential low, she has drawbacks that aren’t present in any other characters in the game. Kotaku reached out to HoYoverse to ask whether or not the developers intend to buff Dehya, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
One leaker tweeted that they like to join fan Discord servers for characters before their release. They had never seen a community give up on a character the way they have with Dehya.
“This is usually a period of hype for Mains communities,” they wrote. “It was heartbreaking.”
Some fans suspect that Dehya is underwhelming due to her darker skin color. They have pointed out that she’s the least usable five-star character, and that other brown characters have also been designed poorly. To add insult to injury, Dehya is part of the gacha’s roster of permanent characters, rather than its more exclusive rotating roster of seasonal characters. These characters are considered “spoilers” for when you’re trying to get a seasonal character, the gacha effectively giving you a consolation prize.
Yesterday, leakers revealed a new artifact set that might improve Dehya’s performance. So there might still be hope for her kit. But for now, her underwhelming performance at launch has soured many on the idea of spending hard-earned gacha currency on her banner. Maybe she’ll have a better time during her rerun.