Arknights is a tower defense style game with RPG elements that involves raising an entire unit of Operators obtained both through story progression and gacha rolls and strategically placing them to prevent as many enemy units as possible from crossing a certain threshold on the map.
This game was developed by the Chinese company Hypergryph and released in China on April 2019. In January 2020, it was released worldwide.
Players take on the role of the Doctor and lead a squad of Operators to victory. Each stage is divided into a rectangular square grid with some squares raised and others at ground level. Melee classes (Vanguard, Guard, Defender, Specialists) can only be deployed on ground-level squares, while long-range and support classes (Caster, Sniper, Medic) can only be placed on raised squares. Some specialists can be deployed on either level.
Operators can only be deployed if there are enough Deployment Points (DP). On most missions, DP automatically increase at a steady pace, but can be accelerated with certain unit abilities. There is also a maximum limit of the number of Operators that can be deployed on a mission at one time, regardless of DP. To free up a slot, a friendly unit must retreat, either manually or after having their HP reduced to 0. Either way, the retreating Operator will have a cooldown time before they can be deployed again, and the DP cost to redeploy them will increase. However, retreating a unit before they are KO'd will refund some of the DP used to deploy them.
The goal of each stage is to finish while keeping the number of enemies that pass into the blue base squares below the maximum allotted amount. If the player finishes the stage without letting any enemies through, they get a 3-star ranking (or 4 stars on Challenge missions) and more items useful to help grow chosen Operators. Clearing a stage while letting some enemies through grants a 2-star rating and reduced rewards. Letting the maximum amount of enemies through instantly ends the stage with a Mission Failed screen. 1-star rankings were handed out in beta but were removed from the game in its current state.
On the world of Terra, Catastrophes tear apart the land and leave behind Originium, a mysterious ore that provides a large source of energy for machines and people's magic powers (known as Originium Arts), but also infects all living beings nearby with a condition called Oripathy. Those infected with Oripathy can access some form of Arts, but at the cost of their own lives. Even after death, their corpse can infect others nearby. Those suffering from Oripathy, collectively called The Infected, are often looked at with suspicion or outright hatred. Some of the Infected look to find a cure, some try to enjoy what life they have left, some have banded together under terrorist organizations to lash out at those who have oppressed them.
The Doctor, an individual who works for the management of the medical company Rhodes Island, wakes up one evening with amnesia, but somehow retains their logistical skills as they are rescued by a special forces unit dispatched from the company to rescue them. The Doctor finds themselves thrust into leading the group against the Infected terrorist group Reunion as they try to stay alive long enough to escape and hopefully find a cure for Oripathy.
Rhodes Island: The protagonists' faction. A large pharmaceutical company that accepts anyone on Terra, Infected or not, as long as they are willing to help the Infected who seek assistance with the overarching goal of finding a complete cure for Oripathy.
Abyssal Hunters: A small faction of powerful fighters who fight against massive threats from the deep oceans of Terra, mostly composed of Aegir and other aquatic-type Ancients from Iberia.
Blacksteel: A private company that provides military aid from Operators to powerful weapons, for the right price. Their name is likely a play on the real-life PMC formerly known as Blackwater.
Catastrophe Messengers: Scientists and Originium Arts users who are skilled at sensing when a Catastrophe is about to strike a certain location, giving Rhodes Island time to escape, or warn whoever is about to be hit.
Kingdom of Kazimierz: a kingdom built heavily on older tradition with legalized slavery and an order of Knights who defend the land and its traditions, mostly composed of Kuranta. However, some Kazimierz Knights are troubled by the recent turn away from honorable traditions and chivalry, towards more commercialization and dishonorable tactics.
Lungmen: a sprawling mobile city where a large part of the story takes place, home to a mix of many different cultures and Ancient races, though Infected citizens are treated as lower-class, forced to live in run-down slums. The Lungmen Guard Department (LGD) are the main security force on the large mobile city of Lungmen, handling everything from riot control to search & rescue operations throughout the city.
Penguin Logistics: an independent shipping company skilled in providing logistics and delivery support to the right buyer, headquartered in Lungmen, run by a strange talking penguin called Emperor.
Rhine Labs: A high-tech group of scientists and researchers from a wide variety of fields, trying to find new ways to control Orignium and its related energies. After the "Diabolic Crisis" destroyed a large portion of a lab, several of its members found their way to Rhodes Island.
Rim Billiton: A large company that focuses on mining Originium. Their security forces are mostly comprised of Cautus.
Empire of Ursus: A large empire run by a government that oppresses its Infected citizens. The Chernobog incident, where most of the city was wiped off the map by a Catastrophe and a Reunion attack, gave rise to the Ursus Student Self-Governing Group (USSG), whose members did terrible things to survive until they made their way into Rhodes Island.
Reunion: The main antagonist faction. A terrorist organization of Infected who have banded together to destroy their oppressors, which happen to be almost every government and large organization on Terra. They were heavily responsible for the destruction of Chernobog, and have now set their sights on Lungmen.
Team Rainbow: Four members of the team from Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege found themselves transported into Terra while trying to arrest a mad scientist back on Earth. In what is referred to as the Watchtower 33 Incident, Ash, Tachanka, Blitz, and Frost helped Rhodes Island defeat the scientist and his experiments in the deserts of Sargon. While the team searches for a way back to their world, Rhodes Island gave them cover identities and access to their facilities across Terra.
There are multiple forms of currency in Arknights, all can be acquired in-game during special events or over the course of clearing story stages. However, real-life currency can be converted to Originite Prime (see below) or used to purchase special packs.
- Lungmen Dollars (LMD): The most common currency that can only be acquired in-game. Used to upgrade Operators in various ways, or to finance Recruitment of new Operators.
- Orundum: Red gems used solely for Headhunting. Can be acquired through completing daily and weekly missions, completing Annhilation Missions (for a maximum of up to 1700 per week), through the Commendations Store, Trading Post Orders, or by converting Originite Prime directly (at 1 OP to 180 Orundum exchange rate).
- Originite Prime: Shiny golden gems that can be used to directly or indirectly buy almost anything in the game, from cosmetics to Sanity potions. These gems are rarer but can be acquired through initial 3* clears of stages in story and event modes, or by spending real-life money in the Store.
Playable characters in this game are known as Operators and generally fall into one of eight Classes (listed below) that all have a role to play in order to beat each stage. Operators are acquired through one of four methods:
- Given for free through story or event progression.
- Recruited with LMD and Recruitment Vouchers. Certain combinations of tags on the Recruit screen can increase the chances of acquiring a specific Operator, but getting a 5-6* Operator through this method has a very low (but not zero) chance.
- Headhunted with Headhunt Vouchers or Orundum (at a rate of 600 Orundum per draw). Slightly better chance of acquiring 5-6* Operators through this method, with a guaranteed 5* or higher Operator within the first 10 draws per banner.
- Purchased through the in-game store with enough relevant certificates. These cannot be directly acquired with real money.
Melee units that can be deployed for relatively low cost and generate extra DP with some abilities, useful for the early game and missions that don't auto-generate DP. Subclasses include:
- Charger: Generate extra DP as long as they get the killing blow on an enemy.
- Pioneer: Have skills that automatically generate DP without needing to kill others.
- Standard Bearer: Flag-holders who provide buffs to another class and generate lots of DP with their skills, but have zero block when using them.
- Tactician: Vanguards who act as Summoners, and can summon helpers to the battlefield to generate DP while blocking other parts of the grid.
- Agent: Similar to Pioneer, but have ranged attacks and low redeployment time to balance out lower HP and Defense stats.
Units with strong attack power and a melee focus. Subclasses include:
- Dreadnaught: Single-target fighters with high Attack power but can only block one enemy at a time.
- Centurion: Tankier fighters who can shred through all enemies they are blocking (up to three) at the same time.
- Lord: Long-range attackers who can hit enemies at multiple spaces in front of them, even in the air.
- Arts Fighter: As the name suggests, fighters who attack with Arts damage instead of Physical damage like most other Guards.
- Instructor: Units capable of striking from a modest distance, usually with skills to support other allies around them.
- Fighter: A duelist Guard similar to Dreadnaught, can only block one enemy, but makes up for lack of power with attack speed and debuffing the enemy.
- Swordmaster: A Guard who deals damage twice with each attack, usually has skills that require offensive power generation.
- Musha: A duelist Guard who cannot be healed by other units, but makes up for this by healing themselves with each attack.
- Liberator: A Guard who has no normal attack or block stat, but passively generates SP. When their skill is activated, unleashes a powerful attack.
- Reaper: A mix of Centurion and Musha. Cannot be healed by allies, but has a wide range of attack in front of them and heals with each hit against any enemy, up to their Block stat.
- Crusher: A glass cannon of a Guard, with incredibly high HP and Attack stats balanced out by having no Defense or Resistance stats.
Units who can take a ton of punishment and block several enemy units at a time. Subclasses include:
- Protector: A standard Defender with a high Defense stat who can block up to three enemies at once, but with zero attack range and no real Arts defense.
- Guardian: A Defender who can heal their allies with their skills.
- Juggernaut: Cannot be healed by allies but can heal themselves with certain skills, and have stronger attack than average Defenders.
- Arts Protector: Useful for defending against Arts-favoring enemies, and for dealing Arts damage on their own with some skills.
- Duelist: Unlike other Defenders, they can only block one unit at a time, and they only generate SP while actively blocking damage. However, they have stronger skills to make up for it.
- Fortress: Can deal ranged AoE damage against enemy units when not blocking.
- Sentinel Protector: unlike standard Protectors, this class has slightly lower Defense in exchange for having slightly higher attack power and range.
Units that can debuff enemies while damaging them from long range with Arts damage. Subclasses include:
- Decel Binder: Can temporarily slow enemies with every attack.
- Summoner: Can summon extra, unique units to the battlefield. However, these summoned units will take up deployment slots as though they were another Operator.
- Hexer: Attacks and skills used to debuff enemies stats in range.
- Bard: Does not attack, but continually heals allies in range, with Skills that buff allied units.
- Abjurer: Similar to Bard, but can attack enemies. When Skill is active, heals allies instead of attacking.
- Artificer: Unlike other Supporters, placed on melee tiles, and their attacks deal Physical damage. However, they can place an extra device on the field to buff their allies.
Arts users capable of using long-range magical Arts attacks on enemies. Subclasses include:
- Core: The most basic type of Caster, usually attacks one target at a time with Arts damage.
- Splash: Powerful multi-target Casters who can hit all enemies in one space at a time, but have slower attack speed and higher DP cost.
- Blast: A situational type that only attacks in a straight line and high DP cost, yet has very high attack power and longer attack range than most Casters.
- Chain: Can attack multiple enemies when they are close to each other, good for countering mobs, but the attack normally loses power with each bounce.
- Mech-Accord: Partners with a drone that can attack enemies independently and inflict a debuff during an active Skill.
- Phalanx: Casters with incredibly high DEF and RES stats while they charge up, but have no normal attack. When their Skill is activated, they unleash powerful Arts on all enemies in their attack range at once.
- Mystic: Similar to a Core Caster, but with the bonus of being able to store surplus attack charges when no enemies are nearby, and unleash them all on the next target that wanders into their range.
Long-range attackers who can shoot down enemies from afar with Physical damage. Most will prioritize flying units. Subclasses include:
- Marksman: Standard Sniper who attacks one target at a time within range.
- Artilleryman: Normal attacks deal AoE damage, hurting multiple enemies in the same square each time.
- Deadeye: Incredibly wide attack range, but with very slow attack speed. Usually prioritizes lower-DEF enemies.
- Heavyshooter: Smaller attack range than other Snipers but shoots very powerful bolts.
- Spreadshooter: Similar to Heavyshooter but can hit all targets in their attack range at once, with extra damage to targets directly in front of them.
- Besieger: A slow, heavy attacker who can only hit targets at long range. However, they focus damage on the heaviest enemies.
- Flinger: Attacks in twice with each attack, and has a wide attack range, but can only hit ground units.
Units that only heal allies and do not attack enemies (with a few exceptions). Subclasses include:
- Medic: Heals one unit at a time.
- Multi-Target: Heals all allies in range at once.
- Therapist: Single-target medics with massive attack range and skills that can remove status debuffs, but have lower ATK stats at longer distances.
- Wandering: Similar to Therapist, can remove elemental damage build-up on allied units.
- Incantation: Attacks enemies, unlike other Medics, but will heal allies for half the damage in their range.
- Chain: Like Chain Caster, but for healing multiple allies instead of attacking multiple enemies.
Units with a special ability that don't quite fit into other categories. Subclasses include:
- Push Stroker: Mostly melee units but can be placed on any open tile, with abilities that push enemies into traps or another path.
- Hookmaster: Inverse of Push Stroker - mostly ranged units that can be placed on any open tile, with abilities that pull enemies into traps or another path.
- Executor: Melee units with very low DP cost and Redeployment Time, low survivability, but can deal or absorb a lot of damage to single targets in seconds.
- Ambusher: Melee units with a circular range who are hidden from enemy units. Cannot block, but can dodge some attacks and debuff enemy units in their range.
- Geek: Ranged units who lose HP over time and can cause friendly-fire, but deliver massive buffs to allies they hit.
- Merchant: Melee units who drain DP while deployed, will auto-retreat if DP hits 0 while they are on the field, but have a short Redeployment Time and abilities that increase their own survivability.
- Trapmaster: Ranged units who can deploy traps on open tiles that damage and slow enemies who pass over them.
- Dollkeeper: Melee units who don't retreat when HP is 0, but are automatically replaced with a "doll" of themselves on the same tile until they regenerate. However, the doll has 0 block and can be destroyed like a normal unit, forcing them to retreat.