All aboard the Astral Express. Honkai: Star Rail, HoYoverse’s brand new fantasy space adventure game, is finally here for Android, iOS, and PC, with the PlayStation release to come soon after. The big question on everyone’s minds right now, whether they’re a HoYoverse fan or not, is if they’ll personally enjoy it.
The short answer to that is: Yes. Honkai: Star Rail is hard to hate and it gives you a lot to love. This new gacha game builds on the strengths of Honkai Impact 3rd and Genshin Impact, all while being its own thing.
Your Honkai: Star Rail Questions, Answered
If you’re curious about whether you’ll like the game, what it’s like to play it, and if it has the flaws of other HoYoverse games, this is for you. But first, let’s answer your questions about Honkai: Star Rail.
What’s the plot of Honkai: Star Rail?
You play as the Trailblazer, an amnesiac self-insert character whose body contains a Stellaron, a rare lifeform connected to an Aeon, the ascended godlike beings of Honkai: Star Rail. The Trailblazer’s mission is to travel the stars and discover the end of their story, at least that’s what Kafka tells us. Not much is known about who we are, other than our Stellaron container duties, but there are enough clues in the first few minutes of the game to make you scratch your head.
Your Trailblazer begins their journey at the Herta Space Station before eventually joining Welt’s Astral Express and leaving for other worlds like Belobog.
Do I need to play Honkai Impact 3rd or Genshin Impact before playing Honkai: Star Rail?
There are hints and connections between Honkai: Star Rail and Honkai Impact 3rd as well as Genshin Impact, but you don’t have to play HoYoverse’s other games just to enjoy Honkai: Star Rail. The story makes sense on its own and the references are fun easter eggs that don’t interfere with other parts of the story.
Does Honkai: Star Rail have co-op or multiplayer?
No, Honkai: Star Rail does not have co-op or multiplayer modes. This is in stark contrast to Genshin Impact‘s co-op mode which lets you explore Teyvat with your friends and Honkai Impact 3rd‘s co-op which lets you fight enemies together.
Honkai: Star Rail‘s story delivery builds on Genshin Impact’s questlines
The story of Honkai: Star Rail also starts with a choice between a male Trailblazer (Caelus) and a female Trailblazer (Stelle). As usual, it doesn’t really matter much whether you choose the female or male main character since the game doesn’t alter your gaming experience based on who you choose, making it similar to Genshin Impact.
Genshin Impact is known for its stellar lore, plot-integrated locations, and characters with rich backstories, something that sets it apart from other “Genshin killers” like Tower of Fantasy.
It’s also known for having really crappy dialogue that drones on forever without saying anything new. Honkai: Star Rail takes a more classic RPG-style approach to its dialogue by letting you go back and forth on dialogue options so you can slowly piece things together yourself, without Paimon telling you what the story is in her baby voice.
Sadly, your protagonist is also silent throughout most of the quests so if you want to hear them speak, you’ll have to put them on your team and fight with them.
Honkai: Star Rail‘s gameplay is familiar for both Honkai Impact 3rd and Genshin Impact fans
A number of HoYoverse’s fans were, and likely still are, split on Honkai: Star Rail‘s combat system. The game follows in the footsteps of Honkai Impact 3rd, being a turn-based action game. It’s popular with fans of the genre who are coming from Honkai Impact 3rd or games like Fire Emblem, but not exactly a hit with the massive open-world RPG crowd that was brought into, ahem, the Hoyoverse by Genshin Impact.
Honkai: Star Rail‘s turn-based combat strikes a balance by giving Honkai Impact 3rd players room to be more strategic without becoming so complicated and slow that it completely loses the crowd from Genshin Impact. Many of Honkai: Star Rail‘s characters let you respond to enemies even if it isn’t that character’s turn, such as in the case of Himeko’s passive which deals damage to enemies after an ally attacks. You can also have a character attack out of turn if they have their burst active.
Honkai: Star Rail heavily favors Genshin Impact in the way characters are built. Traces are Talents, Eidolons are Constellations, and Lightcones are weapons. That said, Honkai: Star Rail‘s elemental system is more similar to Honkai Impact 3rd‘s, so don’t expect a lot of elemental reactions. The elements in Honkai: Star Rail mostly matter with regard to enemy weaknesses:
- Physical: Bleed
- Deals additional physical damage and applies a Bleed DoT debuff.
- Fire: Burn
- Deals additional fire damage and applies a Burn DoT debuff.
- Ice: Frozen
- Prevents the enemy from taking any action and applies a Frozen DoT debuff.
- Lightning: Shock
- Deals additional lightning damage and applies a Shock DoT debuff.
- Wind: Wind Shear
- Deals additional wind damage and applies a Wind Shear DoT debuff.
- Quantum: Entanglement
- Pushes the enemy back in the turn order and applies a Quantum DoT debuff.
- Imaginary: Imprisonment
- Pushes the enemy back in the turn order and reduces their speed.
Honkai: Star Rail is going to be a strong contender in the gacha scene. Already, it feels much more polished than the Genshin Impact killers we’ve seen so far and it manages to cater to both new players’ tastes and the tastes of players from other HoYoverse games. Turns out that if no one can make a strong competitor, HoYoverse will do it themselves.
However great of a start Honkai: Star Rail has had, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be as popular as Genshin Impact, HoYoverse’s premier money-maker. It doesn’t spend nearly as much time getting us invested in its characters and its world. There are oceans between the emotional impact of Amber and March 7th, the two peppy archers we meet at the start of the game.
Honkai: Star Rail‘s combat system and lack of an open world may also be a disadvantage. As great as Honkai Impact 3rd is, it didn’t blow up into the stratosphere like Genshin Impact whose open world role-playing game format appeals to a wider demographic. This isn’t unique to HoYoverse either since many of the biggest AAA titles in recent years have been open world roleplaying games.
That said, if Honkai: Star Rail becomes anywhere near as big as Genshin Impact, we might see a resurgence of turn-based games in the coming years. Just look at what Genshin Impact did to every gacha game developed after it.