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Honkai Star Rail Gameplay Overview - Should You Play It?

Posted: Apr 27, 2023

I’m going to run you through everything you need to know in terms of the types of characters you’ll gain, how combat and weapon upgrades work, what the warp system is and how different the multiplayer mode is this time around.

Honkai Star Rail is developed by Hoyoverse, the same creators of the popular free to play action RPG Genshin Impact. If you’re interested in knowing what Honkai Star Rail is all about and how it compares to Genshin Impact, then keep reading.

What Is Honkai: Star Rail?

Honkai Star Rail is a continuation of sorts of Honkai Impact 3 even though the game is set in an alternate sci-fi universe, which mostly features different versions of previous Honkai characters, making this worth visiting especially if you’ve been a fan of the Honkai Universe.

But there are some returning NPCs, such as the intergalactic traveler Welt Yang, who finds himself in the middle of events that are currently happening in Honkai Star Rail.

As a Trailblazer Humanoid, who has been implanted with a Stellaron and a seed of ruin, players will go on a series of quests to find the cure for a destructive force inside them and to prevent further disasters from transpiring across the universe. You’ll essentially be visiting one planet after another by boarding the space train, Astral Express. But despite its sci-fi nature, you’ll recognize the similarities of Honkai Star Rail with Genshin Impact in terms of the overall character design of the Overworld’s art style and the quick combat pace.

However, the major difference is that Honkai Star Rail features a turn-based combat system similar to classic JRPGs, like Final Fantasy 10.

Honkai Star Rail Gameplay Overview Should You Play it

Characters And Skills

Every character in Honkai Star Rail has a Rarity, and Elemental Affinity and a Path associated with them.

Rarity can be either Four-Star or Five-Star where 5-Star characters will generally have stronger stats and abilities, but will be much more difficult to come by, not unlike the Genshin Impact. By the way, If you want to experience all Five-Star characters easily, then owning a Honkai: Star Rail Account will be a good choice.

As of writing, there are over 20 potential companions revealed so far and then you have Elemental Affinity, which is self-explanatory as well as a character’s path.

Path refers to the class archetype or playstyle that defines a specific character’s strengths and overall role in combat. At the moment, there are a total of seven different paths assigned to all available characters. These range from the Destruction path, which makes them all general all-around DPS to the Erudition, which is strong at dealing damage against multiple foes to the Harmony, which specializes in buffing teammates.

Furthermore, Honkai Star Rail also mimics Genshin Impact’s Level Up systems. For example, you can level up your character by using certain materials. Once they hit the base cap’s maximum level, they’ll be eligible for Ascension. This means that you’ll need to consume specific resources to erase your level cap further.

Next, characters will have Traces and Eidolons. A Trace is part of a skill tree that provides extra stats, passive abilities, or even enhances existing skills. Trace upgrade materials can be obtained by playing the game normally.

On the other hand, is an upgrade path that will grant more impactful effects similar to Genshin Impact’s constellations. Because of this, you need to obtain duplicate characters to experience significant improvements in their buffs, particularly basic attacks and ultimates and since this system is linear, you can’t jump from one path to the last, so Eidolons have to be unlocked in sequence.

Equipment

When it comes to equipment, Honkai Star Rails version of weapons and accessories are known as Light Cones and Relics, respectively.

Honkai Star Rail eauipment Light Cones

Light Cones don’t have physical manifestations. Although they won't be directly reflected in your character. But your HP attack and defense related stat has quietly increased. You even get an additional passive ability that improves other attributes, such as crit rate. But to do this, it’s important to make sure that both the character and weapon’s path are aligned or the same. It’s also possible to enhance the corresponding stats and passes that Light Cones provide by leveling them up and superimposing them with multiple copies of the same weapons, respectively.

The next thing we want to talk about is Relics, which are composed of trinkets, such as hats gloves and shoes. With Relics, your character's stats will increase. What's more, Relics often come in the form of sets that have passive abilities like increasing your attack by a certain percentage. These grow in strength depending on how many items in a set you have equipped.

Combat

Honkai Star Rail is different from anything Hoyoverse has ever done before and that if this title falls a tactical turn-based combat system, which highlights the elemental abilities and buffs that players can cast. But just like Genshin Impact, you’ll be roaming the world with a single active character that could then be swapped at any given time.

Fights are also initiated by literally striking an enemy on the Overworld map damaging a random target even before the fight begins. Once combat starts, you’ll be able to make use of your entire four-person roster. Right from the beginning, you’re given the chance to activate an effect. This effect lets you buff your allies or debuff and attack your foes. Character’s turns are determined by a stat known as action order, which also defines how quickly they can act again.

Players can choose to perform a basic attack or use a skill during their turns. Basic attacks are much weaker but cost no resources. Skills require the use of skill points that are generated by using basic attacks. Players will start with three skill points per battle, so they won’t begin the combat by only basic attacking. Doing so also lets them officially build up more resources in the long run and as the fight goes on, each character accumulates elemental energy. Once the corresponding energy meter has been filled, you’ll be able to activate a powerful Ultimate Ability.

Currently, there are seven elements in the game, namely Physical, Fire, Wind, Lightning, Ice, Quantum, and Imaginary. Using a foe’s elemental weakness against them will deplete their toughness level or stagger bar. Once this bar is completely empty, they’re briefly stunned, skipping their turn in specific rounds of the fight. They also become susceptible to taking damage over time due to elemental attacks. For example, Physical causes bleeding and Ice causes frozen, etc.

One improvement in Honkai Star Rail combat is Auto Battle, which lets you relax while your characters fight opponents of similar or lower levels and farm resources. This autocomplete option is also available when breezing through the game’s dialogue and story. What’s more is that you can speed up combat if you’re finding it too slow, so gone are the days where you have to sit through long skill animations.

Honkai Star Rail is not an open world game. Instead, you’ll visit one small area after the next, unlike Genshin Impact, which has interconnected locations. This makes it so that the pace of the game is faster since you’re able to jump on the space train to conveniently go around and explore what you can. You’ll also tend to frequent some planets more than others to farm for certain rewards and treasures.

One unique interaction while you’re learning more about the game is the message you receive on your phone. It’s a nice touch, especially when you’re trying to make sense of the world around you. For example, you can consult your Astral Express family to clear things up, like asking what Relics are and how these are connected to Stellarons, whereas other NPCs will contact you to initiate missions.

In terms of activities, you’ll choose to participate in several of them to gain as many rewards as possible. These include the Simulated Universe Calyx and assignments. In the Simulated Universe, you’ll be clearing multiple domains where every level features random enemies layouts and rewards. And as you hop from one challenge to the next, the difficulty increases. But fear not, since you’ll be able to select three companions to assist you. Once you come out victorious, you’ll also gain blessings that can be further enhanced, effectively boost your stats.

Next is the Calyx, which essentially involves defeating waves of enemies. The more waves, the greater the difficulty. But you also increase the chances of getting extra character and Light Cone materials as well as Credits.

Honkai Star Rail Exploration And Activities Stellar Jades

Note, however, that you need Trailblaze Power to enter and raise the number of challenge waves you’ll be participating in. You can either wait for these to be replenished or acquire more of them using Stellar Jades, one of the Premium Currency that you earn in the game.

Finally, you have assignments where you can send some of your inactive characters to go on missions to gather extra experience materials, just like Genshin Impact.

Warp System

Honkai Star Rail is a game that you can experience without paying. But what is surprising is that it is no worse than Genshin Impact in terms of game content, and even launched a Warp System.

This is the main way to acquire new and powerful characters and Light Cones since you’ll pull them from banners or warps. Star Rail Passes are used for starter and regular warps. And Star Rail Special Passes are reserved for time-bound event wars.

You’ll then need in-game currency, like Undying Embers, which you receive from duplicate pulls or Stellar Jade, to buy more passes in the store. It appears that there’s going to be a Pity System where too many warp attempts will reward special items.

For instance, you’re guaranteed to receive a five-star character within 50 pulls if you go for the starter war. The same can be said for regular warps or a bulk 10 pull will at least give you a 4-star character or a Light Cone.

Honkai Star Rail Warp System

Multiplayer Mode

The final topic of interest in Honkai Star Rail is multiplayer or Co-op.

Here, you’ll find a clear departure from the mode implemented in the Genshin Impact. Sure, you can still add friends in-game, but they won’t be able to join you in order to explore the Galaxy together. Instead, you’ll only have the option to lend or borrow characters as a form of support and combat.

Honkai Star Rail Multiplayer Mode

Final Thoughts

Honkai Star Rail is shaping up to be another highly anticipated live service title from Hoyoverse, with over 10 million pre-registrations as of today.

It features multiple systems inspired by Genshin Impacts, such as the exciting combat and ways in which characters progress and how equipment is improved.

But it is worth mentioning that even if you haven’t played Genshin Impact, there are still various activities and events to gain many rewards from that may get you hooked and invested within a few hours of playing. Plus, its turn-based combat system will bring back delightful memories from older JRPGs.

Honkai Star Rail Launches on April 26th of this year via PC, IOS and Android. The date for the PlayStation release has yet to be disclosed, but we will inform you as soon as we have more information. This free-to-play turn-based RPG will also have cross safe support, allowing players to easily hop from PC to mobile and vice versa.

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