Zenless Zone Zero is HoYoverse’s fourth major title, but after playing the closed beta, it’s not the game I expected it to be. Everything about it feels familiar, and while most of the gameplay is fairly lackluster, the one thing keeping me engaged is a fun twist on the classic phone game—Snake.
Since I started playing ZZZ’s closed beta on Nov. 24, I’ve been feeling pretty neutral about the game. It has pretty graphics and animations, the storyline is fun, and the characters have distinct and interesting personalities, but it’s missing something.
What’s utterly lacking is the gameplay. I found myself only having fun in ZZZ’s Arcade, a small shop you come across while completing sidequests. In it, there are two minigames you can play: Soul Hounds III and Snake Duel.
ZZZ’s Snake minigame was only thing keeping me engaged
In Snake Duel, you can earn points by eating items that randomly appear on the screen, and your snake gets longer when you do—but the catch is that you’re also competing against other Snakes. You lose if your snake bites another snake or a bomb, which means you need to carefully avoid them while chasing your items.
It’s incredibly fun. There are even weekly and global rankings, and numerous Achievements to unlock. After discovering the Arcade, I forgot about my quests and spent hours there. The minigame requires far more skill than regular fights in ZZZ, and that’s an issue.
You don’t even have to handle range. Screenshot via HoYoverse
Regular combat doesn’t involve much technique or attention. You just spam three different keys and switch characters when you need to. The game is also incredibly forgiving, so you have space for many mistakes, too.
For example, you don’t have to manage range. When switching to a long-ranged character, you’ll automatically appear a distance away from your target, and when switching to a close-range character, you’ll appear in melee range. There’s nothing to think about except your ability cooldowns. We can hope for more challenge in the end-game content, but even then, the fights don’t look very different, which is concerning.
ZZZ’s combat is trivial and over in a flash
Let me out! Screenshot via HoYoverse
Even trying to reach combat is boring. As soon as I start a battle, I’m already bored, because getting there is incredibly tedious. You need to complete exploration puzzles before you can fight enemies, which quickly becomes more annoying than fun, especially because the puzzles usually take far longer (and are much more challenging) than the combat encounters themselves.
As it stands, ZZZ is going to have a rough start. HoYoverse’s playerbase is very committed, and many players will want to discover the ZZZ experience, so hopefully their feedback will help the developer improve the game. But at the time of writing, the game needs a lot of attention if HoYoverse wants it to feel fresh and fun—unless you like the Snake minigame.
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