Looking for an up-to-date Honkai: Star Rail character tier list? Honkai: Star Rail has a total of 22 playable characters so far in version 1.0, and that number is only going to increase over the next few months of Star Rail's infancy.
Even more so than its cousin, Genshin Impact, each of the characters in HSR can be extremely useful if used in the right ways at the right moments, in the right situations. But even so, the meta has now had time to settle and there are some characters that are head and shoulders above the rest.
Read on to view our current Honkai Star Rail tier list, ranging from the very best characters in the game right now to the least impressive For more information on each of these characters and our reasoning behind their rankings in our tier list, scroll further below the tier list table for our write-ups on each of the 22 units in the game - including limited event character Seele!
Honkai Star Rail tier list for 1.0
Here is our current Honkai Star Rail tier list for May 2023 and version 1.0:
|Seele, Bronya, Bailu
|Clara, Gepard, Himeko, Welt, Tingyun, Natasha, Yanqing, March 7th
|Trailblazer, Pela, Sushang, Dan Heng, Asta
|Hook, Qingque, Arlan, Herta
Explaining our Honkai Star Rail tier list
Our tier list has been constructed with reference to a number of factors: as well as our own experience playing the characters we've drawn on our knowledge of the opinions of the HSR community, and the current meta that favours some paths and elements above others. We expect this to shift and change over time as HoYoverse releases updates that change the game and rebalance the characters, and we'll keep our tier list updated accordingly!
Finally, always remember that Honkai: Star Rail is a single-player PvE game, and it's fine if you just want to play as the characters you like, rather than the ones who dominate the current meta! There's really no downside to an unoptimised team other than the occasional battle taking a bit longer, and it beats investing your time (and potentially your money) into pulling and building characters who you don't actually enjoy seeing in your game.
S-Tier: Best characters in Honkai Star Rail
Unsurprisingly, the very best characters in Honkai: Star Rail are typically some of the hardest to obtain. Characters with limited availability on Event Banners tend to have great base stats and impressive skills, and this is very much by design. While it's inadvisable to try to collect every 5-star in the game, saving up your free pulls for these S-Tier units will allow you to put together some of the best possible team combinations in the game.
Unsurprisingly, Honkai: Star Rail's first ever special event character is one of the best on the roster, and the strongest DPS in the game at launch. As a follower of the Path of the Hunt, Seele is best utilised as a boss killer. Her skill and especially her ult deal an enormous amount of damage compared to other Hunt characters, and defeating an enemy with any of her combat skills grants her an extra turn. This gives her a significant advantage in larger-group battles even when her focus remains on a single target at a time.
Seele: 5 star (event-exclusive) | Quantum | The Hunt
Bronya is the game's premier offensive support character in Version 1.0. Her ult allows her to provide highly useful ATK and CRIT DMG buffs for DPS team members, as well as using her skill to dispel harmful debuffs applied by enemies against her team. And while her normal attack is the least of her merits, she's no slouch in combat either, with a passive talent that feeds off this move to advance her next action forward.
Bronya: 5 star (permanent) | Wind | The Harmony
Bailu is easily the best defensive support character in the game at launch. As V1.0's premium healer, she's got the good stuff when it comes to powerful and effective boosts to her allies' health. Comparing her kit to her F2P equivalent Natasha, Bailu is just a little bit better in every area, from slightly higher base stats to a unique buff she applies with her ult that helps allies begin to heal as soon as they get hit over the ensuing turns. Just try to ignore how weird it is that she's a water dragon who wields the Lightning element.
Bailu: 5 star (permanent) | Lightning | The Abundance
The A-Tier is where most of HSR's 5-star characters fall, thanks to their innately better stats and generally more impressive kits. However, there are also a generous assortment of 4-stars who make the cut, and happily several of them are characters you'll unlock for free. These characters will be indispensable in the early hours of the game even if you plan to pull for their 5-star counterparts when you can, and since they tend to specialise in support roles, there's a good chance you'll want to keep them on your team long-term while you focus on building up your preferred DPS characters.
The game's pre-eminent DPS all-rounder, Clara is kept out of the top tier by her status as a jack-of-all-trades, master–of-none. She can handle herself extremely well in a variety of combat set-ups, meaning that she's an effective alternative to having both a Hunt and an Erudition character on your team. While she can't quite compete with the specialists in their own areas, she more than makes up for it by being useful in every situation.
Clara: 5 star (permanent) | Physical | The Destruction
Gepard is essentially the 5-star equivalent to March 7th, who is already one of the best 4-star characters in the game. Given his extra rarity, Gepard of course does everything just a little bit better, from shielding allies to dealing Ice damage. Crucially, Gepard can shield his whole team simultaneously with his ult, which gives him the edge over March as a support-focussed character.
Gepard: 5 star (permanent) | Ice | The Preservation
Your extended time with Himeko as a trial character in the prologue will probably convince you that she's a worthy addition to your team. In addition to a solid basic kit, she gets a powerful free follow-up AoE attack anytime she or a teammate breaks an enemy's weakness, which means in a well-balanced party she can potentially attack multiple times per turn.
Himeko: 5 star (permanent) | Fire | The Erudition
The only 5-star Nihility character in the game at launch, Welt's normal attacks are solid enough, but his debuffs are what really justify his status. His skill and ult focus on slowing enemies down, and can often stop them in their tracks entirely. It's a simple but extremely effective way of debuffing the opposing team.
Welt: 5 star (permanent) | The Nihility | Imaginary
Tingyun is a very strong contender for the title of best 4-star character in Honkai: Star Rail. Her special skills revolve around buffing her allies in combat, and she can effectively lend her own attack to another character, to be dealt in addition to their own for the next three turns, with plenty of additional buffs being granted by both her skill and ult. If it wasn't for the fact that her buffs are limited to one target at a time, you'd swear this was a 5-star kit.
Tingyun: 4 star | Lightning | The Harmony
Natasha is one of the best 4-star characters in the game at launch, thanks in large part to being the only alternative healer if you don't have Bailu. She's a strong all-rounder, although admittedly no parts of her kit can be called outstanding, and her ability to heal individual team members or the party as a whole at practically every turn make it well worth giving her a spot in your party.
Natasha: 4 star | Physical | The Abundance
Learn the Honkai Star Rail best Natasha build here!
Yanqing may be the least desirable 5-star character on Honkai: Star Rail's permanent banner. He's not bad by any means, but his offensive manoeuvres aren't significantly more impressive than Dan Heng's, who might be considered his 4-star equivalent. On the other hand, his passive makes him less likely to be attacked by enemies, allowing him a measure of self-protection notably missing from the kits of the 4-star boss killers.
Yangqing: 5 star | Ice | The Hunt
March 7th is your starting support character, joining your team in the prologue and specialising in shielding her allies. In fact, though, March is a good all-rounder: in addition to a decent shield skill, her normal attack can freeze enemies and her ult deals AoE damage across the entire opposing team. In other words, she's a very good 4-star alternative to Gepard.
March 7th: 4 star | Ice | The Preservation
Learn the Honkai Star Rail best March 7th build here!
The B-Tier is where many 4-star characters fall, and therefore tends to be the main recruitment pool for F2P players. Just remember that tier placements are graded on the curve, and while B-Tier characters may not be quite as fancy as those in the S- and A-Tiers, they're still more than capable of doing everything you need to do to progress through the game.
The Trailblazer's element and path are both adaptive, and you'll find you pick up better options for them as the game progresses than the Physical/Destruction kit they start out with. However, even as your starter DPS they're consistently useful, and once they pick up the ability to switch to Fire/Preservation later on in V1.0, they become even stronger.
Trailblazer: 5 star (special) | Adaptive | Adaptive
Learn the Honkai Star Rail best Trailblazer build here!
Pela is a good all-rounder who can frequently knock her enemies down a peg or two, thanks to her skill and ultimate talents both having the ability to remove their self-applied buffs, while dealing Ice damage at the same time. In fact, the only real downside to Pela is that her debuff skill takes away a buff at random if there's more than one to choose from, making it impossible to ensure that she hits the most desirable and strategic target.
Pela: 4 star | Ice | The Nihility
Sushang works very similarly to fellow Hunt 4-star Dan Heng, but with the added bonus of the chance of an immediate follow-up to her skill attack, elevated to a guarantee whenever she breaks an enemy's weakness. This makes her a little more powerful in ordinary combat, allowing her to more effectively contribute to crowd control while building up energy to trigger her giant-slaying ult.
Sushang: 4 star | Physical | The Hunt
Dan Heng is the game's starting boss killer. Given to you for free early on in the prologue, it's possible to start building him straight away, and his ult is powerful enough to one-hit some huge enemies from very early on. His normal attacks and crowd-control abilities aren't quite as impressive, however, and the other two Hunt characters in the game at launch have him edged out as an all-rounder.
Dan Heng: 4 star | Wind | The Hunt
Learn the Honkai Star Rail best Dan Heng build here!
Unlocked the first time you interact with the gacha, Asta will almost certainly be the first offensive support character to join your team. In addition to being a decent all-rounder in combat, she can grant helpful speed buffs to her fellow party members when using her ult, while her passive can buff their ATK for up to five stacks. She rounds out the starting party nicely, and provides a helpful balance for F2P players who'll be sticking with the other three main starter characters for the foreseeable.
Asta: 4 star | Fire | The Harmony
Learn the Honkai Star Rail best Asta build here!
The C-Tier doesn't sound terribly desirable and, to be honest, it's obviously not the place to find the best-performing units in the game. The characters on this level can be tricky to play thanks to a combination of low base stats and often uninspiring kits. But there's absolutely a place for C-Tier characters in many teams, depending on how you like to play the game. And indeed, some of these characters are more difficult than underpowered, meaning that it can be a pleasant and rewarding challenge to find a build that works for them.
Hook's nominal purpose is to act as a solo DPS, but since all of her attacks are single-target as standard, it can still be beneficial to pair her up with an AoE-focused DPS as well. A multi-target variation on her skill becomes available in the turn after she triggers her ult. It's not a bad kit, but there are better Destruction characters available for a more reliable mix of single- and multi-target if you want to focus your resources on building up a single DPS.
Hook: 4 star | Fire | The Destruction
Despite having some cool stuff in her kit, Qingque is held back by the fact that it can take several turns to stack up her attacks effectively. There's an element of randomness involved, too, thanks to her passive ability relying on a complex series of card draws that can eventually add up to enhance her normal attack. It's great when it works, but unreliable when you're down to the wire and just need a DPS you can count on.
Qingque: 4 star | Quantum | The Erudition
Learn the Honkai Star Rail best Qingque build here!
Arlan is injured when you meet him in-story, and if you take him into a combat encounter, you'll soon learn why. His skill requires you to leech from his health pool in order to damage enemies, and with very few healers in the game at launch, that's a huge downside when you have other DPS candidates who don't need to cannibalise themselves. To add insult to (literal) injury, his attack power isn't even all that great, although he can throw some pretty good AoE elemental attacks with his ult and passives.
Arlan: 4 star | Lightning | The Destruction
Despite her in-universe excess of confidence, Herta is a fairly weak fighter. She's capable of performing AoE attacks as part of her skill and ultimate abilities, which is good, but only her ult is particularly impressive in terms of raw damage. Other than the fact that you can unlock her for free towards the end of the prologue, poor Herta doesn't have much going for her right now, what with fellow freebie character Qingque leading the ratings for 4-star Erudition followers and several better Ice-aligned characters to choose from if you want to freeze enemies.
Herta: 4 star | Ice | The Erudition
Learn the Honkai Star Rail best Herta build here!
While Honkai: Star Rail is well designed such that any character can be used effectively as part of your team, there are some who just don't stack up in comparison, even if you're an F2P player who can't afford to ignore a potential party member lightly. Don't despair if you pull a character who appears on our D-Tier, but be aware that there are better alternatives whom you almost certainly have access to.
Unlike her companion on the D Tier, Serval has charisma in spades. What she doesn't have, unfortunately, is much going for her beyond her AoE ult. With lower base DMG than her fellow 4-stars on the same path, and few buffs or debuffs beyond the basic ones provided by her Lightning element, Serval does the job without bringing anything spectacular to the table, beyond the fact that you can claim her for free early on in the prologue. She's not bad, per se, but there are better Erudition characters on the roster.
Serval: 4 star | Lightning | The Erudition
Learn the Honkai Star Rail best Serval build here!
Not only is he not nearly as charming as he thinks he is, Sampo is one of the least effective characters in the game at launch. Despite nominally following the Path of Nihility, most of Sampo's active skills focus on dealing normal and elemental damage, but he's nowhere near strong enough to justify ignoring his nominal path and building him as a DPS. His debuffs only come in passively or after triggering his ult, and they're nothing special when they do make an appearance, so if you're looking for a good 4-star debuff specialist, pick Pela.
Sampo: 4 star | The Wind | Nihility
That's all we have to say about Honkai: Star Rail's best characters at this early stage, but we look forward to regularly diving into the meta to see what's changed! Until then, you might like our next Honkai: Star Rail banner page, which gives you all the latest news on characters who are going to be joining the game soon.