Genshin Impact developer's turn-based RPG will launch next month

Honkai Star Rail beta - protagonist holding object
(Image credit: MiHoYo)

In Honkai: Star Rail, you explore the galaxy on a flying train blessed by a (possibly) dead god. You collect anime friends and fight anime enemies. It's basically Genshin Impact in space, and you'll be able to play it for free next month.

Honkai: Star Rail guides

Honkai: Star Rail Silver Wolf

(Image credit: Tyler C. / HoYoverse)

Honkai: Star Rail codes: Redeem for free currency
Trailblaze EXP farming: Easy ways to level up
Trailblazer builds: Strengthen your main character up
March 7th builds: Power up the pink archer
Dan Heng builds: Sharpen that spear

In a stream earlier today, developer MiHoYo announced that Honkai: Star Rail will launch on April 26 with preloading available on April 23. PC players can grab the game via its official launcher or the Epic Games Store.

The game's first story arc, or version (despite this being its debut), is called "The Rail Unto the Stars" and will be your introduction to its sci-fi world. Honkai: Star Rail takes place in the same universe as 2016's Honkai Impact 3rd and even features several returning characters. But you don't need to play the older game to understand the new one. It takes place many years in the future and has a separate story.

Honkai: Star Rail is a free-to-play gacha game like its predecessor, so there are plenty of characters to roll the dice for, each with various abilities to help you in its slick turn-based combat. Enemies have elemental weaknesses and you have to build a team to exploit them.

Genshin Impact players will be familiar with building four-person teams and equipping them with grindable gear, but Honkai: Star Rail isn't exactly an open world game. You travel to planets and explore them to progress a semi-linear story about an invading force of evil monsters. Your main character—who can be either male or female—has something called the "Cancer of all Worlds" in them, which seems like something you'll be trying to fix as the story continues in future updates. Otherwise… yikes.

I played a lot of the game's last beta test and was struck by its over-the-top combat animations and legitimately funny writing. Compared to Genshin Impact, Honkai: Star Rail feels a little more adult and a lot more online: there are jokes about the metaverse and an entire text messaging system with emojis. There's also a sidequest where you talk to a plant.

The game pulled in over five million pre-registrations last month, which might mean Genshin Impact will have some competition—if you can call it that.

Associate Editor

Tyler has covered games, games culture, and hardware for over a decade before joining PC Gamer as Associate Editor. He's done in-depth reporting on communities and games as well as criticism for sites like Polygon, Wired, and Waypoint. He's interested in the weird and the fascinating when it comes to games, spending time probing for stories and talking to the people involved. Tyler loves sinking into games like Final Fantasy 14, Overwatch, and Dark Souls to see what makes them tick and pluck out the parts worth talking about. His goal is to talk about games the way they are: broken, beautiful, and bizarre.