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8 things to know before starting Honkai: Star Rail

Build lots of characters and utilize their skills to take down baddies

Bronya from Honkai: Star Rail gazes at her rifle while standing in the Administrative District Image: Hoyoverse via Polygon

Honkai: Star Rail is Hoyoverse’s leap into turn-based combat in a mobile (and PC) game that brings out new versions of familiar characters, beautiful art, and an interesting and mysterious storyline.

The game itself is a perfect mash-up of both of Hoyoverse’s popular titles: Honkai Impact 3rd and Genshin Impact. While not open world à la Genshin, the character advancements, weapons and equipment systems, and riveting story bring together some of the greatest things from both games. Sprinkle in turn-based combat, rather than the games’ action combat, and now you have Honkai: Star Rail.

Below, we list out some tips for both those familiar with Hoyoverse’s games and new players looking for something interesting to add into their daily rotation of games to play.

Carefully seek out chests and puzzles

Most maps have a set number of puzzles to complete and treasure to find, which you can see in the top left corner of your map. These chests do not respawn, but they contain tons of useful loot, including premium currency (Stellar Jade). As you run around for the story, don’t be afraid to wander down the wrong corner — you’ll probably find a treasure chest waiting for you at the end of the path.

Weaknesses aren’t just for show

There are many games where you can brute force through enemies while not focusing on actual provided weaknesses. Sometimes, Star Rail is like this. Other times, it’s not. When it comes to boss fights and higher-scale enemies, you’ll do better if you have one or two characters that can exploit weaknesses.

Bronya fires her rifle at an enemy, hitting a wind weakness in Honkai: Star Rail Image: Hoyoverse via Polygon

Big enemy? No problem, just come back later

If you follow the above tip, you’ll see lots of huge, looming enemies standing in front of chests. Their names may glow red, indicating that they are much higher level than you. It is possible to finesse these monsters and beat them when you’re lower leveled, but it’s easier to just come back later. Make a mental note and come take them down after powering up a bit.

You’ll need lots of leveled up characters to complete the endgame content

When you hit endgame content, like the Simulated Universe and Forgotten Hall, you’ll need lots of characters leveled up. Forgotten Hall actually requires two teams of four (similar to Genshin Impact’s Spiral Abyss), so you’ll need at least eight leveled-up characters, all with their own equips and light cones, so don’t go tossing away all your extra equips right away.

Diversify your team with different elements and character types

All the above said, you should maintain at least one fully leveled character per element. You don’t need to worry about this very much in the early game, as you won’t have many characters to work with. However, as you progress further and hit end-game content, you’ll want to make sure you can adapt to any type of enemy and weakness.

You’ll also want to make sure that beyond elements, your characters functionally do different things. You’ll want supporters to heal and shield your team, keeping them healthy, while other characters focus on dealing all the damage.

A team of four different characters in Honkai: Star Rail — Bronya, March 7th, the Trailblazer, and Serval Image: Hoyoverse via Polygon

Don’t forget about Techniques before you start a battle

Each character has a special ability, labeled a “technique,” that they can use outside of battle. These may buff a character or attack enemies from afar, freezing them at the start of battle. You can only use these a few times before having to refill your technique gauge, but you should make sure to take advantage of these skills before tough battles.

Know the difference between the standard and event gacha banners

Yes, as expected, Honkai: Star Rail uses a gacha system to distribute characters and weapons. Most new characters and weapons will be limited-time only for a few weeks at a time. These banners are labeled as “event warps.” If you miss one, don’t fret — they’ll likely return in the future. There is also a set of “standard warp” characters and weapons that you can pull all the time from a separate standard banner.

When converting your Stellar Jade into warp passes, you’ll want to get Star Rail Special Passes to spend on the event warp banner. You will accumulate regular Star Rail Passes to use on the standard banner, but strategically, the standard banner should not be your priority to pull on, since it will never go away. It’s possible to pull these standard characters on the event banner, so through constant gameplay, you’ll end up with a ton of these characters and weapons eventually anyway.

Honkai: Star Rail is still a mobile gacha game

After you finish what’s available in the story, the gameplay loop is the same as all the rest of these games: you spend your stamina to grind for better equipment and character upgrades. While you can totally just play the story and then log off until they release more, the bulk of your time in this game will be spent doing menial daily tasks and it’s important to remember that before you even start.

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