The closed beta test phase for Zenless Zone Zero has been quite the experience, and we have a lot to say about Hoyoverse’s new fast-paced and flashy title. Hoyoverse delivered a sweet showcase at the Tokyo Game Show, revealing more details on what to expect from their upcoming title. After a couple of weeks of playtime, we have our fair share of points to bring up. It’s safe to say that it’ll be familiar territory for long-time Hoyo aficionados, but there’s quite the breath of fresh air that offers something new to the table. Here are our first impressions.
It’s best we start with aesthetics. and we can guarantee that you’ll be, at the very least, intrigued by their direction here. What we get is essentially “Cyberpunk meets The Matrix” minus all the vaporwave and chrome. Truth be told, this was a great move. No longer do we have dark cityscapes illuminated by neon. Instead, we get a more modest, grounded version of modern-day, albeit with a few futuristic changes. The game’s world features an amalgamation of old-world tech with the likes of CRT TVs, and VHS tapes that blend with futuristic sci-fi. The game’s world is very much alive for the most part, sans the usual passersby that one would expect.
This may be a personal preference, but the new “comic book panel” approach for character dialogue is quite nice. The option to skip dialogue is also a welcome addition, as we believe some players have been clamoring for it for a while. The in-game dialogue options make a comeback, and it would be nice if this time, making certain choices could lead to lasting consequences (e.g. getting stuck in Herta’s Space Station permanently in HSR). We’ve played the game both with the English and Japanese dubs. Voice acting is spot on.
The game’s “agents” come with all their own personal charms in terms of character design, with the starting trio of Billy, Nicole, and Anby sporting looks that more or less mirror their personalities. As for the rarer characters, we have interesting figures like Ben being an actual bear, and Corin appealing to the French maid fan demographic. Regardless of their personalities, they possess loud, colorful designs that guarantee to catch your attention.
As we dive into some of the lore in the background, we’re introduced to The “Inter-Knot,” the game’s version of our own interwebs, but with its own cool twist. The concept of being able to dive into said Inter-Know was a great touch, and it comes with its own page of the notifications and media posts. As for the setting, we only got to see the first map, New Eridu. As a starting point, it’s expectedly small in scale, but given Hoyo’s track record, we can expect to explore a whole lot more once the game gets a full release. The humble infrastructure and cozy neighborhood feel are great for a start. Hopefully, we’ll be getting bigger towns and cities in the future.
Now, we know you’re curious about the action, so allow us to oblige. ZZZ’s combat is quick, snappy, and silky smooth in terms of animation and combo execution. Truth be told, you won’t need too many buttons when performing chain attacks, but you will need some quick hand-eye coordination. The smoothness applies to the game’s overall movement and action, both when exploring New Eridu and beating up monsters on the Inter-Knot. If you’ve been a hardcore Honkai Impact 3rd and Genshin Impact player, you’ll feel right at home.
The battles are fast-paced and dynamic as you find yourself switching between agents. There’s an intense fighting game vibe that makes combat really satisfying both to pull off and witness firsthand, especially when you get to chain three combo assists them back-to-back. The finishers, or “burst attacks” are vintage Hoyo in terms of bombast and cinematography. Having skills and bursts mapped to Q and E on the PC is intuitive enough for veteran Hoyo gamers and easy enough to pick up for anyone starting out.
Another familiar game mechanic makes a comeback in the form of elements and elemental weaknesses. So far, we don’t have all these said elements (Electro, Physical, Ether), so we can’t really take more on this. However, just with a handful of A-rank characters and three elements, we had a lot of fun. ZZZ makes a change with character building as instead of Constellations or Eidolons, getting duplicate agents unlocks skills. This could make things simpler, as you need to farm less and aren’t outright forced to pull for every character. It could also encourage players to pull for new characters as acquiring dupes will definitely help, but won’t be at all mandatory.