Honkai Star Rail: Worth It?

Written by Lyn Kyoumei

May 12, 2023

“Like a phoenix from the ashes, Turn-Based RPGs have again experienced a renaissance, soaring to even greater heights after a long period of obscurity. Showing us that what may have worked in the past could also work again in the present.”

Two weeks have passed since the release of Honkai Star Rail and most players, including me, have already seen the game for what it’s worth. For others who are still on the fence about it, I’d like to highlight what makes Star Rail an amazing new release from Hoyoverse.

 

Honkai Star Rail is a well-made turn-based anime-inspired RPG that shows modern triple-A developers that bigger doesn’t always mean better. The game is set in the Honkai multiverse and is inspired by science fiction. You play as ‘The Trailblazer’, an artificial human with a ticking time bomb embedded inside you. You are joined by the other Trailblazers: March 7, Dan Heng, Himeko, & Welt Yang as you trek toward the universe, following in the footsteps of the God of Trailblazing, Akivili.

The game is available on both PC and mobile devices. The PC version is only 18.2GB while the mobile version is 10.71GB which is quite light in comparison to other games released this year.

The game’s turn-based combat system is straightforward enough – you get a turn, you attack, your turn ends and the enemy attacks you – but where the game gets interesting is how you can play out your turn in other ways than just attack. Some characters can heal, some can buff and debuff, some can taunt and shield allies and some can shred enemies as if they were just paper.

But like all turn-based RPGs do, there’s a limiter to what you can do, and for Star Rail that is the Burst Counter. All of what I just mentioned are bursts because what your character normally do is just attack and that normal attack fills up the burst counter by 1 star, maxing out at 5 stars held at once, you can use 1 burst star to execute a burst attack that can do any of the aforementioned action given as an example before.

There is also the enemy shield or “break meter” which when drained or “vulnerable”, the enemy’s turn is delayed, taking their action a bit later, giving your characters more opportunities to hit hard and deal a killing blow to a particularly tough enemy. To break the shield meter, you must have a character with a specific element that can directly chip down or instantly break the shield. What I like about all of this is that it forces players to change their team compositions to reflect what weaknesses the enemies currently have, of course, you can just ignore the weakness and plow through but I feel like it’s much more fun to learn what team beats what enemies.

The story in my opinion is a step up from Genshin with less exposition and more straight-to-the-point scenes where it progresses much more smoothly rather than having to read dialogue repeated back at you twice as per your emergency food’s liking. Characters are also more fleshed out with how they act, their motivations and how they interact with each other. As the Trailblazer [MC], you also have some knowledge of the perceived antagonists of the game, the Stellaron hunters which also add to the weight of each decision when they inexplicably came back by the second storyline’s opening act. How the characters interact with each other and how they interact with the world as a whole feels much more natural and generic than Genshin’s old system where characters suddenly appear where they need to be. It also seems as if everyone has a piece of the story, and when I say everyone I also count the NPCs as they provide more worldbuilding but even without talking to them, you already have enough to go off of from the story alone as they mix in the world building with that.

I can’t really end this section without mentioning the countless easter eggs and references that the developers and translators had put in into the game, from “42” of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to “The Shining’s hallway twins” in Belobog’s Goethe hotel corridor to my favorite of “Heisenberg” when answering the underworld’s hotel survey. It shows how in-touch the devs and writers are when it comes to who the players are when they developed the whole thing, it’s quite a mix of Hades and Disco Elysium with how the story and humor is intertwined.

With how the game is right now, it’s almost perfect, almost being the keyword as it’s still missing some nice quality-of-life improvements. Like Genshin Impact, Honkai Star Rail has the relic system, a way to boost your character’s strength but it is also locked behind another system of theirs, “The Energy System”.

The energy system is what you usually find in most level-based mobile games where it’s a “You can only play this many levels until you have to wait for the energy to recharge.” type of system, now that on paper sounds bad for a game that is both on mobile and on PC but it kinda works? Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a pain to wait for your energy to recharge but when you’re in that late-game content now, you’d realize that maybe the limit isn’t exactly a bad thing as it lets the player know to stop grinding the game and maybe take a break, it’s not going anywhere and honestly, I am quite alright with that.

Now, let’s talk about the gacha element of this game. The gacha element of Honkai Star Rail is alright, 160 Stellar Jades for 1 pull, you get 60 Stellar Jades daily from completing your daily quests which nets you about 1860 Stellar Jades monthly from just doing your due diligence playing daily and that is worth about 11.6 pulls monthly, which could get you a 4 star of your liking, again, keyword is could as this is gacha, everything is random, the 4 star guarantee that you will get every 10 pulls will never always be a character, sometimes it will be a Lightcone, this game’s equivalent for weapons, and for that sweet 5 star that is shown on the banner, you have a 0.6% chance of getting the 5 star in a random pull but they aren’t that unforgiving, there’s also a soft pity at 75 pulls which greatly increases the chance of getting the 5 star and a hard pity at 90 pulls which guarantees a 5 star, which again is not guaranteed to be the character you want as it also is dependant if you will get a character, a Lightcone or the rate-up character in your pity pull. If you don’t get the 5-star character that was shown in the rate-up banner, you are forced to pull again, averaging to get the rate-up character in 150 pulls for double soft pity or 180 pulls for double hard pity which is quite a grind. But there’s also the option of paying to get more, Star Rail uses Oneiric Shards, which you can exchange for stellar jades in a 1:1 exchange rate, for the Pay-to-Win calculation, we will be using the term “Oneiric Shards” rather than the usual “Stellar Jades” as it can be freely interchanged, to pay for your first 10 pull it will be PHP 799  as you get double the amount paying for the 980 Oneiric Shard pouch. From there, you will have to pay PHP 1,790 to properly afford a 10 pull, which affords you 1980 shards. That’s all the qualms I could have in this game as gacha itself is predatory since it, in a technicality, is a form of gambling.

For the other features, you can add your friends like in Hoyoverse’s previous games but you cannot play with them nor interact with them in any way, it is the most barebones friends feature but it’s quite understandable since this is just the first release version.

There’s also a battle pass named “Nameless Honor”, as all online games do nowadays, and its prizes are mediocre at worst as it gives the highest type of leveling items for the weapons, characters and relics, some agree it’s expensive but in my opinion, it’s quite an alright price to get more of the same items on the free tier + having the exclusive Lightcone as it is locked in the paid tier. But its true value wholly depends on the player as you are the one defining the value of both the time and money you are willing to sink into this game.

And for those who are finished with the main story and building their characters, there isn’t really anything else to do except to build your less used characters for fun but some sources say that limited events will also come to Star Rail soon, at earliest would be the start of the second rate up banner but those are all just speculation for now, so do take it with a grain of salt.

In any case, I cannot recommend this game enough as not only is it one of the newest Turn-Based free to play RPGs right now but also because it just does it so well that it is such a pleasure to play through every single day even if all I’m doing is grinding my dailies and building my characters, the daily interactions with the game gives me the serotonin boost I need to start and end my day and I want everyone else to experience it also. With how most games nowadays focus on being big, complex and extravagant, it’s nice to have something much more simple and easy to just get right in and play again.

I haven’t really talked about the out-of-game additions as well like web events and the such as they, like the in-game events, aren’t out yet but HoyoLab, Hoyoverse’s Forums, also has a daily login that for the life of me I always forget to sign in on but it’s a nice out of game feature as it usually gives you free items and sometimes stellar jades to just give you that little nudge in building your characters.

With how polished and jam-packed this 1.0 release build is, I’m very happy with what comes next in the second half of this build and its succeeding versions. I hope this preview helped you in choosing if this game is right for you and I hope that we can trailblaze together soon!

 

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1 Comment

  1. Cyan

    good game cool article amazing

    Reply

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