HoYoverse expands its gaming universe with the release of Zenless Zone Zero (ZZZ), a stylish action RPG that stands out in the crowded free-to-play gacha market. After launching just 15 months after Honkai: Star Rail, ZZZ manages to bring a fresh experience.

Zenless Zone Zero Review: HoYoverse's Free-to-Play Action RPG

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The game is set in a world by monstrous dimensions known as Hollows which have decimated humanity. The last bastion of civilization, New Eridu relies on a precarious relationship with the Hollows for survival.

Players step into the shoes of Belle or Wise, a hacker sibling duo going through dangerous territories to undertake various commissions.

Players build a three-person team from a roster of unlockable agents. Each agent belongs to factions such as Victoria Housekeeping. Characters like Ellen Joe with her shark-tail and icy blade.

Characters are acquired through a gacha system which common in this genre. Story missions provide a chance to test out characters before committing to pulls.

Combat is both flashy and accessible featuring basic attacks, dodges and character swaps. Enemies have a daze meter that, when filled, triggers satisfying chain attacks and quick-time events. Each character comes with basic and ultimate abilities.

Zenless Zone Zero has both casual players and those seeking a deeper challenge with build options and difficulty settings. Elegant animations and a focus on character fantasy over mechanical complexity make combat engaging.

Between combat encounters players face hacker puzzles that involve going through CRT monitor-filled labyrinths. These puzzles, while visually appealing can feel interrupt the game’s flow.

The puzzle’s intended to symbolize the connection between agents and their handler disrupt the pacing and can become repetitive.

Players manage a video rental business and engage in various side activities. Tasks include stocking the store, solving riddles and completing quests for locals.

Maintaining relationships with characters through dialogue-driven stories adds depth to the game world. The Inter-Knot, an in-game app helps manage tasks and prevents players from feeling overwhelmed.

Zenless Zone Zero shines with its unique aesthetic which combines retro-futuristic elements with comic-book-inspired visuals.

Zenless Zone Zero’s visual presentation is more compact compared to the sprawling open world of Genshin Impact making it ideal for both mobile and PC gamers.

Departing from the godly conflicts typical of HoYoverse titles, ZZZ focuses on the daily lives of Wise and Belle, tech-savvy siblings going both legal and illegal ventures in New Eridu.

This approach has a change of pace while maintaining the developer’s signature strong world-building. The game features a diverse cast of characters each with unique designs that show their personalities and roles in the story.

The launch roster includes characters like a wolfman butler, a blue oni,and a giant talking bear.

Players can control up to three characters each with abilities and play styles. The combat has Assist mechanic allowing for character swaps and spectacular moves.

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Zenless Zone Zero incorporates roguelike elements through its Hollow TV board dungeons. These sections involve navigating a grid of TVs each leading to different events such as combat encounters, puzzles and rewards.

Outside of combat, players can engage in various life-sim activities such as managing a video rental store interacting with NPCs and participating in mini-games.

Zenless Zone Zero’s story is told through comic-book panels and fully-voiced character portraits. The dialogue is lively and well-acted.

Zenless Zone Zero excels in portraying character interactions with each character bringing a distinct personality and voice to the table.

The dynamic between Wise and Belle along with their interactions with other characters like Anby, Billy and Nicole adds humor to the game.

Zenless Zone Zero’s districts are detailed from rusty rides to vibrant street art creating a rich urban environment. Exploring the city and interacting with its inhabitants provides a break from combat and enriches the story.

Players can take a break from their main duties to indulge in mini-games like snake and spelunking at the Godfinger Arcade.

Substories such as helping misunderstood robots provide moments that emphasize the human element in this dystopian setting.

Zenless Zone Zero’s generous review build hinted at a progression system in line with other HoYoverse titles.

Long-term progression and gacha mechanics will be clearer post-launch but initial impressions suggest a balanced approach.

The combination of combat, puzzles, social interactions and mini-games ensures that there’s always something new to explore or achieve. The main story is with side activities provides dozens of hours of gameplay.

Zenless Zone Zero’s art style is a major draw with vibrant colors detailed character designs and smooth animations that make the combat and story scenes pop.

The combat system is both accessible and rewarding. The Assist mechanic adds a unique twist allowing for creative and appealing combos.

HoYoverse’s attention to detail in crafting the world of New Eridu and its inhabitants creates a great experience that keeps players invested in the story.

The inclusion of various life-sim elements and side activities adds to the game and provides a welcome respite from the main gameplay loop.

The roguelike TV dungeons and some of the life-sim activities can become repetitive, detracting from the overall experience.

The combat can feel too easy especially in the early stages of the game, which may not satisfy players looking for a more challenging experience.

Like many gacha games, Zenless Zone Zero requires grinding through less engaging content to progress in the main story which can be frustrating for some players.

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