It’s no secret that I spend money to pull for 5-star Genshin Impact weapons and lightcones in Honkai Star Rail, which is why I got really curious about Zenless Zone Zero’s equivalent.

They are called W-Engines and just like weapons and lightcones, they increase a character’s stats. Every character should be equipped with one, and you have the option of pulling for an S-rank core (equivalent of 5-star) on banners, or use more easily obtainable A-rank or B-rank ones.

Zenless Zone Zero W-Engine Vortex (Revolver) at level 2
Screenshot by Amanda Tan/ONE Esports, credit: HoYoverse

Will W-Engines have the same allure? Will I be willing to spend to get 5-star equipment for a new roster of characters in a third HoYoverse game?

I’m pretty sure other dolphins and whales would be asking the same question. And so, during an exclusive media panel, I took the opportunity to ask Zenless Zone Zero’s producer, Zhenyu Li, this very question and his answer surprised me.

How Zenless Zone Zero’s producer really views W-Engines

Zenless Zone Zero's Anby Demara and equip screen for W-Engine core and drivers
Screenshot by Amanda Tan/ONE Esports, credit: HoYoverse

In the early stages, the ZZZ development team thought long and hard on two key issues. They all agreed that they wanted something different compared to HoYovere’s past titles. In fact, they insisted on innovation, Zhenyu shared.

While they could have gone down the traditional design route and give each character custom weapons like swords and hammers that match, which is also easier to develop, he personally thought this concept wasn’t interesting enough.

The dev team still wanted a product that’s “aesthetically pleasing,” so after rounds of design discussions, they finally decided on the W-Engine, which has a rounded, ball-like appearance that shatters convention weapon design.

Ellen Joe and female Proxy in key visual, ONE Esports featured image for article "Zenless Zone Zero draws inspiration from a timeless fighting game and two obscure titles you’ve never heard of"
Credit: ONE Esports, HoYoverse
Zenless Zone Zero draws inspiration from a timeless fighting game and two obscure titles you’ve never heard of

“We are hoping to have our aesthetic style to be trendy. You can observe from the weapon, the ball, that is actually structural changes,” said Zhenyu.

The ZZZ team had put a lot of thought into the detailing of W-Engines. Each of their designs take into account the character they’re intended for, where you’ll find unique animations with new detailing when you level them up. These are some of the features that await players’ discovery, Zhenyu added.

Want to play ZZZ? Check out our ONE Esports article on where to play the game, including download links for each platform. Also, here is a list of all playable characters in the game.

RAD MORE: Notice something different? Why Zenless Zone Zero completely breaks post-apocalyptic stereotypes