The Real Villain of Honkai Star Rail Is Not Who You Think It Is

Honkai Star Rail recently celebrated its one-year anniversary and the story of the galactic baseballer has come a long way from release. However, one of the biggest questions I had while playing Honkai Star Rail was who is the real villain of the story. The world of HSR is vast and filled with multiple factions, all having their personal motivations and enemies. But in most good stories, you do eventually need the one big baddie that the protagonist tries to save the world from.

If you compare it to Genshin Impact, players are initially motivated to find out about the mysterious god the traveler and their sibling face at the start. Genshin Impact’s story also has a lot of depth and now it is getting hard to see the main villain of the story, however, the motivation of the story was clearly set from the start. So, I delved a bit into the Honkai Star Rail lore and analyzed all the villains we have faced so far in the timeline, alongside all the antagonist factions, to try to find the real villain of Honkai Star Rail.

Spoilers: This article covers all the major incidents so far in the Honkai Star Rail story. If you haven’t finished the game, only read if you are okay with spoilers.

Antimatter Legion: The Destruction Seekers of the Universe

Nanook Aeon of Destruction Honkai Star Rail
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot (Captured by: Sanmay Chakrabarti)

With the start of Honkai Star Rail, we are first made familiar with two different antagonist factions, Stellaron Hunters and Antimatter Legion. The first real villain the Trailblazers face after the game starts is the Antimatter Legion when they attack Herta’s Space Station. Players are made familiar from the get-go with the threat of the Antimatter Legion, the faction under the Aeon Nanook of Destruction. The Antimatter Legion’s goal is to purely destroy everything in the universe.

Antimatter Legion has been known to destroy many worlds successfully, and the game is filled with refugees who will tell you about their horrors. They are a massive organization and directly strengthened by the Aeon of Destruction Nanook, making them one of the strongest competitors for the main villain in Honkai Star Rail.

Stellaron: The Corruption of Cocolia Rand in Belobog

Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot (Captured by: Sanmay Chakrabarti)

The next villain in Honkai Star Rail was Cocolia Rand of Belobog. The world of Belobog, known as Jarilo-VI, was eternally frozen by the presence of a Stellaron. Now Stellarons are mysterious objects, nicknamed the Cancer of All Worlds by the IPC, as they often bring massive changes and destruction to civilizations and ecosystems. However, they are also a source of energy and, I assume, the life force of the Trailblazer.

In Belobog, we learn surprising new information about the Stellarons. They can apparently corrupt people by interacting with them. Cocolia was corrupted by the Stellaron, and she became the main enemy for the Trailblazer in Jarillo-VI. Also, wherever a Stellaron appears, Antimatter Legion closely follows, so there is definitely a relation between Stellarons and Nanook.

Stellaron Hunters: The Followers of the Destiny’s Slave

Image Courtesy: YouTube/Honkai Star Rail

Stellaron Hunters is a faction led by Elio, and they look for Stellarons all over the universe. They are not known to follow any Aeon, unlike other factions. Most factions in the Honkai Star Rail cosmos consider them a criminal group, but so far they only appear as a rogue group of heroes. The Trailblazers truly come face to face with the Stellaron Hunters in the Xianzhou Luofu arc, where Blade presumably hunts Dan Heng.

However, we soon learn that the Stellaron Hunters only instigated the Astral Crew to come to Xianzhou Luofu to foil Antimatter Legion’s plot and gain allies. This is all done according to the leader of the Stellaron Hunters named Elio.

From what we know about Elio, it appears as if he can see the fate or future and has created a script (play). The duty of the Stellaron Hunters is to make sure Elio’s script goes accordingly. Acheron makes an interesting comment on Elio, calling him the Destiny’s Slave, and Sam/Firefly mentions that there is no mention of Acheron in Elio’s script.

Note: One of the big revelations from Elio’s script that we know is that the Trailblazer will eventually face Nanook, the Aeon of Destruction. He has tasked the Stellaron Hunters to help the Astral Crew gain allies before the eventual faceoff.

Hunt vs Abundance: A Faction War Propelled By Aeons

Image Courtesy: Hoyoverse/Honkai Star Rail (Edited by Sanmay Chakrabarti)

One of the big lore reveals in the Xianzhou arc was that Aeons can die, and many have been killed or absorbed in the past. This eventually turns into the conversation of the Hunt vs Abundance, which becomes the central point of the Xianzhou Luofu arc until Antimatter Legion makes an appearance.

Basically, the Hunt Aeon Lan and the Abundance Aeon Yaoshi have become eternal adversaries, also making their subsequent factions as enemies to each other. Yaoshi wants eternal life, which the ancestors of the Xianzhou Alliance wanted in the past and achieved with the help of Yaoshi, but it turned out to be a curse. Lan, the Aeon of Hunt decided to step in and destroy the Ambrosial Arbor, freeing the Xianzhou Alliance from the curse of eternal life.

Ever since they have been in constant war throughout the galaxy, from the Xianzhou Luofu’s standpoint, the followers of the Abundance are the enemies, and vice versa. Although I am sure the Trailblazer will make allies out of both sides eventually, it shows a nice depth to the story where the enemies change based on the perspectives of different factions.

Lord Ravager Phantylia: Emanator of Destruction

Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot (Captured by: Sanmay Chakrabarti)

Lord Ravager Phantylia is one of the emanators of Destruction and was the main perpetrator of the Xianzhou Luofu’s Ambrosial Arbor incident. It was her plan to destroy Luofu while their attention was fixed on the Disciples of Sanctus Medicus, a faction supporting Yaoshi.

Lord Ravagers are the heads of Nanook’s Antimatter legion and they are extremely strong and destructive in nature. The face-off between the Trailblazer and Phantylia was the first big battle between Nanook’s forces and the player, and it was clear that more will soon follow in the near future.

Interastral Peace Corporation (IPC): Profit and Preservation

Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot (Captured by: Sanmay Chakrabarti)

The Interastral Peace Corporation or IPC is the equivalent of the galactic police force merged with banks in Honkai Star Rail. They follow the Aeon of Preservation Qlipoth, and are the intergalactic mega-corporation responsible for the economy of the entire cosmos.

The IPC is driven by profits and business goals and acts as the main source of supplies for the Amber Lord’s Celestial Comet Wall, which Qlipoth is building to preserve the cosmos. The IPC has a good and ugly side, which is why they are also mentioned in this article.

In the HSR cosmos, many worlds have taken the brunt of destruction from either the Antimatter Legion, the Swarm, or from a Stellaron’s presence. IPC officers often go to these worlds and provide them with a deal, which is both helpful and very exploitative. The deal would generally be on the lines of restoring their world in return for working for the IPC eternally.

Some officers in the IPC genuinely care about helping people, while also getting a good deal, while others only care about maximizing profit and exploiting the people.

The Swarm: Propagation’s Folly

Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot (Captured by: Sanmay Chakrabarti)

In Honkai Star Rail, players will eventually come across the Swarm, either in the Simulated Universe, or during the Trailblazing missions. The Swarm are mindless beings whose only purpose is to propagate, even at the expense of devouring everything. They were (and still are) a massive threat to the Honkai Star Rail cosmos until the Aeon of Propagation Tayzzyronth was killed by a combined force of multiple other Aeons.

The Path of Propagation is said to have ignited out of a desire born from loneliness. Tayzzyronth was known as the Sand King and the last member of the Coleoptera that rules the land. He metamorphosed into a self-duplicating horror, igniting the new path of Propagation and ascending to Aeon. Even after Tayzzyronth’s death, his offspring continue to duplicate and propagate the cosmos, devouring everything they come across.

Annihilation Gang: Impure Destructive Ideals

Image Courtesy: YouTube/Honkai Star Rail

Annihilation Gang is a faction made out of two families, who follow the Aeon of Destruction Nanook. However, unlike the Antimatter Legion, Nanook holds the Annihilation Gang with contempt, calling their urge to destruction impure.

Although the Annihilation Gang is not supported by the Aeon of Destruction, they are well-versed in destruction and are recorded to be responsible for destroying multiple worlds. The biggest difference between the destruction Annihilation Gang and Antimatter Legion is that the first one destroys things out of pleasure (which is a bigger evil in my opinion), while the other is destroying things by their nature in the Cosmos.

The Trailblazer is bound to brush against the Annihilation Gang more in the future, and they can one-hundred percent be considered one of the evil factions in the story.

A Complete Gallagher: Pawn of Enigmata and Watchmaker’s Legacy

Image Courtesy: YouTube/Honkai Star Rail

Gallagher was revealed as potentially one of the masterminds behind the Penacony incidents in the current Trailblazing mission arc. He was confronted by Sunday at the end of the 2.1 missions and revealed as an impersonator, a mixture of different features of the 52 family members in Penacony.

During the conversation, Sunday calls Gallagher the Pawn of Enigmata, which then changes his entire personality. Although it is still early to guess and consider Gallagher as the main villain of Penacony, let’s take a look at Enigmata and its Aeon Mythus.

Enigmata is the path of uncertainty and directly rivals Erudition. It is championed by Mythus, who conjured the Fog of Thought and the Rain of Sensation. This path considers it a fallacy that all things can be experienced and recognized. Maybe Enigmata is taking an interest in Penacony due to the limited and restricted world of the Dream, which is, in a way, keeping people away from the possibilities of the real world.

But, Who Is the Real Villain?

So far, the real villains of Honkai Star Rail appear to be Nanook and the factions following the path of Destruction. They are a clear threat to the universe as a whole and seek to destroy everything.

However, can they be considered evil, if it is by their nature to destroy everything?

Groups like Annihilation Gang can be considered as pure evil as they destroy for pleasure and not out of nature. The same cannot be said for Nanook and the Antimatter legion, as they follow the rule that anything that was created, must be destroyed.

Similarly, the Swarm is an equally big enough threat to the cosmos of Honkai Star Rail, even after the death of their Aeon. Their urge of propagation and devouring everything that exists, cannot co-exist with other beings of the cosmos. If I have to guess, the Swarm and Nanook are going to be the two main villains in Honkai Star Rail.

However, the real fun of the story is not the big baddies, but the small ones. Individual faction wars, and battles over meaningless reasons, like money or pleasure, are the threats the Trailblazer will face over time, as villains change based on motivation.

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