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Meet the Genshin Impact player who spent 4 months and $0 grinding a terrible character to max level

Genshin Impact Amber close-up photo
(Image credit: Future)

The Genshin Impact player that took one of the game's worst characters all the way to max level solo wouldn't recommend it, but he says he learned a lot doing it over the four-to-five months it took him to complete the achievement.

The ultimate Amber main reached the game's level 90 cap (and Adventure Rank 50) earlier this week without playing a single other character unless he absolutely had to, and without paying a cent of real money. Genshin Impact is usually about mixing characters with different elemental attributes to defeat enemies. The game gives you several free characters to complete your four-person team (others are available through gacha pulls), but, if you're like this ambitious player, you don't have to use them.

Amber is a bow-using pyro character that we've placed at the bottom of our Genshin Impact character tier list. She's not a particularly strong choice in the game's big cast of characters, primarily because of her lack of synergy and utility in tough battles—and that's assuming you're playing the game properly. That wasn't the case for this Genshin Impact player, who goes by Sorta, from taking the bunny-themed archer through a lot of the game's content completely solo.

"I started the account back in May," Sorta told PC Gamer. "At that point, I had been playing Genshin on my main account for a few months and was well into the late game.

"I wondered how far it'd be possible to go [through the game] with only a single character. Amber seemed like the perfect fit to figure that out—fun playstyle/character, underrated abilities, plus she's playable right at the beginning," he said.

finally_made_it_to_ar_50_lvl_90_using_only_amber from r/Genshin_Impact

"I realized pretty early on that it wouldn't be possible to beat every puzzle/quest with only Pyro, so I switched to seeing if I could max out her level," Sorta said. Some of Genshin Impact's story quests require you to use the game's main character for their unique Anemo abilities. This requirement locked Sorta out of entering the game's newer Inazuma region, where the most recent story quests lie. Instead, he was stuck grinding the daily Commissions and spending his Original Resin currency to gather level-up materials for Amber.

The worst part of the grind? The Pyro Regisvine boss that drops the items you need to level up Amber. Her most powerful attacks are Pyro, but the Pyro Regisvine is immune to those. Regular players would swap in a Cryo character to get the job done, but Sorta isn't a regular player. Instead, he had to roll on the standard banner using  free currency from playing the game on a Rust bow that increases Amber's physical damage, and have "a lot of patience."

"It was almost a game inside of the game, even if the game was sometimes just dodging Regisvine pellets for 10 minutes to get materials."

Genshin Impact

(Image credit: MiHoYo)

I asked him if he'd do something like this again. He said he'd "probably do a Catalyst-only team," which would mean only using characters who can use that specific weapon type. "That way I'd still have to get creative in combat, but wouldn't get locked out of so many Domains/puzzles (Inazuma). Not having to use Rust to break Pyro Abyss Mage shields and kill the Pyro Regisvine would be a relief too."

Sorta said he learned a lot from this self-imposed Amber challenge. "The biggest one by far is that any character can be viable," he said. "Maybe not as a one-shot-the-entire-Spiral-Abyss thing, but if you find a character that you like, you can definitely find plenty of ways to have fun," he said.

"Amber’s also better than some people give her credit for," Sorta added. "Though my physical damage build probably isn’t the most compelling argument."

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Tyler has covered games, games culture, and hardware for over a decade before joining PC Gamer as Associate Editor. He's done in-depth reporting on communities and games as well as criticism for sites like Polygon, Wired, and Waypoint. He's interested in the weird and the fascinating when it comes to games, spending time probing for stories and talking to the people involved. Tyler loves sinking into games like Final Fantasy 14, Overwatch, and Dark Souls to see what makes them tick and pluck out the parts worth talking about. His goal is to talk about games the way they are: broken, beautiful, and bizarre.