Honkai Star Rail Turn Based Combat Guide
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How turn-based combat works in Honkai Star Rail

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Honkai Star Rail, despite being developed by HoYoverse, is quite different from Genshin Impact. One of the key distinctions here is the combat system. Genshin Impact has real-time battles where you need to swap characters in and out. Honkai Star Rail, meanwhile, has turn-based fights, which tend to be slower and more tactical in nature. Here’s our guide to help explain how turn-based combat works in Honkai Star Rail.

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Note: We’ll have a Honkai Star Rail guides and features hub once the game has officially released, so stay tuned.

How turn-based combat works in Honkai Star Rail

Most regular bouts in the game can be started by walking up to a hostile in an overworld area and attacking them. There are also various techniques that are character-specific. For instance, the main character can restore HP, while March 7th can freeze a random foe. Meanwhile, Sushang and Asta deal Physical and Fire damage, respectively, to all enemies once the encounter begins. And then there’s Clara, who’ll increase the chance that hostiles will hit her to proc her counterattack specialty.

Honkai Star Rail Turn Based Combat Guide 1

Screenshot by PC Invasion

Additionally, you’ll want to consider an enemy’s elemental weakness. On the overworld map, using a character to hit an enemy applies a debuff based on that elemental weakness. This can give you an advantage when starting the fight. You can learn more in our elements and elemental weaknesses guide.

As for the Honkai Star Rail turn-based combat system, there are a few key mechanics to keep in mind. But, first, you’ll want to take a look at the battle HUD:

Honkai Star Rail Turn Based Combat Guide 2

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Turn-based combat mechanics

  • Turn order – Party members and enemies take turns throughout the battle. The order in which they do this is based on their speed stat (i.e., initiative).
  • Normal attacks – Done by pressing the “Q” key by default. This is a weaker attack that increases your skill points.
  • Skills and skill points – Done by pressing the “E” key by default.
    • This is the character’s specialty (i.e., multi-target hit, single-target DPS, shielding, or healing).
    • You may only cast skills if you have skill points remaining.
  • Bursts – Done by pressing the corresponding number key for the character’s slot:
    • The burst meter is gradually filled when characters attack, use skills, or take damage.
    • You can unleash this ability at any time, even when it’s not that character’s turn yet.
    • Because this is independent of the actual character’s turn, it’s possible for that person to do their normal action within the same round.
  • Elemental weaknesses and shields – Each enemy in the game has at least one elemental weakness.
    • You don’t necessarily proc reactions, unlike in Genshin Impact. Instead, you’ll want to use a character that matches a target’s elemental weakness to deplete their shield faster. This leads to a break status where the enemy will suffer an added effect based on the element.
    • Using a character that does not match the element tends to be ineffective in terms of damage output.
    • The enemy’s shield tends to be fully restored when it begins its turn.
  • Escaping – Most encounters allow you to escape if they’re too tough for your current level. You can always retry later on.
  • Game speed – You can speed up combat animations.
  • Character paths – Another term for this would be “classes,” essentially the roles each character has in your team. You can learn more in our character paths guide.
Honkai Star Rail Turn Based Combat Guide 3

Screenshot by PC Invasion

Honkai Star Rail is available via its official website.

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Jason Rodriguez
Jason Rodriguez is a guides writer. Most of his work can be found on PC Invasion (around 3,400+ published articles). He's also written for IGN, GameSpot, Polygon, TechRaptor, Gameskinny, and more. He's also one of only five games journalists from the Philippines. Just kidding. There are definitely more around, but he doesn't know anyone. Mabuhay!