Phaethon's Bangboo Eous in Zenless Zone Zero
Screenshot by GameSkinny

How Free-to-Play Friendly is Zenless Zone Zero?

Zenless Zone Zero is a gacha game, so it wants all of your money. But if you plan to play it without spending a cent, how free-to-play friendly is it?

As a gacha game, Zenless Zone Zero is designed at its core to take as much money from you as humanly possible. Every new character, every progression mechanic, every reward — all of it. However, you can play the game without spending a single cent. The question is, how free-to-play friendly is ZZZero?

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How Free-to-Play Friendly is Zenless Zone Zero?

Koleda Belobog in Zenless Zone Zero
Screenshot by GameSkinny

The short answer to Zenless Zone Zero‘s free-to-play (F2P) friendliness is: more than some gachas out there. You’ll still be hamstrung by your limited sources of Polychrome as a F2P player, even compared to someone who spends as little as $5 a month. However, no matter when you start playing ZZZero, so long as you’re willing to engage with the game in the long term and keep your account active, you can get every character and complete every activity with a team you enjoy.

There are tons of free reward sources to choose from. During the launch period, you can get up to 100 completely free pulls across the limited and standard banners, as well as up to 80 pulls on the Bangboo banner. That’s the equivalent of 16,000 Polychrome or more than $200 real-world dollars simply for playing the game early and consistently. Additionally, you can get another 250+ pulls if you level your account, complete achievements, play arcade games, and do the other reams of content in Zenless Zone Zero.

Put another way, I’ve been able to accrue roughly 8,000 Polychrome by simply playing the game without focusing on farming the stuff. That’s without touching the repeatable endgame modes, doing any activities designed specifically to provide Polychrome, or heavily focusing on anything except the main story quest. That means you can do the same thing no matter when you start playing, whether you’re reading this during the launch period or a year afterward.

How Many Characters Can You Get as a F2P in Zenless Zone Zero?

Grace in Zenless Zone Zero
Screenshot by GameSkinny

As for actually getting characters, Zenless Zone Zero is even more generous than HoYoverse’s previous king of generosity, Honkai: Star Rail. Both games have a reduced initial cost of your first 50 pulls, but where HSR sections those pulls into their own world, in Xero makes them part of the standard banner from the start. Both games also give you the guaranteed 5-Star/S-Rank of your choice after 300 pulls on the standard banner, but in ZZZero, because your first discounted pulls aren’t a separate banner, you effectively only need 290 pulls to get your guarantee rather than 300. It’s not a huge discount, but it’s still $20 effective dollars you don’t need to spend.

You are, of course, guaranteed an S-Rank character out of those first 40 pulls, and you can reroll if you have the time to burn. Getting the 40 Master Tape items you need for a full reroll does take about an hour to do, but getting the right character (cough Lycaon cough) off the start will save you much more than an hour later on.

Having a best-in-slot option when you’re just starting out in a gacha game trivializes almost all of the early content, so you can consider trading the few hours you spend rerolling for the additional hours you save having top-tier damage. We’ve yet to see what Zenless Zone Zero limited-time events look like as far as their reward structure goes, but if the opening events are any indication, they ought to be in line with Honkai: Star Rail’s.

Lastly, there’s the Bangboo banner to think about. While both the character and weapon (W-Engine) banners work by the same rules with 50/50s and their pity system starting at 75 of 90 pulls, the Bangboo banner in ZZZero lets you choose — and it guarantees — you get the one you’ve selected, provided you spend enough Boopons.

Additionally, Boopons are a freely renewable resource earned by progressing through the Hollow Zero game mode. Hollow Zero is technically completely free, though the higher difficulties will require significant investment of either time or money, and HoYoverse would prefer both. Should you complete the reputation rewards in Hollow Zero every season, you’ll have a maximum of 24 Boopons from License Level rewards, plus another few from the Bounty Commission rewards.

That’s not including the infinite amount you can buy from the Signal Shop’s Bangbuck store, provided you have the Bangbucks to buy the Boopons (with me still?). You earn Bangbucks by pulling on the Bangboo banner, so as long as you’re always looking for a new rabbit-shaped partner, you’ll have a ready supply of currency to loop back into your search.

All that is to say that Zenless Zone Zero looks to be possibly the most free-to-play friendly game in HoYoverse’s catalog. While it’s not quite as generous as a game like Wuthering Waves (so far), what with that game’s guaranteed weapon banner and contact stream of free pulls, but it’s definitely more generous than Genshin Impact and could become even better than Honkai: Star Rail in that regard.

Whether that remains the case or if the game gets significantly stingier remains to be seen, but we can all hope ZZZero stays just the way it started. And if you’re looking for more coverage, check out our Zenless Zone Zero guides hub.


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Author
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John Schutt
John Schutt has been playing games for almost 25 years, starting with Super Mario 64 and progressing to every genre under the sun. He spent almost 4 years writing for strategy and satire site TopTierTactics under the moniker Xiant, and somehow managed to find time to get an MFA in Creative Writing in between all the gaming. His specialty is action games, but his first love will always be the RPG. Oh, and his avatar is, was, and will always be a squirrel, a trend he's carried as long as he's had a Steam account, and for some time before that.