Zenless Zone Zero Is Taking Big Steps To Eliminate The Gacha Grind

Zenless Zone Zero Is Taking Big Steps To Eliminate The Gacha Grind

If you’ve never been able to stomach the gacha grind of HoYoverse’s games, then Zenless Zone Zero might be for you. The next game from the developer behind Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail releases on July 4 (only a few days away) and is set to make some welcome quality-of-life changes to the formula that—if pulled off—could make it the most user-friendly Hoyoverse game to date.

For the uninitiated, Zenless Zone Zero is a city-punk action RPG. In previews and trailers leading up to its release, HoYoverse has emphasized the game’s combat as the biggest draw. The recent pre-release special program went deep on combat and showed off just how spectacular it looks. As opposed to the real-time action of Genshin Impact (which can be pretty simplistic), ZZZ looks to offer a more in-depth battle system with normal, special, sub, combo, and assist attacks that let players mix and match their party makeup to deal massive damage. Without getting into the nitty gritty, it seems like a welcome upgrade to the combat of Genshin Impact and comes just in time to compete with the combat prowess of gacha competitor Wuthering Waves.

Alongside its focus on combat, HoYoverse also wants players to be able to progress through ZZZ’s story at a brisker pace than they often can in the company’s other games. Typically in those games, you constantly need to do daily quests to gather upgrade materials to make your characters more powerful before you can take on the newest story quests. (Of course, this is by design, so that players are tempted to spend money and make the upgrade process faster.) The ZZZ team, however, is making some big promises about how it will avoid the usual gacha grind, a move rooted in two big design decisions.


The first is the removal of the stamina system which was present in earlier betas. This system made it so you could only do so many story missions in a day, creating an artificial hard limit on how far players could progress. Thankfully that is now removed (as noted by Eurogamer in its most recent preview). More notable is a character trial system that will give players access to properly leveled party members for story missions. This removes the need to always have your collection of characters perfectly upgraded and equipped with the proper gear.

With this system, it sounds like players will essentially be able to play through the story like you can in a typical, non-gacha game. I’m reminded of Honkai Impact 3rd, another HoYoverse game that implemented story trial characters later in its life to great effect. Just a week ago, ZZZ’s producer Zhenyu Li talked about not punishing players who want to take a break from the game. “Maybe the team will try to get some new ways to let [returning players] experience the latest content without finishing some pre-conditioned missions,” Li told VG247. These systems seem to allow for precisely that.

Some might wonder how a simplified path through the story can exist alongside the traditional gacha mechanics. However, with a high emphasis on combat intricacies in moment-to-moment gameplay, I think most players will still find upgrading and unlocking new characters to be its own satisfying loop, even if they can run through the story at their own pace.


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