We've played the Zenless Zone Zero Beta to tell you all about miHoYo's upcoming Action title.
**Access provided by the publisher. Tested on PC**
I had my eyes on Zenless Zone Zero ever since it was first announced. It is a new original IP separate from the HoYoverse shenanigans of Honkai and Genshin and a spiritual successor to their 2016 hit Honkai Impact 3rd. It then only took the retro-punk urban fantasy setting with stylish combat to convince me.
And after spending many hours with the game in just one day, I'm confident and regret to say that they have done it again. Now excuse me as I cope over how I'm supposed to spread myself thin over 4 of their games.
Sixth Street Saints
The setting of Zenless Zone Zero might be a little familiar if you're coming from Honkai Star Rail. A big city is plagued by corruptive zones full of mutating monsters that slowly eat away and destroy the environment. But instead of jet-setting from one adventure to another, you're in control of two humble video store owners.
The siblings (one of which you control) do however moonlight as vigilante fixers known as Proxies who make sure fellow wrongdoers get their wrongdoing done right. Together they are known as the infamous Proxie “Phaethon” a title they have to give up after a series of unfortunate events. Now the siblings have to rebuild their reputation from scratch and figure out why things went wrong in the first place.
It makes for a fun twist on the usual start of the miHoYo title but it's also more laid back compared to their other output. The Siblings are not outsiders, they are pillars of their community and have to balance their fixer activities, social life, and work with everything else that is going on. And yes, you will have to run the video store.
Gameplay can be broken up into three categories, overworld exploration and hanging out, puzzle-based dungeon crawling and action beat'em up.
Exploration has you walk around Sixth Street. It's either hanging out with your friends and colleagues, doing some shopping for your Proxy exploits, or getting some noodles to buff up for your next mission Monster Hunter style.
These exploration sections offer a nice change of pace with the more laid-back speed and cozy vibes. It can be a bit annoying running from store to store in between missions but the slow walking speed and music often get you to calm down and take it easy.
The dungeon crawling is a bit unique. The only way I can describe it is Crypt of the Necrodancer but without music, more elaborate puzzles, and a funny bunny doing the hacking. Most of these missions are straightforward but the extra objectives are what make it interesting.
They also pick up in their elaborateness after a short while since you won't always just move from A to B. And I'm honestly already excited to see what they'll come up with a year from now. My only gripe so far is that there are occasional camera issues and it seems like your hacker bunny sometimes lags out for just long enough to be frustrating.
Combat on the other hand is both familiar to anyone who has played Genshin or Impact 3rd and a completely new thing. Characters have normal, heavy, and special attacks and fill up meters for that special attack.
You use these to dodge attacks and build up a stagger meter which will put enemies in an extremely vulnerable state and also allow your team attacks that trigger when landing a heavy attack on a staggered enemy.
It might be a bold claim but Zenless Zone Zero features one of the most satisfying dodge buttons put in a video game. It feels snappy and every time to land the perfect dodge the game slows down and you get to see some flashy animations while laying down the thunder.
Enemy designs are varied enough to keep you on your toes and environmental hazards make it interesting once you figure out how to use them to your advantage.
Personal favorites are Billy a cyborg dude worshipping a Kamen Rider-esque show (relatable) who uses two guns to get by. Corin an angsty, nervous maid who's cleaning up house with a chainsaw spear, and Ben. Who's a bear. A bear who works for a construction company and swings a weaponized pillar around. He's cool.
Look and Sound
If you're familiar with miHoYo's previous output, you know that you can expect only top-notch from them. But what sticks out about Zenless Zone Zero is just how much it feels like its own thing compared to both Genshin and Honkai.
The character designs have that miHoYo over-dressed style but the art directions know how to distinguish itself. The color palette and level of detail of Sixth Street can easily rival Persona 5 with its immaculate vibes.
And then there's the soundtrack which is a healthy mix of lo-fi hip-hop beats, funky jazz, and techno bops. All of it is as expected while also having a sound that manages to be its own thing compared to previous titles from the mobile gaming giant.
Quick Note on Gacha
At least for the Beta, there was no cash shop available but if you're familiar with their games, you know kinda what to expect. The rate you earn pulls and upgrade materials felt good so far but I assume that will flatline once we hit that lull these games usually suffer from in between patches.
Another thing of note is that you spend your daily energy on both side and main missions which means you'll eventually have to stop playing if you go too fast. It would be nice if at least the main missions were not gated behind the arguably low energy cost and I have not run out yet.
Pull rates felt good and fair, after just a few hours I managed to unlock most of the roster and you get a sizable amount of them through the main story anyway. If you're familiar with Genshin or Honkai you should know what to expect but we'll keep an eye on it once the game releases.
Can't Wait for more from the Zenless Zone Zero Beta
I'm head over heels for miHoYo's latest outing and I honestly can not wait to see what the full release has in store for us. The closed beta already feels like a complete game minus some slight UI issues such as a missing auto-advance feature during dialog and the inability to switch between characters when upgrading.