Honkai Star Rail PS5 – Hands On at Gamescom

Honkai Star Rail official artwork.

Judge me all you want but one of the main reasons I was excited to go to Gamescom this year was to get hands-on with Honkai Star Rail PS5. That’s right. I’ve played a bunch of Star Rail on my phone, but I’ve always felt that it would benefit from the bigger screen.

You see, Honkai Star Rail is a beautiful game, and you likely know this as pretty much everyone has played at at this point. Playing it on a tiny phone screen doesn’t do the worlds that HoYoverse has created justice, and I felt that way about Genshin Impact long before it.

But, perhaps more importantly, Honkai Star Rail is just screaming out for controller support. I thought it would arrive long before the PS5 version, but I’m still waiting. I’ve actually found myself playing less and less as I await official support, and it looks like I’m just going to have to continue to wait until this PS5 version arrives.

Enough complaining though. How does Honkai Star Rail perform on PS5? Does it suit controller support? How did it feel? I’m going to dive into all of that, and more, below.

How Does Honkai Star Rail PS5 Play?

If you’ve played Genshin Impact on PS5, you have a good idea of what to expect here. The controls are very similar. The left thumbstick controls your character movement, while the right allows you to manipulate the camera.

You use R1 to go fast (it still feels weird) and a combination of the triggers and face buttons allow you to pull off all of your skills in combat. This includes attacking, using skills, and ultimate abilities. The start and touch bar buttons allow you to access the menus and view your map.

It’s pretty straightforward, but it does feel a little fiddly – particularly in combat. It’s not a very intuitive setup, and I found myself having to actively look at the screen to determine which button to press to perform each ability.

I’m sure in time, and once muscle memory sets in, this will become less of an issue but it’s been a while since I’ve played a game that required so much concentration just to pull off a simple move. It does speak to the complexity of the combat system, mind you.

Does It Run Well?

For the most part. I can’t speak to the exact performance as I couldn’t track framerates, but given that Honkai Star Rail has no problem hitting 60fps on mobile (and 120fps on compatible iOS devices, for shame) I’d expect 60fps to prove an absolute breeze on Sony’s machine.

I didn’t experience any noticeable dips, and there were no visual options in the menu bar a brightness slider. It might be that the full release has more options, mind, as this was a pre-release build just for Gamescom.

One thing I did notice though, was a bit of stutter when exploring the environments. I’ve noticed this on mobile too, but didn’t expect it on the powerful PS5. It felt very much like shader cache stuttering. Hopefully this can be addressed in the full release.

I’m also not sure of what the resolution is, but it didn’t look like full fat 4K. Then again, I’m not sure what TVs were in use. It looked to me like a 1440p image with less than stellar anti-aliasing. Much like the mobile version, jaggy edges abound.

What’s the Verdict?

Overall, it’s not a perfect port but perfectly playable. It kind of felt like what would happen if you hooked your phone up to a TV and started playing via a controller, rather than a fully-fledged current gen console version.

As I mentioned, the controls were also imperfect, and felt a little bit fiddly. Rather than map each individual skill to a button, I’d have preferred an old-school menu to navigate in combat. Attack, skill, and ultimate ability drop downs would have felt a little less cumbersome.

But that would also have an impact on the pace of the experience, and HoYoverse has always favoured action over strategy. We’ll have to wait and see if anything changes ahead of the full PS5 release later this year.

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