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Honkai: Star Rail Essays

Essays 28 April 2023, 22:35

author: Ewa Ichniowska

Honkai Impact 3rd vs Honkai Star Rail (HSR) - Which to Choose?

Honkai Impact 3rd and the newly released Honkai Star Rail from the HoYoverse studio are both parts of the Honkai series, but how do they compare to each other? Find out what are the similarities and differences between the two.

With the global launch of Honkai Star Rail for PC and mobile platforms, many players are curious about the new title from HoYoverse. How does it stack up to to the previous game in the series, Honkai Impact 3rd? While fans will notice similarities, such as both games being RPGs, there are also significant differences. In this text, we will discuss what makes Honkai Star Rail and Honkai Impact 3rd alike and what sets them apart.


  1. Setting – both games feature a futuristic setting and an intersection of modern technology and supernatural powers. While HSR is set in space, Honkai Impact 3rd happens on Earth ravaged by catastrophes, but they both have similar aesthetics and atmosphere.
  2. Graphics – both games offer detailed, semi-realistic 3D graphics in the style of Asian animation and signature animations for the Ultimate skills.
  3. Characters – in Honkai Impact 3rd we will see many familiar faces from Honkai Star Rail. Part of the cast is made up of alternative-universe versions of HI3 characters – there’s even one character taken directly from the game. While the rest are mostly not the very same people, there are visial similarities as well as references in the lore.
  4. Plot – while the story of HSR is just beginning, it’s evident that in both games, plot and lore play a significant role. Furthermore, the presence of Welt Yang, who travelled to the Honkai Star Rail universe from Honkai Impact 3rd may tie the stories of the two games together.
  5. Voice acting both games are fully voice-acted, although Honkai Star Rail is also dubbed in English and Korean in addition to Japanese and Chinese; in Honkai Impact 3rd, characters who originate from the older game share the same voice actors as in Star Rail.
Combat in Honkai Star Rail and Honkai Impact 3rd - Honkai Impact 3rd vs Honkai Star Rail (HSR) - Which to Choose? - dokument - 2023-04-28
Combat in Honkai Star Rail and Honkai Impact 3rd


  1. Combat Honkai Star Rail is a turn-based strategy game, while Honkai Impact 3rd is an action game which utilizes combos and QTEs. In Honkai Star Rail, the characters have one of seven elements and one of 14 paths, which can be compared to a character class. In contrast, characters in HI3 are only roughly divided into support and DPS, but their damage multipliers are determined by a complex combination of 5 types and 4 elements (one of each per character).
  2. Characters – a significant difference between the two games is that Honkai Impact 3rd features an exclusively female playable cast. The only two playable male characters are exclusive to the spin-off game mode, Post-Honkai Odyssey, and cannot be used in normal stages. Meanwhile, HSR has both male and female playable characters available from launch in addition to the main character, whose gender can be determined by the player.
  3. Character progression – in Honkai Star Rail, each character has a fixed rarity – 4 or 5 stars. The player can unlock up to 6 Eidolons, which add new passive abilities and raise level caps on skills. Eidolons may change the way the characters are played and modify their role on the team – just like Constellations in another game by HoYoverse, Genshin Impact. In comparison, in Honkai Impact 3rd the base rarity of characters can be upgraded up to triple-S with fragments, which mainly affects their stats. Another difference is that in Star Rail, the player doesn’t equip characters with weapons – only Light Cones and Relics which give various buffs.
  4. Exploration – although the player is limited to areas relevant to the current plot, Honkai Star Rail gives an illusion of an open world. After logging in, the player enters the world of the game directly, which allows better immersion. On the other hand, Honkai Impact 3rd confines the player to a starting screen, from where they select which enclosed stage to enter. Some of the stages and gameplay modes offer a semi-open-world experience and unique mechanics, but for the majority of the story, the player is limited to using trial characters.
  5. Longeivity Honkai Impact 3rd was released in 2016 and, as of now, the main plot of the game is over. Online RPG servers do not stay open forever, and although HoYoverse has not announced any plans to end the service, it’s difficult to estimate for how much longer Honkai Impact 3rd will be alive. Players also shouldn’t expect significant updates to the game. In contrast, Honkai Star Rail is a brand new game that will grow and evolve for a few years to come.
Main characters of Star Rail and Honkai Impact 3rd - Honkai Impact 3rd vs Honkai Star Rail (HSR) - Which to Choose? - dokument - 2023-04-28
Main characters of Star Rail and Honkai Impact 3rd

Which game should I play?

Honkai Star Rail will appeal to fans of strategy and turn-based gameplay. Unlike in many mobile, turn-based games from Asia, such as Fate: Grand Order, the moves the player can use are not determined by RNG, promoting a more tactical approach.

Playing Honkai Impact 3rd requires a different set of skills – good reflexes and an ability to master unique combos for each character. Despite easy controls, the fast-paced gameplay is deceptively difficult, so it’s a good choice for those who enjoy a real challenge.

While Honkai Star Rail so far appears to seamlessly integrate it’s different elements, Honkai Impact 3rd may feel like many games in one due to the multitude of modes with unique mechanics. It’s interesting, but can also be overwhelming for a beginner.

Though neither game is fully open-world, Star Rail will appeal to those who enjoy freely exploring. Meanwhile, Honkai Impact 3rd will satisfy those who want to dive into a complex, well-developed story right away.

It’s important to keep in mind that Honkai Impact 3rd has a much higher entry threshold and it’s not beginner nor free-to-play-friendly at this point. The game has a power creep problem and a demanding meta designed to accommodate newest units and punish the old.

Ewa Ichniowska | Gamepressure.com

Honkai: Star Rail

Honkai: Star Rail

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