Key art for Zenless Zone Zero featuring characters lounging on top of a car in a gas station parking lot.

Get in loser, we’re going Ethereal hunting.
Image: miHoYo / HoYoverse

Last week HoYoverse, the developers behind the popular RPGs Genshin Impact and Honkai Impact 3, released a trailer for its newest IP—and it’s been on my mind all weekend. So now I’m making it your problem too.

Zenless Zone Zero’s explosively stylish cel-shaded graphics, funky banger of a soundtrack, and its cavalcade of uniquely designed characters instantly captivated me the moment I hit play on its announcement trailer.

Zenless Zone Zero is a fantasy RPG where you play as a Proxy, a battle-hardened guide that assists industrialists on expeditions to acquire resources from Ethereals, dimension-hopping creatures that come from a rift called Hallows. These monsters also happened to cause the post-apocalyptic state the world of ZZZ is in. So, I don’t think diplomacy is on anyone’s mind.

Why would you venture into the home-turf of dangerous creatures? Capitalism, mostly. Following the apocalypse, New Eridu, the last surviving city in ZZZ, experienced an industrial boom by harnessing Hollow’s supernatural powers. Now, folks are contracting Proxies to take down the Ethereals in style. A non-negotiable part of the Proxies’ job description apparently involves being dripped out from head to toe in sleek-ass clothes because every character in the announcement trailer looks fresh to death.

HoYoverse has systematically covered all bases for an RPG player’s character action preferences. You’ve got your gun-toting cat/bunny girls, your edgy “I’m not a furry but—” doggo man, a plushy mascot character, and—my absolute favorite—a giant, machine gun-wielding bear iced out with a gold chain. Never in my life have I seen a character and knew in my soul that they would be my main until I laid my eyes upon his burly coolness. I would’ve loved to have been a fly on the wall while the team workshopped that guy.

According to Gematsu, you can control different characters to perform “electrifying skills” and “unlimited QTE combos,” and that’s just lovely. The game also has roguelike gameplay mechanics, which’ll be interesting to see play out in this bombastic anime RPG-lookin’ ass game.

Aside from its characters, I’m smitten with ZZZ’s trip hop Jet Set Radio-like music, which you can listen to on its official website, as well as its fluid and stylish Astral Chain-type combat system. I might’ve become a born-again HoYoverse player solely by virtue of ZZZ’s trailer showcasing its characters’ highly stylized “All Out Attack” finishers while bumping its funky soundtrack.

While HoYoverse’s Genshin Impact also has an impressive pool of characters, I feel like I’m late to the boat on getting into its dense lore and rolling events. ZZZ, on the other hand, aside from being a new IP I can come into fresh, feels more my speed when it comes to scratching my itch for games with diverse characters and satisfying skill-based combat.

I’m not alone in being hype for ZZZ’s new hotness. The HoYoverse faithful seem smitten as well, going off the numbers the announcement trailer garnered since its May 15 debut. As of the time of publication, ZZZ is the most-viewed announcement trailer from HoYoverse with 3 million views on YouTube, which is more than double that of Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail.

HoYoverse opened signups for ZZZ’s closed beta but have yet to announce when said beta will go live or when the game might see a full release. Until it does, I’ll be playing its announcement trailer on loop and heavily considering dipping my toe into Genshin Impact to get a taste of what a HoYoverse game is like in preparation for ZZZ.

   



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