We’re in a sorry state right now. Born too late to see the moon landing, and probably born too early to see the first manned expedition to Mars. But born just in time to explore the stars as an anime character? On a TRAIN no less? Checkaroo. All is right with the world.
Honkai: Star Rail is HoYoverse’s latest addition to their superb selection of games. In Honkai: Star Rail, you’ll take on the role of a Trailblazer, a mysterious person born of a Stellaron – a cosmic blight. With the circumstances of your birth slash creation a complete mystery, will you bring order, hope, joy, and light to the universe? Or are you doomed to the life of a Cancer of Worlds, inflicting disorder and chaos everywhere you go? The choice is yours; as Kafka says, see the end in your own way.
Aspiring trailblazers can catch the game on the App Store and Google Play Store, but if you want to really enjoy the game’s art and music – which are quite something – you can get Honkai: Star Rail on PC, too. For reference, I’ll be using the PC version of the game for this guide for added clarity.
Players of HoYoverse’s blockbuster game Genshin Impact will find a lot of systems in Honkai: Star Rail very familiar. However, for players completely new to the scene, this guide to exploring the stars is for you.
In this Honkai: Star Rail beginner’s guide, we’ll be going over:
- Learning to read characters.
- How to strengthen them.
- A generic build and how-to-use guide for the free characters you get over the course of normal gameplay and how to use characters you don’t own.
- The intricacies of Honkai: Star Rail’s battle system and how to get an edge over your enemies.
- Where to spend our Trailblazer Power, as well as get those sweet rewards from challenges, dungeons, and instances.
- Where to get free stuff – hunting for treasure, rarities, and oddities. And especially those dang Stellar Jades.
Character Analysis 101
Let’s be honest – appearances aren’t everything, but they are pretty impactful. If you’re a totally new player, chances are you saw an ad with a character you liked.
Yes, I know the characters are cute. Some are also hot. But before you pull out your credit card and smash that Warp button, let’s have a quick, in-depth look at how characters work in Honkai: Star Rail.This way, you’ll be able to tell if your ideal husband or waifu is a good fit for your team.
- Characters have both base and advanced stats.
- Characters are divided into both paths (combat role) and elements.
- It is important to include several elements of characters in a party to maximize weakness breaks.
- All characters have five skills – a normal attack, an active skill, an ultimate, a passive, and a technique for use on the overworld. These skills are often the determining factor as to whether you’ll want to use a character.
We wouldn’t have video games without numbers, and that’s a simple fact. Without base stats, games wouldn’t have anything to base their calculations on. Luckily, Honkai: Star Rail doesn’t have a very complex stat system.
A character’s most important stats are their…
- HP: hit points. Get these to zero and the character is dead!
- ATK: attack power. There’s no distinction between physical and elemental damage. Most skills operate off an attack value (ex, 50% of ATK).
- DEF: defense power. The more of this you have, the less damage you take.
- SPD: speed. Affects how soon a character can act and their position in the turn order. SPD modifiers come largely from buffs/debuffs.
- CRIT Rate: critical hit rate. The percent chance that a character’s attack will hit for extra damage.
- CRIT Dmg: critical damage. How much extra damage a critical hit does. By default, this is 50% more damage.
Honestly, that’s all the stats you need. But if your craving for numbers is not yet sated, you can tap the More Stats button to get more in-depth information on a character – such as percent-based boosts to elemental damage types, resistances, break effect amplification, and more. Don’t work yourself up too much over these extra stats until you can farm Relics and are at higher Equilibrium Levels.
Honkai: Star Rail eschews the traditional character class system in favor of Paths. Characters are divided into Paths based on their expected role in combat. A character’s Path can be found below their name in the character screen.
The Paths in Honkai: Star Rail are:
- Destruction Path characters are generalist fighters who can both mete out and take punishment.
- The Hunt Path characters excel at taking down elite foes with their amazing single-target damage skills.
- Erudition Path characters are second to none when it comes to quickly clearing trash mobs with their AOEs.
- Harmony Path characters use their powerful buffs to help their teammates shine even more.
- Nihilist Path characters soften up enemies with their array of debuffs.
- Preservation Path characters are great at keeping their allies alive via shields or other methods.
- Abundance Path characters keep their allies healthy by topping up their health.
Characters tend to have stats attuned to their Paths – The Hunt Path characters have expectedly high ATK, Preservation characters have high DEF, and so on.
It wouldn’t be a Hoyoverse game without elements. Each character has an elemental affinity that affects the type of damage they do. This also affects weakness breaks, which affect ailments which I’ll discuss later in the combat section. A character’s Element can be found opposite their name on the character screen.
The elements in Honkai: Star Rail are:
- Physical, which inflicts bleed, a physical DOT.
- Fire, which inflicts burn, a fire DOT.
- Lightning, which inflicts shock, a lightning DOT.
- Wind, which inflicts wind shear, (you guessed it), a wind DOT.
- Ice, which inflicts freeze, disabling enemies and proccing a chunk of damage.
- Quantum, which inflicts entanglement, pushing the victim further back in the turn order and causing them to take bonus damage on their turn based on how much damage they took before then.
- Imaginary, which inflicts imprisonment, greatly delaying the target’s turn and dropping their SPD.
Weakness breaks are key to success in Honkai: Star Rail. Keep the different elements in mind when selecting a team.
Each character, without exception, has five skills. These skills grant them various abilities in combat and exploration and will most likely be the determining factor in whether you want to pull a character or skip them.
The five skills are:
- Basic attacks cost no mana but are weak. For most characters, this attack deals 50% of their ATK as elemental damage to one enemy.
- A character’s skill uses up Skill Points. These range from character to character and can do things as simple as high damage to a single target to heals, buffs, debuffs, shields, and so on.
- In times of dire need, a character can use their ultimate. Ultimates are incredibly potent skills that can change the flow of combat on their own.
- Talents are passive skills. Mastering when and how a character’s talent kicks in is key to getting the most out of them.
- A technique is a special skill that a character can use while you’re exploring the world. Techniques often give you a leg up in your adventures, ranging from a quick and simple party heal to engaging foes from a distance and starting battle with a status effect in play.
Strengthen Your Characters
Now that you know how to read a character’s base abilities, it’s time to get to the meat of the matter: making them stronger.
- Characters level up by fighting or by being fed experience items. At level 20 and every 10 levels afterward, you will need to ascend a character to break their level cap. This involves gathering and spending in-game resources.
- All characters have traces, a skill tree that governs not only the level of their normal attack, skill, and ultimate but also has handy passive stat boost and augments for their skills.
- Getting a duplicate of a character unlocks their Eidolon. Eidolons have six levels, each of which gives significant, sometimes game-changing boosts to the character in question. It’s a very good idea to read up on what a character’s Eidolon does before you decide to pull for them.
- Light Cones are “weapons” for characters. They give a boost in stats based on their level. Light Cones also provide an additional ability if the character they’re equipped to is of a certain Path. This extra ability can be Superimposed (boosted) up to level 5 by sacrificing similar Light Cones.
- Relics are special equipment that can be given to characters to increase their stats. You can have up to 4 relics on a character at once. Relics not only provide raw numbers and substats but also a powerful set bonus depending on how many of them you have equipped – this comes in a 2-piece and 4-piece bonus.
- Legendary relics (orange) only start dropping at Trailblaze Level 40/Equilibrium Level 3.
Levels and Ascension
Leveling up is the fastest way to strengthen a character.
You can get experience points by fighting enemies, but a far faster and more efficient way to level a character up is to feed them Travel Encounters, Adventure Logs, or Traveler’s Guides – consumables that you can earn from quests, find in treasure chests (read: trash cans), or from daily tasks.
At level 20 and every 10 levels afterward, you will need to ascend a character. Until a character is ascended, they will be unable to progress further. To ascend a character, you’ll need to gather a bunch of materials and money and feed those to the character in question. You’ll also need to have reached a certain Trailblaze Level to ascend past certain breakpoints.
Unlike other gacha games, it’s still worth leveling up characters beyond the four you find yourself drawn to. Every character has a weakness, so by training up a diverse cast of heroes, you’ll be able to tackle all challenges along the way. That said, do try to not spread yourself too thin either; it’s a good idea to first boost your most used team to the highest level possible at your current Trailblaze level before leveling up anyone else!
All characters have a passive skill tree, dubbed their traces.
Traces control a character’s skill levels, so it’s very important to come back to this menu from time to time to level up the skills of your most used characters. Apart from skill levels, traces also contain goodies that range from simple stat increases to that character’s relevant stats to boosts to how their skills work. March 7th, for example, not only has traces that boost her Ice Damage and DEF (since her shield scales off DEF) but also has two trace nodes that cause her shield to cleanse debuffs and last one more turn!
Trace levels are tied to character ascension levels, so you can’t supercharge someone off the bat. This does make for some nice timing; after ascending a character, make sure to go to their traces menu and get those shiny new passives!
Pulling duplicates of a character results in gaining Eidolons. With each Eidolon you activate, a character gains more passive boosts that can vastly improve their performance or even change their role and how they work entirely! Each character has six Eidolons to unlock.
Just like with a character’s skills, it’s well worth your time to see if a character’s Eidolons are worth pulling for. Remember: certain Eidolon levels represent huge power spikes, so spend your Stellar Jade judiciously!
One caveat here is the Trailblazer. As you cannot pull them in any gacha, you’ll need to complete the main quest and do several tasks to unlock the item that gives them their Eidolon.
Light Cones are a little difficult to describe. Think of them as time or memories perfectly preserved in slices of solid light. That probably didn’t help.
Each Light Cone not only offers a substantial increase to a character’s base HP, ATK, and DEF but also offers a unique bonus. Mechanically, Light Cones are Honkai: Star Rail’s counterpart to Genshin Impact’s weaponry, and if you’re familiar with the latter, you’re good to go on the former. There is one caveat here though: a Light Cone’s special ability requires the equipped character to be of a specific path.
Light Cones can be upgraded by feeding them other Light Cones, which will raise their base stats. Just like with characters, you’ll need to ascend your Light Cones at level 20, then every 10 levels afterward. Light Cones can also be superimposed (read: merged with duplicates of themselves); this will boost the numbers on that Light Cone’s ability.
Don’t underestimate the importance of Light Cones and their abilities – these can not only enhance but also transform a character’s combat role. It may be well worth it to put Light Cones with interesting or useful abilities aside so that you can switch them out at will.
Relics are sets of artifacts that are unlocked in the first part of the “Ones Fallen Into the Abyss” quest. Each character can initially equip four relics – one headgear, one set of gloves, body armor, and boots – and each of these relics give a boost to base stats. More importantly, relics offer a unique and powerful set bonus that activates if you wear two or four relics of the same set.
You may also have noticed two empty slots in the middle of the relic ring. Don’t worry about those for now – you will unlock those slots via progressing in the main quest.
To start farming relics though, you’ll need to complete the “The Stars are Cold Toys” quest at Trailblaze level 24. And while you can spend your Trailblaze power as you wish, do note that legendary relics only start dropping at Trailblaze level 40, or Equilibrium Level 3. However, if you really need that extra oomph in your kit, farm away!
So How Does Our Starting Team Work?
Even with all that information, you may still have a tough time with your characters. Don’t worry – it’s a lot of information to go through!
Luckily, the game provides enough free characters for a coherent team that can reasonably clear the game, which is a godsend if your gacha luck has been awful. If you need tips on how to use your starter team and how to build them, here’s a quick breakdown of the free characters you get.
The Trailblazeris a powerful character off the bat (pun intended).
They have the advantage of being a Destruction Path character, so they’ve got inherently high ATK. On top of that, they can dish out both single-target and AOE damage AND have an adaptable ultimate that can toggle between those two modes.
By progressing further into the game, you’ll be able to unlock other elements and paths for the Trailblazer, vastly changing their moveset and making them an incredibly versatile character that can fulfill various roles. Thus, investing materials into the Trailblazer’s growth is 100% worth it, though do note that each iteration of the Trailblazer requires their own traces, relics, Light Cones, and Eidolons.
Because of the Trailblazer’s shifting role, it’s prudent to keep a set of equipment and relics on hand depending on the situation. Destruction Trailblazer, however, greatly benefits from raw ATK boosts.
March 7th is a plucky character whose Ice element clashes with her warm, bubbly personality.
While her damage is on the low end, March 7th is great at keeping your allies alive thanks to her proactive shield/taunt skill, and she can even contribute a bit of damage thanks to her chase activating if an enemy attacks a shielded ally. Ice is also a fantastic element for disabling foes, and March 7th’s ultimate has a base 50% chance to freeze without weakness breaks!
While March 7th is overshadowed in pure defensive ability by other characters, she stands out due to being free. As you either need to progress further in the story to unlock a free Preservation character or be lucky enough to pull the 5* Gepard, March 7th will likely serve as the shielder for a good many team comps.
If you’re sticking with March 7th for the long haul, remember that she scales heavily off DEF, so prioritize that stat when outfitting her with Light Cones and relics. If possible, unlock her 2nd Eidolon as well so that you get a free shield when entering combat.
Dan Heng is your starter assassin who excels at dealing single-target Wind damage.
Dan Heng’s kit is simple and straightforward: he can stab a single enemy with a chance to slow them, and his ultimate stabs one enemy even harder with a big damage boost if that enemy is slowed. If the slow boost isn’t enough, Dan Heng’s talent gives his next attack improved Wind Resistance Penetration if he becomes the target of an ally’s ability. And while Dan Heng can apply slow on his own, he can become a lot stronger if paired with an ally that can also slow enemies – unfortunately as of writing, the only character that can do that is Welt, a 5*. All said, Dan Heng is a powerful unit, but keep in mind that maximizing his damage can be convoluted.
For all the damage he brings to the table, note that Dan Heng is quite frail. Thus, he’s great when paired with March 7th as her shields not only help Dan Heng stay alive but also proc his Wind Resistance Penetration technique. Dan Heng also suffers from a lack of multi-targeting skills, so pair him with someone like Asta or Herta when farming Calyxes or dealing with lots of cannon fodder enemies.
The best way to use Dan Heng is to go all-in on his offense while relying on teammates to keep him alive. If you’re lucky enough to pull a Swordplay Light Cone (which increases damage each time wielder hits the same enemy), Dan Heng works great with it. Likewise, Dan Heng’s relics should focus on pushing his damage higher either by increasing ATK, crit rate, or crit damage. What stat/substat you should focus on will depend on the rest of your team composition – and indirectly, your gacha luck.
Asta is a fantastic Fire support who helps your team both act sooner and kill faster.
Asta’s bouncing Meteor Storm helps her make quick work of fire-weak foes, but it’s her Astrometry stacks (7% ATK bonus per stack to her team, to a max of 5 stacks) and Astral Blessing ultimate (+36 SPD to all allies for 2 turns) that make her a formidable support. Asta works great with both the Trailblazer and Dan Heng, who will greatly appreciate both her ATK and SPD buff that will help them pick off foes faster.
While Asta can do some damage on her own, remember that as a Harmony Path character, her ATK and offensive abilities are far from stellar. Thus, focus more on utility when outfitting Asta with Light Cones and relics. Equipment that gives Asta energy to get Astral Blessing online faster is great, but even the common Chorus Light Cone is a good pick.
Herta is the (probably mad) scientist who owns the space station you start the game on. She’s a busy woman though, so she’s got a ton of doll bodies lying around – this way she can work on her projects AND kick ass alongside you.
You get one copy of Herta for free after finishing the Simulated Universe: First Closed Beta quest, so make sure to go to Herta’s office as soon as you can!
Herta is an Erudition Path character, meaning she excels at AOE damage, something you’ll be sorely lacking in the early game. Her One-Time Offer skill offers easy access to mob clearing, but it’s her Fine, I’ll Do It Myself talent that really makes her shine. This talent causes Herta to launch a follow-up attack against all enemies one time every time one of them drops below 50% HP, easily causing a chain reaction that can wipe out normal encounters.
That said, Herta absolutely struggles against bosses. Build her up as a Calyx or overworld farmer, but for boss-heavy content like Memory of Chaos, you’ll want somebody else. As Herta’s main role is to mop up trash mobs as quickly as possible, give her items that increase her ATK, energy build-up, or ultimate damage.
Natasha is a dedicated healer, which is something of a rarity in Honkai: Star Rail. This doctor specializes in just one thing – keeping your team alive – but it’s something she excels in.
You get one copy of Natasha for free after finishing the Lying in Rust quest on Jarilo-VI.
Natasha has a very straightforward kit – her skill is a targeted burst heal and regen buff, while her ultimate is a party heal. Her technique is also defensive; while it won’t do too much damage thanks to Natasha’s mediocre ATK, it’s guaranteed to Weaken enemies to mitigate damage.
Natasha’s skill and ultimate scale off a percentage of her max HP, so pump that as high as you can. She also has a wealth of Light Cones to choose from – Fine Fruit helps her team kill faster with bonus energy, but Cornucopia just flat-out increases her healing. There are no hard rules when building Natasha; anything that increases her outgoing healing, max HP, or energy regeneration is very welcome.
Unless you got Bailu, Natasha is going to be your healer. Do build Natasha as March 7th’s shields will quickly become insufficient to keep up with boss damage.
Okay, so they’re not technically on your starter team. But it’s easy to get support characters! These characters are rented out by both people on your friend list and random players.
Support characters are assigned by a player. When you use a support character, they’ll get some money in return. This is a great way to get some extra firepower or healing for tough tasks. However, there’s a caveat – support characters can only be used in certain game modes like Calyxes and Caverns of Corrosion. To do this, tap the support button to the right of the screen when building a team in these game modes.
To set your own support character, tap the three dots to the right of your character’s name in the menu.
Combat, in a nutshell, is this: you pick four characters to be on the field and they face down foes in turn-based combat. Simple on paper, but in practice, things can get hectic. This section will run through what you need to not just survive but thrive in battle.
- Remember the unique quirks of Honkai: Star Rail’s battle system. Most importantly, no using items in battle.
- Every skill uses skill points, a shared mana pool between characters. Normal attacks generate 1 skill point, while any skill consumes 1 skill point. You enter battle with 3 skill points and can hold up to 5.
- Ultimates can be played any time the battle hits an open game state. That includes in between enemy turns. Mastering when and where to pop your ults to save an ally or disable/kill a key enemy is a core skill to have in the game.
- All enemies have elemental weaknesses. Hit them with that element enough, they’ll get hit with a weakness break. Weakness breaks deal a massive chunk of damage, have a very high chance to proc their related ailment, and lower that enemy’s speed and defenses. You can also stop some powerful attacks from bosses by hitting them with a weakness break during their charging period.
- Attack enemies on the overworld with an element they’re weak with to start things off with a weakness break attack.
- Don’t get ambushed! If an enemy touches you on the overworld, they win initiative and get to smack you around for free before you get to move.
- You can view status effects and enemy data on all characters and enemies. This is very important for bosses.
- Turn order is determined by SPD; think of SPD as the speed at which your turn timer fills up. You can see turn order on the upper left.
- The turn order panel also shows which enemy you are targeting. Useful if there are multiple of one kind of enemy.
- Use Techniques to start battle with an edge – buffs, disables, and debuffs go a long way in softening up tough foes.
- Run through the checklist of things you can do if you absolutely cannot defeat a boss.
Battle System Quirks
While Honkai: Star Rail’s battles are standard JRPG fare, there are some things you should take note of:
- Items cannot be used in the middle of battle.
- Characters cannot skip their turn nor defend.
- Status effects persist through consecutive battles.
The fastest way to end fights in Honkai: Star Rail is by spamming skills. To use a character’s skill, just tap it on the right-hand side of the screen.
Note the text that appears on each skill icon. Single target means it only hits one enemy, Blast means the skill also damages adjacent enemies (to the left and right of the main target), and AOE means it will hit all enemies.
…skills are limited. Instead of MP, Honkai: Star Rail uses the skill point system. This is a pool of points shared across all your characters and serves to both limit your actions and challenge your tactical thinking.
Every skill you use consumes 1 skill point while using normal attacks generates 1 skill point. This means that protracted fights are a delicate balancing act of carefully deciding who gets to use the skill points, and who’s stuck with the job of generating the stuff.
You start combat with 3 skill points and can hold up to 5 at once.
As mentioned in the character section, each character has an ultimate. These powerful abilities can turn the tide of battle on their own but require energy to be used.
As a character takes and deals damage, they gain energy. Once their energy is full, their ultimate button will glow. Tap on this button to unleash their ultimate in a flashy cutscene. And unlike skill points, ultimate energy persists on the overworld.
Ultimates are important not only because of their sheer utility but also because they can be played at any time, and will be performed the next time the battlefield reaches an open game state. Yes, this means you can squeeze in an ultimate before an enemy takes their turn if you’re fast enough.At the same time, be wary that you cannot cancel an order to use an ultimate!
Learning when and where to use your ultimates is pivotal to success in Honkai: Star Rail.Need to save someone on the brink of death? Pop Natasha’s ultimate the turn before. Need to pre-empt an attack? March 7th can potentially freeze them.
Weaknesses and Weakness Breaks
The elemental system in Honkai: Star Rail isn’t just for show – each enemy is weak against a few elements. There’s no rock-paper-scissors here. Physical enemies may be weak to physical damage themselves, or even something out of left field such as ice or fire. Thus, it’s important to have a character of each element to maximize the damage you do in combat.
When an enemy is struck with an attack it’s weak to, it not only takes extra damage but also loses some of its toughness, the white bar above its HP. If an enemy’s toughness is completely broken, it undergoes a weakness break which deals a chunk of damage, drops its defense by a hefty amount, and triggers a status effect based on the damage type that broke its defenses. Nasty!
In battle, an enemy’s weaknesses will appear above their toughness meter; the toughness meter will also glow if the attack you have prepared is of an element they’re weak to.
The weakness break system is integral to maximizing your damage in Honkai: Star Rail, and yes: fighting bosses without using weakness breaks is a miserable experience. Again,you should at the very least have one leveled character of each element. It may not be the dream team, but it’s a lot better than trying to whack an enemy at full defense.
One more thing about this system: your characters do not have elemental weaknesses, meaning they can’t be hit by weakness breaks. Instead, enemy attacks tend to have set chances to inflict ailments.
Overworld Weakness Break Attacks and Ambushes
Weakness breaks aren’t just inflicted by battle damage. By hitting enemies in the overworld with an attack, you can get some bonus health and toughness damage on enemies weak to that element.
To see what elements will proc a weakness break on an enemy party, look at the element icons below the top of the screen.
While you can’t be the victim of a weakness break, you are still vulnerable to enemies getting the first hit on you in the overworld.
If an enemy strikes you before you can hit them, you’ll be ambushed. Ambushes cause enemies to get a big boost to their initiative, meaning they’ll very likely get some free hits on your party before you can act.
Be wary of the awareness meter when engaging foes – it’s a circle with a question mark above their heads, and you’ll be notified of any enemy party that has noticed you even if they’re off-screen. Before the awareness meter fills up, back off and plan an alternate approach or run in and seize the first hit!
As a turn-based game, status effects are of vital importance. Honkai: Star Rail thankfully does away with the mysticism of the system by allowing you to view status effects on both you and your foes at any time.
To view status effects on your characters, you can tap on the magnifying glass to the lower left. For enemies, you can tap their name at the top of the screen, beside the fast forward button. You can also tap-hold on any character or an enemy to bring up their data panel.
On a side note, the status effect window can also be used to view information on your enemies’ skills and what they do. While you won’t likely have to do this for rank-and-file mooks, bosses are on a whole other level, so be sure to read up on their abilities and don’t plunge in blindly!
Speed and Turn Order
Each character’s SPD determines their position in the turn order.
The best way to visualize turn order in Honkai: Star Rail is to imagine a meter that fills up, and when that meter is full, the character can act. The more SPD a character has, the faster it fills up, and the sooner they can take their turn.
It’s important to note that SPD is a stubborn stat to raise. If you want a character to take their turns quicker, you’ll need to find Light Cones and Relics that give them a SPD boost.
When targeting a foe or an ally, they’ll be highlighted in the turn order. This can help you make snap decisions like whether to heal or go for the kill or help you identify which enemy needs to be disabled ASAP.
Don’t forget about Techniques! These powerful skills are made to be used on the overworld but can give you a decisive advantage in battle – whether that’s a quick heal, a party-wide attack boost for the next fight, or debuffing all enemies before the fight even starts.
Techniques aren’t free though. Each use of a Technique will consume one technique point, which you can see above the technique button. These are harder to replenish as the only reliable way to get them back is to break purple vials found in the overworld. That said, don’t hesitate to use them if you’re having a tough time.
I Can’t Beat Hard Enemies!
Don’t fret – Honkai: Star Rail is a game that doesn’t pull its punches. If you’re constantly getting beaten up, take a step back and run through this checklist.
- Are your character levels, traces, and Light Cones up to snuff?
- Are you using weakness breaks?
- Are you using characters appropriate to the situation; ie, don’t use AOE mages in a single-target boss fight?
- Have you used techniques to buff or soften up the enemy beforehand?
- Have you used items to buff your team?
- Do you have enough knowledge of what the boss can do? Are there any special gimmicks you need to watch out for (ex: the robot boss’ GIANT HAND) Have you switched your team up to deal with these gimmicks?
The world of Honkai: Star Rail is gigantic. There’s much to see and so much more to do. But most importantly, we need to go over how to explore the world – unearth its treasures and use its peculiarities to our advantage.
- Your exploration progress is largely gated by two variables: Equilibrium Level and Trailblaze Level.
- Equilibrium Level = world scaling level. The higher it is, the tougher enemies become, but they drop better loot.
- Trailblaze Level = account progress. Do quests, open chests, and spend your Trailblaze Power.
- As you progress through the main quest, you’ll unlock more content such as Stagnant Shadows for character ascension and Echoes of War to replay boss fights.
- Calyxes drop common materials for upgrading characters – character exp, Light Cone exp, trace materials, and more.
- Caverns of Corrosion drop relics but require you to fight elite enemies. There are special mechanics in each cavern that you should utilize to gain an edge. Legendary (orange, 4 substat) relics start dropping at Equilibrium Level 3.
- The Simulated Universe is a weekly roguelike mode. You’ll need to use various Blessings you get from fights to snowball in strength and clear the dungeon. There’s a weekly cap on points which can be exchanged for various materials. Even if you lose a run, you still get points based on how far you got.
- The Forgotten Hall has two modes: Memory mode where you need to clear difficult stages with certain restrictions, and Memory of Chaos, which is almost the same but resets every so often (and so do its rewards). There are special mechanics and Memory Turbulences that affect each Memory battle, so plan around them and adapt to their changes.
There are two major governing factors in your exploration, the first of which is your Equilibrium Level.
Your Equilibrium Level controls the dynamic scaling of the world. In other words, the higher your Equilibrium Level, the more difficult enemies become. It’s not all bad though as stronger enemies drop more and better loot.
Equilibrium Levels are raised by completing side quests at certain points in the story. Do note that raising this level is not optional – character ascension, for example, is gated by Equilibrium Level. Be brave and step up to the challenge!
The second major governing factor is your Trailblaze Level. Main quest progress – and features – are gated by your Trailblaze Level, so it’s in your interest to get this as high as possible.
Luckily for us, raising the Trailblaze Level isn’t too tough. Opening chests, completing quests, talking to people, doing your dailies – these are all things that give Trailblaze Level experience. Just stay active, and don’t forget to spend your Trailblaze Power.
Before we begin, note that as this guide is tailored for beginners, I won’t be getting into detail on later content such as Stagnant Shadows or Echoes of War. By the time you get there, you’ll be well-armed in both knowledge and equipment to proceed without guidance.
Now, let’s get to the actual exploring!
Calyxes are these weird flower things that crop up. According to Welt, they are spatial anomalies, like most things in the game. And if you’ve played Genshin Impact, the best way to define them is “Ley Line Blossoms”.
Calyxes can be challenged by interacting with them in the overworld. During a Calyx challenge, you’ll need to defeat a certain number of enemy waves; the more waves you defeat, the more prizes you get, but the more Trailblaze Power (stamina) you spend. Calyxes give out character experience books, Light Cone exp items, trace materials, and so much more. Coincidentally, these are a great way to earn Trailblaze Level experience!
You can spend up to 60 Trailblaze Power to fight up to 6 waves in one go.
Cavern of Corrosion
Caverns of Corrosion is where you go if you feel like gambling Trailblaze Power on relics. Good luck.
Just like Calyxes, different Caverns of Corrosion give out different relics – each cavern is tied to a specific relic set. As mentioned earlier, you’ll need to progress through the Jarilo-VI questline to unlock the cavern.
Unlike Calyxes, you’ll be fighting a few strong enemy parties instead of waves of mooks – and yes, that means you will be fighting elite enemies. And unlike Calyxes, each Cavern of Corrosion has a unique gimmick tied to it. Leveraging these gimmicks will make your relic grinding faster and more palatable.
Remember: legendary relics only start dropping after Equilibrium Level 3!
Herta’s Simulated Universe is Honkai: Star Rail’s roguelike mode. In this simulation, you’ll nominally attempt to better understand the Aeons by pretending to be one yourself. In practice, it means going through a bunch of random rooms until you find the boss and defeat it.
The Simulated Universe has a random layout. You’ll need to clear your current room before an entrance will open to the next room. Fortunately, each room has a label:
- Combat rooms contain one or more enemy parties.
- Elite rooms contain a single, difficult battle.
- Occurrence rooms contain a random event.
- Respite rooms allow you to heal HP and technique points via breakable objects. You can also speak to Herta to upgrade your Blessings and download a new character to your team.
- Boss rooms contain the universe’s final challenge. These are always the last rooms in a run.
Combat in the Simulated Universe is largely the same as outside, with the exception of Blessings. Every victory will bring up a Blessing selection screen where you can select one of three passive buffs that will take effect for the duration of your dungeon dive. The higher the difficulty of the fight, the higher the potential rarity of dropped Blessings.
These Blessings are incredibly powerful and can form the core of your strategy, so pick and mix carefully. And as if that wasn’t enough, you also get Cosmic Fragments that can be used in break rooms to upgrade your Blessings, improving their potency.
On top of all that, you can gain access to permanent buffs that apply to all your Simulated Universe adventures via the Ability Tree.
Does that sound like it’s too easy? It’s not. You will need every edge you can get to complete Simulated Universe runs.
Not only are enemies tough, but you’re also placed under certain restrictions. First off, you cannot freely switch party members. You’ll have free access to the first four members you bring in, but any other members must be downloaded from break rooms. This means that depending on random room layout, you may get stuck with a mob-clearer in an elite encounter. Them’s the breaks.
You also get very limited chances to heal. Outside of Respite rooms, the only sources of healing you’ll get are from techniques and character skills. No items nor item buffs for you!
For all the difficulty that the Simulated Universe presents, it’s well worth doing. Clearing a Simulated Universe grants you points that can be used to redeem a wealth of rewards – not just upgrade materials and Stellar Jade, but also Herta Bonds that can be exchanged for some 4* Light Cones. And even if you lose, you’ll still gain points based on how many rooms you completed.
Do note that Simulated Universe points reset weekly on Mondays.
Herta will also ask you to index various blessings, and in return, she’ll give you some Stellar Jade. While it’s hardly the main point of the Simulated Universe, it is a nice bonus. Watch out for the gift box icon on blessings when you’re prompted to select one – that icon means you have not yet selected that blessing.
The Forgotten Hall becomes available in the Parlor Car after completing the “Fleeting Lights” quest. This mode features the toughest challenges that Honkai: Star Rail will throw at you and comprises the current endgame.
The Forgotten Hall has two modes: Memory mode has you completing a series of stages with increasing difficulty. These will push you to your limits as you not only have to defeat elite foes but you’ll also be placed under special restrictions.
Each stage is unique in two ways: firstly, there are unique buffs that can help you plan out your party and your general strategy. On the other hand, there are events called Memory Turbulences that happen on certain turns. Plan around these disruptions and maximize the stage buffs to claim victory!
The Memory of Chaos, on the other hand, is a unique Memory challenge consisting of ten stages that are refreshed periodically. While this challenge can be devilishly hard, clearing the Memory of Chaos nets you a large sum of Stellar Jades!
One important side note: all of these aforementioned modes can be accessed via the Interastral Guide menu on the main menu.
Finally, let’s talk about getting free stuff. Everyone loves free stuff, and with so many characters, Light Cones, Relics, and more to build, you’ll need all the freebies you can snag!
- Talk to everything and everyone.You’ll find not only materials but even recipes and hidden quests!
- Smash everything to get some credits and minor materials.
- Treasure chestsare one-time big-time supply crates. You can open the map to see how many chests are left in that area.
- Warp Trottersare special enemies that only appear once you’ve cleared the relevant story quests in an area. They’ll do their best to flee combat when engaged and are both tough and fast – but killing them nets 60 Stellar Jade!
- Return to Pom-Pom on the Astral Express every so often to get prizes for increasing your Trailblaze Level.
- Assignments let you deploy characters
to the salt minesto grind for common materials. The longer someone is deployed, the more they’ll bring back. Try to send characters of the appropriate path to increase your rewards. You can still use assigned characters. You get more assignment slots the further you progress in the main story.
- Dailies are very easy to complete – score 500 points and you’ll get 60 Stellar Jade. You’ll also likely do the daily quest for this, which nets you credits.
- Nameless Honor is Honkai: Star Rail’s battle pass. There’s a static series of daily, weekly, and season quests to complete. There is a cap on how much exp you can earn per week.
- Hoyolab check-in gives minor rewards. Go to the main menu, then official communities and check-in to streamline this.
- Departure Warp essentially gives you 10 free pulls (20% off per 10 pull and a maximum of 50 pulls) and guarantees a non-limited 5*. If you’re looking to reroll accounts, this is what you want to rush.
Talk To Everything And Everyone
Your curiosity will occasionally be rewarded with free stuff – sometimes entertainingly free stuff. For starters, try talking to the trash cans in Belobog to get the Trash Can profile icon…
Talking to people can also net you side quests and recipes for the Omni-Synthesizer.
The worlds of Honkai: Star Rail are rife with things for you to break. For no good reason, it’s just a thing adventurers do.
Smashing stuff isn’t just for fun – you can get some resources out of it. Don’t expect much, though.
As you explore the world, you’ll find treasure chests full of goodies just lying around. The higher the quality of the chest, the better the stuff you’ll find in it – but expect to jump more hoops such as difficult enemies or puzzles to get to the goodies.
Open chests to get materials and resources like Trailblaze exp, experience books, credits, and maybe some Stellar Jade. Do note that chests don’t respawn!
Thankfully, there is a chest tracker for each area that shows how many chests are left to find. To see this information, open the map.
Warp Trotters are special enemies that only spawn once you’ve completed all the main story quests in an area. Be sure to backtrack through areas you’ve cleared (like Herta’s Space Station) to catch these piggies!
As they aren’t proper enemies, Warp Trotters will attempt to flee combat via their skills. When coupled with their high SPD which almost certainly ensures they’ll get the first move, this gives you at most 3 turns to burst down these pinatas. Warp Trotters aren’t just fast; they’re tough and have a lot of defense and HP.
Despite the difficulty of taking a Warp Trotter down, they’re well worth the effort as killing a Warp Trotter yields 60 Stellar Jade. Alas, they don’t respawn.
Trailblaze Level Rewards
The further you progress in the main story, and the more you’ve accomplished, the higher your Trailblaze Level gets. This not only unlocks new features (and makes the world harder) but also gives you additional rewards via Pom-Pom on the Astral Express!
Be sure to visit Pom-Pom every so often; the Trailblaze Level rewards have some mundane stuff like experience books but can sometimes have really valuable items like Stellar Jade or even Rail Passes!
Assignments essentially give you free stuff over time. You pick a certain item to farm for, then dispatch up to 2 characters to that mission. You can select how long they’ll be “gone”, with the fastest turnaround at 4 hours and the longest at 20. Naturally, the longer the assignment, the bigger the rewards. You can only have two active assignments at the beginning, but this number increases the more you progress through the main story.
Veterans of Genshin Impact will be familiar with this system. Just like in that game, assigned characters can continue fighting and doing everything else even while they’re on assignment. Because there’s no downside to this, be sure that someone’s always on assignments!
Honkai: Star Rail’s daily quests take on the form of daily training.
These are a set of quick and easy quests that you’ll likely complete without realizing it. It’s worth accomplishing them though as you get 60 Stellar Jade for the set. It’s also likely that you’ll do the daily quest over the course of your daily training, which nets you a good sum of credits.
Honkai: Star Rail’s Nameless Honor is just a fancy name for a battle pass.
Nameless Honor quests are a series of static daily, weekly, and seasonal tasks. Complete them to earn ranks in your battle pass and claim more rewards. Note that there is a weekly limit on Nameless Honor exp!
By logging in daily to Hoyolab, you can get some nice prizes like credits, level up materials, and even Stellar Jade.
Luckily, there’s an integrated in-game link to this function. Go to the menu (tap the phone on the uppermost left of the screen) then tap Official Communities, and finally tap Check In.
The Departure Warp for new players is technically free stuff – you get 50 pulls for the price of 40 AND get a guaranteed 5*!
If you’re looking to reroll accounts to get a good 5* to tackle Honkai: Star Rail, this is the place to go.
The Stars Aren’t The Limit
There’s an entire universe out there waiting to be trailblazed. With the bonds we’ve forged and the knowledge we’ve gathered, we’ll be able to overcome any obstacle and get closer to the truth of the Stellarons.
That’s the end of my beginner’s guide to Honkai: Star Rail, and what a trip it was. We had a lot of ground to cover, but hopefully, you now have the know-how and the tools to create a solid foundation for the rest of your adventures. If you have any comments, suggestions, or newbie tips of your own, feel free to share them in the comment box below!