Honkai: Star Rail version 2.1 continues Penacony's exciting story with more twists, mysteries, and the game's most emotional moment so far

This version's Penacony Trailblaze Missions really hammer in one of the major themes of the Penacony storyline: you don't know who you can trust.

The continuation of the Penacony storyline in Honkai: Star Rail version 2.1 delivered a riveting narrative, one twist after another, and one of the most emotional scenes in the entire game so far. (Photo: HoYoverse)
The continuation of the Penacony storyline in Honkai: Star Rail version 2.1 delivered a riveting narrative, one twist after another, and one of the most emotional scenes in the entire game so far. (Photo: HoYoverse)

WARNING! This article contains spoilers for Honkai: Star Rail's Trailblaze and Adventure Missions in Penacony released in version 2.1. If you haven't finished those missions yet, finish those first before reading this article to avoid spoilers. You have been warned.

Honkai: Star Rail continues to deliver with the Penacony storyline in version 2.1 as the Trailblazer and the Astral Express Crew inch closer and closer towards uncovering the dark underbelly hiding beneath the bright lights of the Planet of Festivities.

For every question we had from version 2.0 answered, even more mysteries and twists were revealed in a riveting and emotional chapter that had us at the edge of our seats.

I'll be honest, I doubted that Honkai: Star Rail would have a good enough follow-up to the banger first chapter of the Penacony Trailblaze Missions. But after finishing the main storyline of version 2.1 and bawling my eyes out again, I am fully confident that the developers can only keep cooking up a great story.

A new perspective

One of the best things about version 2.1 is the addition of the 'Fate's Ensemble' system, which lets players advance the game's story from another character's point-of-view. In addition, when switching to another character's point-of-view, that character will be added to the player's party as a trial character.

In version 2.1, players were able to see things through the perspectives of Acheron and Aventurine aside from the Trailblazer.

What's great about the Fate's Ensemble system is that it frees up the narrative from being constrained to events only happening with the Trailblazer's participation. While we all adore our Stellaron-seeded, trash can-loving galactic baseballer, seeing the game's story from a new set of eyes every now and then is great.

It also fixes one of the pitfalls the game fell into during the Xianzhou Luofu storyline, where the character really driving the narrative forward was Dan Heng instead of the Trailblazer. With Dan Heng's perspective only being limited to a handful of side missions back then, the story didn't have enough ground for players to get really invested in it. It's a pity too, as I really felt that narratives featuring the High-Cloud Quintet could have been executed much better if the Fate's Ensemble system had been in the game back then.

In Penacony, it worked wonders as players really got to know the other major characters in the story much better as the narrative progressed. Acheron's little escapade with Welt Yang was especially delightful as someone who loved Honkai Impact 3rd (HI3), as Welt talked about how things went in his homeworld while Acheron waxed poetic about how hers is basically a bad ending for HI3.

So, yeah I guess we now know what happens when Mei doesn't have a Kiana...

But where the Fate's Ensemble system really delivers is with Aventurine, who is really the emotional heart of the version 2.1 storyline.

Always bet on Aventurine

(Photo: HoYoverse)
(Photo: HoYoverse)

When we were first introduced to Aventurine in version 2.0, I did not have a good opinion of him and I'm sure many others shared the same sentiment. And, really, who could blame us? He came off as an arrogant gambler with a playboy vibe, not to mention that he roped the Trailblazer into his scheme to reclaim Penacony for the Interastral Peace Corporation (IPC).

At that point, I thought that was pretty much the extent of Aventurine's characterisation. He's a relentless gambler that gambled his way into being a senior manager of the IPC's Strategic Investment Department and one of the Ten Stonehearts.

With the IPC's relentless capitalist endeavors painting them as a morally grey organisation at best, it wasn't hard to dislike Aventurine as an influential figure within that organisation. His air of frivolity also stood in stark contrast to Topaz, who has proven to be a good person at heart holding a similarly lofty position.

But then Honkai: Star Rail let us step into the shoes of Aventurine in version 2.1, and my opinion of him honestly did a 180 degree-flip by the end of it.

Aventurine became the emotional heart of version 2.1's storyline as we discovered his past. He was born of the Avgin clan in the planet Sigonia-IV and his real name is Kakavasha, with his name meaning a child blessed with luck by his tribe's goddess Gaiathra.

That luck proved to be both a blessing and a curse for Kakavasha, however, as his father, mother, and sister were all killed by a rival clan until he was the only Avgin left. He then became a slave, was forced to kill his fellow slaves, then turned on his master before eventually attracting the notice of the IPC.

Kakavasha would become Aventurine when he staked his life in another gamble, this time with another member of the Ten Stonehearts in Jade.

This brings us to Aventurine's brilliant scheme to stage a 'grand death' within Penacony's dreamscape and uncover the mystery of the Planet of Festivities. One of the more surprising aspects of his plan was that he was able to borrow the Cornerstones — artifacts belonging to each member of the Ten Stonehearts that gave them a fraction of the power of Diamond, an Emanator of Preservation — of both Topaz and Jade, a surprising gesture of trust given that the Cornerstones were said to be more valuable than their own lives.

Aventurine worked with Dr. Ratio to get close to the Oak Family's Sunday and double-cross him, fooling the latter into believing that he possessed both the Topaz and Aventurine Cornerstones. In fact, the second Cornerstone in Sunday's possession was actually Jade's and Aventurine had shattered his own in order to disguise it among other jewels he was able to reclaim.

But in the process, Sunday afflicted Aventurine with a curse of the Harmony that would cause his death if he made a mistake. This curse haunted Aventurine as he struggled to execute his plans, forcing him to confront visions of his past as Kakavasha and his future as Aventurine.

Aventurine then forced a confrontation with the Astral Express Crew and Acheron, unleashing the power of his shattered Cornerstone in the battle. After using an overwhelming attack, Aventurine forced Acheron to finally reveal her true power as an Emanator of Nihility to fulfill the 'grand death' he was hoping for: his own.

The climax of version 2.1's Penacony Trailblaze Mission produced arguably Honkai: Star Rail's most emotional scene yet.

In a somber domain with nothing but an endless sea and a looming black hole, Acheron told Aventurine that she knew his plan all along and that his 'grand death' would allow him to enter Penacony's primordial dreamscape and truly get into the bottom of the planet's mystery. Aventurine then faces his past once again in the form of a vision of Kakavasha and gains closure before setting off towards the future and yet another gamble...

Who do you trust?

(Photo: HoYoverse)
(Photo: HoYoverse)

With all that said, version 2.1's story doesn't end with Aventurine's descent into Penacony's primordial dreamscape. As we've seen in version 2.0, the mystery surrounding the Planet of Festivities is wrought with various twists and turns.

After their battle with Aventurine, the Trailblazer also found themselves in a strange dreamscape. Awaiting them was the fearsome Stellaron Hunter Sam, who told the Trailblazer that he had repeatedly tried reaching out to them. Then, we get one of the most dramatic reveals of the game so far as we can finally confirm that the person piloting Sam was none other than Firefly.

The Trailblazer's last encounter with Firefly was when she fell victim to the monstrous Memory Zone Meme "Something Unto Death", when she let out a tearful apology after she got skewered by the beast before dissolving into a puddle of blue fluid in the Trailblazer's arms.

And yet, there stood Firefly, alive and well. Not only did she survive the attack, she also apparently recovered quickly enough to pilot Sam not long after and get in a fight with the Trailblazer, Acheron, and Black Swan. And just as we got our answer for Sam's true identity, even more questions have been opened up.

But we didn't even get enough time to process that first twist as we were handed another, with this second epilogue scene involving Sunday. Observing the chaos caused by Aventurine from a distance in the safety of his mansion, the head of the Oak Family was confronted by Gallagher, the unassuming and kindly security officer of the Bloodhound Family that helped the Astral Express Crew earlier in the story.

Here comes this second, even more surprising twist: Gallagher is not a real person. Instead, the one we know as Gallagher is actually a Pathstrider of Enigmata that created a 'collage' of different people within the Family in order to blend in and get close to Sunday.

Not only that, Gallagher is the one behind the murders of Robin and Firefly, as he showed he can command "Something Unto Death" when he unleashed it on Sunday. Yet another major character in Penacony has been murdered and the web of lies and deceit grows ever more tangled.

And all this just hammers in one of the major themes of the Penacony storyline: you don't know who you can trust. Aventurine, who we were all rightfully very suspicious of at the start, is actually one of the good guys. Gallagher, who looked every bit like an ally, is actually a villain. Or... is he really?

Well, I guess we just have to wait until version 2.2 releases for the continuation of this dramatic story. And as cliche as it may sound, the developers have really cooked up some peak fiction here. I was at the edge of my seat all throughout version 2.1, and now wait with bated breath for what's to come next.

Honkai: Star Rail version 2.1 was released on 27 March and saw the release of three new characters in Acheron, Aventurine, and Gallagher, reruns for Luocha and Jingliu, and two new areas in Penacony. Not only that, version 2.1 is also Honkai: Star Rail's first-year anniversary patch and as such will give players tons of rewards!

If you're still on the fence on who you should pull for in the first half banners of version 2.1 between Acheron and Luocha, then check here and we'll help you decide.

Once version 2.1 drops on 27 March, then the wait begins for version 2.2 in May featuring two new 5-star characters in Robin and Boothill.

Yan Ku is a full-time dog parent, part-time (gacha) gamer, and part-time writer.

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