I've been playing the third and final beta for Honkai: Star Rail, a free-to-play turn-based gacha JRPG and the next game from Genshin Impact developer Hoyoverse, and generally having a great time. A lot of systems and interfaces have been lifted wholesale from Genshin, but Star Rail's world, combat, and characters are totally different, and appealing in their own right. I love that combat is broken up by ultimate and follow-up abilities that can interrupt the action queue, adding dynamic and flashy moments to the traditional turn-based formula. It definitely feels like a Hoyoverse game, but it's scratching a separate itch for me as a big JRPG fan.
There's no doubt I'm going to play the full game when it launches – in April, according to an early store listing – so I've actually had to forcibly stop myself from playing too much right now, knowing that my progress will be wiped at the end of the beta. I don't want to get burned out repeating the same content on my actual account. But I've seen more than enough to become envious of some of the features in Star Rail. I've been playing Genshin virtually every day since it came out over two years ago, and I'd love to see Hoyoverse add these six Star Rail ideas to its breadwinning open-world RPG – the caveat being that Star Rail is still technically unfinished, but none of these features seem likely to drastically change, and nothing will change the fact that I want them in Genshin.
A custom relic / artifact printer
The beta season pass for Honkai: Star Rail includes a free "Self-Modeling Resin" available to all players at rank 40 out of 50. I haven't actually unlocked this item yet, so I'm just working off its description; this thing can apparently create a relic, Star Rail's equivalent to Genshin's artifacts, according to parameters you specify. In other words, you can, to some degree, custom-make one piece of gear per patch, and frankly Genshin needed this years ago.
Many gacha games with RNG gear give players one tailor-made bit of equipment every month or so, and with how brutal Genshin Impact's artifact variance can be, it could really use a similar function. You have to get the right piece on the right set with the right main stat and good substats and then roll good substats five times. This is why it took me several months of near-daily grinding to get a half-decent crit damage circlet on a specific artifact set from Sumeru's new domain. Some kind of artifact printer to smooth over bad RNG would make gearing Genshin characters much less frustrating – and it could make pulling for new characters more exciting since the specter of bad artifacts wouldn't drag your mood down.
A standard banner character guarantee
Not a week goes by that I don't see somebody on the Genshin Impact subreddit bemoaning the fact that they still haven't gotten one of the game's standard characters: Jean, Diluc, Mona, Keqing, Qiqi, and now Tighnari. You can get any of these six when you lose a 50/50 on limited rate-up banners, and you can also pull them when you hit a five-star on the permanent standard banner, but some folks just can't get who they want. Worse, you might get duplicates of a character you don't like before getting someone you don't even have. (Couldn't be me with a C6 Qiqi I never use.)
Star Rail has a solution to this problem: after 300 standard pulls, it lets you choose one of its seven standard characters to add to your team. You can only do this once, but that's one more guarantee than Genshin gives you, and that's after your first 50 standard pulls (technically 40 thanks to a new-player discount banner) guaranteeing a random standard five-star.
A permanent roguelike mode
Within an hour or two, I stumbled into Star Rail's Simulated Universe, which has some of the bones of roguelikes such as Slay the Spire and even Hades. You chart a course through connected chambers, battling enemies and collecting resources to prepare for a big boss at the end. I've only played the first of six areas so the mode is still super linear, but there's tons of potential for branching procedural generation that forces you to choose between various resources. Do you want to visit a healing chamber, an upgrade chamber for the buff cards you've drafted, or a miniboss chamber for some rare loot? There's even a special shop to spend points you've earned clearing floors.
Even in its most basic form, the Simulated Universe is already much more interesting than Genshin's Spiral Abyss dungeon, which also lets you draft buffs for different combat chambers but in a wholly uninteresting way. The Spiral Abyss also plays exactly the same between monthly or bimonthly enemy refreshes. If that wasn't enough, Star Rail even has another, more Spiral Abyss-like dungeon called the Forgotten Hall, just to put Genshin's endgame further to shame. Genshin has proven itself capable of good roguelike modes through many past events; now more than ever, I want Hoyoverse to spruce one of those events up and make it a permanent addition to the game.
Casual DMs with playable characters
This is a small detail that I've really enjoyed. For several days in a row now, whenever I log into Star Rail I'll receive a message from one of the characters on my roster, usually story allies like Dan Heng or March 7th (yes, that's her name). There's no quest or reward tied to these short DM conversations, but it's fun to interact with playable characters like this. Genshin already sends you a letter on each character's birthday, and I'd love to see more spontaneous communication in the same vein. I'm not saying I specifically want to be pen pals with Yae Miko, Beidou, Yelan, and Shenhe, but I'm not not saying that.
Customizable daily missions
It turns out daily gacha rewards don't have to involve tedious and repetitive tasks. I like a lot of Genshin's combat and parkour commissions, don't get me wrong, but some of its dailies just plain suck, and all of them get repetitive after a while. Don't get me started on the 'talk to NPC' dailies.
Star Rail smartly lets you obtain your daily rewards by completing basic tasks that naturally fit into its gameplay loop. You have to earn 500 points to get a full day's loot, and you can do that by using a consumable, leveling a character, spending your energy (Resin) on resource farms, clearing the Simulated Universe, or completing a simple daily quest. Choosing how to clear dailies in Star Rail, often while progressing my account in a meaningful way that I would've pursued anyway, is much more fun than grinding out fixed Genshin commissions that I've done hundreds of times.
Assignments / expeditions that don't suck
It's not just daily missions; Star Rail has also improved on Genshin's expedition system. Genshin lets you send out up to five characters to passively collect weapon XP, money, and various cooking ingredients over 20-hour periods. Star Rail lets you do the same, but it also has expeditions – rather, assignments – for character XP and character ascension materials. This might not sound like much, but it's an amazing option to have. I don't care about cooking materials in Genshin so I just max out my weapon XP and burn extra expeditions on the utterly pathetic money routes, and I'd much rather collect resources to help level my characters.
Here are some other games like Genshin Impact to keep you ticking over between now and Honkai: Star Rail