HoYoverse’s upcoming action title, Zenless Zone Zero, has some big shoes to fill. To be fair, that’s what people said about Honkai Star Rail prior to its launch, thanks to the longevity and wild success of Genshin Impact. So far, though, Honkai Star Rail is also making good on its promise as a turn-based mobile title, and has shown strong sales and developed a passionate player base to support it. With HoYoverse two-for-two on its big launches in recent years, that means Zenless Zone Zero is entering a space where expectations are sky high.
That might not be the case internally, though – at least, there doesn’t appear to be any unrealistic demands being made to the team behind Zenless Zone Zero. In an interview with Screen Rant at Gamescom 2023, producer Zhenyu Li was asked about what a successful launch of the game would look like, and whether there was any pressure being put on the development team now that Genshin and Honkai Star Rail have both experienced huge launch period activity:
Screen Rant: What does a successful launch for Zenless Zone Zero look like? There’s been a very high bar set by other HoYoverse titles, so is there any pressure to have this wildly successful launch?
Zhenyu Li: I don’t think there’s too much pressure on us. That’s also something that I speak about with my team. We’re not competing, and we’re not comparing ourselves to any of the other products. What really matters is to produce a great product and a refined product. Constantly thinking about it is not going to help anything. What I want to do is to make sure that we’re producing an excellent product that we’re also happy with ourselves. Whether or not it is ultimately going to be welcomed by the community? That’s really up to the players. All I can do really is produce a product that is as good as it can be.
Li’s comments reflect a healthy development environment for a title like Zenless Zone Zero, which is such a drastic departure from expectation regarding HoYoverse IPs in recent years. It’s also worth noting that the team isn’t comparing itself to others within HoYoverse – that’s going to be key for the production of a game that wants to differentiate itself stylistically and in gameplay from its siblings. Often, the weight of expectation following key releases can be difficult to navigate, but Li also outlined how he’s approaching it internally: having discussions with the team about the fact that HoYoverse isn’t competing with itself.
Ultimately, Li says, all the team can do is “produce a product that is as good as it can be.” That kind of focus bore out in our extended discussion with him, as well as our hands-on Zenless Zone Zero gameplay at Gamescom 2023. While outsiders looking in might be expecting a lot of pressure on the team, the actual experience in-house appears to be supportive, collaborative, and with a good amount of freedom. That bodes well for Zenless Zone Zero as it continues to build an identity as the weird, cool, and flashy cousin in the HoYoverse family.
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Zenless Zone Zero will release for PC and mobile devices. A launch date has not been announced at time of writing.