Zenless Zone Zero: here's what we know about HoYoverse's next action game

A quartet of posing Zenless Zone Zero proxies.
(Image credit: HoYoVerse)

Zenless Zone Zero, the next project from the studio behind Genshin Impact, is set to expand the HoYoverse Anime Character Fixation empire even further. With Honkai Star Rail only recently out of the station, Zenless Zone Zero is probably still a ways off, but HoYoverse has been happy to drop character reveals in the meantime. People still need Twitter avatars, after all.

As Zenless Zone Zero's theoretical 2024 release approaches, we're starting to get a fuller picture of just how HoYoVerse's next outing will function. We've still got our share of unanswered questions, but with any luck, there'll be more Tuning Tests—the game's equivalent of beta periods—to help demystify things. Here's everything we know about Zenless Zone Zero.

When will Zenless Zone Zero release?

We don't have a specific date, but in recent showcase appearances, HoYoVerse has said Zenless Zone Zero will release in 2024. It's been over a year since HoYoverse ran its playable "Tuning Test" closed beta for Zenless Zone Zero, and we haven't heard much since while the PR machine focused on Honkai Star Rail's release. At this point, trying to pin a date on when we might see Zenless Zone Zero would be raw speculation.

Will there be a Zenless Zone Zero beta? When can we play it?

After an initial "Tuning Test" in 2022—a closed beta, basically—HoYoVerse has run a handful of closed playtests. HoYoverse has indicated that additional playtest periods will follow: Tuning Tests require a sign-up in advance, so if you're interested, keep an eye on the Zenless Zone Zero website.

Zenless Zone Zero Trailers

Here's the latest Zenless Zone Zero gameplay trailer

Revealed during 2023's Game Awards, this trailer gives us another look at Zenless Zone Zero gameplay that's mostly been locked behind closed playtest doors. We get a montage of flashy anime action, showcasing different ability animations from the game's host of collectible characters.

What other Zenless Zone Zero trailers are there?

This Gamescom 2023 Zenless Zone Zero gameplay showcase gives us our most in-depth look at how the next HoYoVerse game will play. We watch a player wander briefly through New Eridu to survey the NPCs and activities on offer, before a lengthy combat sequence against a boss character. Combat seems a bit faster-paced than Genshin Impact, with what feels like an even greater emphasis on tagging in your party's characters: Swapping between characters seems like it can be used to parry heavy boss attacks, and it looks like you'll earn combo opportunities where party members will use simultaneous attacks.

The reveal trailer for Zenless Zone Zero gives away a lot of its characters, if not their names, some of the factions, and a lot of action combat.

The second trailer for Zenless Zone Zero gives another look at combat, and this time at what might be some combo moves or more elemental reactions between characters.

Zenless Zone Zero Gameplay

Read our hands-on Zenless Zone Zero preview

If you want a sense for how MiHoYo's next anime outing will play, your best bet's reading our hands-on Zenless Zone Zero preview. After a few hours with a prerelease beta build, our Tyler Colp calls Zenless Zone Zero "Genshin Impact at twice the speed." It's fast, flashy, streamlined character action—though it seems weighed down by the brand of tedium that gacha games often put in your way when you just want to hit things with your collection of characters.

(Image credit: HoYoverse)

Zenless Zone Zero gameplay 

Before we get to the details, here's the Zenless setting, in brief: Urban fantasy city New Eridu, known as the "last oasis" is overrun by troublesome dimensional holes called Hollows. You'll be hopping in these holes to extract the resource known as Ether, battle the nasty monsters that live there called Ethereals, and try not to get corrupted yourself. Oh, also there are "lawless thugs" and "hollow raiders", Proxies, and the agents of the Hollow Investigative Association in there.

No surprise that Zenless is going to have action combat that feels familiar to Genshin Impact. The gameplay we've seen so far show off melee and ranged attacks with pistols, swords, hammers, and more.

Each commission is a separate event, which you'll control as your Proxy character Belle or Wise by navigating through a series of TV screens that represent nodes like a dungeon crawler. At some points you'll pick up buffs for the run and at others you'll be drawn into combat.

How does combat work?

Zenless is an action combat game similar to Genshin, though without the same focus on elemental combos. Instead, you'll use successive attacks to wear down an enemy's stagger bar and use heavy or ultimate attacks to finish them off. Like Genshin, you'll have a party of characters and only use one at a time, switching back and forth to make use of each one's special abilities or weapons.

Judging from more recent gameplay videos, it looks like Zenless Zone Zero will continue Genshin Impact's emphasis on swapping between characters in combat. Here, though, it seems like tagging in your teammate characters can be used to parry boss attacks, and that you'll unlock chances to trigger simultaneous combat attacks from party members. To see some of how it works in action, check out the Gamescom gameplay showcase linked above.

And, it goes without saying: the combat animations are extremely flashy, in typical anime fashion. Lots of punctuating impact effects, slash highlights, hitstop—the good stuff.

At the end of each encounter, you'll get a score rating for things like number of combos, speed, and taking as few hits as possible.

Is it open world?

Nope, this isn't a big open world exploration fest like Genshin. Zenless Zone Zero is more of a run-based dungeon crawler. You'll take your characters through commissions in those otherworldly Hollow portals, which cart you off to dangerous, labyrinthine sections of the city. Between commissions, you can walk around part of New Eridu city to buy food buffs, watch cutscenes, and other bits you'll recognize from the cities in Genshin. What we've seen of New Eridu in the tuning test looks pretty small honestly, so definitely don't go in expecting a world like Genshin's.

Is Zenless a gacha game? 

HoYoverse hasn't explained just yet how it's planning to monetize Zenless. Given that Genshin Impact and Honkai Impact 3rd are both free-to-play with gacha mechanics, we can likely expect the same of the studio's next action game.

Zenless Zone Zero characters & Factions

Like Genshin, ZZZ looks like it'll be all about its characters—backstories, voice actor reveals, and probably a big fandom full of folks adoring their faves. Yes, I have seen that everyone loves the wolf man already. Of course you love the wolf man with his muzzle and eyepatch and sad boy hair. Where's the love for the bear, folks? 

HoYoverse is slowly doling out info on the many characters and the factions they're a part of. Here's everybody we've seen so far, and the names we have (or don't) to go with them.

Gentle House (Cunning Hares) 

(Image credit: HoYoverse)

This group of freelance odd job-ers was founded by Nicole Demara and handles Hollow-related commissions, though apparently the group is constantly dealing with debt piling up.

  • Billy Kid - A handsome and carefree cyborg with custom dual revolvers. "He may look unreliable, but once he gets serious Billy can take on any challenge."
  • Nicole Demara - Cunning founder of the Hares with a hammer. "She loves money, but is surprisingly bad at managing it." Same.
  • Anby Demara - Calm and enigmatic young girl with a lightning sword. "A mysterious young girl who never talks about her past."
  • Nekomiya Mana - A "spirited and mischievous" catgirl who loves fish.

Defense Force 

(Image credit: HoYoverse)

 We don't know anything about the Defense Force yet, only that Soldier 11 is a member.

  • Soldier 11 - An efficient soldier who has no name with a flaming sword. ZZZ's website says "No matter how strong the enemy, just get fired up and face it head on... At least that's what Soldier 11 does."

Victoria Housekeeping 

(Image credit: HoYoverse)

Victoria Housekeeping Co's characters had a, well, let's say 'devoted' fan base even before their characters were named in a full reveal. The high-end company offers attendant services—apparently by way of wolf-men and chainsaw-toting maids. For Victoria Housekeeping, it seems that "domestic service" can entail some more, well, violent forms of assistance.

  • Corin Wickes - Corin looks to be a maid in the "nervous and flustered" archetype, apparently distressed by Victoria Housekeeping exaggerating about her capabilities to customers. Unclear how the chainsaw-scythe factors in. 
  • Von Lycaon - Lycaon is described as "rational and wise, a true gentleman." That's all fine, but he's also a wolfman with jet legs, which you might be surprised to learn has earned him plenty of interest.

Belobog Heavy Industries 

(Image credit: HoYoverse)

Belobog Industries seems to be a contruction concern in Zenless Zone Zero's scifi cityscape. Meaning they'll probably be hitting things with oversized construction tools.

  • Koleda Belobog - The axe-and-hammer-wielding executive of Belobog Industries. As eloquently described on the ZZZ website, "a fierce young girl who's also a president."
  • Anton Ivanov - He's wielding protagonist hair and what looks like a drill fist? "Open and honest, nothing can seem to upset him."
  • Ben Bigger - A bear with a chain, wields a battering ram. "Those paws could shatter bones, luckily they're busy tapping away on a calculator."


(Image credit: HoYoverse)

The faction of the demon girl and catgirl appears to be H.SOS.6, based on the combat trailer from June 2022. We've also learned their first names in the tuning test, though HoYoverse will likely reveal more about them on Twitter later.

  • Soukaku - A blue demon girl with a mask and greathammer. The ZZZ website describes her as someone who "Loves to eat, and gets angry when seeing others waste food. Totally."
  • Miyabi - Cat ears and katana? Check.

Random Play Managers

(Image credit: HoYoverse)

These two siblings are the owners managers of the Random Play video store in New Eridu who you'll choose between as your "proxy" character. From the video store, they control how your group of Hollow explorers move through each dungeon but unlike Genshin Impact's Traveller main characters, they won't go into combat with the rest of the group. Instead, you'll play as them while walking around New Erido preparing between commissions.

  • Belle: Perceptive and alert, a cheerful and easygoing girl. Sister to Wise.
  • Wise: Thoughtful and reassuring, a gentle and reserved young man. Brother to Belle.
  • Phaethon: A well-known Proxy for their unique guidance technology.

One more wolf guy, just for all of you

HoYo fans only want one thing. (Image credit: HoYoverse)
Lauren Morton
Associate Editor

Lauren started writing for PC Gamer as a freelancer in 2017 while chasing the Dark Souls fashion police and accepted her role as Associate Editor in 2021, now serving as the self-appointed chief cozy games enjoyer. She originally started her career in game development and is still fascinated by how games tick in the modding and speedrunning scenes. She likes long books, longer RPGs, has strong feelings about farmlife sims, and can't stop playing co-op crafting games.