Honkai Star Rail – PC & Mobile Game Review

Honkai Star Rail Review

Honkai Star Rail was released on PC Steam back on 26 April 2023, it is a free game by the creators of Genshin Impact. The game is both available to console, windows and mobile, while I say don’t, don’t just think it’s one of those direct Mobile to PC Port. While currently, the game itself is very poorly optimized currently for PC, sometimes over using your graphics card, for example running over 50% GPU on a RTX 3600 on multiple devices while New World or Lost Ark itself barely barely reaches 30%. We’ll talk more about that issue here. Otherwise, Honkai Star Rail is totally worth playing today.

Combat

The combat is kind of slow paced, turn based combat. What probably annoys me the most is that the ultimate skills are exactly like Bleach Brave Souls in the way that the animation will always play. No way to turn them off, and with 4 characters, it feels super annoying after watching it a few dozen times. The animations still happen during auto-play, even though you can speed it up slightly, it is still quite silly that you can’t just turn it off completely. Side note, kind of the same annoyance that you can’t skip story whatsoever, so it feels super sluggish slow when you are just trying to get story done, since some interactions are super long as they talk heaps.

Otherwise, the combat is very standard JRPG turn base, you hit me, i hit you, nothing super special, some interesting elements and features but that’s about it, nothing fancy. Planning the right moves and knowing when and who to attack is super crucial in this game and can easily define a win or lose even if you out gear your opponent.

Elements

As with all gacha games, there is elements in Honkai Star Rail. Star Rail has a total of seven elements.

  • Physical – Bleed
  • Fire – Burn
  • Ice – Frozen
  • Lightning – Shock
  • Wind – Wind Shear
  • Quantum – Entanglement
  • Imaginary – Imprisonment

As far as I am aware, unlike standard element-based characters, each element in Honkai Star Rail does not counter another other but it will deplete an enemy’s toughness bar causing a weakness break which weakens the monster instead.

PVP

There are no PVP modes in Honkai Star Rail as of the time of this review in June 2023. Which is quiet of a shame, considering it is something that can be easily implemented even at a basic level for more weekly rewards, considering you are constantly resource hungry in Honkai Star Rail and have very limited ways to get resource as a free2play player.

Cash Shop

This is a gacha game, while I would say it is a pay2win game, I also can’t see how you would win in Honkai Star Rail either, considering it is pretty much a solo-game with barely any MMO elements or player interactions. So, it is more towards, to either collect the characters you like, or pay for for more convenience to progress easier.

The cash shop is more or less the same style as Genshin Impact, just like their battle pass and basically how quest are set up as well. I would even go as far as to say that it is basically the same game with a different story & combat style. You can honestly see lots of similarity in both games.

State of Game

The game is doing well, it is getting updates constantly and events, freebies are constantly been given out. I would dare say Honkai is taking the mobile turn-based combat mobile games by leaps and bounds. In fact, it is doing so well, a PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 port is currently in development. Currently the game is available on IOS, Google playstore, epic games or their own standalone client if you don’t like using a sad excuse a launcher from Epic Games. While the game started off with what feels like a lack of playable characters, the HoYoLAB team is constantly updating it and we are already on version 1.1 already with a few new playable characters introduced.

Honkai Star Rail v1.1 Launcher

Performance Issues

As mentioned earlier, your PC version of Honkai Star Rail may been encountering some high GPU usage while playing the game. When my settings are all set to very high, I seen my GPU usage go as high as 60% while just auto-playing in the background which is totally ridiculous since I could open Bluestacks and run the game there for a faction of the resource used besides the ram sink. While testing on other gaming PCs I owned, on both Windows 10 and 11 PCs, I have noticed this issue is present. Playing with the settings, I found that this is caused purely by the following Rending Quality settings.

Settings -> Graphics Settings -> Rending Quality.

Previously, you may be like me having it set at 2.0 but I have noticed, anything above 1.2 and the graphics looks pretty much the same but your GPU will be working alot harder than it really should be.

If you notice your PC starts to struggle, I would recommend turning that down and you will notice your GPU normalizes its usage back to around ~20% which I would totally expect from a game like this.

Honkai Star Rail - Rending Setting High GPU usage
Rending Setting causing High GPU usage

Artwork

I always loved the artwork style Genshin Impact and it is exactly the same for Honkai Star Rail. The world, despite being small and not open world; is beautiful but since it is a single player game. The monster density is low and it just feels quite lacking and empty. A real shame to the game really. I wouldn’t mind some pokemon-style encounters but letting you see other players, something that TemTem really excels at bringing to life. That would of made the world zones a lot more alive and fun even if we can’t fight or interact with other users.

Fun

Honkai Star Rail is very enjoyable to play. I wouldn’t be surprised if this takes a huge chunk out of the mobile gacha gaming industry at all. This game in my own personal opinion will also be very popular despite only releasing with a few playable characters. It’s single player, story driven, turn based, AFK-able content, auto-play and super cute waifus and husbandos. A big plus for most gacha gamers out there as a second game on your other monitor. There are plenty of content in game to play, achievements to beat and characters to max out. The content itself is actually decently hard, for example, I was stuck in Mirror Gate 11 for the longest time or Stimulated World 5 where I had to replay it at least 20 times before I could beat the last boss.

Strategy matters alot in harder content for Honkai Star Rail and characters and their abilities & element could be the game changer. Give the game a try today, there are no strings attached and after all, the game is free and I can totally see miHoYo giving it regularly updates so it can grow to become another huge hit like Genshin Impact.

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