Regarding free-to-play friendliness, Honkai Star Rail is on the more generous side of the spectrum, with MiHoYo's latest release quickly making a name. With titles like Honkai Impact 3rd and Genshin Impact under its wing, the studio has a certain pedigree in this genre. However, the gacha element in the new game is higher due to the emphasis on squad-based gameplay.
In Honkai Star Rail, you construct a team of four characters and train them to achieve their true potential. The primary way to obtain them is by opening banners using Star Rail passes, although there’s no sure-shot way of telling what you’ll get (unless you hit the pity) beforehand.
Naturally, you might be in a dilemma about how fair the game is if you don’t involve microtransactions. While you can spend real-life money in-game, your advantages will be reasonable and not overpowering.
Honkai Star Rail is free-to-play friendly thanks to generous nature
It’s one thing for a video game to be free-to-play and another to be fair to all. Usually, players have certain advantages when choosing to spend real-life money. Some titles, however, can be predatory, making them “pay-to-win.” With Honkai Star Rail, this is not the case so far.
First, there’s no PvP as of writing, and players must complete a main campaign to unravel the storyline, although there are side quests, with some related to the characters you unlock. These missions allow you to improve your level and earn many in-game resources.
Finally, end-game content like the Simulated Universe adds to the overall sense of competition. However, there’s no situation where your progress depends on others. You can add friends and use their characters as support in certain game modes. But there’s never a point where you directly compete with another Honkai Star Rail player.
Hence, spending real-life money will only speed up your progress. Without doing so, many players can still comfortably approach mid-game content. This is due to the importance of team combination. Putting four of the best characters in the game might not be too sensible since it won’t promise balance.
Moreover, you will receive plenty of freebies when you start the game. This includes banner tickets that require you to achieve certain achievements. Regardless of when you start, you will be guaranteed a 5-star character in your first five multiples (Departure banner). This will barely take a few hours to complete.
Secondly, the 4-star characters in the game are quite useful at this time. They might not have the same polish as their higher rarity counterparts, but they are equally useful while clearing content. Players will get a handful of them by simply playing Honkai Star Rail.
For example, Natasha is an extremely efficient healer who can be earned by completing a certain portion of the main storyline. Serval, a great DPS, has been awarded to every player as a pre-registration reward.
Additionally, the advantages you will have are nice but not exploitative. Aside from buying Stellar Jades, you can invest in a seasonal pass that unlocks more in-game resources. A monthly card then rewards you with 2,700 Stellar Jades (you receive 90 from daily login). Cumulatively, these resources will give you your money’s worth, but you can comfortably progress without them.
The only gripe, for now, will be the low chance of getting a 5-star character from the banners in Honkai Star Rail. Aside from that, the game feels extremely well-rounded and quite generous regarding gachas. However, more end-game content will eventually be required to keep the players engaged.