The best Nicole build in Zenless Zone Zero

The best Nicole build in Zenless Zone Zero centres around using The Cunning Hares’ leader to blast enemies with her ether vortexes, grouping them up so other characters can follow up and do some damage. This suitcase-slinging fighter is really good at debuffing enemies, reducing their defense when she hits them with a vortex or her enhanced bullets.

She’s also one of only two ether characters in the game, capable of applying the powerful Corruption anomaly, which deals extra ether damage to afflicted enemies on subsequent hits. With her additional ability, Hare of Many Burrows, she also buffs the amount of ether damage squadmates deal to an enemy when she reduces its defense, which works very well alongside that Corruption effect.  

For my money, she’s the best starter character in the game, and a capable support for whatever party you choose to try out. That said, here’s the best ZZZ Nicole build plus how to get her levelling materials lower down.

ZZZ best Nicole build

(Image credit: miHoYo)

Nicole is the best character you get for free in Zenless Zone Zero. Not only does she have an extremely fun playstyle—centered around grouping up enemies by blasting out ether vortexes—but she’s very effective at weakening them and applying the Corruption anomaly so your attack character can deal extra damage.

After using a special or chain attack, Nicole reloads her suitcase, gaining eight enhanced bullets that appear in the top left of the screen like an arcade shooter. When she hits enemies with either these bullets or the field of her ether vortexes, they have their defense reduced for 3.5 seconds. 

So, the best build for Nicole focuses on energy regen so she can use her EX special attack lots, plus buffing how fast she can proc Corruption on enemies and how powerful its effect will be. 

  • W-Engine: The Vault or Weeping Cradle

The best W-Engine for Nicole for my money is The Vault, an A-tier that’s perfectly suited to her playstyle. It buffs energy regen and means that when she deals ether damage against enemies using an EX special attack, chain attack, or ultimate, all other squadmates gain 15% increased damage against said targets. The wearer’s energy regen is also buffed even further when that happens.

Considering Nicole’s ether vortexes suck in and group up enemies so other squadmates can punish them, this damage buff works perfectly. Since it’s an A-tier instead of an S-tier, it’ll also be easier to get and upgrade. There’s only one S-tier W-Engine for support characters in the game at launch, Weeping Cradle, and while it offers a nice damage buff, its advanced stat boost is pen ratio, making it more suited to Rina than Nicole

If you don’t have either then I’d consider using [Reverb] Mark II in the meantime, since it’ll buff energy regen so Nicole can use her special attack more, as well as anomaly mastery for the team when the wearer uses a chain attack or EX special attack, which will buff how fast she can proc Corruption.

  • Drive Discs: Chaotic Metal (four-pieces equipped), Swing Jazz (two-pieces equipped)

For Drive Discs, I recommend four-pieces of the ether-focused set, Chaotic Metal. Two will buff ether damage by 10% for all of Nicole’s vortexes, while four will increase crit damage by 20% and buff the potency of squadmates triggering the Corruption anomaly’s extra damage effect by 5.5%. This can stack six times. 

Since Corruption is caused by ether damage, this stacks perfectly alongside The Vault’s increase to squadmate damage against targets who’ve been hit by Nicole’s ether. For the remaining two-pieces, Swing Jazz is a good shout, as this buffs energy regen by 20%, letting Nicole use her special attack even more. 

You can get Chaotic Metal and Swing Jazz either through the Monster and Weirdo Cleanup activity, or at the Bardic Needle store on Sixth Street, when you unlock them both after the Belobog commission during the main story.

In terms of base stats on the Drive Discs, I recommend:

  • Drive Disc 4: Anomaly proficiency
  • Drive Disc 5: Ether damage bonus
  • Drive Disc 6: Anomaly mastery or energy regen

Anomaly proficiency increases the Corruption bonus damage effect that enemies receive when afflicted by that state. The Ether damage bonus strengthens Nicole’s AoE vortexes, while anomaly mastery speeds up how fast her ether damage procs the Corruption state. This is all great if you’re using Nicole to blast off her vortexes and proc Corruption, before punishing the grouped-up enemies with your other characters.

For random stats, you should look for anomaly proficiency and energy regen, buffing the damage enemies receive when hit in the Corruption state and how often she can use her EX special attack. You could also build crit rate to take advantage of Chaotic Metal’s four-piece crit damage buff, but I would say it’s currently unclear whether anomalies can crit—elemental reactions in Genshin Impact can’t for example.

Since Corruption’s damage is triggered through subsequent attacks against afflicted enemies, it’s likely that Nicole would have to attack those enemies for the Corruption effect to crit, and that kind of invalidates her playstyle of weakening/grouping up enemies, then switching to an attack character to take advantage.

ZZZ Nicole promotion materials

(Image credit: miHoYo)

Here’s what you’ll need to level up Nicole in Zenless Zone Zero:

  • Support Certification Seals (Basic, Advanced, and Ruler)
  • Investigator Logs

You can get Support Certification Seals through the Combat Simulation activity that unlocks via the main story. You’ll want to choose Agent Promotion and then Support Drill in Nicole’s case. Investigator Logs also come from the same place, you just need to choose Basic Material and Investigation Specialization instead. 

Similar to previous miHoYo games, raising your Inter-Knot reputation will provide access to higher character levels. Once you progress far enough, you’ll also be able to change what enemies you fight in Combat Simulation to get a custom set of material rewards.

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