Honkai: Star Rail is HoYoverse's new space fantasy RPG, combining elements of open-world exploration, roguelike dungeon traversal, and turn-based RPG combat.
But beyond its primary gameplay aspects, Honkai: Star Rail is also a gacha game.
If you're unfamiliar with what gacha games are, it's a mechanic that from Japan, with the term 'gacha' coming from the popular toy-vending machine Gashapon, where you spend coins on capsule vending machines to get a random toy inspired from a TV show or Anime.
In the case of Honkai: Star Rail, and other HoYoverse games like Genshin Impact, the gacha system lets players randomly acquire new characters and equipment.
If you already play Genshin Impact, then this system should feel very familiar, though Honkai: Star Rail does have some neat features up its sleeve.
And while chance plays greatly into how the gacha system works, there is a measure of predictability that lets players eventually get what they want once certain conditions are met.
Read on as we break down how Honkai: Star Rail's gacha system works and how you can effectively use it and have the best gameplay experience possible:
Meet the Warp
Honkai: Star Rail's gacha system is called the Warp, represented by players getting new characters and Light Cones (the equivalent of weapons from Genshin Impact) through the titular Astral Express bringing them through a wormhole.
In order to use the Warp, you will need Stellar Jade, the equivalent of Primogems from Genshin Impact.
Stellar Jade is mostly acquired through playing the game, such as by opening chests during exploration, completing quests, challenges, events, and so on.
Of course, you can also use real money to acquire Stellar Jade.
Stellar Jade can be exchanged for Star Rail Passes and Star Rail Special Passes, priced at 160 each. You can then use those in one of two kinds of Warp: the Standard Warp and Limited-time Warp.
The Standard Warp is always available and has a fixed set of characters and Light Cones you can acquire, requiring Star Rail Passes to use.
The Standard Warp lets players acquire at least one random 4-star character or Light Cone every 10 Warps. Within 90 Warps, players are guaranteed to receive at least one random 5-star character or Light Cone, though the chance of receiving a 5-star rises the closer you get to that 90-Warp guarantee.
The list of 5-star characters available on the Standard and Departure Warps include Himeko, Welt Yang, Bronya, Gepard, Clara, Yanqing, and Bailu. Meanwhile, all 4-star characters are available on the Standard Warp. Any new 4-star added to the game will be added to the Standard Warp after they are first featured in a Limited-time Warp.
You will know you're getting a 4-star when you Warp when the animation of the Astral Express' doors opening show a purple light. When you get a 5-star, the doors will glow gold and the music will become noticeably more exciting.
On the other hand, Limited-time Warps require Star Rail Special Passes and feature one promotional 5-star character or Light Cone as well as three featured 4-star characters and Light Cones. There are separate character and Light Cone-oriented Limited-time Warps, though you can still get 4-star Light Cones in the character-oriented Limited-time Warp and vice-versa.
Limited-time Warps change with every new version of the game, with each version having two halves with different featured 5-star characters and Light Cones.
For example, the first half of version 1 will have Seele as the featured 5-star character while the second half will have Jing Yuan.
However, once you get a 5-star character in the Limited-time Warp, there is a 50-50 chance that you either get the featured 5-star character or one of the Standard characters.
If you lose the 50-50, then you will be guaranteed to get the featured 5-star the next time around, with the guarantee carrying over across different Limited-time Warps. This also applies for Light Cone-oriented Limited-time Warps.
You can only acquire promotional 5-star characters in their dedicated Warps. So, for example, if you miss out on getting Seele in version 1, you can’t get her unless you wait for her featured Warp to get a rerun.
However, 4-star characters can be acquired through both the Standard and Limited-time Warps even if they aren’t featured.
Pities and guarantees in Honkai: Star Rail
To make it easier for players to get the characters they want, Honkai: Star Rail features 'pity' and 'guarantee' systems. We've briefly touched upon these things before, but we'll look at them in greater detail here.
Pity and guarantee essentially denote the increasing chances for a player to get the 4-star or 5-star they want after a certain amount of Warps.
In both the Standard and Limited-time Warps, players are guaranteed to receive at least one 4-star in every 10 Warps and at least one 5-star in every 90 Warps. With that said, there are additional points to note when it comes to getting 5-stars.
Once you reach around 70 Warps, the chances of getting a 5-star significantly increases. Within the gacha game community, this is affectionately called 'soft pity'.
But should you go over, say, 80 Warps, then you're reaching 'hard pity' territory. Speaking from experience, it is unlikely you will reach hard pity in most cases, as around 70 to 75 Warps is when you typically get a 5-star.
Of course, you can get a 5-star even before you reach soft pity, sometimes within your first 10 or 20 Warps. This is called 'early pity' and is personally one of the best experiences you can have in a gacha game.
Now, let's talk about guarantees. In the Limited-time Warps, there is a 50-50 chance that you will get the featured 5-star once you reach the aforementioned Warp thresholds. Let's use the version 1 Warp featuring Seele as an example.
If you win the 50-50, then you get Seele. However, if you lose the 50-50 then you will instead randomly get one of the 5-stars from the Standard Warp, like Bronya (but in this particular case, I'd honestly still count that as a win since Bronya is one of the best characters at release).
If you don't win the 50-50, don't fret too much, as you are now guaranteed to get the featured 5-star the next time you reach the Warp threshold.
This guarantee doesn't go away even if the featured 5-star in the Limited-time Warp changes.
So using our earlier example, if you lose the 50-50 in Seele's Warp, you can save your guarantee for when Jing Yuan becomes the featured 5-star in the second half of version 1 and pull on his Warp instead.
The same principles also apply for the Standard Warp, though there aren't any guarantees since it doesn't change from version to version. However, it does have a one-time guarantee that lets the player freely select a 5-star character to acquire after 300 Warps. So if you aren't getting the Standard Warp character you want, you will get them eventually.
How should I spend my Stellar Jade?
While you’re free to spend your Stellar Jade on whichever Warp you want, we do recommend spending them on Star Rail Special Passes for Limited-time Warps as much as possible.
Since Limited-time Warps are, well, limited, it’s best to save your Star Rail Special Passes for when a Limited-time Warp featuring a character you want comes around.
Should you choose to splurge cold hard cash, though, please always remember to do so responsibly.
Honkai: Star Rail will officially launch on 26 April on PC, Android, and iOS. The game will also be made available on PlayStation some time after release. You can download the game here.
Yan Ku is a full-time dog parent, part-time (gacha) gamer, and part-time writer.