Updated on February 5, 2:45 p.m. (GMT+8): Improved relevancy.

Envision the future. What images come to mind? Perhaps flying vehicles, holographic posters, or robots?

Now, consider Honkai Star Rail’s Xianzhou Luofu — a manifestation of all these elements.

Yet, rather than diving wholly into the typical cyberpunk aesthetic, this flagship ingeniously melds age-old tradition with cutting-edge technology, resulting in an outcome beyond imagination.

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Just how did HoYoverse come up with this unique sci-fi concept? In an exclusive interview with ONE Esports, the video game developers share their process in creating HSR’s Silkpunk flagship, its references, and the inspiration behind its characters.

A closer look at Honkai Star Rail’s Xianzhou Luofu

In Honkai Star Rail, different planets, star systems, galaxies, and regions collide, and one that truly stands out is the Xianzhou Luofu.

Xianzhou Luofu, which translates to divine ship in English, is a large vessel and one of the six, planet-sized ships of the Xianzhou Alliance, a space-faring civilization that once sought immortality throughout the galaxies.

5-star Honkai Star Rail Jing Yuan official introduction
Credit: HoYoverse

The Luofu, in particular, is a flagship that houses the immortal inhabitants of the universe and seeks to eradicate the Abominations of Abundance — species that have been struck with the negative effects of immortality.

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To help them in designing the initial concept of the ship, HoYoverse crafted guide questions like “Why are people living in this flagship?” and “What unique culture is generated under immortality?”

The concept of the Xianzhou took inspiration from the historical story of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of ancient China, known for uniting the country and building the Great Wall. He became obsessed with the idea of living forever, believing that an “immortal elixir” could grant him eternal life and power.

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He sent people on a search for special ingredients to create this magical potion, hoping to achieve immortality, but despite their efforts, the elixir was never found, and he eventually died like any other mortal.

“We believe that fits with Honkai Star Rail’s lore: humans sailing through the sea (of stars) to explore the unknown,” HoYoverse said in an interview with ONE Esports.

Qin Shi Huang’s relentless pursuit of everlasting life is mirrored in Xianzhou Luofu. Led by an emperor, members of the Xianzhou Alliance met Yaoshi, the Aeon of Abundance, who bestowed them eternal life through the Ambrosial Arbor, an ancient artifact.

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Eastern elements in the Xianzhou Luofu

With the Qin Dynasty founder’s tale serving as a reference to the vision for the Xianzhou Alliance, HoYoverse combined elements from Eastern culture and science fiction to design the areas of one of its flagships.

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In the Seat of Divine Foresight, General Jing Yuan’s office, you can spot a couple of stone lions guarding the entrance. These lion statues not only symbolize Jing Yuan’s pet, Snowmoon, but also pay homage to traditional Chinese architectural ornaments.

Dan Heng in Xianzhou Luofu in Honkai Star Rail
Screenshot by XNTNL

In their dev blog, HoYoverse revealed that Luofu’s building design was heavily inspired by Huizhou architecture, a traditional style of Chinese architecture that originated in the Huizhou region of Anhui Province, China, during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

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The style is known for its distinctively curved roofs with sweeping eaves, white-washed walls, black-tiled roofs, and intricately carved wooden decorations, often featuring motifs from nature, mythology, and folklore.

Tingyun in Xianzhou Luofu in Honkai Star Rail
Screenshot by XNTNL

Further meshing concepts of the past into the future, HoYoverse took the concept of starskiffs — mythological floating rafts first chronicled in Zhang Hua’s “Bowuzhi” (Records of the Diverse Matters) during the Jin Dynasty. They reimagined the concept of these rafts and turned them into the most common means of transportation in the Xianzhou Luofu.

Xianzhou Luofu's Central Starskiff Haven
Screenshot by Kristine Tuting/ONE Esports

“It can be said that the Xianzhou is not the Chinese civilization of the past, nor is it the future developed based on the current situation,” HoYoverse wrote in their blog. “It is a sci-fi world existing within an imagined space and time.”

The creation of Honkai Star Rail’s Qingque

“In addition to drawing inspiration from cultural and historical aspects, everything and everyone in our daily lives opens our eyes to find the sparks in creations,” the developers revealed.

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In fact, the concept of Xianzhou native and 4-star Quantum character, Qingque, was based on HoYoverse’s team members who enjoy playing mahjong, the traditional Chinese tile-based game, during their spare time.

Qingque in Honkai Star Rail
Screenshot by XNTNL

“We believe mahjong fits well with the Silkpunk and Eastern fantasy ideology of Xianzhou Luofu,” they said. “Combining the idea of mahjong as a weapon with the appearance and personality of a young and passionate girl, we created a lovely character named Qingque.”

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