We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Hoyoverse says ‘gacha doesn’t make much of a difference’ in ZZZ

At Gamescom 2023 we had the chance to catch up with ZZZ producer Zhenyu Li to discuss crossovers, content, updates, and a potential Nintendo Switch port.

Zenless Zone Zero interview - a group of characters stood in the street

Hoyoverse has taken the mobile world by storm in recent years. Genshin Impact continues to be one of the most beloved RPGs out there, while Honkai Star Rail has been a hit with fans releasing earlier this year. Trust me, several members of the PT team live and breathe these games, so when we were granted an exciting opportunity to speak with Hoyoverse about the upcoming RPG roguelike Zenless Zone Zero, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

There’s still no set Zenless Zone Zero release date, but our time with the game at Gamescom 2023 was, as our Zenless Zen Zero preview indicates, promising. As a roguelike, it represents a genre Hoyoverse hasn’t tackled before, but our brief time with it suggests that the development team is more than up for the task. A stellar game coming from the company behind Honkai Impact 3rd, Genshin Impact, and Honkai Star Rail is hardly a surprise, however, as Hoyoverse is well known for the quality of its videogames.

In the months since Zenless Zone Zero’s initial reveal, the PT team has had some burning questions, and luckily for us, we spoke with ZZZ producer Zhenyu Li, who was more than happy to discuss Hoyo moving into the roguelike genre, how those rogue elements impact the traditional gacha system of Hoyoverse games, if we can expect frequent updates, potential crossovers, and more.

Perhaps the thing the team at Pocket Tactics is most intrigued by is the jump into the roguelike genre, but Li has a straightforward answer as to why Hoyo is broadening its horizons, explaining, “I love playing games that have rogue elements myself, so that’s why I chose to do this.” Honestly, what other reason does there need to be? The producer loving a genre and diving into it only helps to ensure fans get exactly what they deserve. It’s essentially a gift from one fan to another, though we can’t help but wonder how the gacha elements from Genshin Impact and HSR may play a part.

YouTube Thumbnail

Well, Li tells us that he doesn’t “think that the gacha element of it really makes that much of a difference”. When it comes to Zenless Zone Zero, he says, “What’s really special about this one is the content first and foremost. I think that’s what really matters. Then there’s the fact that we’ve combined this with rogue elements.” However, while this is how Li views gacha elements within a roguelike RPG, he goes on to say that “perhaps there are other ways of looking at this.”

Honestly, isn’t that part of what makes games unique? When the producer and development team have varying views to other creators, it helps to create different experiences, and I, for one, love to see genres, mechanics, and gameplay tackled in various ways. As Li explained, there’s no one set formula.

Beyond the fact that ZZZ is a roguelike RPG, we can’t help but take notice of the game’s aesthetic and how there may be some similarities to HSR and Honkai Impact 3rd through a tech-heavy setting. However, Zenless Zone Zero quite clearly has its own identity. It stands tall and away from previous Hoyoverse games. When it comes to this view, Li says, “tech-heavy? Maybe, I mean there’s the sci-fi elements to it, certainly yes. But we really focused on the urban identity of the game.” The urban feel of the roguelike RPG certainly helps the game to differentiate itself from other games. Li claims that “purposefully, we try to remove maybe some sci-fi elements.”

Zenless Zone Zero key art showing characters sat at a bench

Not all of them are gone, however, as Li continues, “not to say that they’re all gone, but we’re really focusing on the urban part of that identity, and that should set [ZZZ] apart from Honkai Impact 3rd and Star Rail.” This feels like a good move for the roguelike, as while the popular sci-fi elements are still present, ZZZ differentiates itself through an urban setting that’s sure to intrigue its players.

However, given the differences present in its identity, we asked if the proxies are set to fill a similar role to that of Genshin Impact’s Traveler and HSR’s Trailblazer. As Hoyo fans know, the Traveler is Genshin’s main playable character, while the Trailblazer is the same for HSR, with both games offering two characters to choose from at the start of the game – a male or female.

While there may be two proxies, just as there are two Trailblazers and Travelers, Li tells us, “I think they’re quite different in the way that Proxies also have jobs. They fill certain assignments, right? They have their own function within the game.” That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what makes the Proxies different from the protagonists that came before them. As Li says, “They’re very independent roles and independent characters.”

YouTube Thumbnail

Still, the most interesting thing to us about the Proxies is that players define who they are. Li explains that “to a certain extent, as far as I’m aware, in terms of the development we’re at, it’s also the players that really define those roles.” In essence, players “get to bring in a lot of their own character and project it onto the roles.” This is a much-loved part of RPGs, as it allows you to fully immerse yourself in the game. You get to put your own twist on the hero and mold them in your image. You might say that in ZZZ, “players create the Proxies themselves,” in a way, at least.

Now that we’ve discussed similarities and differences between Zenless Zone Zero and other Hoyoverse titles, perhaps we can unravel the possibility of crossovers with the roguelike’s sister games. Unfortunately, if you’re hoping to see your favorite Genshin or HSR characters show up in ZZZ, you might be out of luck. For now, at least. Li tells us that “as of today, I don’t think we’ve found a really good entry point for that to happen.” Rather than force the issue, the team behind ZZZ would prefer a crossover to “come on naturally, and that’s why we haven’t done it yet.”

There’s hope to be had, though, for Li explains, “That’s not to say that we’re not going to do it; there’s certainly a possibility there, but there’s not really a way we’ve found so far where it really would fit.” Furthermore, suppose the team were to bring in an existing character from another game. In that case, they’d prefer to “give it a bit of a revamp,” essentially leading to a different character “with new characteristics.”

Zenless Zone Zero interview - event key art

As for any subtle nods to other games, you might want to know if you can expect anymore after players spotted that the Belobog Heavy Industries faction in ZZZ shares a name with a city in Honkai Star Rail. Well, no, that isn’t a nod, nor is it a connection. According to Li, that link between the games is “entirely accidental.” That’s right, it’s simply a brilliant coincidence, and given what Li wants to do with ZZZ, it’s fair to say that any other neat tidbits like that are also accidental.

“What I really wanted to do myself with this product is to really bring a lot of fresh content to the players. And so I think it’s a tiny bit accidental, as we really created everything from scratch.” Speaking of creating things from scratch, we couldn’t help but ask if ZZZ players can expect frequent updates to keep that fresh content coming. Good news. Li tells us that “there will be subsequent updates, that’s also really important to us, it’s really important to us that we can provide updates.”

The thought of new content and updates beyond the game’s release is only exciting to PC and mobile players right now, for those are the platforms the game is releasing on. So, what about Nintendo Switch players? Can they expect to see the roguelike RPG on their beloved platform? According to Li, it’s on the cards. “We’re certainly thinking about how to make this game available across platforms, and that includes Nintendo.” The only hiccup is that it’s “probably going to take us such a bit more time to actually make that happen.”

Zenless Zone Zero interview pull quote in front of various characters

Though a release on Nintendo Switch seems to be some time away, we can’t help but eagerly await the launch of Zenless Zone Zero on PC and mobile. We can’t thank Li enough for his time, and we certainly can’t wait to see what ZZZ has to offer and experience what truly makes it so different from Genshin Impact and Honkai Star Rail.

Speaking of which, if you want to be in the know about what’s going on in Hoyoverse’s other games, our Genshin Impact events and Honkai Star Rail events guides are a great read. We also have Genshin Impact codes and Honkai Star Rail codes lists if you fancy a freebie or two.