Zenless Zone Zero is a stylish, fun and disappointing game


Above all, Ground Zero without Zen is pretty to look at. The latest action RPG gacha title HoYoverse, after 2020. Genshin Influence and last year Honkai: Star Railwayhas many strengths, a beautifully detailed world, characters and animations. There is even some substance hidden beneath the style, but the game may not be able to outdo other successful HoYoverse titles in the long run.

Smart features that reduce grind gacha to do ZZZ perhaps the most gamer-friendly title in HoYoverse’s growing library, but it lacks a good hook that will keep players coming back for more. In the dozen or so hours I spent with ZZZ is taking shape as a promising melting pot of useful features and pretty design, but I fear it won’t gain the same devoted fan base as its predecessors.

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Cholera, Ground Zero without Zen he has style!

IN Ground Zero without Zen you take on the role of a Proxy, a person who guides agents (the characters you control in combat) through risky pocket dimensions called Hollows. Hollows have valuable resources, so the inhabitants of New Eridu (where the game takes place) are always in need of a good Proxy to guide them in hopes of making a profit. At first ZZZ, You facilitate a trio of agents escape the Hollows and fall into a rabbit hole of intrigue and mystery that only gets deeper the longer you play.

Picture: HoYover

New Eridu and its inhabitants stand out visually upon launch, thanks to their striking urban punk aesthetic that combines futurism with nostalgia. The protagonist duo Belle and Wise (in keeping with HoYoverse tradition since Genshin Influence(you can choose whether you want to play as a female or male main character) is another great example ZZZgreat design. Belle has a straightforward grey and orange colour palette contrasted only by the shadowy blue of her stylish brief hair. She wears a trendy set with a geometric pattern that changes between her main colours, and also carries a Walkman-like device on her hip. It’s a look that would be perfect for the trendiest neighbourhoods of New York.

This high-quality design extends to the rest of the game’s cast, each of whom is stylish and could be your modern favorite character, which is perfect for a game where you have to pay real money to get the characters you want. I especially like the variety ZZZ offerings, including non-human characters like a bear named Ben Bigger, making his first appearance in a HoYoverse game. Similarly, New Eridu is a gleaming city filled with love for the real world’s past. The central district, which you explore when you’re not actively on missions (which we’ll get to later), is dotted with stores dedicated to physical media (what a concept). Belle and Wise run a video rental shop that you can manage when they’re not doing their not-so-legal business of showing people around the Hollows.

ZZZThe core gameplay loop revolves around Hollows. You can take on missions that send your three-person team into risky dungeons to fight and loot. Some missions advance the story, some are side activities, and some are combat-focused challenges to test your skills. Unlike the open world Genshin Influence or more extensive space travel escapades Honkai: Star Railway world ZZZ seems miniature. This also applies to missions, which you start not by taking a long way to a location, but by starting them from a straightforward menu. It reminds me most of HoYoverse Honkai Impact 3rd placeBut the similarities don’t end there. ZZZThe whole combat system makes an impression HI3.

A shark-tailed maid swings a scythe at a large green creature

Picture: HoYover

Even if it works, I’d rather play something else

IN ZZZyou control one member of your team at a time in real-time combat against hordes of enemies. Each character has a basic, special, and ultimate attack, with the latter two charging up when you perform your basic attacks. This itself is fairly straightforward and will likely be familiar to anyone who has played HI3 Or Genshin Influence. However, ZZZThe special sauce is his sassy attack. Before an enemy attacks, a brief flash signals a form change. If done perfectly, you can dodge the incoming attack and deal a lot of damage. This system gives fights a certain flow that can feel especially good when you’re stringing together assist after assist, unleashing your ultimate and decimating an enemy in the blink of an eye.

HoYoverse is constantly moving from one title to another and ZZZThe fight is clearly the result of some great iteration Genshin Influencewhich to this day has a pretty dull combat loop. The combat shines even brighter with some of the best animation I’ve seen on screen in HoYoverse. Compared to Genshin Influenceit’s a great improvement, but it’s not able to reach the same heights as this year’s competitor HoYoverse, Stormy waves. WuWa still feels much more involved than ZZZbecause even in the latter’s most challenging fights, the combat pattern can lean towards pressing buttons without much thought.

Naturally, ZZZthe combat loop is used to earn in-game resources that you can utilize to unlock and upgrade modern characters and weapons. Fortunately, this gacha grind isn’t nearly as bad as something like Genshin Influence Or Honkai: Star Railway. Everything seems more accessible to the player thanks to the circumscribed collection of activities. You can probably get your favorite character with much less work than in other HoYoverse games, because ZZZan approach that clearly shows that the developer is trying to make quality improvements to their games (and I hope they succeed) Genshin Influence AND KDP). Combined with the smaller world and straightforward mission design, ZZZ is the most accessible and player-friendly HoYoverse title yet. And yet I still haven’t been able to get into it.


Ironically, I think the reason for this is that ZZZ sands may be too much of the HoYoverse formula. While the combat is the most impressive it’s ever been in a HoYoverse title, it feels too straightforward, making the moment-to-moment gameplay unengaging. The characters and world are beautifully designed, but the story itself isn’t all that compelling yet. Stories Genshin Influence AND Honkai: Star Railway they are the ones that make me keep coming back here, but even with ZZZ‘ is a lower barrier to entry that is straightforward to bounce off of. To be fair, the game is in its first week and has barely started to develop on the story front, so it could be better, but it’s not really engaging me yet. More than anything, when playing ZZZ I find myself wishing that these improved features were included in the HoYoverse games I’d rather play.

Although I love many things about Ground Zero without ZenI can’t place it in the HoYoverse portfolio. Next to it Genshin Influence, Honkai: Star Railway, AND Honkai Impact 3rd place, Ground Zero without Zen feels that the greatest obstacles stand in his way to success. Genshin is already a proven hit, with a devoted fan base thanks to its broad open world and equally broad storyline. Honkai: Star Railway became popular in its own right after it was released just a year ago, thanks to its tight turn-based combat and immersive space opera adventure. And then there’s Honkai Impact 3rd placewhich despite being released in 2016 still has a steadfast fan base. All this stretches the potential player base for ZZZ even thinner. I hope it finds its audience because there is a lot to love.

Ground Zero without Zen is now available on Android, iOS, PC and PlayStation 5.


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