HoYoverse, the popular game developer, is gearing up to launch its next highly-anticipated free-to-play game, Honkai Star Rail. This upcoming RPG has already managed to capture the attention of both Genshin Impact and Honkai Impact 3rd fans, as well as a new group of users who are passionate about turn-based games. Unlike its “brothers” in the action genre, Honkai Star Rail offers a unique turn-based strategy gameplay that sets it apart from its predecessors.
The game is set to launch on April 26, 2023, and will be available on PC via the Epic Games Store and on iOS and Android devices through the App Store and Google Play Store and now I want to give you some details about what Honkai Star Rail is all about, the combat system, its progression system, classes and more. Let’s start.
About Honkai: Star Rail
Honkai: Star Rail is a free-to-play cross-platform role-playing game developed by HoYoverse, serving as the fourth part of the Honkai series project. In this game, players take on the role of the Trailblaze, a character implanted with a Stellaron, awakening with no memories aboard a spaceship under attack by Nanook’s Anti-matter Legion.
The game is set in a futuristic universe where humanity has long since conquered space travel, and semi-divine entities called Aeon wander the galaxy, spreading their ideals. However, one Aeon, Nanook, represents the ideal of “destruction,” considering civilization a cancer that must be eradicated. Nanook has scattered “seeds of destruction,” called Stellaron, throughout the galaxy, and relies on the help of the Anti-matter Legion, a group of hostile aliens who blindly embrace his ideals.
After a daring escape, Trailblaze decides to join the crew of the Astral Express, a massive space train, to embark on an adventure to visit various planets and take part in conflicts related to the seeds of destruction.
Honkai: Star Rail was announced as a spiritual successor to the Honkai series, with a completely new setting and story. The game features a cast of characters, with 23 playable characters available in the second closed beta. Many of these characters must be unlocked through banners, and even more, will likely be added in the full version of the game and through future updates.
The supporting cast has a less flashy style than Zenless Zone Zero, another Hoyoverse production, but still incorporates the characteristic traits of Hoyoverse games. Furthermore, for longtime fans, the game will feature alternative versions of Bronya, Seele, and Himeko, characters previously known in Honkai Impact 3rd, but with a completely new narrative background in Star Rail.
The Combat System
One of the most notable differences between Honkai Star Rail and previous titles is the turn-based strategic gameplay. Rather than relying solely on fast reflexes and button mashing, players must develop a solid strategy to outmaneuver their opponents. This introduces a new level of complexity and depth to the gameplay, which will undoubtedly appeal to players who crave a challenge.
Honkai: Star Rail draws inspiration from eastern-style RPGs and emphasizes classic turn-based combat, exploration of more or less extensive areas (although don’t expect an experience like Genshin Impact in this regard), and labyrinthine dungeons. During travel between game areas, enemies are clearly visible in the overworld, and it’s possible to gain an advantage by attacking a target beforehand, preferably using an element to which they are weak, and activating various bonuses depending on the controlled character.
Honkai: Star Rail features a turn-based combat system where players control a party of four characters and engage in battles against visible enemies. During a player’s turn, they can choose to perform a basic attack or a Skill from their controlled unit, with the basic attack dealing moderate damage but providing the necessary action points to activate the Skill. Additionally, each character possesses an Ultimate move that can be used outside of their turn, provided that the special bar has been charged through taking and dealing damage.
The combat system of Honkai: Star Rail is based on exploiting the strengths and weaknesses of both players’ units and enemies. By attacking an enemy with an element to which they are weak, players can activate a “break” that inflicts more damage and delays the target’s turn. With strategic preparation, players can take out entire groups of enemies without giving them a chance to act, similar to the gameplay mechanics found in Persona and Shin Megami Tensei.
The combat system in Honkai: Star Rail differs significantly from Hoyoverse’s previous productions, but the unit progression and mechanics are almost identical to those in Genshin Impact. To level up characters, players need Adventure Logs and specific materials for each unit. The same applies to upgrading offensive and passive abilities, as well as Light Cones, the game’s equivalent of weapons in other RPGs.
Players can also obtain Relics, which are similar to Artifacts in Hoyoverse’s action RPG. These accessories increase stats and offer various bonuses if used with multiple pieces from the same set. To obtain Relics and specific materials, players must complete certain activities, similar to domains in Genshin Impact, tied to the use of Trailblaze Power. This power is the game’s classic “stamina” mechanic found in free-to-play games that recharges over time, limiting player progression.
In Honkai Star Rail, playable characters are not divided by weapon but by Path, representing the hero’s primary role:
- The Destruction Path features DPS characters that excel in offense and defense, making them ideal for dealing massive damage in combat.
- The Hunt Path also has DPS characters, but they specialize in single-target attacks, making them particularly strong against Elite enemies.
- The Erudition Path also has DPS characters, but they specialize in area-of-effect attacks that can hit multiple enemies at once, making them great for dealing with hordes of enemies.
- The Harmony Path features Support units that apply buffs to allies to make them more powerful.
- The Nihility Path also has Support units, but they apply debuffs to enemies to weaken them.
- The Preservation Path features Defenders with incredible defensive abilities, allowing them to withstand more damage than heroes of other Paths.
- The Abundance Path has Healers able to regenerate their own and/or their team’s HP.
In addition to Path, each playable character also has one of seven elements: Physical, Fire, Ice, Lightning, Wind, Quantum, and Imaginary. As with any system based on elemental powers and strategic combat, Honkai Star Rail also has weaknesses and resistances that players must consider to defeat their enemies effectively.
Those damn Gacha Mechanics
Honkai: Star Rail features a gacha system very similar to Genshin Impact’s. The premium currency is called Stellar Jade, which functions similarly to Primogems, and is used to obtain new characters and Light Cone by trying one’s luck through banners. As in Genshin Impact, characters are categorized by rarity, with 4 or 5-star characters being more powerful and rarer.
Players can obtain Stellar Jade by simply playing the game, advancing the story, completing quests, and participating in timed events. However, as is typical with free-to-play gacha games, the quickest way to obtain premium currency is by spending real money.
One concern with free-to-play gacha games is whether they might hinder progression by locking important resources behind paywalls. However, given that many of the systems are similar to Genshin Impact, it’s optimistic to say that players who manage their resources well and exercise patience can tackle even the most challenging activities and obtain high-rarity characters without spending a single cent.
Honkai: Star Rail Pre-Registrations and Bonuses
The best way to start off in Honkai Star Rail is by taking advantage of all the rewards released for the game’s launch! Specifically, there is a pre-registration event accessible from the game’s website, which grants all those who access it with their HoYoverse account the opportunity to make daily Warps (pulls) with random rewards of varying value.
The best rewards available are undoubtedly the unique Serval’s Light Cone, a 4-star character that will be given to all players at launch as a bonus for reaching 5 million pre-registrations, and some Relict, also of 4-star rarity. The luckiest players might even win physical prizes, including Apple products, PS5 consoles, or gadgets.
The new pre-download Trailer
miHoYo, has released a new trailer (that you can find below) to build anticipation among players who are eagerly awaiting the game’s release. As players prepare to pre-download the game, the trailer will pique their interest and leave them wanting more.