Happy 2024, guys, we’ve finally got a free five-star character in Hoyoverse’s epic adventure title! Everyone gets a copy of Dr Ratio in Honkai Star Rail. What, did you think I was going to say something else? No, sadly, Genshin Impact’s gifts are once again left in the dust as Honkai Star Rail continues to hand out heaps of great goodies free of charge.
As the second half of version 1.6 rolled around, every single Honkai Star Rail player got a free copy of a brand-new, limited, five-star character – Dr Ratio. No, he isn’t on the standard banner and, more surprisingly, no, he isn’t bad. He’s actually a very solid DPS with no glaring issues (other than his personality, some might say), that can work in many situations and dish out plenty of damage.
If Hoyoverse had given us a free copy of Genshin Impact’s Dehya, I’d have understood as she’s… Well, she’s not the best. But not only do we get to select one five-star character from the standard Honkai Star Rail banner after a certain amount of pulls, we also get a completely free, no-strings-attached copy of Honkai Star Rail’s Dr Ratio? Wild.
Let’s take a moment to compare the free characters we get in both games. For the sake of ease, I’m not including the Traveler or Trailblazer and their different elemental incarnations. In Genshin Impact, you unlock Amber, Kaeya, and Lisa during the story, you can get Lynette and Barbara from permanent events, and then Xiangling and Collei as rewards from the Spiral Abyss. If you pull on the beginner banner, you’re guaranteed a copy of Noelle. Other than that, every year you can choose a Liyue four-star during the Genshin Impact Lantern Rite event, allowing you to expand your roster or grab some constellations.
Once upon a time, though, we did get a free five-star in Genshin, as every player got an Aloy in their mailbox, thanks to a crossover with Horizon Zero Dawn. However, she came without constellations and didn’t make much of a splash – in fact, she’s perpetually stuck in rank C on our Genshin Impact tier list, below many four-stars. And, as she’s no longer attainable, I personally don’t count this.
If you’re completely free to play, then you rely on wishes and primogems that you earn through quests, achievements, and Genshin Impact events (and the occasional Genshin Impact code) to get more characters, which can be a grueling process, depending on your luck. Every couple of patches or so, Hoyoverse adds a log-in event in-game that gives a ten pull of wishes over the course of a week, but Honkai Star Rail does this noticeably more regularly – in fact, it’s an event that occurs every single update without fail.
Look, it’s all nice and good getting a Liyue character each year, but it pales in comparison to selecting a standard banner character AND getting a limited, good five-star totally unrelated to a milestone or celebration. Don’t get me started on the paltry three wishes we get in the mail this Lantern Rite, either.
Now let’s see what we get in Honkai Star Rail in terms of free characters for everyone. Similar to Genshin, during the first part of the story, you unlock March 7th and Dan Heng and are guaranteed an Asta in your first pulls. If you pre-registered, you also got Serval. Completing worlds two, four, six, and seven of the Honkai Star Rail Simulated Universe nets you multiple eidolons for Herta, and the third stage of the Forgotten Hall gives you Qingque. A Natasha appears as a reward for completing a quest. And then, you can get Yukong, Lynx, and Sushang from events. One event also offers you the chance to invite characters including Hook and Luka. These are all four-star characters.
If that wasn’t enough – and this is what really grinds the gears of Genshin players – as we alluded to earlier, when you reach 300 wishes on the standard banner, you can pick a five-star character out of the available standard pool. This standard pool includes Bronya and Gepard, two key characters that will improve any account. You’re also guaranteed a five-star in your first 50 pulls. Now, why on Earth has Hoyoverse not implemented this in Genshin Impact?
Finally, 2024 came around and gifted us all a Dr Ratio, rubbing more salt in the standard-banner-shaped wound, and I’m positive we’ll get more four-stars for free in other events in the future.
In terms of stellar jades and free Star Rail passes, you can also get way more in HSR compared to Genshin. Honkai Star Rail has the Simulated Universe, Forgotten Hall, and Pure Fiction, all of which are combat-centric modes where you can earn rewards each time they refresh every couple of weeks, on top of the story quests and events.
To put that in perspective:
- Genshin – zero free five-stars and eight free four-stars if you complete two events and a combat trial
- Honkai – two free five-stars, a guaranteed five-star, and ten unique four-star characters after a certain amount of wishes, completing two combat trials, and a quest
I just want a single copy of Genshin Impact’s Diluc, okay? It’s been over 800 days since I started Genshin, and I have a C3 Qiqi and Keqing, and no fiery Mondstadt man. On the other hand, I have all the Star Rail standard banner characters at at least E0. I’m bitter.
So, why did we get a free Dr Ratio, and not a Yanqing or Welt? Could it have been a very early first-anniversary gift? He may also have been a thank you to players after Honkai Star Rail scooped up some wins at award shows recently, like winning mobile game of the year at 2023’s Game Awards.
Some players suggest that the doctor could be a sort of apology for the weaker patches making up the later section of Honkai’s 1.X updates. I think we can all agree we’re a bit tired of the Xianzhou Luofu and Space Station by now, so maybe the lure of a shiny new imaginary character is meant to bring people back and get them playing again. However, you could argue that this isn’t an experience solely tied to Honkai Star Rail either, as the latter part of a Genshin Impact update can also drag.
What I wonder is what this means for the future of Honkai Star Rail. I say Honkai Star Rail specifically because, clearly, Genshin isn’t going to be cool and give us a free Xiao or something. Anyway, I digress. Does this signal a free five-star character to finish up areas in the future, or as a big reward in other events? Is this truly a random one-off or is it a new precedent? Only time will tell, I guess. For now, I’ll go back to scraping primogems out of Teyvat and hoping to lose the 50/50 to a certain fiery claymore user… no, not another Dehya.
Anyway, if you want to know how to build your complimentary standard banner characters, we can help you out with our Honkai Star Rail Bronya, Honkai Star Rail Bailu, and Honkai Star Rail Clara guides.