Honkai: Star Rail is a free-to-play, single-player, turn-based RPG with a gacha system for collecting characters and equipment. Developed and produced by the HoYoverse (miHoYo's overarching franchise) for PC and mobile platforms with a release date of April 26, 2023. The game is considered a sequel to the events of Honkai Impact 3rd, but is set in an alternate universe.
A pair of Stellaron Hunters infiltrate a space station owned by the genius Herta to recover a Stellaron and place it inside a human-like vessel. This vessel, the Trailblazer, is soon rescued by members of the Astral Express crew, but barely has time to collect their thoughts before they are forced to help fight off an avatar of Destruction before it destroys the station. While trying to piece together their identity, the Trailblazer decides to join the Astral Express crew ("the Nameless") on their journey across the stars.
The Astral Express' first stop after leaving Herta Space Station is on the planet Jarilo-VI, locked in an Eternal Freeze due to the effects of a Stellaron. The Trailblazer, March 7th, and Dan Heng leave the Express to seal the Stellaron, as its power makes further travel aboard the Express dangerous. With the help of a swindler named Sampo Koski, the trio enter the city of Belobog, one of the few remaining bastions of human civilization on the planet. The Supreme Guardian, Cocolia, seems to welcome them at first, but then sends her adopted daughter Bronya to arrest them.
The trio are soon bailed out again by Sampo, and taken to the Underworld, a sprawling mining town underneath Belobog sealed off by Cocolia. With the help of a local militia named Wildfire, the Express crew learn more about the history of Belobog, an abandoned orphanage in Rivet Town that hosted both Bronya and Seele, and the various robots that patrol the Underworld. After Bronya remembers her past, she tries to persuade Cocolia herself in the Overworld. The Nameless and Seele band together to track down Cocolia, fighting through both the Silvermane Guards and various monsters coming through the Fragmentum, and find Cocolia worshiping the Stellaron.
Seele manages to help Bronya resist its effects. Cocolia herself fights the Trailblazer, impaling them with a giant icicle. However, the Trailblazer meets with an avatar of Qlipoth, the Preservation, who transforms the icicle into a flaming lance. The Trailblazer awakens, and uses the new weapon to kill Cocolia. Seele and Bronya decide to pretend that Cocolia sacrificed herself to stop the Stellaron, as the truth would be too much for their people to bear. Bronya takes over as the new Supreme Guardian of Belobog, and re-opens the path between the Overworld and Underworld, as the Astral Express travels to its next destination.
The crew of the Express barely has time to rest when Kafka, the Stellaron Hunter who awakened the Trailblazer at the beginning, baits the Express into coming to the Xianzhou Alliance ship Luofu, claiming that there is a Stellaron aboard that could cause massive damage if left unchecked and that her colleague Blade is imprisoned there. Despite their misgivings about falling for Kafka's trap, the Express crew vote to travel to the Luofu. Dan Heng stays aboard the train, claiming that the Xianzhou have a standing warrant against him. However, when he hears that Blade has escaped containment, he decides to board the ship on his own, fearing everyone to be in danger.
Meanwhile, the Trailblazer, March 7th, and Welt Yang board the ship via a cargo area. After rescuing a Foxian merchant named Tingyun from "mara-struck" soldiers, the group makes their way to the Palace of Astrum, where the General Jing Yuan requests their assistance to find Kafka on the Luofu. The Nameless and Tingyun eventually find Kafka, and after a short fight, Kafka gives herself up to Master Diviner Fu Xuan. who seems bewildered by her during her interrogation, and instead lets her talk to the Trailblazer. Kafka tells the Trailblazer that this whole mission was planned following "Elio's script" to create a future in which Nanook, the Aeon of Destruction, could eventually be killed.
Before the crew can get any more answers, Kafka escapes with Blade's help. Suddenly, the Ambrosial Arbor begins to bloom again under the influence of a Stellaron. Under Jing Yuan and Fu Xuan's guidance, the Nameless head to the Alchemy Commission to fight through the Disciples of Sanctus Medicus and seal the Stellaron before The Abundance can spread further. However, after beating their leader, the group finds that Tingyun was actually a Lord Ravager of Destruction named Phantylia, who used the Disciples as her pawns to destroy the Xianzhou from within. With the real Tingyun's body missing and Phantylia wreaking havoc, Fu Xuan and the Express Crew race to Scalegorge Waterscape seal the Stellaron.
Meanwhile, Dan Heng slips away from his temporary companions to follow the Express Crew's trail, and after fighting with Blade and Yanqing, is forced to reckon with his past life as Dan Feng, the Imbibitor Lunae. Eventually, with Jing Yuan's persuasion, he reunites with the Nameless and the two sides join forces to take on Phantylia and seal the Stellaron. Phantylia wields both powers of Abundance and Destruction, and nearly turns Jing Yuan into a Voidranger, but Jing Yuan and Dan Heng (as Imbibitor Lunae) unite to defeat Phantylia. After saying their goodbyes, the Astral Express Crew decide to head to their previous destination before Kafka lured them to the Luofu: Penacony.
After progressing past the first part of the story, players can organize a team of up to four characters and are not required to have The Trailblazer in them, except for certain missions where the team composition is locked to require them.
Players can wander around a world's map outside of combat. Unlike Genshin Impact, this is not an open-world game with near-complete freedom of movement, but neither is it locked into small battle-filled stages as in Honkai Impact 3rd. Players can pick any character they currently own to represent their party to walk around (or run with an infinite sprint button), and can interact with certain NPCs or objects that have a name or a sparkle hovering above them.
Outside of designated "safe zones," players may encounter enemies wandering around the map. They can perform a first-strike on them with their chosen character that will deal some damage to all enemies in the opposing party that are weak to the character's element. Likewise, if the player's party is struck first, they are considered Ambushed and the enemy party will get a free shot at them entering Combat (see below).
Points of Interest
With a few restrictions, the player can fast travel to any Star Anchor point on the world map once they have touched it. Star Anchors themselves will instantly heal the current party members to full health, but will need (real-world) time to recharge if they have been used too much. Using fast travel instead of simply moving to an Anchor will also cause enemies in the area to respawn.
Other points of interest that the player can fast travel to once touched include:
- Calyx: A mysterious flower-like object that opens to a world that will spawn certain themed enemies. These can be farmed for credits and various experience or crafting materials. However, each wave will require 10 Trailblaze Power to complete.
- Cavern of Corrosion: Another challenge that will allow the player to farm Relics, or certain types of equipment for each character. However, each attempt will cost 40 Trailblaze Power.
- Echo of War: As the name suggests, these allow the player to re-battle a powerful boss enemy to gain unique Light Cones and materials for upgrading different characters' Traces. However, these require 30 Trailblaze Power, and can only be completed a maximum of three times per (real-world) week. At present, there are only three Echoes of War that can be completed:
- Doomsday Beast
- End of the Eternal Freeze
- Divine Seed
Unlike Star Anchors, none of these points of interest will heal the party once touched.
Herta and other members of the Genius Society have created a large-scale virtual world in an attempt to simulate and study the various Aeons who inhabit the universe, known simply as the Simulated Universe (SU). After unlocking the SU on the Herta Space Station, the player can run through any of the unlocked Worlds at any time, slowly unlocking new Aeons to pay homage to, and gaining special Curios or cards that enhance the party in unique ways.
The player can also gain unique Relics and other items by participating in SU runs, with a bonus meter that resets every week. Players can only collect this bonus at the end of an SU run, either by defeating the final boss, or by having their party wiped out.
Combat in Honkai Star Rail is a more traditional turn-based system where characters each take their turns depending on their current speed value. This value can be raised or lowered with certain equipped Relics and other skills involved. With few exceptions, the goal of Combat is to fight until either side is completely wiped out.
Each character has 5 different skills, 3 of which are actively used in combat, and another 2 that can passively effect the battle:
- Basic Attack: A character performs their basic attack to deal damage to a single enemy, and the party gains a Skill Point (up to a maximum of 5)
- Skill Attack: A more powerful attack that has properties unique to the character using them, like a multi-target attack or buffing an ally. This attack requires one Skill Point from the party's shared pool to use.
- Ultimate Attack: A different kind of skill attack, but used from a special meter unique to each character during combat that can only be charged when they attack, or are attacked by an enemy, or certain other effects gained from ally skills or Light Cones. Once the Ultimate meter is fully charged, the Ultimate can be launched at any time after the current attacker's turn, regardless of if they are friend or foe.
- Talent: Each character's unique passive ability that supports themselves or their allies in combat.
- Technique: A unique ability that can be used on the field before getting into combat. This can involve buffing your own character or performing a more powerful first strike on the enemy before entering combat. The player starts out with a maximum of 3 Technique Points, but can recharge them at certain points on the field, and later gains a higher TP capacity by raising their Equilibrium level.
There are multiple paths and factions in the universe of Honkai Star Rail, but currently only seven Paths that have gameplay elements attached.
|Destruction||Nanook||Heavy damage dealers against a wide range of enemies with some durability.|
|The Hunt||Lan||Damage dealers who specialize in single-target skills, and buffing themselves to do even more damage against those targets.|
|Erudition||Nous||Damage dealers with more multi-target skills.|
|Harmony||Xipe||Support characters who provide buffs to their allies.|
|Nihility||Ix||Support characters who debuff their enemies.|
|Preservation||Qlipoth||Tanks and support characters who provide shields to protect their allies or draw enemy attacks towards themselves.|
|Abundance||Yaoshi||Medics who heal their allies.|
Though not (currently) relevant to playable characters, these Paths are also important. Some of them might also appear in the Simulated Universe to grant the player extra help or deal more damage to their enemies.
|Trailblaze||Akivili||The Path of those who seek to expand their knowledge of the known universe, trying to find an endpoint of the Tree of Existence. Akivili themselves disappeared after an accident.|
|Elation||Aha||A truly random Aeon that only acts on whatever it finds entertaining at any moment, even empowering those who hate or are ignorant of Aha with its power.|
|Voracity||Oroboros||A leviathan and an Aeon that appears as a black hole, seeking to absorb all things into its maw for a hunger that will never be satisfied.|
|Beauty||Idrila||Representing the ideal of the material and aesthetic universe. Though Idrila vanished, there are still dedicated factions of Beauty followers, hoping Idrila will return one day.|
|Permanence||Long||No one alive really knows about Long, but it is hinted that they live on in the bodies and spirits of the Vidyadhara, who reincarnate.|
|Propagation||Tayzzyronth||A lonely being who morphed into a self-replicating Swarm of insects, seeking only to reproduce anywhere and everywhere it could. Though the Aeon was destroyed, The Swarm still remains.|
|Enigmata||Mythus||The rival of Nous. Where Erudition seeks to uncover the answers to every question in the universe, Enigmata seeks to obfuscate that truth to prevent possibilities from being destroyed.|
|Equilibrium||HooH||A path that seeks balance in all things across the universe. Anything that disturbs the balance will soon be corrected.|
|Finality||Terminus||A Path and Aeon that represents the end of all things. Currently little is known about them, but they have dedicated factions who await the coming of Terminus.|
|Remembrance||Fuli||The Path of those who wish to preserve memories against their Destruction from other Paths and Aeons. Within this Path there is a schism between those who wish to preserve all memories possible, and those who believe some memories should be filtered out.|
|Order||Ena||Little is known about this Path and its Aeon, as they were both absorbed into Harmony and Xipe (respectively). Only a few records preserved by the Beyond The Sky Choir remain of their existence.|
Each character wields a certain element that will do extra damage against enemies with a matching weakness, and will also chip away at their Toughness bar (the white bar above their HP bar). When the enemy's Toughness bar hits zero, they are stunned and will not perform an attack until they have recovered. Furthermore, the last elemental attack to break their Toughness will also perform an additional attack, potentially killing them if the extra damage reduces their health to 0. Attacks on enemies without a matching weakness will not deplete their Toughness bar, and will do less damage overall.
Elemental properties include:
|Physical||Applies Bleed damage over time|
|Fire||Applies Burn damage over time|
|Wind||Applies Wind Shear damage over time|
|Lightning||Applies Shock damage over time|
|Ice||Applies Frozen damage over time and slows enemy|
|Quantum||Applies Entanglement damage over time and slows enemy|
|Imaginary||Applies Imprisonment damage over time and slows enemy|
Elements are considered separate from Paths. Multiple characters who follow the same Path may wield different Elements, and vice-versa.
The game will allow the player to explore different places across the galaxy. Currently there are only 4 "worlds" accessible, and only one of those settings is on an actual world.
The "home base" of the Trailblazer and their companions. A literal space-train created by the Aeon Akivili, The Trailblaze. The Astral Express fell into disrepair after Akivili supposedly vanished, but was repaired by a young Himeko, and is currently maintained by a small talking rabbit-like creature known only as Pom-Pom, who acts as the train's conductor. The crew of the Astral Express continues to blaze a trail through the galaxy, sealing Stellarons and solving issues wherever the train takes them.
Herta Space Station
A large space station owned by the genius Herta, who mostly lets Asta and her team of researchers do what they want to explore various questions of scientific matters. Herta herself appears in multiple places on the space station at the same time through a series of puppets who allegedly contain her younger appearance. Through these puppets, she has created a "Simulated Universe" in hopes of learning more about the different Aeons.
A planet covered entirely in ice after the actions of a Stellaron brought about an Eternal Freeze across the planet. Most of the Trailblazer's actions here take place in Belobog, one of the last few cities on the planet still inhabited by humans. The city is divided into a relatively peaceful Overworld overseen by a Supreme Architect, and a poor, oppressed Underworld where the residents mine Geomarrow crystals to keep their heat running.
One of the six flagships of the Xianzhou Alliance. Ruled by followers of Lan, the Lord of the Hunt, they travel across the galaxy to smite their enemy they call the "Abominations of Abundance." The flagship is big enough to host a marketplace and some housing in addition to the Xianzhou military stationed onboard.
As the name suggests, this world was a penal colony where the IPC exiled dangerous criminals. However, with the emergence of the Stellarons and the crises they cause, the IPC lost control of Penacony. Nowadays, Penacony follows Xipe, the Aeon of Harmony, and is ruled by a group known only as The Family who has transformed the world from a penal colony into the "Planet of Festivities." For the first time ever, The Family has sent formal invitations to many different factions across the galaxy to attend their festivities.