Newly released on April 25th, 2023, Honkai: Star Rail has taken the gaming community by storm as the best turn-based gacha role-playing games (RPGs) on the market. With its outstanding Japanese anime-style graphics, in-depth story, and somewhat addicting gacha mechanics, Honkai: Starr Rail is definitely worth a try.

About Honkai: Star Rail

Developed by HoYoverse, it is a free-to-play PC and Mobile game with an immense world and dozens of quests to guide players through it. As the name suggests, the main story is about a train that travels between stars. The game starts at a Star Rail station getting attacked by a fleet of void creatures known as the Antimatter Legion, which is the main enemy of the game. During this attack, the player finds out a little bit about the mysterious Antimatter Legion. Despite being the enemy, the technology the Antimatter Legion uses is integral to the functionality of the Star Rail. So as players embark on missions to different planets with the Star Rail, they are hunting for the technology that the Antimatter Legion is leveraging over them.

One of the most important mechanics in this game is the character progression. All players get their own character, but they can also play as any of the 21 main characters that are met around the game. That being said, players have to unlock these other characters by playing through the game or opening them in the gacha loot box system. Each character has an element and path associated with them, and four of them can be on your team at once. Having a variety of characters with different elements and paths on a team at once makes the team stronger. It is important to unlock at least some of these characters because they will help you beat different enemies in specific parts of the story.

Because this is a mobile first game, it will be heavily live-operated, meaning it will get weekly and monthly updates with special events, new content and characters, and player appreciation campaigns that give free in-game loot. Therefore, it should be a game that players can keep coming back to for at least the next couple of years.

Honkai: Star Rail is the second Honkai game, the first being Honkai Impact. While the names are similar, the stories are stand-alone and do not have anything to do with each other. If you are interested in Star Rail, you do not need to play Impact first to be caught up on the story.

What is gacha?

As mentioned multiple times in this article already, gacha is a money-making scheme that many gaming companies use to entice their players into spending a lot of money on the game. Honkai: Star Rail, while it is free-to-play, follows the gacha model. At this point in gaming history, it is an infamously effective way for games to generate revenue, and it is especially prevalent in mobile games. Basically, gacha is a game that has a loot box system that is directly tied to the progression and power level of the player in a game. In general, this means that a player who has spent money on the game is significantly further ahead than someone who has not.

In Honkai: Star Rail specifically, a player who has paid will generally have more characters unlocked and be more powerful than free-to-play players, time-played being basically irrelevant. A gacha system in any game makes it known as a pay-to-win game within the gaming community. The gacha system in Star Rail is the one and only glaring issue with the game, but it is hardly the first game to ever utilize gacha.

With that out of the way, there really is no reason to pay and be far ahead in Star Rail. There is multiplier in the game, but your progression does not affect it. The only reason you might want to play is to make that progression easier and show off to other players. So, if you can resist the urge to pay for microtransactions, Honkai: Star Rail is truly a fun, free-to-play game with cool animation, an interesting story, and challenging turn-based combat.