Honkai: Star Rail Interview – miHoYo Discusses Shift to Turn-Based Combat, Player Choices, & More

honkai: star rail

Coming off the back of the wildly successful Genshin Impact, it’s certainly been exciting to speculate about what the Shanghai-based developing studio miHoYo would work on next. While the recently announced Zenless Zone Zero certainly looks stylish as all hell, fans would be remiss to pass up on Honkai: Star Rail, the latest entry in miHoYo’s popular Honkai series.

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Unlike the Honkai Impact games, however, Star Rail is set to be a much more ambitious project than its predecessors, and it also features a few key differences such as the implementation of turn-based combat, and even open-world environments similar to what we’ve seen in Genshin Impact. We got the opportunity to speak with miHoYo and ask a few questions about what we can expect from this upcoming free-to-play RPG, and you can check out the full interview down below.

Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Zhiqing: The games in the Honkai Impact series are mostly isolated, standalone experiences. Will that be the case for Honkai: Star Rail as well? Is this a good entry for series newcomers to jump in?

miHoYo: Yes, the gameplay and story of Honkai: Star Rail will be independent of the other titles from the Honkai series.

We highly recommend this title for new players, as our original intention is to make Honkai: Star Rail a title that is easily accessible to new players, so they, too, can experience the beauty of the Honkai Universe.

Zhiqing: How did the idea of Star Rail come about? Was it something that the writers always wanted to work towards, or is it an evolution that came naturally to the team?

miHoYo: The inspiration for Honkai: Star Rail was a natural process.

After Honkai Impact 3rd, the team came up with the idea of the next title of the Honkai franchise. We not only hope to continue the spiritual core of the Honkai series –the symbiosis and confrontation between human beings and destiny– but to also bring a refreshing gaming experience to the players. This was why we chose the sci-fi theme. We hope to spark the desire of players to explore the universe and to introduce an extraordinary experience of journeys of the galaxy.

After multiple collision of ideas and perspectives, Honkai: Star Rail was finally born.

Zhiqing: How long has miHoYo been working on the game, and can you give us an idea of how big the development team is?

miHoYo: The project has been continuously improved on for several years since its inception. At present, our entire project team has more than 400 members, and we continue to have excellent talents joining us.

Zhiqing: Could you also tell us more about the development team? Is anyone from the Genshin Impact team working on Star Rail, and is it mostly comprised of the main writers and developers who worked on Honkai Impact?

miHoYo: Honkai: Star Rail is an important title of HoYoverse. For this reason, we have set up a relatively independent team to be responsible for its development and production, and we are committed to presenting an excellent spiritual sequel to the Honkai franchise. It is a different challenge for the team to make the storytelling more immersive and thrilling while adopting the turn-based strategy gameplay.

We’ve accumulated and consolidated experiences in terms of technical pipeline, project development, and content output from the previous titles, and these valuable experiences have played a major role in the project’s development. However, because this time we are developing a brand new turn-based product that we have never tried before, we are still bouncing off ideas from each other and exploring our avenues continuously.

honkai: star rail mascot

Zhiqing: From the trailers, we see some clues and teasers about making choices and carving your own path. Are there any decision-making elements in Star Rail that can change the story experience for each player?

miHoYo: The game is still in beta testing, so we are mainly focusing on the optimization and adjustment of the game features. Players might not be able to experience the full story of the game for the time being.

However, players’ different choices and decisions in the game will affect the attitude of the other characters when they get along with the player, which explains part of the need for players to “make choices”.

As for the other aspects, we prefer not to disclose too much at this time. As Honkai: Star Rail will be operated for the long term, we will definitely keep enriching the story and plot in the future, so let us leave some surprises in the follow-up journey!

Zhiqing: Will Star Rail feature various game modes that players can check out? Or will it be more similar to Genshin Impact, where there’s a stronger focus on exploration?

miHoYo: Honkai: Star Rail aims to provide a complete experience of the main features including turn-based strategy combat, vast maps, maze exploration, puzzle-solving, and more.

As a whole, Honkai: Star Rail hopes to show the display ability and performance of a 3D game. We’ve included maze explorations along with some elements of action-RPG combat and gameplay to elevate the immersion and thrill of a turn-based strategy game.

After all, no matter what the play mode is, it is only one of the ways for us to shape the game style and immersion. We hope that the upcoming Closed Beta will have a more comprehensive demonstration of the gameplay.

Zhiqing: Can you tell us anything about potential PvP and multiplayer modes? Will players be able to team up with friends to take on raids and dungeons, and will there be any kind of guild systems in place?

miHoYo: There will be no multiplayer mode included in this Closed Beta. As for whether such a mechanism will be added in the future, please stay tuned for our later updates.

Zhiqing: Could you tell us about the gearing and leveling system? Will there be a resin limit similar to Genshin Impact when getting resources and materials?

miHoYo: Once we have factual information on these, we will share such updates as soon as possible. Players may also have a sneak peek in the upcoming Closed Beta.

Zhiqing: How did the developers and writers come to the decision of implementing turn-based combat in Star Rail, as opposed to traditional action gameplay?

miHoYo: Turn-based strategy has always been a genre we’ve wanted to try. As one of the classic game genres, the turn-based genre has a prolonged charm of its own. There have been countless marvelous turn-based strategy titles in the past that are loved by players around the world.

Unlike the exhilarating on-hit feedback of real-time action games, the excitement of turn-based strategy games comes from careful planning and thinking for defeating the enemy. Despite being easy to get started, it allows for more diverse and flexible playstyles and strategies. Even when tackling the same stage, different characters can provide varied combinations and party setups.

Therefore, turn-based games are not only very friendly to the players with slow hands, but also provide space for expert players who prefer to strategize, allowing them to gradually form a playstyle that suits their own pace and personality.

We are very grateful that the action games from HoYoverse have received the attention and love of the majority of players. However, we also hope to continue to challenge ourselves to develop products of different varieties to improve the player’s experience and choice, which was also our original intention of developing Honkai: Star Rail.

combat in honkai: star rail

Zhiqing: Will there be an ‘auto’ feature in Star Rail?

miHoYo: Yes, there will be an auto-battle feature in the game. It will improve accessibility to novice players as well as provide other players a choice to enjoy a relatively easy experience in the game.

In addition, we will also provide a double-speed option, which not only will take care of players who wish to pursue a fast-paced experience, but also improve the excitement and coherence of the battle scene.

Zhiqing: With regards to the gacha system, how will duplicate pulls work? Will it also be similar to the Constellations from Genshin Impact? And aside from characters, will players be able to pull for weapons?

miHoYo: We hope to focus more on optimizing the combat and puzzle-solving gameplay for the time being, thus we don’t have comments on the monetization system yet. 

Zhiqing: Regarding the global release, do you have any plans to bring the game to consoles? And is there any plan for Mac support?

miHoYo: The upcoming Closed Beta test will support PC, iOS, and Android devices, and it is currently not available on consoles and Mac devices.

As for other platform releases, please stay tuned. We will keep you informed on future updates.

Zhiqing: Are there any plans for collaborations with other series and IPs?

miHoYo: The game is still in beta testing, so it is still too early to talk about franchise crossovers. That being said, we believe that anything is possible!

Zhiqing: Finally, this is a question that many fans have been asking: will Kiana be in this game? 

miHoYo: As the spiritual sequel to the Honkai series, some of the Honkai series characters, such as Himeko and Seele, will appear in Star Rail in new identities, reuniting with old players. We know that it is no longer a secret, as we have already seen an overwhelming response from players through social media.

As for the other characters, we hope to keep it a little mystery for now and make the follow-up adventure full of surprises!

While Honkai: Star Rail doesn’t have an official release date just yet, the game’s closed beta test is now live. We’ll be checking out the beta over the next few days, so you can expect a preview from us soon as well. In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned on Twinfinite for more news and information on Honkai: Star Rail going forward.

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Zhiqing Wan
Zhiqing is the Reviews Editor for Twinfinite, and a History graduate from Singapore. She's been in the games media industry for nine years, trawling through showfloors, conferences, and spending a ridiculous amount of time making in-depth spreadsheets for min-max-y RPGs. When she's not singing the praises of Amazon's Kindle as the greatest technological invention of the past two decades, you can probably find her in a FromSoft rabbit hole.