More and more game studios are actively discussing and considering the implications of new AI technologies in development, and Honkai: Star Rail developer HoYoverse is among them.
The fourth entry in the Honkai series launched last week for PC and mobile, bringing gacha and other systems familiar from its prior open world hit Genshin Impact to a classic RPG format with familiar nods to prior Honkai games.
And like Genshin Impact, Honkai: Star Rail is a massive game, with plans to continue growing over time. It’s made by a development team of over 500 people, but even with so many on board its scale makes it unsurprising that the developers used at least a couple AI techniques to polish off certain otherwise-handcrafted design elements.
“Our team is paying much attention to AI, especially its impact on the gaming industry,” reads an answer from the Honkai: Star Rail development team in response to IGN asking about advances in AI technology. “In fact, we have already integrated some latest AI technologies into Honkai: Star Rail. These techniques have been implemented to improve the facial appearance and behavioral patterns of characters, enhancing the immersive gaming experience with a more natural representation overall.”
That said, there are some areas of Honkai: Star Rail specifically that HoYoverse feels AI isn’t necessarily ready to touch just yet, though it may be in the future. Specifically, content scripting – you won’t find any AI writing in Honkai: Star Rail, especially given how story-driven the game is. Still, HoYoverse says it finds more in-depth AI application for scripting “definitely intriguing.”
“With that being said, we also found out that the current application of AI is still restricted. It is more like a ‘cherry on the top’ technique to supplement what we already had instead of fundamentally solving issues from the ground up. We will focus on the [repercussions] and development of AI, figuring out a more robust implementation in the future.”
What's next for Honkai: Star Rail
In the same interview, we also asked about upcoming content plans for Honkai: Star Rail. HoYoverse didn’t offer too many new concrete details, noting that future plans would be unveiled when the studio was ready. But it did confirm that Honkai: Star Rail is a long-term game with an “ever-lasting plan and goal” that will, like Genshin Impact, have future Special Programs to announce major updates and introduce new in-game content.
We also learned that while Honkai: Star Rail features a handful of familiar faces from previous Honkai games and is a spiritual sequel to that series, other crossovers such as with Genshin Impact or other games, are not off the table. However, HoYoverse says that for now, it’s too early to consider any. So no Paimon in Honkai: Star Rail…for now.
Finally, HoYoverse also reiterated it has no “concrete updates regarding other platforms” when we asked about Xbox and Switch console releases. A PlayStation release, however, is still in the works for an as-yet-unannounced date. Notably, Genshin Impact was announced for a Nintendo Switch release, but is still missing in action on the handheld over two years after its initial PC, PlayStation, and mobile release.
We’ve been keeping an eye on Honkai: Star Rail since its release, including spotting its fans’ inexplicable love for a certain trash can. If you’re working through Honkai: Star Rail yourself, our Wiki Guides are here to help.
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.