Honkai Star Rail vs Genshin Impact: Which is better? | Esports.gg (2023)

Honkai: Star Rail vs Genshin Impact. We compare the story, combat and characters between the two MiHoYo titles.

Honkai Star Rail vs Genshin Impact: Two games by the same developer, with many similarities but also some very important differences.

Honkai: Star Rail was released on April 26, 2023. It is the latest title by MiHoYo, the creators of the widely successful Genshin Impact. Genshin Impact was released on September 28, 2020.

Is Honkai Star Rail the same as Genshin Impact?

The two titles by MiHoYo have a very similar UI and approach to character customisation. However, the main major difference between the two titles is the combat. Genshin Impact is open-world with real-time combat whereas Honkai: Star Rail is turn-based combat in a closed world. Genshin Impact also offers multiplayer co-op which Honkai: Star Rail does not.

Honkai: Star Rail vs Genshin Impact, which is better?



World type


Genshin Impact


Open World

real-time combat

Honkai: Star Rail


Closed World

turn-based combat

Genshin Impact is more suited to fans of open-world sandbox games. The plot of Genshin Impact is far less compelling than Honkai: Star Rail, but the combat is more engaging and it has multiplayer online co-op play which Honkai: Star Rail currently does not. Honkai: Star Rail is turn-based combat similar to the classic Final Fantasy titles of the past. If you were a fan of that combat-style and don't mind the lack of multiplayer, you'll enjoy Honkai: Star Rail. Overall they're both very enjoyable games, but Genshin Impact has the edge.

Combat: Honkai Star Rail vs Genshin Impact

Honkai: Star Rail

Genshin Impact

+ Boss fights are more challenging due to inability to rely on button bashing
+ Can enable 2x speed and AI combat to speed-run boring fights against weak enemies

+ Button bashing can be very fun and satisfying
+ Characters can combine abilities for bonus damage and interactions
+ Can make use of terrain in battle

- Can't make use of terrain in battle
- Turn-based combat can feel less engaging for general battles
- Characters can't combine their abilities

- Most bosses can be defeated by spamming regular attack
- Less strategy makes combat feel more of a mindless grind

In terms of character abilities in battle, the two games are similar. In-combat characters have a regular attack, a special unique skill and an ultimate. However, the flow of combat is very different. In Genshin Impact combat is real-time which can be quite satisfying, especially on mobile devices where you're furiously tapping your screen to land more hits.

Honkai: Star Rail's combat is turn-based and no character can skip a turn. This style of combat is not for everyone

In comparison, Honkai: Star Rail combat is turn-based, which is the biggest difference between the two games. While MiHoYo claimed this allows players to be more strategic in Honkai, the reality is combat is a lot easier overall outside of boss fights. A plus side however, is that you can enable AI battling to speed through the tedious low-level monsters in your path, which is a feature Genshin Impact does not have.

Character combos

In Genshin Impact combining certain character's elemental attacks successfully can deal special status effects and bonus damage which visually look incredibly cool. For example in Genshin Impact with Sucros you can create a whirlwind which clusters enemies together allowing an ally or alternate character deal splash damage to a crowd of enemies. You can also make use of terrain in battle, to fire enemies off a cliff or hide behind structures to avoid damage.

Combining elemental abilities in Genshin Impact is a big part of the game, something Honkai: Star Rail does not have

In contract, Honkai: Star Rail terrain is not a factor in battle and combos between characters are not a focus. As a result there's a lot less scenarios that can play out in battle, and after the first 15-20 hours, the combat can at times feel quite stale outside of the boss battles. The boss battles however, are where the strategic element of Honkai: Star Rail's turn-based combat truly shine. Those are worth waiting for! Especially the boss fight music.

Overall though, Genshin Impact has more diverse combat and wins this round.

Winner: Genshin Impact

It's a good feeling when two elements combine in Genshin Impact

Story: Honkai Star Rail vs Genshin Impact

Honkai: Star Rail

Genshin Impact

+ Interesting storyline right from the start
+ Dialogue worth reading and listening to

+ Mundane quests and dialogue can be relaxing after a long day's work IRL

- Story is a lot more linear

- Story doesn't get good until 30+ hours in
- Dialogue can be quite childish and dull

Both games start with a similar premise, you play an individual of importance who has a mysterious bout of amnesia and finds themselves in a world they're not familiar with. Genshin ramps up slowly and the start of the game is very innocent, in comparison to Honkai: Star Rail which quickly gets into political unrest, betrayal and espionage.

You don't expect much from a Gacha game in terms of story but Honkai: Star Rail does a better job of storytelling than Genshin Impact, at least from what we've seen in version 1.0. Genshin Impact's plot isn't poor but it just takes a while to get going, and it is not really until the third region Inzuma that things start to pick up and get interesting.

Honkai Star Rail vs Genshin Impact: Which is better? | Esports.gg (4)

The Inzuma area in Genshin Impact is where the game's story starts to get interesting (although it's about 30+ hours in)

To reach Inzuma requires Adventure Level 30, which for a casual player playing an hour a day could take several weeks to unlock. Honkai: Star Rail's story on the other hand starts off very strong with the tale of the Stellaron and you won't be skipping dialogue nearly as much as you will in Genshin Impact in the first two regions of Monstadt and Liyue.

Honkai Star Rail vs Genshin Impact: Which is better? | Esports.gg (5)

Honkai: Star Rail's story is more compelling from the beginning and will keep your attention

The story and side quests are also in general a lot more interesting for adults compared to Genshin Impact which at times can feel a bit too childish and have dialogue which seems to never end. If you're a fan of a good story, then Honkai: Star Rail is the winner.

Winner: Honkai: Star Rail

Characters: Honkai Star Rail vs Genshin Impact

Honkai: Star Rail

Genshin Impact

+ Many strong female role models
+ Lead character actually worth playing
+ Personality comes through in dialogue and voice acting (e.g. Herta, Natasha and March 7)

+ Many strong female role models
+ Unique character designs to match backstory/ personality (e.g. Kokomi, Beidou, Raiden Shogun)
+ 68 characters currently available

- Only 22 characters currently available
- Characters not as "must-have" as in Genshin Impact
- Pom-Pom

- Lead character not worth playing
- Majority of male characters have the same personality (stoic)
- Paimon

When it comes to characters Genshin Impact has a major advantage being an older game. As of May 2023, Genshin Impact has 68 available characters compared to Honkai: Star Rail which only has 22.

Honkai: Star Rail's character clothing design are bold but brilliant

While playing Honkai: Star Rail, the first thing that will stick out is how intricate the characters' outfits are compared to Genshin Impact. A lot of effort clearly went into the unique clothing designs for the likes of Bronya, Natasha and Asta. In comparison, Genshin Impact's character outfits can be quite generic at times.

Raiden Shogun is one of Genshin Impact most memorable characters

Where Genshin Impact does shine though is characters themed around the region they're from in-game. Characters from Inzuma such as Kokomi and Raiden Shogun are brilliantly designed, and their look and abilities fit perfectly into their backstory. While Honkai Star Rail might win on clothing, Genshin Impact wins on all-round synergy. There's hope though for MiHoYo's latest title, especially with characters like Kafka.

Kafka in Honkai: Star Rail looks like a promising antihero character

Winner: Genshin Impact

Honkai: Star Rail: Every character rarity, path, and elementHonkai: Star Rail released a wide variety of cute characters. Here are all of the characters and every rarity, path, and element.Alexandra WApril28, 2023

Bonus question: Which game has the best "free" roster of characters?

In both games new players are given 1 free character for each elemental type. In Genshin Impact the starting characters are quite iconic but overall not very viable once you start pulling other characters. In comparison, the starting characters in Honkai: Star Rail still feel like mainstays, making you far less interested in spending money for more Warps. That said, the game is much younger so that could change with time.

Free characters in Honkai: Star Rail

Free characters in Genshin Impact

Trailblazer (main character)
March 7th (Ice)
Dan Heng (Wind)
Serval (Lightning)
Asta (Fire)
Herta (Ice)
Natasha (Physical)
Qingque (Quantum)

Traveler (main character)
Amber (Fire)
Kaeya (Ice)
Lisa (Electro)
Barbara (Water)
Xiangling (Fire)
Noelle (Geo)
Collei (Dendro)

What are the similarities between Honkai: Star Rail and Genshin Impact?

The core UI of the game and many of the features are incredibly similar between the two games, they simply are named differently. For example in Genshin Impact the Gacha roll mechanics id one using Wishes, whereas in Honkai Star Rail they are called Warps.

Here's a list of the gameplay mechanics that exist in both games but MiHoYo has given different names:

Genshin Impact

Honkai: Star Rail






Light Cones



Event wishes



Stellar Jade

World Level

Equilibrium Level

Adventure Level

Trailblaze Level



Starglitter Exchange

Starlight Exchange

Stardust Exchange

Embers Exchange

Lawrence "Malystryx" Phillips


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Malystryx is Editor-in-Chief/Managing Editor at Esports.gg. and a veteran esports journalist, content creator and personality. He has been involved in the esports scene since 2004 and has worked with many different organizers and portals, including SK Gaming, ESL, Dexerto, GINXTV, Razer and Monster Energy. Malystryx was also a broadcast talent on Valve's Dota 2 Pro Circuit over the last few years, creating on-site video content for PGL and Starladder. In his spare time he streams on Twitch as MalyPlays.

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