Replayability plays a big part in a live-service game’s longevity. Setting up some big grinds for progression/rewards is quite common in these games. I’m not usually one to complain about that, but I do believe there are limits to how ridiculous a grinding can get. And Honkai: Star Rail might be leaning on those exact limits right now.
Players have been dealing with some ridiculously low material drop rates for a while now. And I’m not even talking about Relics, which are supposed to be hard to get by design. I’m talking about Ascension Materials, the items you’ll be using for pretty much any noticeable evolution in your characters.
It feels completely pointless to hit those Crimsom Calyxes, which cost 60 of your precious Trailblaze Power, when all you get is this:
Now repeat it three times and your daily power is gone. Thanks, I guess?
By the way, this drop is for the VI difficulty, the highest you can access in the game. This is where you should be farming after reaching Trailblazer Level 60, which means you’ve been playing for a long time now. And even so, it feels like you’re stuck with the same Level 40 loot table.
The Grinding Never Ends (In a Bad Way)
Just like I said before, a game incentivizing you to grind a while for something isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can get repetitive, but that’s just the nature of pretty much games eventually. Satisfaction is what keeps the players engaged with the content, and knowing that you’re progressing toward your objective scratches that itch very well.
A good comparison would be learning the boss’ patterns in a Souls game. You’ll certainly die a lot, but you’ll eventually learn a thing or two. You’ll be prepared to dodge that hit at the right time, and eventually triumph in your battle. Farming for leveling a character should give a similar feeling, but it ends up being almost the opposite. There’s little to no satisfaction with late-game farming.
While each Crimson Calyx run ensures your character can get stronger, it scales down pretty quickly. There are no guaranteed Purple material drops, and while you could get lucky sometimes, it’s definitely the exception instead of the rule.
If we do some quick maths, the low-drop 180 Power example from the beginning lets you level a single 5-star character Trace up to Level 6, maybe 7 with some extra drops. Farm it for 3 days straight and you get all main Traces at a reasonably good level. That’s only considering that base 180 Trailblaze Power, but you get more if you log in twice a day. And 4-star characters require less materials than that, so they’re even easier to build! Doesn’t seem half bad at first, right?
But wait. I didn’t account for leveling Basic Attack. And there are also lots of passives to activate in your Traces tree. Oh crap, I forgot Light Cones also use the same materials! And we’ll need tons of Credits too!
Feels like there’s no ending to this grinding. Materials are never enough, and you also need complementary items. You could definitely get some extra loot in a few runs here and there like in that screenshot above, but those rare drops are the exception and not the rule. You’re locked to some pitiful crumbs of loot you have gathered throughout a whole week to maximize a single Trace.
Wanna make it even worse? Traces are basically useless if you don’t have good Relics, which are mostly RNG. But instead of spending your precious Power in getting those, you’re stuck on getting an insufficient amount of materials every single day.
Feedback Could Be A Salvation
Players have started making their insatisfactions clear as more people are reaching higher levels and are, consequently, let down by the continuously bad drops. All of that effort previously described was only for a single character, and you need at least four of them decently leveled! Higher Forgotten Hall levels will require you two full teams, so that’s at least eight fairly-built units.
And there’s also the fact that almost no one will only build and play the same eight characters. New units are always coming out and you’ll eventually have to grind for them and other older characters that could be useful for your team. The hardest part should be getting the perfect relics, and not spending two weeks getting the same materials.
The low rates get more apparent when pre-farming for a future character. Once you take a look at how many materials you’ll need for maxing them out, you notice how long this could take without cashing for some extra Power. And don’t forget about rolling the perfect stats on that Relic set while you’re at it, or your Trace-leveling efforts are just meaningless.
And yeah, there are definitely some factors that help mitigate this excruciating farm. You can always synthesize, for example. Events will often give you a few materials too. And speaking of them, the Garden of Plenty event is not for show and it’s definitely the best time to get your hands on more materials. But it’s just not enough.
Maxing out a Trace or Light Cone is definitely an endgame thing, but it shouldn’t take that long to achieve, especially when there are literally dozen of other things to farm too. You could take months to get half-good Relics, and having another farm layer on top of that is just not that cool. Now having another difficulty with actual better drops? That would be awesome.
For all that we know, Hoyoverse is quite receptive to feedback, so the situation could get better in the next patches. According to some leaks, we might be getting a new 240 cap on Trailblaze Power, which will definitely help with your daily farming routine. But we don’t know if they will acknowledge how poor those drops are right.
It might be just too soon to start complaining, but Star Rail was highly praised for improving many of Genshin Impact’s weak points. Ironically enough, farming Talents there don’t feel as bad despite having similarly low drop rates. Maybe because there are way more talents and passives to level.