Honkai Star Rail is on the horizon and it could be the first AAA Turn Based RPG since Final Fantasy 13. For those who don’t know what AAA in terms of video games, it stands for a game with a huge budget and high production values.
Now, I know some of you might be thinking “What about Persona 5 or Dragon Quest 11? Aren’t those AAA games too?” Well, no, they’re not. While those games are great, they don’t meet the criteria for being a AAA game, which typically means a budget of at least $50 million for development and marketing. Those are just A or maybe AA games if you want to get technical. Mihoyo, the developers behind it, spent $100 million on Genshin Impact alone, so we can expect some major resources put into Honkai Star Rail as well.
Speaking of Genshin Impact, that’s what makes me hopeful about Honkai Star Rail. Mihoyo proved they can create a gorgeous and expansive world with Genshin Impact, and now they’re taking on the turn-based JRPG genre. It’s a risky move, but we can trust Mihoyo to deliver (Maybe). Plus, let’s be real, we need more turn-based JRPGs in our lives. SquareEnix has shown they are no longer interested in big budget turn based RPGs. See Final Fantasy XV, 7 Remake and XVI for reference.
The shift from Genshin Impact’s action RPG combat to Honkai Star Rail’s turn-based combat is a major change for Mihoyo, but I’m excited to see what they come up with. Honkai Star Rail has the potential to bring back the classic feel of turn-based combat while also incorporating Mihoyo’s signature stunning visuals and immersive worlds.
While I would love to go on about the game’s potential, I do need to discuss the big pink elephant in the room: It’s a Gacha game. As we’ve seen with Genshin Impact and other mobile games, the Gacha model has been very successful in monetizing games. Players have the chance to obtain rare and powerful characters or items by spending real-world money on randomized draws. This model has proven to be very profitable and has led to many companies adopting it in their games.
Free-to-play (F2P) games have also become increasingly popular in recent years. By allowing players to download and play games for free, developers can attract a much larger audience. However, F2P games often rely on microtransactions to generate revenue, which has been a controversial topic in the gaming community. I myself find that in a quandary about whether to invest time in these kinds of games.
The combination of Gacha and F2P models could be the future of JRPGs. With more players than ever before, developers can potentially earn more revenue from Gacha draws and microtransactions. This would allow them to continue creating high-quality games without the need for a large upfront cost from players.
Of course, this model is not without its flaws. Some players may feel pressured to spend money to get the best characters or items, leading to a pay-to-win scenario. However, with proper balancing and fair gameplay mechanics, Gacha and F2P models could be the future of JRPGs. Only time will tell if this is the direction the industry will take. In the meantime, I’m getting on the Honkai Star Rail hype train.
Honkai Star Rail is set to release on April 26 on iOS and Android with a Playstation 4|5 and EPIC Game Store launch later.