Zenless Zone Zero has begun its closed beta. If you don’t know the name, it’s Hoyoverse’s upcoming free-to-play action-RPG which draws on their experience making Genshin Impact (and its many antecedents) but places those combat and RPG systems within a roguelike structure. Because it’s now in closed beta, the internet is covered in videos showing it in action, and its action looks nice.
Here’s a video of the first 40 minutes from The Game Club on YouTube (h/t PC Gamer):
The combat really does look a lot like Genshin Impact (or Honkai Impact 3rd, I’m told). Your characters sprint and dash, have ranged or melee attacks depending on type, and build up meters to launch special attacks. You can also hot-swap between the party of characters you’ve taken into battle, and use those switches to string together special combos.
Much of what lies around the mechanics of combat looks different, however. For starters, it’s not an open world, and combat setups are accessed via banks of CRT TV screens you chart a path through like a grid map in a dungeon crawler. If you lose a fight, you’ll lose your progress through the TV dungeon, but you’ll get to keep some of the upgrades you earned on your attempt.
It’s also not a traditional fantasy game, and instead its setting is the futuristic city of New Eridu. There’s lots I like about its presentation, from characterful animation in cutscenes to fun dialogue in segments presented as a comic book. This is where we loop back around to similarities to Genshin Impact, however, in that I was less convinced by the dialogue during the visual-novelly talking-head bits, and there’s at least one character whose breasts appear to be a perpetual machine.
There’s no end date on the Zenless Zone Zero closed beta, and you can no longer sign-up for it. If you want to watch more of the beta instead, this archived livestream contains all 7 hours of it and is mostly commentary-free once it gets started around the 32 minute mark.