One Year After Launch, You Should Really Check Out Honkai Star Rail

One Year After Launch, You Should Really Check Out Honkai Star Rail

As soon as Honkai Star Rail launched on April 26, 2023, I immediately downloaded it on my phone. The turn-based sci-fi RPG from HoYoverse, makers of gacha juggernaut Genshin Impact, was already an anticipated release after I had read impressions from the game’s beta. A year has passed since the game’s initial release, and I’ve been playing it off and on since. But if you haven’t dived into Honkai Star Rail, let me be the one to tell you that there has never been a better time to start playing.

Coming off of playing Genshin Impact, I was ready to give Honkai Star Rail the benefit of the doubt at launch. Genshin as it existed in its 1.0 release was a much messier and simpler game mechanically and narratively than it would be a year later, so I was looking for the spark of something special, but not necessarily a masterful execution. Even on day one, Honkai Star Rail blew those expectations out of the water with how tightly designed it was from top to bottom.

The opening cutscene, in which we see the morally grey antagonist Kafka confidently stroll through a space station under attack, was a hell of an intro to pull players in. Amid a stylish action sequence, we’re introduced to the world’s detailed characters, not just the blank slate protagonist. This way, Honkai Star Rail enticingly draws players in, asking them to unravel the mystery behind everyone’s motivations from the very start.


Why now is a great time to start Honkai Star Rail

In the hours that followed, HoYoverse presented a fascinating cast of characters across its varied sci-fi world, including the adventurous crew of the Astral Express and the mysterious Stellaron Hunters. Exploring the world was made all the more engaging with the game’s turn-based combat, which uses an elemental weakness system and just might be one of my favorite turn-based battle designs.

Honkai Star Rail improves upon the basic systems of Genshin Impact, often in ways fans of the fantasy RPG have been asking for for years. Small quality-of-life features appear throughout the game, such as the ability to store Trailblaze Power (a resource needed to complete side activities and equivalent to Genshin’s Original Resin), and a helpful guide to the story, all making the world more beginner-friendly. Even the game’s gacha mechanics (which encourage spending real-world money to unlock better characters and weapons) are more lenient.

While the 1.0 version of Honkai Star Rail made a great first impression, the game has hugely improved itself in 2024 with the release of version 2.0 and its subsequent patches. 1.0 introduced players to an interesting world and the characters within, while gesturing towards bigger conflicts. 2.0 focuses this into the early stages of a thrilling story about a cosmic power struggle between the game’s many factions with the player at its center.

Much like the game’s space-faring train, the Astral Express, Honkai Star Rail is barreling along a path destined to take players to even greater places. Thankfully, because of the game’s many quality-of-life features the game is easy to get started with as a newcomer. Now’s a pretty good time to jump in.


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