Honkai: Star Rail beta release date, gameplay, story, and more
All aboard for the latest news on HoYoverse's upcoming tactical RPG
When is Honkai: Star Rail's final closed beta? Honkai: Star Rail is an upcoming tactical RPG from HoYoverse, known for their surprisingly high-quality free-to-play gacha games, including 2020's breakout hit Genshin Impact. They have a couple of other games in the works along the same lines, one of which is this: a sci-fi journey through the stars by train that looks rather charming.
We're keeping a close eye on Honkai: Star Rail's development, so if you're keen to know all the details of the next closed beta, or want information about gameplay or the story, you're in the right place. Read on below for everything we know about Honkai: Star Rail!
Honkai: Star Rail release date speculation
Officially there's no confirmed release date yet for the full launch of Honkai: Star Rail, but some digital storefronts have begun listing April 26th, 2023 as the expected launch date. This leak feels plausible, both because the timing gels with expectations following the final beta, and because April 26th is March 7th by the lunar calendar — March 7th being the name of one of HSR's main characters, which fans have long been speculating was intended as a release date tease.
As with all leaked info that doesn't have the blessing of a game's developers or publishers, this could of course turn out to be false, and is likely still subject to change even if it's the current internal target for release.
The third and final closed beta for the game began on February 10th, 2023, but the sign-up window has now ended. This means that unfortunately, if you aren't already taking part, you'll need to wait until the global launch to play.
Honkai: Star Rail platforms
Honkai: Star Rail will be released on PC and mobile, with the latter including both Android and iOS devices.
HoYoverse's output has typically focused on PC and mobile markets, with Genshin Impact's release on PlayStation marking a rare exception. So while I wouldn't rule out a console release for Honkai: Star Rail entirely, it's far from guaranteed and almost certainly won't be a feature of the game at launch.
Honkai: Star Rail trailer
Honkai: Star Rail has received half a dozen trailers since its initial announcement in 2021, all of which can be viewed on the game's official YouTube channel. Here's the latest one, released to promote the final closed beta:
Honkai: Star Rail gameplay
Unlike Honkai Impact 3rd — and indeed, most of HoYoverse's other output — Honkai: Star Rail will not be an action RPG. Instead, it will be a tactical RPG, though one that will retain the visual presentation of its 3D ARPG siblings.
In ordinary gameplay, you'll control a team of up to four characters at all times, exploring an open world and questing through dungeons while taking part in strategic turn-based combat encounters.
Is Honkai: Star Rail a gacha game?
Like HoYoverse's other major games, Honkai: Star Rail will operate on a gacha system. This means that while the game is free-to-play, you'll have to put real-world money in if you want to get every character and weapon; and furthermore, you'll be pulling on what's essentially a slot machine in the hopes of getting what you want, rather than simply purchasing your choice of add-ons.
While gacha games earn an extremely understandable (and important) amount of scrutiny for the fact that they are, in essence, monetised through loot boxes, HoYoverse does have a reputation for at least crafting games that are enjoyable for F2P players too. On that basis, I'd expect Honkai: Star Rail to be fully playable with a combination of the starting characters and those you can gain with free gacha pulls, with the main incentive to pay money being completionism and/or optimising character builds.
Will Honkai: Star Rail have PvP?
At the time of writing, there has been no word of Honkai: Star Rail including PvP. HoYoverse have historically deflected the worst criticisms of gachas by avoiding PvP modes in their games. This means that there's no pressure on players to plug money into the games in order to achieve or maintain a competitive edge, high leaderboard rankings, or even just enjoy themselves in a space with players who pay money for better characters and weapons — in other words, to pay to win.
Despite the fact that some fans have vocally made it known they would love to see PvP modes added to HoYoverse's titles, there's so far been no word of one coming to Honkai: Star Rail, which is almost certainly for the best. In fact, there has been no firm word yet on multiplayer in Honkai: Star Rail at all, with the focus on a solo story. However, it seems likely that it'll take a similar approach to other HoYoverse games, with options for things like drop-in friend support and two-to-four-player cooperative play in limited contexts.
Honkai: Star Rail story
Even at this early stage, there are a lot of moving parts in Honkai: Star Rail's storyline. However, the most important thing to know is that it's a very anime sci-fi story about a space train.
The central protagonist, known as the Trailblazer, is an artificial humanoid who finds themself implanted with a seed of ruin by the god of destruction. This extreme set of circumstances is par for the course as far as the stories of HoYoverse heroes go, though, so when they're rescued by the crew of the Astral Express, they choose to join them on their journey into the unknown in search for answers about their predicament.
Other major factions include the Stellaron hunters ("Stellaron" being the name for said seed of ruin); and the crew of the Herta Space Station, where the Astral Express trade artifacts from their voyages, and which is also where the Trailblazer's journey begins.
Is Honkai: Star Rail a sequel?
Honkai: Star Rail is the fourth game in HoYoverse's Honkai series, and will be a sequel to Honkai Impact 3rd, following on directly from that game's ending and incorporating some of the same characters, although with quite different gameplay.
Confirmed returning characters from Honkai Impact 3rd include Welt Yang, a significant NPC who has travelled to a parallel universe in which the events of Honkai: Star Rail are taking place; and there have been indications that Honkai: Star Rail will mark his playable debut. Other returning characters — including Himeko, Seele, and Bronya — are alternate universe equivalents of familiar faces from the previous Honkai game.
The Honkai series also has connections to HoYoverse's other major game right now, Genshin Impact, with hints of a shared multiverse. So, given Genshin's huge popularity right now, I'd imagine there'll be some nods to it in Honkai: Star Rail, if not some minor cross-promotion between the titles.
That's everything we know for now about Honkai: Star Rail, but if you're a HoYoverse fan, be sure to check out our tier list of the best characters in Genshin Impact before you go! We also keep a regularly updated list of Genshin Impact codes to help you to redeem some all-important freebies.