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Aetherium Wars in Honkai: Star Rail Will Age Like Fine Wine

Compared to Genshin Impact, Honkai: Star Rail is chock full of references to pop culture. Aetherium Wars continues the trend with its obvious shout-outs to the Pokemon series.

Screenshot by Siliconera

The event itself doesn’t really play like a Pokemon game. It’s a fun permanent addition to Star Rail that I hope will continue to be updated as we get more enemies and characters. The plot of Aetherium Wars takes place after the Trailblaze Continuance “Future Market,” following the residents of Jarilo-VI resolving their issues with the IPC. To celebrate the planet's future, the IPC has introduced a game called Aetherium Wars and is hosting a tournament as well.

At the center of the event is a mysterious sponsor named Giovanni, who is a part of the Masked Fools group. Though I thought he was some sort of criminal mastermind due to him sharing a name with Team Rocket’s infamous boss, he might actually just be a stand-up guy who likes strategy games. His mask is very suspicious, though. Guinaifen also debuts in the event, and she's very cute. HoYoVerse did a great job making me want to pull her, even though I hadn't planned on doing so initially.

In terms of the story, Aetherium Wars was not that interesting to me. It mostly centers around the mystery of why your Warp Trotter has a distinct personality compared to other Aether Spirits. There’s also a running plot about a mysterious elite player. As soon as Giovanni brought up meeting an elite player that I could face off against after becoming champion, I thought of Red from Pokemon Gold and Silver. The cutscene when you finally meet her is a scene-for-scene re-enactment of the Pokemon Masters EX third anniversary trailer, which was honestly hilarious. For all the suspense, though, the reveal was pretty anti-climactic.

Screenshot by Siliconera

What made the Red Easter Egg work was the fact that it was a total surprise. My memories of Pokemon Soul Silver are admittedly very foggy. But I don’t recall the game constantly telling me to expect a super-strong trainer at the end of my journey. The existence of an elite player and the mystery of who they are could work. But the way the story introduces it fell flat for me.

March and the Trailblazer pointing out Giovanni’s bizarre insistence that we meet the elite player raised expectations so much that I thought it would be someone really surprising. It seemed like the elite player plotline existed only to make the Red joke, in which case I still think the writers could have introduced it closer to the end of the story. Having a cute little Trotter on the Astral Express was worth completing the event, though. I just hope we can keep on collecting pets like this to liven up the train if we can't have a room to sleep in.

Screenshot by Siliconera

What I liked the most about Aetherium Wars was the abundance of Pokemon references in the dialog. The unfortunate thing about the event is that you don’t send any of the IPC people flying off into the distance. In Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Team Rocket doesn’t say, “Team Rocket’s blasting off again.” Instead, they essentially say, “Man, this sucks.”

So the localization probably couldn’t do a direct reference, thanks to the lack of any blasting off. Other fun tidbits included a Technology Enthusiast and the fact that the players instantly challenge you to a fight when you make eye contact while spouting some nonsense. I genuinely enjoyed running around the Victory Zones and trying to see what NPC I’d have to fight next.

But just like Genshin Impact’s Genius Invokation stories, which contain plenty of references to Yu-Gi-Oh without actually playing like Yu-Gi-Oh, Aetherium Wars is more of a nod to Pokemon than a fun adaptation of the Game Freak RPG. That is to say, I may love Pokemon, but I don’t entirely love this event. Maybe it’s because I didn’t spend a lot of time figuring out the best party combinations since I just wanted to hurry up and finish it so that I could continue playing Swarm Disaster and Forgotten Hall.

Screenshot by Siliconera

However, compared to Pokemon and Star Rail, Aetherium Wars felt very dry. Apparently, there is an element of strategy beyond powering your way through the tournament with the Silvermane Lieutenant. But even without adequately learning about the mini-games' mechanics, it was possible to clear the entire event with brute force.

In Aetherium Wars, you collect Aether Spirits, which are essentially the enemies you see on the field during the Honkai: Star Rail story. You use the same skills that you probably had to suffer through in your normal run of the campaign, as well as combine teams of enemies that you wouldn’t usually see in the wild together.

As I mentioned earlier, there is some measure of strategy involved. For example, you could potentially put together a DoT team and take advantage of the Abundance Sprite being a budget Kafka. Because there are so many slow battles in the Aetherium event, the tournament started to feel like a bit of a drag. I also never realized just how much the character's aesthetics add to Honkai: Star Rail's enjoyment factor. When measured up to the Genshin Impact Pokemon event (the fungus one), Aetherium War was still more fun and less of a slog in comparison.

Screenshot by Siliconera

Despite what I said about the content's dryness, I think the amount of battles you can indulge in in Aetherium Wars is overall satisfying. Aside from the NPCs you have to battle in the Victory Zone, you also have to face off against playable characters and named NPCs. This is ultimately unnecessary for the event itself, in my opinion. But since it’s something you can always access even after Version 1.4, it’s a nice way to pass the time if you’re out of things to do or Trailblaze Energy to burn.

Because of how it works, I can see HoYoVerse adding more Aether Spirits and opponents with each update, much like how Genius Invokation keeps receiving more cards and events. I simply hope that if there’s a story added in the future, it’s more interesting than the one we got in Aetherium Wars. Granted, with how much foreshadowing they did setting up Giovanni, I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets more interesting once we learn more about the Masked Fools

Honkai: Star Rail is now available on PS5, Windows PC, and mobile devices. Aetherium Wars debuted in Version 1.4 update, and will remain in the game as a permanent feature.

The post Aetherium Wars in Honkai: Star Rail Will Age Like Fine Wine appeared first on Siliconera.

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Aetherium Wars in Honkai: Star Rail Will Age Like Fine Wine


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